State employee accuses SLO County air district of quid pro quo threat

February 24, 2023

APCD Executive Director Gary Willey


The message from the SLO County Air Pollution Control District (APCD) was clear, testified an environmental scientist with State Parks.

If Friends of Oceano Dunes wins its lawsuit and the APCD is forced to return money to a fund dedicated to support off-highway vehicle recreation, the district will impose new fines on State Parks, the scientist said.

Ronnie Glick, a senior environmental scientist with State Parks, testified about the “threat” during a deposition in the Friends’ lawsuit. An attorney for Friends asked Glick if APCD Executive Director Gary Willey threatened to levee fines and fees if they lose the lawsuit.

“At either the May or Sept. 2022 meetings, did the APCD ever say to State Parks that if Friends prevails in this lawsuit that they would seek additional penalties and fines against State Parks?” the attorney for Friends asked during the deposition.

Glick answered that Willey said he would use the APCD’s “enforcement authority under Rule 1001 to assess fines.”

Glick said he perceived that as a threat.

Friends filed its civil lawsuit last May against the APCD alleging that the air district illegally spent money earmarked for the support of off-highway vehicle recreation. The fund, which is managed by State Parks, is capitalized through fees and taxes from off-highway vehicle usage.

A 2021 court ruling invalidated the APCD’s dust rule that had required State Parks to reduce the particulate matter blowing from the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area or face fines of $1,000 per day.

The court found the APCD’s agreement violated public policy because the agency adopted the agreement out of view of the public and without public input. Friends is now seeking reimbursement from the APCD for public monies expended under the void agreement, which Friends says exceeds $1 million.

Even though State Parks is mandated to support off-highway vehicle usage at the Oceano Dunes and oversee the Off-Highway Vehicle Fund, its administration generally takes a passive stance at what has become a politically charged issue.

Glick declined to tell CalCoastNews whether he reported Willey’s statement to anyone else at State Parks.

But when asked by CoastNews whether Willey threatened to increase fees and fines if the APCD loses the lawsuit, Glick replied, “The deposition speaks for itself.”

Wiley did not respond to requests for comment.

Sarah Miggins, the deputy director of the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division of State Parks, is the manager of the fund, which is to be used for off-highway vehicle recreation facilities.

Miggins refused to answer questions about Willey’s alleged threat or her oversight of the fund.

Friends of Oceano Dunes is a not-for-profit corporation expressly created to preserve camping and off-highway vehicle recreation at the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area. Friends represents approximately 28,000 members and users of the Oceano Dunes.

During the past seven years, Friends has successfully sued the California Coastal Commission, the California Air Resources Board and the APCD approximately 10 times over the agencies’ regulatory actions related to the Oceano Dunes State Recreational Area.

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This is an example of the mindset which points to Einstein saying world war four will be fought with sticks and stones. Maybe we should have fist fights and let the lawyers have private bets for the winner, far less costly and some of the lawyers will win their purpose, $. Really, what is civil, years of financial squeeze that many die over or swift justice?

This is an example of the mindset that thinks violence is the answer instead of the rule of law, bill of rights etc

” fist fights private bets for the winner swift justice” = Americas gop Gaslight, Obstruct, Project.

Oh well, it felt good to say what I think about the discourse funded by the tax payers.

Meanwhile, State Parks in Sacramento allows itself to be bullied by these clownish cons, willingly handing over bags of the public’s cash to them.

Willey came to my company on his day off unannounced, I did not know at the time who he was. I explained to him this was private property and to leave, he then shouted “I am the APCD officer and can go any place I want!” This guy is a joke.

Nothing new here It’s the APCD culture. I had the same experience with Mr. Willey’s predecessor Mr. Allen back in the 1980s.

Take away their defined benefit retirement plans. Have the fund their own retirement like the rest of us through 401(k). Maybe then then be a bit more judicious on how they administer policies that affect the economy.

That happened /s

Friends of Oceano Dunes has a stellar record serving as a watchdog of the state agencies mentioned. Their success in court speaks to the bad faith, malfeasance, and corruption found in the California Coastal Commision, Cal Air Resources Board, and the SLO County APCD.

This legal fight feels like an exercise in futility that only private attorneys will win.