County OKs new pact to guide Nipomo Mesa air quality effort

The county will join with two other agencies to reduce pollutants that arise in the Oceano Dunes and threaten the health of people who live on the Nipomo Mesa.

The agreement between the county, the Air Pollution Control District and the California Department of Parks and Recreation replaces one signed eight months ago.

The earlier agreement had created a decision-making process that was too formal, according to County Administrative Officer Jim Grant.

“Timely completion of remaining tasks will be difficult under the decision-making process required under the current (agreement),” Grant wrote in a report to the Board of Supervisors. He said that procedural steps required under the earlier agreement “have become an impediment to timely completion of the remaining tasks.”

The board signed off unanimously, although some in the audience at the supervisors’ meeting said the new agreement made the machinations of the three districts less transparent to the public.

As to particulate matter on the Mesa, Mike Winn of the Nipomo Community Services District said the Oceano Dunes have existed for eons and will be there for eons. “People whose respiratory systems are compromised probably shouldn’t live there,” he said.

Dunes pollution studies have been controversial from the get-go, in part because they are inextricably tangled with the Oceano State Vehicular Recreational Area and the off-road vehicles that roam there.

Some residents of the Nipomo Mesa have said the off-road vehicles, at a minimum, exacerbate the pollution problem.

Some off-roaders and local merchants fear opponents are trying to shut down the lucrative state park.