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Activist opposes new bathrooms for dunes 

Some locals are raising a stink over the prospect of new bathrooms for the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area.

The California Department of Parks and Recreation is seeking approval for a permit to replace one existing restroom and install five new restroom buildings within the Oceano Dunes, but a quartet of local environmental activists has appealed the process. They're planning to speak at the SLO County Board of Supervisor meeting on Jan. 15.

"I'm appealing the construction of restrooms on the beach," said local ocean activist/part-time musician Joey Racano. He's worried that rainstorms would overflow the facilities and wash sewage into the sea.

But not everyone agrees with Racano and other restroom objectors.

"We need to replace the portable potties and provide structures that would be more attractive and useful for the public," said Rey Monge, the park's deputy district superintendent.

According to Monge, the restrooms will be prefabricated concrete structures in which waste is stored and decomposed in sealed underground vaults. The new bathrooms would use minimal water and require pumping only twice a year.

Currently there are only a handful of restrooms available at the Oceano Dunes. On holiday weekends, more than 50,000 people pack the 584-acre parcel.

Michael Jackson, a local engineer and frequent Oceano Dunes rider, thinks the area could benefit from more bathrooms.

"I heard they were putting more [bathrooms] in, and I thought it was a great idea," he said. "On any given weekend, thousands of people are using one bathroom. [The additional bathrooms] would really help as far as sanitary and safety issues are concerned."

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