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  • The Ongoing Oceano Dunes SVRA, Pismo State Beach Travesty Special to the CORVA ORIA by local resident Lyndi Love-Haning OCEANO DUNES SVRA “AKA PISMO” CLOSURE INFORMATION THE FACTS...OR LACK THEREOF

The Ongoing Oceano Dunes SVRA, Pismo State Beach Travesty Special to the CORVA ORIA by local resident Lyndi Love-Haning OCEANO DUNES SVRA “AKA PISMO” CLOSURE INFORMATION THE FACTS...OR LACK THEREOF

May 28, 2018 9:05 PM | CORVA Administrator (Administrator)

The Ongoing Oceano Dunes SVRA, Pismo State Beach Travesty
Special to the CORVA ORIA by local resident Lyndi Love-Haning


The fight to keep the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area (ODSVRA) open has been going on for decades. Secret meetings, numerous lawsuits, political corruption combined with a suspicious cast of characters have defined this constantly evolving drama. The ongoing saga would be the perfect plot for a fictional drama.

Unfortunately, this is a reality that we, as off-roaders, can no longer sit back and watch. Closure of the dunes, or portions of the dunes is not good management and this situation is in dire need to be managed. As fellow off-roaders, this issue must be near and dear to everyone’s hearts and minds!

This is the current battle: ODSVRA vs. a handful of rich and retired residents living in a new million-dollar subdivision on a mesa downwind of Pismo State Beach and Oceano Dunes SVRA. These ‘red shirts literally wear red shirts to represent the color of the air alert on the San Luis Obispo Air Pollution Control District (APCD) website when there is a bad air quality day. The red shirts’ main claim is that OHV activity has destroyed vegetation that existed in 1930 and furthermore claim vehicles break up fine crust that forms on the dunes, resulting in the park being more emissive than other areas. The red shirts say that increased emissivity results in particulate matter smaller than 10 microns (PM10) steadily blowing into their homes and lungs, causing pulmonary issues

There are many flaws with this theory, but here are the main problems:

1)    After millions of tax dollars spent and a decade of studies, the actual percentage of emissions caused by OHV activity has not been identified. 2)    Off -shore sources of emissions have been identified but largely ignored. This calls into question whether the OHV park is a major source of emissions or simply a path between offshore sources and the Mesa. 3)    The data being used to create emissions modeling is from 2013 and has not been updated with information collected over the past 5 years. The model has also not been tested or validated as appropriate to use in this manner 4)    Most complaints come from residents living in homes surrounded by agricultural fields, ongoing construction, dirt roads and open sand sheets. In fact, the Specific Plan and Environmental Impact report for the master planned community at issue warned that ongoing construction activities would cause significant air quality issues to residents. 5)    Most of the people complaining of health issues related to air quality have moved to the area within the last 10 years and have no proof that what they are experiencing is not related to pre-existing conditions. 6)    The red shirts initially complained of crystalline silica, a small particulate matter that causes lung cancer. Crystalline silica was tested for on many separate occasions by the APCD and State Parks. The samples were tested in accordance to OSHA standards and were all found to not exceed limits. The red shirts quickly changed their complaint to any particulate matter smaller than 10 microns.

Larry Allen, former Air Pollution Control Officer or executive director of the APCD is anti-OHV. Against the APCD Board and a special expert’s advice, he triggered a nuisance abatement process with the APCD Hearing Board claiming that the ODSVRA constituted an air quality emergency, even though the APCD had previously agreed to continued development on the Nipomo Mesa, classifying it as a low health risk.

As a result, State Parks and the APCD came to an agreement requiring a 50% reduction in emissions. This agreement, a Stipulated Draft Order, helped the parties avoid an official Nuisance Abatement Hearing which is similar to a trial. After four days of public hearings including two drafts of the agreement, the Hearing Board approved the agreement 4 – 1.

An agreement has been reached, so why is the off-road community displeased with the deal?

1.      The agreement says that State Parks must come up with a plan to meet state and federal ambient PM10 air quality standards. This is highly unlikely if not impossible in a coastal dune environment. No other coastal dune environment has air quality monitoring, because they know that emissions standards will be exceeded due to the natural dune environment.

2.      To meet state and federal standards for PM10 baselines, the target is a 50% reduction in emissions over a 5-year period. To hit this target the agreement allows for continued fencing off and vegetating of riding areas. The area initially targeted is the 184 acres of foredune area where much of the camping takes place at ODSVRA. By September of this year we will lose roughly 100 acres of camping/riding area. With the target being 50% by 2023 with no foreseeable way for State Parks to achieve this goal, we can likely expect State Parks to be required to fence off more acres a year chasing the unreachable target.

We should all be disturbed by the government overreach we have seen throughout this whole process.

  • As a Californian, I am shocked that a local agency can bully a state agency into an agreement like this that will affect the millions of Californians that enjoy the park each year.
  • As a resident of San Luis Obispo County, I am concerned about losing any part of the $200+ million in tourism revenue the ODSVRA brings into our county. As a Nipomo Mesa resident, I am embarrassed that a few residents have tarnished the reputation of all Mesa residents.
  • As an OHV rider, I am terrified about the precedence that has been set that can be used in the future to limit or eliminate OHV activity in other areas.

This is why all OHV recreationalists should pay close attention to situations where OHV activity is in jeopardy. It might not be a place you ride, but in the future, could directly affect where you do ride.

If you have made it this far in the article, you are hopefully wondering what the next steps are.

1.      State Parks will be creating a Public Works Plan (PWP) to redesign the park. OHV riders must stay engaged with this process and attend meetings where State Parks is soliciting public comments on the redesign. There are two meetings coming up. The first is on May 22 in Arroyo Grande, CA and the second on May 23 in Fresno, CA.

2.      We need to make sure all requirements, like moving fences back towards vegetation for more riding area, Oregon dune like trail systems through vegetation, a southern campground and a southern entrance are put in writing, and we must push State Parks to get the PWP process done swiftly.

3.      Use the sand dollar cards! This is an awesome partnership between the Arroyo Grande/Grover Beach Chamber of Commerce and Friends of Oceano Dunes. The program is simple. Write how much you are spending on the back of the card and hand it to the cashier with your payment wherever you are spending money (locals when it relates to off-roading, non-locals any money you spend while you are visiting to use the park). Ask the cashier to give the filled-out card to the manager or owner. Many local businesses surrounding the park carry the cards, or you can reach out directly to friends of Oceano Dunes and have them sent to you by mail.

4.      Most importantly, donate when you can and what you can to Friends of Oceano Dunes (Friends or FoOD) to help prevent continued loss of the ODSVRA. Friends of Oceano Dunes has been fighting to keep the ODSVRA open for nearly 20 years. Friends of Oceano Dunes was founded with the help of former CORVA President, Ed Waldheim. Much of the detailed information available to the public has been provided by Friends. Follow them on Facebook for future updates. Make no mistake, without the efforts of Friends of Oceano Dunes, we would not have the 1,500 acres of riding area we have now. Friends has no paid staff. 100% of your money goes towards keeping the dunes open. Check and see if your employer has a donation matching program. Many employers will match 100% of your donation, up to a certain amount, if the organization you are donating to is a 501(c)(3). Friends is a 501(c)(3). Ask about the match and visit today to donate. 


Lyndi Love-Haning

San Luis Obispo County, Nipomo Mesa Resident


  • August 21, 2018 7:27 PM | Midge Swoger
    We were off roading at Oceano recently. We were shocked to see the acres of hay bales in rows in the dunes. Also the snow fencing. Can you give us an update on these changes?
    Link  •  Reply
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