The sale of a 584-acre portion of the Oceano Dunes by the county to the state is creeping back into the arena, as the state seeks public comment on the proposal, which was sidelined for months.
A so-called “scoping meeting” seeking the public’s point of view will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Ramona Garden Park Center, 993 Ramona Ave. in Grover Beach.
The meeting, called by the state Department of Parks and Recreation Off Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division, caught the county off-guard. The county had been negotiating to sell its portion of the beach, but those negotiations have been on a back burner in recent months, county officials said.
The Board of Supervisors scrambled Friday to add the would-be sale to their agenda for a closed-door session Tuesday.
The parcel, used as part of the state’s Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area, has been contentious, as off-roaders seek to fend off any move that might close it to motorized vehicles.
Environmentalists and those who consider vehicles an inappropriate use of beach land have been in an ongoing struggle with the off-roaders for years over the land.
The state leases the land from the county for $1 a year. The lease has been running month-to-month since 2008. State Parks plans to allow continued use of the parcel by off-highway vehicles and wants to resolve the issue by purchasing the land for $4.8 million.
The local chapter of the Sierra Club has filed suit, alleging that State Parks illegally allows off-highway vehicles to ride on 584 acres within the park that is owned by the county but leased to the state.
The Sierra Club maintains that coastal planning documents designate the land as a buffer zone between riding areas and ecological preserves within the park. State Parks, though, says the park’s General Plan allows for off-highway vehicle riding in the county’s 584-acre La Grande Tract.
The suit seeks to force the removal of off-highway vehicles from the county land.
State Parks officials and off-road enthusiasts argue that the county parcel has been used for riding for decades, and the park is one of the last places in the state where people can drive on the beach.
Arguments also have been made that off-roaders bring in tens of millions of dollars a year to the local economy. However, there is disagreement over those numbers, and nobody has conducted a formal survey to see whether some or all of that money could be retained with a different use of the Dunes.
The Thursday meeting is in anticipation of the state conducting an environmental impact study that would measure the effect of its buying the land.
When: 6-8 p.m.
Where: Ramona Garden Park Center, 993 Ramona Ave., Grover Beach