Taking Action: Oceano Dunes Could Close As Soon As July 11th

California off-road land is under attack once again and this time one of the most popular off-road beach areas in the state is being looked at. Oceano Dunes State Vehicle Recreational Area is the center of focus as the California Coastal Commission looks to close it to off-road use.

The California Coastal Commission, a non-elected body, will be meeting on Thursday, July 11th, at the Embassy Suites Hotel in San Luis Obispo to consider the continued use of the OHV area at Oceano Dunes. The commission states:

“The bottom line in staff’s view is that the Park and the Coastal Development Permit cannot continue to operate as it has in the past, and that the range of coastal resource issues and constraints affecting ODSVRA together suggest that it is time to start thinking about ways to transition the Park away from high-intensity OHV use to other less intensive forms of access and recreation. Staff believes that it is appropriate to start to make these kinds of changes, and to start to plan for ODSVRA to transition to other less intensive uses…Put simply, in staff’s view a Park that is fully consistent with on-the-ground realities, and with coastal resource protection requirements, does not include OHV use. Rather, it is clear to staff that the significant coastal resource issues and constraints attributable to OHV use render long-term OHV use at this location untenable.”

An area popular to off-roaders young and old is on the brink of being closed for good. Generations have been coming to the dunes and the threat is there that another one will not see it. These efforts to close the dunes may come in a full outright closure or under the guise of a slow erosion of dune accessibility prohibiting night riding, increasing enforcement and adding more fences at the park, reducing daily use limits, and more until a full and eventual closure goes in effect.

A petition on Change.org has been started and signatures have been growing by the hour. Anyone is free to sign the petition and it will greatly help the fight against the closure.

An Word From CORVA:

CORVA was stunned by the Coastal Commission press release issued in conjunction with notice of an upcoming meeting, proposing to stop motorized recreation at Oceano Dunes SVRA. This announcement took the community by surprise and also shocked the staff of the Off Highway Motorized Vehicle Recreation Division of State Parks, who had been working cooperatively with the Coastal Commission for many years.

CORVA believes the proposed changes are thinly disguised discriminatory actions against all those that enjoy motorized recreation, and motorized beach access with their families. Not only will this negatively affect the local economy, those on the Coastal Commission are hurting the people from the Central Valley that spend weeks at Oceano in the summer to escape the valley heat. There are few State Parks in the Central Valley in proportion to the population, so Oceano Dunes holds a special place in their hearts.

CORVA believes it is too easy for the Coastal Commission to stand in judgment and ignore those that don’t live on the coast and can’t afford million-dollar homes. Although the Coastal Commission was created to protect Californians access to the coast, the proposal to stop OHV access to Oceano Dunes proves that they have lost their way. Instead of supporting access for all Californians, this proposal (being pushed by staff with the Coastal Commission) shows they are actively engaged in picking and choosing among those who they believe are ‘worthy’ of coastal access, and choosing to disregard everyone else.

The allegations of damage to the dunes are exaggerated or simply untrue. The OHMVR Division of State Parks has the highest mandated standards for environmental protections to land under its management, a fact that has been conveniently ignored by the staff with the Coastal Commission. If the Coastal Commission is actually interested in working cooperatively with the recreation and business community, there is an opportunity to resolve any issues with the SVRA. But to state that the only available resolution to these issues may be achieved by the eventual elimination of OHV use is misguided and a biased presumption using highly subjective science. The fact that there is also a predated draft letter in the appendix is extremely disturbing and seems to indicate the commission has reached conclusion ignoring input from the affected public. All of this displays poor judgment on the part of Commission staff and might be a violation of the Coastal Act due process provisions. Everything about the proposal is led by radical environmentalists being led by an ideology full of hate.

The California Public Resources Code lists the following as requirements for the California Coastal Commission: 30320.
(a) The people of California find and declare that the duties, responsibilities, and quasi-judicial actions of the commission are sensitive and extremely important for the well-being of current and future generations and that the public interest and principles of fundamental fairness and due process of law require that the commission conduct its affairs in an open, objective, and impartial manner free of undue influence and the abuse of power and authority. It is further found that, to be effective, California’s coastal protection program requires public awareness, understanding, support, participation, and confidence in the commission and its practices and procedures. Accordingly, this article is necessary to preserve the public’s welfare and the integrity of, and to maintain the public’s trust in, the commission and the implementation of this division.

When creating the California Coastal Commission, members of the legislature found it necessary to caution the members of this commission regarding their responsibility to California citizens. They were specifically cautioned to conduct their affairs in an open and honest manner to benefit the people of California. The staff of the California Coastal Commission has openly defied the intent of the legislation by conducting this ‘investigation’ with ignorance as to the importance of Oceano Dunes for so many people. CORVA believes this behavior unconscionable for a commission formed to help public access, rather than harm public access.

Along with colleagues in the OHV Community, CORVA is fighting hard against this proposal. Starting in 2020, CORVA celebrates its 50th year as the statewide advocacy association fighting for off-road rights. CORVA’s very first meeting was actually held at Oceano Dunes. Motorized access to this park is very important to CORVA, its members and the OHV Community.

Meeting Details:

  • Date: Thursday, July 11th, 9 am at the Embassy Suites in San Luis Obispo, California
  • Address: 333 Madonna Road, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405
  • All public comments limited to 3 minutes each
  • Wear a blue shirt in opposition of these proceedings

Will you be wearing blue at the meeting, if not have you signed the petition? Rally with your local off-roaders to save this iconic spot!

About the author

Steven Olsewski

Steven Olsewski grew up with a true passion for anything with a motor. He loves his wife and kids, and during the year can be found enjoying quality time together. They are a huge part of his life and their passion for God.
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