Pin It
Favorite

Court order temporarily restrains dunes dust control measures 

In a long-running legal conflict spanning years, off-road vehicle advocates secured a small victory against the state regarding dust mitigation at the Oceano Dunes.

On Feb. 17, the San Luis Obispo Superior Court filed a temporary restraining order in favor of Friends of Oceano Dunes against the California Coastal Commission and the California Department of Parks and Recreation. The move blocked the state agencies from roping off an additional 130.8 acres of the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreational Area to install dust reduction measures.

"Friends argues that the commission and parks neglected to obtain county approval for the new dust control, as the Coastal Act requires," Friends President Jim Suty stated in a press release.

click to enlarge DUST PAUSE San Luis Obispo County Superior Court issued a temporary restraining order that bans the California Coastal Commission and the California Department of Parks and Recreation from installing dust control measures on 130 acres of the Oceano Dunes SVRA. - FILE PHOTO BY JAYSON MELLOM
  • File Photo By Jayson Mellom
  • DUST PAUSE San Luis Obispo County Superior Court issued a temporary restraining order that bans the California Coastal Commission and the California Department of Parks and Recreation from installing dust control measures on 130 acres of the Oceano Dunes SVRA.

According to the court filing, 108.8 acres of the 130.8 acres is inside the current off-highway vehicle riding and camping area, and the remaining 22 acres lie outside it. The Coastal Commission and State Parks are momentarily not allowed to plant vegetation of any kind in those areas or install perimeter fencing there to limit it from public recreational use. The temporary restraining order also bans them from placing seasonal sand fencing in three areas near the West Grand Avenue and Pier Avenue entrances, and near Strand Way.

The restraining order expires on March 30, which is also when the Coastal Commission and State Parks have to show the Superior Court "cause" as to why a preliminary injunction banning the new dust control measures should not be issued while the case is still in litigation.

But Suty and Friends want more than a restraining order.

"Friends also strongly believes that the stipulated order of abatement must be thrown out based on new evidence from the Scripps Institute showing only 14 percent of PM [particulate matter] 10 being measured downwind consists of mineral dust. The particulates are mainly atmospheric water, salt and other non-volatiles," the Friends' press release stated. "All the elements measured downwind are natural organic material not known to cause any health effects. The Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreational Area should only be responsible for reducing the OHV contribution and not all total mass particulates."

Approved by the Air Pollution Control District (APCD) hearing board in April 2018, the stipulated order of abatement lists specific actions to alleviate dust emissions in the Nipomo Mesa over a five-year period. These include forming a scientific advisory group and developing a particulate matter reduction plan.

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography released a study late last year stating that particulate matter blown in from the Oceano Dunes made up only 14 percent of the average pollution measured on the mesa, a finding that contradicts the APCD's stance. The APCD attributed heavy pollution to dust emissions from the dunes, and had, in the past, questioned the accuracy of an earlier Scripps study.

State Parks declined to comment on the case still underway in SLO Superior Court, but told New Times that it would hear out all sides.

"All research is being considered as State Parks works to meet the obligations set by the stipulated order of abatement. The research is important and will help State Parks better understand the science of dust at Oceano Dunes SVRA," State Parks public information officer Adeline Yee said. Δ

Tags:

Pin It
Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Search, Find, Enjoy

Submit an event

© 2022 New Times San Luis Obispo
Powered by Foundation