Did Coastal Commission exceed its authority over the Oceano Dunes?

May 2, 2021


The California Coastal Commission was slapped with another lawsuit this week  alleging the agency violated laws and exceeded its authority when it voted to stop off-road vehicle recreation at the Oceano Dunes.

Friends of the Oceano Dunes accuses the California Coastal Commission of violating environmental laws while claiming to be a lead agency when it is not, in a lawsuit filed Monday. The suit challenges the commission’s authority to ban off-road vehicle riding at the Oceano Dunes over the next three years.

Nearly 40 years ago, the Legislature gave State Parks the authority to create and manage state vehicle recreation areas, including the Oceano Dunes. The suit accuses the Coastal Commission of ignoring that limitation and conducting a power play.

Friends allege the Coastal Commission also broke state law by attempting to unilaterally change a permit authorizing off-road vehicle recreation and camping that the Coastal Commission granted to State Parks nearly 40 years ago.

“Once the permit was issued, State Parks and the public had a right to rely on that
permit, and they have done so for 40 years and have invested tens of millions of dollars in reliance on that permit,” according to Friends. “The Coastal Commission falsely claimed that the 40-year old permit was only temporary.”

In addition, Friends accuses the Coastal Commission of ignoring their mandate to protect recreational resources in the coastal zone, including off-road vehicle recreation.

Friends of the Oceano Dunes is a nonprofit that represents approximately 28,000 supporters of off-road recreation. The organization has successfully sued state and local government agencies, including the Coastal Commission, over past regulatory actions related to the Oceano Dunes State Recreational Area.

In a pending lawsuit filed several weeks earlier, Friends accuses the Coastal Commission of violating environmental laws while claiming to be a lead agency when it is not

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Does the Coastal Commission even have any voting members who are actually from the area? I’m pretty certain they do not. If they do, it would be maybe 1 commissioner based out of San Francisco. How can they decide this for us when they don’t even live here?

Answer: Yes.

Yes they did, multiple times. I applaud and support the suit, and look forward to more for this over reaching leftist commission.

Anybody that has been injured or lost a loved one due to the chaos that is status quo on the Oceano Dunes should file a lawsuit against the California State Parks for negligence in providing a safe environment for a park visit which is what would be expected in a CA State recreational area. The State Parks System has failed to provide a safe environment and visitors assume the opposite and put their misplaced trust in a parks system that this is a safe place to bring your family. That is negligent in their part and they need to be called out on it. I worked in radiology at the local hospital that received the victims of the Park Services negligence in providing a safe place to recreate. Summer weekends were and are a disaster that you cannot imagine. We had periods that orthopedic surgeons refused to cover us because they would not get any rest.

And the environmental impact is out of proportion to the benefit of a few hours of dune jumping for a small subculture of our not local community. Get over it and take a walk in the dunes.

Thanks for that perspective. I think this sort of “recreating” should be done in the desert. It’s not that far a drive to places in the Mojave, Nevada and Arizona. Time for Oceano and Pismo to turn the page on off-road vehicles. After all, every other beach on the west coast has done the same.

Adam. Where do you live where Mojave, Nevada, and Arizona aren’t that far? There is nothing about thousands of acres of sand that is particularly sensitive, at least by comparison to a desert environment. The fact that there is only one driveable beach in the entire state should be reason enough to let us keep driving there. The same beach where reports tell us the Snowy Plover are having the best recovery of any beach in the state.

Areas near Victor Valley in the Mojave, such as Helendale have off road recreation. VV is about the same distance from Bakersfield as Pismo.

Under that logic every snow ski slope and waterskiing lake has an equivalent peril and should be shut down. Then there’s hikers that fall or get lost that take days to find and fly out. Do you want to keep them from their recreation? Dune thrill seekers are going to get hurt and they can be at AG hospital in 30 minutes. Since your hospital is making money off the accidents and you get some OT from it “Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face”. I’m a local of 62 years and I enjoyed three decades of riding the dunes with my motorcycle after a rain. I lived on McCarthy St for 5 years. From that daily experience I can emphatically say walking the dunes is very labor-some where strolling the wet beach is enjoyable. The Coastal Commission is overstepping and needs a housecleaning after ignoring the science from last year’s airborne data.

You bring up an interesting point there Leroy.

The owners of property overlooking the ocean in Shell beach/Avila wanted to shut down a hiking trail on their property to be able to build a house,plus they said the trail on their property was waiting for an accident as it is too steep, If i remember the coastal comm voted to leave the trail in that spot as it was so scenic and someone had to be rescued not long after that, so it looks to me that the coastal comm should be sued for this as they had a chance to shut down this accident waiting to happen as it did not provide a safe place for people to have fun, but taking a taxpayers property for the, HA HA, greater good is alright, Hmmmmm.

Accidents have increased as riding space is restricted more

and more.

We should sue the DMV for all the carnage on the highways, too, right? How dare they not provide us with perfectly safe highways? I should be able to expect safe highways be supplied by our government. where does that line of thought end?

What is the commissions authority?…not one of them are elected by the people…

Maybe you are new to California?

You can start here https://www.coastal.ca.gov/

I’m a Native Californian…but I sure don’t recognize the state anymore since it has filled up with Midwest democrats….

None of the commissioners names have ever appeared on my ballot, unless you expect me to believe the governor is heading the commission.