Oceano Dunes SVRA Public Works Plan - Delayed Again?

Delivery of the much anticipated Oceano Dunes Public Works Plan (PWP) to the California Coastal Commission has again been delayed, ostensibly to allow time for the new Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR), Armando Quintero, to become more familiar with the PWP and the background leading to its development. At the October 8, 2020 meeting of the Coastal Commission, Mark Gold, Deputy Secretary for Ocean and Coastal Policy, California Natural Resources Agency opened the State Parks presentation. He spoke for Natural Resources Agency Director Wade Crowfoot and explained that, because of the environmental concerns related to wildlife habitat, it had been decided that California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) and DPR needed to work more closely together to complete a PWP. DPR Director Quintero, and DPR Director Charlton Bonham then discussed their how their respective teams would be working together. Quintero committed to completing the draft PWP internally by the end of 2020 and to deliver a draft for Coastal Commission review sometime in first quarter 2021. (View the State Parks presentation, click here , and forward to 31 minutes and 45 seconds.)

Background

The Oceano Dunes State Vehicle Recreation Area (SVRA) is currently authorized by a California Coastal Commission Coastal Development Permit (CDP). The Coastal Act requires State Parks to obtain additional CDPs to make any changes to the SVRA not specifically addressed by the primary CDP. For example, State Parks sought and was granted special purpose permits to perform various dust control projects completed to date. The Coastal Act has provisions for an alternative form of development authorization called the Public Works Plan (PWP). A PWP broadly defines the scope of a complex development program. The PWP must be approved by the Coastal Commission. State Parks is preparing a PWP that will cover a range of different changes to the Oceano Dunes SVRA. Once this is approved, State Parks will develop specific detailed plans for individual projects. State Parks would not be required to obtain a CDP to proceed with these PWP projects. State Parks has been working on the SVRA PWP for the past two years. On July 11, 2019, the California Coastal Commission conducted a hearing on the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area (ODSVRA) operations as required by the 1982 Coastal Development Permit that established temporary operating parameters for the off-highway vehicle park. Prior to this hearing Coastal Commission staff issued a report highly critical of numerous failures by State Parks to operate the ODSVRA in a manner consistent with the requirements of the permit, the California Coastal Act, and the San Luis Obispo County Local Coastal Plan (LCP). (See the Staff Report) . Commission staff proposed that 13 major environmental protection measures be implemented in the near term, including support for PM Reduction projects as required by the SLO County Air Pollution Control District. Commission staff also concluded that off-highway recreation on the dunes was not compatible with the requirements of the Coastal Act and Local Coastal Program, and it recommended such activity be phased out. In response to the staff report, State Parks Director Lisa Mangat requested that the Coastal Commission defer action on the recommended changes to allow State Parks more time to address these issues in a SVRA Public Works Plan. After a day of often heated comment and testimony, the Commission voted to defer action, but required State Parks to address the recommended changes in the draft PWP expected to be submitted to the Commission in the summer of 2020. The Commission Chair asked and got from Mangat a verbal promise that the SVRA PWP would address the issues raised by Commission staff. In the days following the hearing, letters from the Commission formalizing this required commitment were sent to State Parks. (See the Coastal Commission Chair’s letter and Executive Director ‘s letter .) =============================================================================================

Friends

of

The

Oceano

Dunes

Challenging

Coastal

Commission

Approval

of

SVRA

Dust Control Projects

The

dust

control

projects

completed

by

State

Parks

from

2018

through

Spring

of

2020

were

authorized

by

several

Coastal

Development

Permits

approved

by

the

Coastal

Commission.

The

legality

of

the

permit

approving

the

2018

projects

was

challenged

in

court

by

Friends

of

The

Oceano

Dunes,

an

OHV

association.

The

basis

of

its

challenges

was

that

the

scope

of

the

permit

was

broader

than

the

work

performed

and

the

environmental

impact

report

prepared

by

State

Parks

for

that

work.

Apparently

the

language

of

the

permit

was

overly

broad.

The

court

ruled

in

favor

of

Friends

of

The

Oceano

Dunes.

To

remedy

this

technicality,

the

Coastal

Commission

approved

a

modified

permit

in

July

2020,

and

approved

a

permit

for

the

2020

dust

control

work.

Friends

of

The

Oceano

Dunes

has

now

challenged

these

permits.

So

far,

the

dust

controls

that

have

been

put

in

place

remain.

The

effect

these

legal

challenges

on

the

completed

PM

reduction measures and future dust control work is uncertain.

=============================================================================================

Mesa Air Facts!

Concerned Citizens for Clean Air
MESA PM REDUCTION NEWS

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