Letters to the Editor

Shut it down or leave it be? Tribune readers weigh in on Oceano Dunes OHV park

Health more important than ‘fun’

I am calling upon the South County Chambers of Commerce, Pismo Coast Association of Realtors, Friends of Oceano Dunes, and California State Parks OHV Division to publicly explain why dollars and “fun” are more important than the health of thousands of South County residents on the Nipomo Mesa who are slowly developing lung disease due to OHV recreation at Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area.

Please enlighten those of us who would like to make an informed decision as to why this is acceptable.

Christopher Hamma, Arroyo Grande

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Stop the madness

The Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area is not closing.

All the folks spreading this outrageous rumor, including Supervisor Lynn Compton, need to stop and take a deep breath, hopefully not on a bad air day, then go back and actually read the Coastal Commission report.

The CCC staff report has advised changes to the park needed to address the myriad problems caused by the intense and, in some cases, inappropriate use of the park. Their goal is to make the park a safe and inviting attraction to both local residents and out-of-town visitors.

The fear tactics being used to mobilize opposition to the CCC plan do a disservice to all.

The reality is that the ODSVRA is in trouble. Visitors are endangered; some are dying in accidents and folks downwind are being exposed to dangerous air pollution, not to mention the social and economic challenges of Oceano and the environmental damage.

Change must come: Better to be part of the solution than part of the problem.

Rosemary Nelson, Nipomo

Shut down the ‘polluting’ Tribune

Finally, the time has come to shut down The Tribune. The company uses plant-destroying materials for paper and ink. These plants absorb dangerous carbon dioxide. To get the paper to its customers The Tribune uses polluting vehicles to deliver its product.

People who work for this business exhale carbon dioxide, which causes global warming.

The county does not need or want the jobs, economic activity and information The Tribune provides. Just like the county does not need the jobs, economic activity and enjoyment the off-road activity the Oceano Dunes provides.

The opinion of the many people who like to read The Tribune doesn’t matter. The only opinions that matter are those of a few whiners like me. Just like the opinions of the thousands of people who drive vehicles on the dunes don’t matter, only the opinion of a few complainers like The Editorial Board of The Tribune matter. Close down this polluter, The Tribune.

Gary Kirkland, Atascadero

Dune injuries underreported

One of the concerns the California Coastal Commission will be considering this week is the injuries and deaths at the Oceano Dunes. The numbers submitted by State Parks are significantly underreported.

Being an emergency physician and working at the Arroyo Grande Hospital emergency department for over 30 years, I treated many of the injuries from the dunes during my shifts. I also did a study of ATV injuries to children January 2003 until September 2004.

One of my questions during this study was: Did the accident get reported to the park rangers? Of patients presenting via private vehicle, less than 20% of the parents/guardians notified authorities of the injuries. Again this is only patients going to Arroyo Grande Community Hospital emergency department.

I am sure some patients go to other hospitals or go to their own physicians locally or out of the area. Unfortunately, accurate numbers may not be possible, but the number of injuries reported by the state is again significantly underreported.

Larry Foreman, Arroyo Grande

Economic study is ‘rubbish’

On July 11 in San Luis Obispo, the Coastal Commission will discuss the Oceano Dunes SVRA permit, and transitioning the park to passive uses that don’t harm the environment and our communities.

A study is being trotted out to prop up the position that without off-roading, the local economy would crash. This is rubbish, as it doesn’t account for the normal, non-vehicular beach tourism that would replace ATV tourism. No area of the California coast is suffering because they don’t allow vehicles on their beaches.

One need only contrast the economies of thriving Pismo Beach, which banned vehicles decades ago, and depressed Oceano, where such use continues, to see that off-roaders are not essential to success and in fact, are a drag on the nearest community.

Further, the study includes areas in Pismo Beach, such as the monarch butterfly grove. Asking people who visit the ODSVRA specifically to ride off-highway if they would come if there was no OHV park is nonsense. Still, “ATV riding” barely managed a 4% majority over beach campfires and looking at the sunset.

Let’s make Oceano Beach safe for sunset strolls.

Cynthia Replogle, president, Oceano Beach Community Association

Cunningham should stand up for health

I moved to Trilogy three years ago. We see the plume of dust across our community on a regular basis. It’s like a fog, but it has health consequences. About five months ago, after being outside for golf and tending my garden regularly, I began to cough. I attribute it to the particulates coming from the dunes.

I know it isn’t popular to discontinue what one is used to. People have fond memories of the dunes. However, sometimes health issues require the government to take steps to protect the population.

Take smoking, for example. Science showed a link between smoking and cancer. First the packages were labeled. Then, bars and restaurants disallowed smoking. Now, you are hard pressed to find a smoking zone in our area and no one complains any longer because of the significant health benefit of the restriction.

Same with the dunes and its dust. Science now has proven the link between dunes off-road activity and health issues. Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham’s district includes some of the dirtiest air in the country on a regular basis. It’s time for him to stand up for the health of his residents instead of the recreation of visitors.

Irwin Joseph, Nipomo

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