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48 acres of the Oceano dunes set to be closed, following Air Pollution Control District hearing

Posted at 8:04 PM, Nov 18, 2019

48 acres of the dunes are going to be closed for off-roading and camping in what some are calling a monumental decision from the Air Pollution Control Board.

State Parks and Recreation, the Air Pollution Control District, and people on both sides of the argument were in attendance at Monday’s board meeting.

Controversy between residents and dune riders was evident, as the Air Pollution Control District is working to reduce the amount of air pollution in what one report calls, one of the country's worst areas for air quality.

"Sand from the dunes will actually sort of bounce and it will pick up speed, it has nothing to do with vehicles and I really feel compassion for the people who find it convenient to blame off-road vehicles for this but it really isn't," said Amy Granat, managing director, California Off-Road Vehicle Association.

One concerned member of the community said, "what about the rest of us? Who don't have an in on those little things and who sit there and say where's my voice, where's my breath?"

According to Gary Willey, San Luis Obispo County's Air Pollution control officer, major changes are on the way, as the board approved the proposed order of abatement.

Meaning that the four dune area, which is a 48-acre space for off-roading and camping now must be closed by January of next year.

Fencing restricting access to that area must be put up, but until Parks and Recreation can get approval from the California Coastal Commission, they have agreed to use signage and enforcement to keep people from riding and camping in that area.

Willey said that this decision would essentially take away 50% of the beach side camping at the dunes.

This decision is aimed at reducing air pollution in the area, but it's not the result everyone had hoped for.

"I don't want to take away from anybody's riding area, I don't want to shut down the park, or close any entrances. I just want some decent air to breathe," said John Phipps, Nipomo-Mesa resident.

Willey says this is a monumental decision from the Air Pollution Control Board and while that 48 acre fore dune area is going to be close, State Parks and Recreation will be required to begin planting vegetation in that area.

KSBY reached out to State Parks and Recreation following Monday's decision, but did not receive a call back.

Willey says planting of the vegetation in the four-dune area should begin by April of next year.