One of two Oceano Dunes lawsuits settled

One lawsuit concerning a contentious 584-acre county-owned parcel within the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area has been settled, but another remains.

At a recent hearing, the group Friends of Oceano Dunes dismissed its lawsuit against the county. The suit by the group of off-road vehicle riding enthusiasts challenged the county’s designation of the so-called La Grande Tract as a no-riding buffer zone.

“The county did not make any concessions in connection with the dismissal,” County Counsel Warren Jensen said.

A separate lawsuit against the county by the Sierra Club over the Dunes parcel has not been settled, Jensen said. That suit challenges an agreement the county made that allows the State Parks department to manage the 584 acres as part of the state park and allows dune buggy riding there.

Meanwhile, State Parks is producing an environmental impact report in preparation for buying the land from the county. Parks managers hope that purchasing the land will settle the issue once and for all.

It is not clear what long-term significance settling the lawsuit will have, said Babak Naficy, Sierra Club attorney. However, it could require the county to amend its local coastal plan, or LCP, for the parcel in order to allow dune buggy riding in the La Grande Tract.

“Amending the LCP is no easy matter because it involves the approval of the Coastal Commission,” he said.

The state and county are negotiating the sale of the La Grande Tract for $4.8 million. If the sale goes through, additional legal challenges are likely, Naficy said.

Reach David Sneed at 781-7930.