Two new dates have been set for a hearing to determine whether dust from the Oceano Dunes is an air-quality nuisance that needs to be abated with the closure of off-road vehicle riding areas, including the entire 584-acre La Grande tract.
San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District Officer Larry Allen filed a complaint with the hearing board last year, requesting action against State Parks for alleged nuisances as a result of particulate dust emissions from the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area that the district alleges are harmful to the health of downwind communities.
The APCD Hearing Board is a five-member quasi-judicial body convened to decide on matters of conflict between the air district and industry. The last time the hearing board considered a nuisance abatement order was in the 1990s.
Allen has since retired, and new district officer Gary Willey has been working on a proposed settlement with State Parks, according to district counsel Ray Biering.
Assuming there is an agreement, it will be presented to the board for consideration. If they don’t approve the agreement, then State Parks will put on their defense, Biering said.
An on-going hearing will continue at 9 a.m. Wednesday, March 21, in the San Luis Obispo City Council Chambers at 990 Palm Street and 9 a.m. Monday, April 30 in the SLO County Board of Supervisors Chambers at 1055 Monterey Street also in San Luis Obispo.
Public comment will likely be allowed at each meeting. Those who are unable to attend can submit comments to email@example.com.
The APCD alleges that from May 29, 2012 through October 19, 2017, the district received 133 complaints from residents downwind of the park regarding dust from off-road vehicle activity.
“They associate difficulty breathing, respiratory issues, exacerbation of pre-existing condition such as asthma and (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), watery and stinging eyes, and other adverse effects, with particulate matter from ODSVRA,” the abatement order says of the complaints.
Air quality monitors on the Nipomo Mesa clocked 363 days in which the amount of particulate matter in the air violated state standards at one or more locations between May 1, 2012 and March 31, 2017, the order says. During that period, particulate pollution exceeded state standards 605 times.
The order says numerous scientific studies and analysis by APCD, State Parks and the California Air Resources Board have documented emissions from dunes off-road vehicle riding areas as the main source of particulate matter causing dust and air pollution.