County supervisors expected to approve Dunes dust plan

Residents of the Nipomo Mesa will have another chance Tuesday to talk about their concerns regarding dust blowing in from Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area.

County supervisors will approve an agreement with the State Parks Department to develop a program to control the sand particles blowing inland from the park. The agreement calls for parks managers to develop pilot programs, such as revegetation, to reduce the amount of dust.

There is little doubt that supervisors will approve the agreement. The county Air Pollution Control District’s board of directors — which includes all five county supervisors — approved the agreement last Wednesday, and State Parks officials have already signed it.

Supervisor Katcho Achadjian said he will recuse himself from all votes involving Oceano Dunes because he financially benefits from the park through gas stations he owns in Arroyo Grande.

The agreement calls for a seven-person technical advisory team, which will draw up the specifics of the dust control program. A nine-person management oversight committee will also be named.

Discussion at Wednesday’s meeting indicated that the management oversight committee’s meetings would be open to the public, but the technical team’s meetings would not. The dust control plan will be the subject of a public workshop before it is finalized.The air board told State Parks officials to do its best to have a pilot program in place before spring, when winds are at their strongest. A recent scientific study by the air board concluded that vehicle riding destabilizes the dunes and allows dust particles to become more easily airborne by strong winds.

Air pollution control officer Larry Allen said he expects that the dust control program will reduce, but not eliminate, unhealthy particulate levels on the Mesa.