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SLO Co. air pollution watchdog says Oceano Dunes needs more dust mitigation, tighter restrictions

Posted at 8:05 AM, Nov 18, 2019

The San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control Board argues that State Parks and Recreation officials are not doing enough to control dust from the Oceano Dunes.

A public hearing on the issue is being held Monday morning at the South County Regional Center in Arroyo Grande.

After the issue came to a head at a summer Coastal Commission hearing, State Parks and Recreation managers promised to improve dust controls at the Dunes.

But Gary Willey, the County's air pollution control officer, said four months later, change is not happening fast enough.

As the wetter winter months approach, the County air watchdogs want to see an expanded dust control area by over four acres, add fencing or hay bales, and completion of re-vegetation.

Willey said the summer hearing got the ball rolling but Monday's discussion aims to speed up mitigation efforts.

"There was a shift in wanting to comply but the state is like a huge tanker, ocean tanker, they can't turn on a dime," Willey said. "This will give us and them the necessary tools to ensure they can turn on a dime. so the order needs to be more specific and we can hold them accountable.."

At times, the air around the Nipomo Mesa registers as the worst quality in the country.

The issue has been very controversial among off road vehicle enthusiasts who want to protect their ability to ride on the Dunes.

Willey said the Parks and Recreation Department is cooperating but he wants to ensure the state is held accountable for managing the impacts on air quality.

"It's to ensure they occur in a timely matter over this Winter," Willey said. "It got to a point where it looked like we weren't going to get anything done in 2019 and that's unacceptable. That's why we're going in and making sure that occurs. If it doesn't, we'll be going before a judge."