The Friends of Oceano Dunes scored a huge victory for OHV recreation at Oceano Dunes SVRA. The San Luis Obispo County Superior Court ruled that the California Coastal Commission does not have the authority under state law to ban all OHVs at the dunes.
The court’s ruling covered four lawsuits – three brought by Friends of Oceano Dunes and one by EcoLogic Partners.
The court made clear that if the Coastal Commission wants to attempt to ban OHV recreation at the park, it must convince San Luis Obispo County to amend its local coastal plan or compel the state legislature to change the county’s local coastal plan.
Friends argued that the local coastal plan only authorizes the county, not the Coastal Commission, to close the park, and even then, the closure may only be temporary. The court agreed with that analysis and agreed that the commission’s effort to ban OHV unlawfully attempted to amend the county’s plan in violation of the Coastal Act.
The court also ruled in favor of Friends’ argument that the commission failed to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, 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 the Coastal Commission’s March 2021 amendment to the permit that attempted to end all OHV use at Oceano Dunes.
Thus, the OHV ban will not go into effect, and Pier Avenue beach access will not be closed.
This court victory also protects jobs and local businesses. A recent study showed that Oceano Dunes visitors from outside San Luis Obispo County generated a total economic impact of over $500 million in 2019.
Friends’ board of directors have made clear that they will continue to pursue all legal remedies to protect beach driving, camping and OHV recreation at Oceano Dunes SVRA the way it has been occurring for the last 100 years.
Friends is a grassroots volunteer organization that represents approximately 28,000 members and users of the Oceano Dunes SVRA.