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New Times / News

The following article was posted on March 5th, 2014, in the New Times - Volume 28, Issue 32 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from New Times [newtimesslo.com] - Volume 28, Issue 32

A group sues to ban OHV activity on the Oceano dunes

BY RHYS HEYDEN

The Mesa Community Alliance, a nonprofit activist group dedicated to “represent [the] common interests” of Nipomo Mesa residents, filed suit against San Luis Obispo County and the State Parks Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division on Feb. 27.

The lawsuit seeks to bar OHV activities on the Oceano dunes until and unless State Parks complies with the controversial “dust rule.”

The county Air Pollution Control District (APCD) enacted the “dust rule”—known as Rule 1001—in November 2011. The rule gives the district the ability to fine State Parks at its discretion when dust levels exceed state standards on the Nipomo Mesa.

“This lawsuit is a last resort on the part of Mesa residents,” alliance co-founder Arlene Versaw told New Times. “We don’t have many avenues to defend ourselves against a well-funded state agency and a county government that is sitting on the sidelines and not doing anything. It’s been four years since we discovered there was an air quality problem, and enough is enough.”

An APCD study—which some locals have argued is flawed—previously concluded that OHV riding at the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area (which has sections owned by both State Parks and the county) significantly contributes to the dust pollution issue on the Nipomo Mesa.

Versaw said that mediation between state and county officials over the dust rule has been protracted, and dust control measures thus far have been minimal.

“Mesa residents are tired of waiting,” Versaw said. “Hopefully, this lawsuit will be a wake-up call to re-introduce the human element into this issue.”