Off-roading will continue at Oceano Dunes, for now

July 12, 2019

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

At the conclusion of a daylong hearing on Thursday that drew hundreds of people from across the state, the California Coastal Commission decided to postpone a plan to begin phasing out off-road vehicle riding at the Oceano Dunes.

Last month, Coastal Commission staff published a report stating off-road vehicle use at the Oceano Dunes is untenable in the long-term, and the state park must transition to usages that are less intensive. The report cited a variety of environmental concerns, as well as “tribal” issues, as justification for removing vehicles from the South County beach.

Agency staffers recommended that, at Thursday’s meeting, the Coastal Commission vote to impose immediate reductions in the amount of off-road vehicle use and camping at the Oceano Dunes. Coastal Commission staff recommended commissioners amend the Oceano Dunes operating permit to ban night riding, fence off more area, reduce the amount of RVs allowed by 30 percent and implement other measures aimed at eventually eliminating off-road vehicle traffic on the dunes.

On Thursday, hundreds of proponents and opponents of off-road activity at the dunes showed up at the Embassy Suites in San Luis Obispo for the Coastal Commission hearing. Numerous off-road vehicle riders gathered outside as the meeting took place, some flying Confederate flags, as they displayed their opposition to the proposals of Coastal Commission staff.

During the hearing, there was about an even split of public commenters supporting and opposing the proposal to limit and eventually ban off-road vehicle access to the Oceano Dunes. Supporters of the commission staff’s recommendations argued for the need to address environmental and public health problems allegedly caused by off-road vehicle activity at the Oceano Dunes. Off-road vehicle enthusiasts spoke about protecting state-approved recreation, and local business owners discussed the possibility of their businesses shutting down if off-roading at the Oceano Dunes is banned.

The Coastal Commission voted 8-2 to postpone rule changes for the Oceano Dunes for one year, with a condition that state parks return with a new plan consisting of measures that significantly address environment and public health concerns. The two commissioners who cast dissenting votes supported staff’s recommendations on immediate reductions to off-road vehicle use and camping.

Other commissioners also suggested they do not find off-road vehicle use to be compatible with the California Coastal Act.

Friends of Oceano Dunes, an organization that has battled in and out of court to keep the park accessible to off-road vehicles, has vowed to fight attempts by the Coastal Commission to restrict access to the park. Likewise, South County business stakeholders formed a group to address the economic impact of the Coastal Commission’s plan and to advocate for continued use of the off-road vehicle park.

An economic impact report completed last year by a consulting firm found that, between July 2016 and Sept. 2017, the Oceano Dunes park area generated a total of $243 million for the San Luis Obispo County economy.


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CHnemo

I took a walk on the Boardwalk yesterday, and I was thinking about the dune closure, Every campground in the area was full, No ATV’s, lots of families. Everything changes with the times and when the ATV’s are gone the dune campground will again fill up, only with less trash, less noise, less injury and death, and still lots of great family memories…… This is not a for or against post, just some random thoughts.


LameCommenter

The loss of freedom from regulations and from our madcap Legislature has only just begun. Give ’em a couple years and petroleum propulsion for motorized vehicles will be “phased out” STATEWIDE, not just Beach-wide.


We may find ourselves longing for these days. The Enviro-Extremists have set their gunsights on eliminating the off-roaders. Glamis is next.


kayaknut

In the past Pismo Beach used to have a huge number of clams, then people came and the clam population is a fraction of what it was. It is obvious we need to restrict people from the beach and let the clams return. Come on Coastal Commission lets hear you push to eliminate people from Pismo Beach.


shelworth

My prediction is that first will come the ridiculously low speed limits, 5-15 mph, then they will limit the number of vehicles to 100, then lower both of those in a year or two, until no one wants to go anymore. Then close it completely.


mercut1469

“Some flying confederate flags.” I guess that’s all you need to know about this group. Let’s fly the flag of a group of traitors who caused the deaths of 620,000 of their fellow Americans. Might as well fly the Japanese Rising Sun flag instead.


oldtimer

Here here to that. That flag has no purpose or relation to American Pride or Southern Pride. And the Ocean Nature Preserve will continue to present heated emotions on all spectrums. Recreation, nature, homelessness, polution. But really, I’m way more concerned about a southern tidal flow and Diablo Canyon, and Avila discharging feces into the ocean thanks to John Wallace.


Rambunctious

Oh for heavens sake….


oldtimer

Yes, the people in Heaven taken by the dunes. Not including all ecology managed safely by chumash for 10 thousand years, and now a nude beach at their burial ground, ie pirates. Pirates Cove and the dunes, two lovers, same thing. All garbage now, literally, trash everywhere.


Jorge Estrada

If this is so bad, why hasn’t coastal commission required real-estate disclosures for the affected area. The dust has blown before us and will continue after us.


Stunned

Good question. I’ve heard that everyone in The Trilogy signs just such a disclosure which states “sand blows up here” in legal speak.


oldtimer

And trilogy is aweful, I did alot of construction there years back. Thanks Lynn…


shelworth

Once they take it away it will never come back, that’s how they take away all our rights, little baby steps…chip, chip, chip… Like California and the 2nd Amendment….


oldtimer

500 bucks and under 60 days to get a conceal and carry in CA, look it up before stating BS. Sounds pretty reasonable to me for Liberal Ca. Ya its not an AR15, but still a pistol.