A public comment to the proposed Oceano Dunes Dust Control Project
by James Green
To: Mr. Ronnie Glick, Sr. Environmental Scientist
The California Department of Parks and Recreation (CDPR), Off Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division (OHMVR), Oceano Dunes District
340 James Way, Ste. 270
Pismo Beach, CA 93449
Subject: Oceano Dunes SVA Dust Control Project Revised NOP
As a life-long off highway vehicle enthusiast and frequent visitor at the Oceano Dunes SVRA, I am respectfully submitting my public comments in regards to the Oceano Dunes SVRA Dust Control Project EIR. I trust that my comments, as well as others, will be taken into consideration as this complex project proceeds. I also trust that as a stakeholder in this process, I and other concerned parties will be kept abreast of developments as they occur so that we are afforded an opportunity to respond as necessary.
I believe everyone agrees that there are dust control issues that need to be addressed, however, there are a few facts I would like to point out – with comments and possible solutions. First and foremost, the dunes and the wind have been present since the beginning of time; certainly before developers decided to build residential units on the Nipomo Mesa. There have also been habitants and animals that roamed the dunes “kicking up dust” since the beginning of time.
It all began with the Native Chumash settling in the dunes, followed by European explorers – members of Don Gaspar de Portola’s overland expedition of 1769. Following these early settlements and explorations, the dunes became home to a group of free thinking people who identified themselves as the “Dunites”. That being said, there have always been inhabitants of the dune area, which likely disturbed the stability of the sand.
Regarding the air quality on the Nipomo Mesa, my first question would be why the developers did not take into consideration that they were building downwind from thousands of acres of sand. Common knowledge indicates they should have known there would be sand and dust issues. Developers could have mitigated this issue in the beginning by building wind fences on the mesa itself. Residents who purchased homes on the Mesa also should have known about the blowing sand. I liken it to buying a house at the end of a busy runway, then demand that the airport be shut down, or mandate airlines to develop quieter power plants. The bottom line is that the sand, wind, animals, and OHV’s have been here long before the developers and residents on the Nipomo Mesa.
The second major issue is that our local economies are based primarily on visitors to the SVRA. According to the Oceano Dunes SVRA Economic Impact Report 2010-2011, ATV riding in the SVRA accounts for 81% of participation in the Park. Day visitor out of county and overnight visitor out of county rates for the same are 81% and 85% respectfully. These visitors spend millions of dollars while they are here to experience the dunes. That in turn produces enormous tax revenues for the county and ALL of the cities near and far from the SVRA. Those tax revenues fund important infrastructures such as police and fire services. If county and city-wide tax revenues drop, there will be a direct impact on those types of necessary services. Likewise, the visitors create countless jobs, which, impacts our social fabric as a whole. If our economy falters and thereby reduces our tax revenue based on a ebb of visitors, the direct impact on all of us – including Nipomo Mesa residents could be catastrophic, i.e. longer response times to emergencies, etc.
PROPOSED PROJECT ACTIVITES:
• I am in strong opposition to planting up to 20 acres of native vegetation per year at Oceano Dunes SVRA over a five year period. That would reduce the ever-shrinking riding area by 100 acres. It would also mean that OHV riders, vendors, and concessionaires would be forced to move their staging areas further down the beach, causing an undue hardship on everyone.
• Wind fencing and or straw bales is a more balanced approach, and could be done without limiting even more riding area.
• Applying soil stabilizers could also be a balanced approach, however, there doesn’t appear to be any scientific studies supporting toxicity issues. Do we really want to coat the sand with stabilizers only to find out years from now that the material used was toxic?
• Installing rumble strips at both beach entrances also appears to be a balanced approach.
A truly balanced approach to any sort of dust control project means exactly that – balanced. By reducing the riding area any more that has already been implemented, the consequences will clearly become an “imbalanced” approach. It will affect nearly every aspect of this unique and popular area in this great state. A thriving local economy with a stable tax base and people’s livelihoods are at stake. Whatever measures are ultimately chosen, please note that our local vendors, pay a very high percentage of their gross sales to fund the Park’s activities which, includes dust control measures.
I respectfully ask that you consider these comments and submit them into public record.
Arroyo Grande, CA