In what is likely to be a close vote, the county Air Pollution Control District board of directors will decide today whether to adopt a rule that would subject Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area to fines of up to $1,000 a day if excessive amounts of dust blow from the park.
The meeting begins at 9 a.m. in the Board of Supervisors chambers in the county government building on Monterey Street.
If adopted, the rule would hold the state park responsible for levels of dust blowing off the Dunes on windy days that exceed certain limits. The rule is intended to reduce the number of days air quality on the Nipomo Mesa exceeds state health standards for particulate pollution.
Park managers would have until July 2013 to develop a plan to reduce dust emissions. The off-highway division of State Parks and others critical of the proposed rule have asked the air district to adopt a collaborative approach that does not include fines.
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The board of directors has voted several times to move forward with the process of developing a rule, most recently in September. However, resistance has stiffened recently with the cities of Pismo Beach and Grover Beach and the Oceano Community Services District sending letters of opposition.
In addition to the letters, the district received dozens of letters both for and against the proposed rule. Many of the letters of support came from South County residents who are concerned about the health effects of the blowing dust.
Many of the letters in opposition are critical of a scientific study done by the air district that attributed the excessive levels of dust to off-highway vehicle riding in the Dunes. The study concluded that OHV riding breaks down a crust that naturally forms on the surface of the Dunes, making it easier for sand particles to become airborne.