Friends of Oceano Dunes Scores Huge Win Over Dune Closures

Eli Madero
by Eli Madero

San Luis Obispo County Superior Court orders the California Coastal Commission to vacate its decision to close Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area

The Friends of Oceano Dunes (FoOD) recently scored a massive victory for public OHV recreation at Oceano Dunes SVRA, AKA Pismo Beach. The San Luis Obispo County Superior Court ruled that the California Coastal Commission did not have the authority to ban all OHV use at Oceano Dunes, under state law. In this ruling, the court made it clear that if the California Coastal Commission wants to attempt to ban OHV recreation use at the park, it must convince San Luis Obispo County to amend its local coastal plan or compel State Legislature to change the County's local coastal plan.

Friends of Oceano Dunes argued that only the County, not the Coastal Commission, has the authority to close the park for use, and even then, the closure can only be temporary. The Court agreed with this analysis and agreed that the Coastal Commission's attempt to ban OHV use at the park unlawfully attempted to amend the County's plan in violation of the Coastal Act. The Court also ruled in favor of Friends of Oceano Dunes' argument that the Coastal Commission didn't comply with the California Environmental Quality Act because it failed to do a proper traffic impact analysis when it decided to close Pier Avenue as a vehicle access point to the beach.

As a result, the Court overturned an amendment to the permit that attempted to end all OHV use at Oceano Dunes by the Coastal Commission in March 2021. As a result, the OHV ban will not go into effect, and Pier Ave beach access will not be closed. This court victory not only prevents the ban of OHV use on one of California's most popular sand dune recreation areas but also protects jobs and local businesses. A recent study found that visitors to the Oceano Dunes SVRA, from outside San Luis Obispo County, generated a total economic impact of over $500 million in 2019.

The Board of Directors for Friends of Oceano Dunes has made it clear that the organization will continue to pursue all legal action to protect beach driving, camping, and OHV recreation at Oceano Dunes SVRA the way it has been occurring for the last 100 years.

Friends of Oceano Dunes is a 501©(3) California not-for-profit corporation expressly created to preserve camping and off-highways vehicle recreation at the Oceano Dunes State Vehicle Recreation Area (ODSVRA). Friends is a grass root volunteer organization which represents approximately 28,000 members and users of the Oceano Dunes SVRA.

Eli Madero
Eli Madero

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