Letters to the Editor

Viewpoint #1: Oceano Dunes dust study stirs up debate over validity

I was disappointed in The Tribune’s editorial (Nov. 4) assigning a brickbat to community concerns about the Oceano Dunes Phase 2 Study.

When legitimate questions are raised about the validity of data collected — and a compelling case is made by someone with credentials to back it up — being “darn certain” is a fine idea before handing control of the Dunes over to the Air Pollution Control District (which will likely spark a lawsuit by State Parks). The only winners in that scenario are the lawyers. It certainly won’t help the dust problem on the Mesa.

What is particularly disturbing is that few (The Tribune included) are fully addressing the concerns or looking at all the data. Four monitoring stations on the Dunes are giving data contrary to that from the station used by the APCD. Isn’t that worth discussing?

And enough of the name-calling and personal attacks! Our elected officials, and their representatives, need to be held accountable, but how can they make informed decisions if they refuse to hear anything contrary? No one wants to be seen as an anti-environmentalist, but decisions must be made on information that goes beyond hearsay.

I’m glad The Tribune acknowledged that the local economy is important and that the state is already looking at ways to reduce dust emissions. But until it can be proven that vehicle traffic causes high fine particulate matter, or PM10, it makes more sense to work with State Parks on best management practices. Handing over money and control to the APCD is premature.

Lastly, I believe The Tribune is incorrect in their assumption that “no one in authority is talking about closing the Dunes to off-roaders.” Not true. That’s always been the goal for some of our elected and appointed officials.

It’s clear that “health” is our common goal: healthy residents on the Mesa and a healthy local economy. It’s not a case of “bad neighbors” pitted against each other, as described by The Tribune; it’s an entire community trying to find the right balance of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Put away the brickbat for now.

Judith Bean is president and CEO of the Arroyo Grande Chamber of Commerce.