On Monday, the San Luis Obispo County Superior Court ordered the San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District to pay Friends of Oceano Dunes.
The Air District will have to pay $118,000 dollars in attorney's fees and $3,241.50 for costs incurred by Friends in its successful lawsuit voiding a dust control agreement between the Air District and the California Department of Parks and Recreation.
The agreement states it is the method for implementing Rule 1001, an Air District regulation that imposed dust control requirements on State Parks' operation of Oceano Dune State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA).
The Court ruled that the agreement is void and against public policy because it effectively changed Rule 1001's "performance standard," by making it tougher on State Parks without subjecting the change to a public hearing without public notice as required by the state's air quality statutes. Instead, the Air District Board adopted the agreement in a "closed session" out of the view of the public and without public input.
The Court also ruled that the Air District staff didn't have authority to change the mechanism for determining compliance deadlines for Rule 1001's requirements. That, too, must be presented to the full Board of Directors of the Air District.
The ruling throws into question certain aspects of dust control at Oceano Dunes and allows the public to ask the Air District to reimburse the State of California for monies expended under the void agreement.