The battles going on in the state of California on many fronts doesn’t directly affect the off-road community, except for one. The California Coastal Commission and their threat to close down the Oceano Dunes SVRA is one heated battle.
People came out in the thousands to get their chance to speak on the topic during the hearing on July 11th at the Embassy Suites in San Luis Obispo. People opposed to the closure wore blue to unite in keeping the dunes open. CORVA had printed 1,050 neon stickers so that regardless of lighting the Coastal Commission could see how many people opposed the closure to the Oceano Dunes, needless to say, they ran out of sticks.
Social media feeds for companies like Rugged Radios and Direct OffRoad filled up with videos and photos from what was going on inside the meeting. So many people showed up that the Coastal Commission wisely ended up moving the meeting item from the 12th position on the agenda to the first. The meeting went from 9:30 am to around 6:30 pm and the Coastal Commission was still deliberating other items until 11:30 pm.
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🚨IT’S HAPPENING TODAY🚨 Rugged is ready and supporters are here in force. The California Coastal Commission meeting starts at 9am. If you’re in the area, please come down and support keeping the dunes open. Details in our bio. Meeting: Thursday, July 11th at 9am at Embassy Suites, 333 Madonna Road, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405. #ruggedradios #ruggedradioslifetstyle #workraceplay #oceanodunes #treadlightly #saveoceanodunes
“The community needs to take note on the incredible participation with all the people that came out,” Amy Granat Managing Director for CORVA explained. “It was so heartwarming and moving to see all these people who took time out of their busy day to come out and spend all day to show how important this place is to them.”
The State Parks and the California Coastal Commission had agreed in a public meeting to a public works plan, but now the staff of the Coastal Commission is trying to circumvent the legal process which is why the off-road community has ended up in the position we are in. The staff had produced a basis report where they very clearly stated that they felt it was time to transition Oceano Dunes to a non-motorized park.
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“One thing that they haven’t completely addressed is the historical nature of the use and the importance of the use of the park to allow for variances in the way it is managed,” Garnat said. “What we feel that they should have done and still can do is apply different criteria understanding that this park is very important to people, has a long history of providing OHV recreation and because of that it deserves recognition.”
“The historical use should be recognized for what we want to protect,” Garnat continued. “We want to protect the habit and there could be common sense education that goes into effect. What we disagree with is any fulfillment of what already a very reduced opportunity from what was always available. The public needs to make that clear to the State Parks we fear it may happen. The public must continue to push for a variance in the interpretation of how it was used after the state park.”
For now, the Oceano Dunes SVRA will stay open, but the battle is far from over.“I’m going to reluctantly give that process a chance to complete,” said California Coastal Commissioner Steve Padilla, adding that “we are kicking the can down the road.” The battle will continue and off-roaders and the community around us need to unite and fight to keep one of California’s off-road treasures open.
“I think this is a defining moment for OHV in California,” Garnat said. “It is not just about the dunes, it is about defending any of our areas in California. Laws can be used as a weapon and that is what happened here. They were used as a weapon, not for the first time, but this is the most serious. I think this is what our future is and it just means that we need to try harder and we need to try smarter.”
Stay tuned for any future updates on the battle to keep OHV use at the Oceano Dunes. For more information on the Pismo State Beach and Oceano Dunes SVRA Public Works Plan be sure to visit their website. To voice your opinion and concerns about the closure of the Oceano Dunes, email [email protected]. What do you think off-roaders could do to help their cause? Tell us in the comments below!