APCD Hearing Board Issues Amended Stipulated Order of Abatement

On August 1, 2019, State Parks submitted to Gary Willey, Air Pollution Control Officer (APCO), and the Scientific Advisory Group (SAG) a draft  of the 2019 Annual Report and Work Plan (Work Plan).  The Work Plan is required by the original Stipulated Order of Abatement (SOA) to describe in detail the measures taken and proposed by State Parks to reduce particulate matter emissions from the Oceano Dunes SVRA.  Contrary to the requirements of the SOA, State Parks did not consult with the SAG before making this submission.  On August 26, review comments requesting revisions were returned to State Parks.   Since then State Parks made a second and third resubmission.  Each was found by the APCO and SAG to be deficient with respect to the requirements of the original SOA. As a consequence, on November 1, Gary Willey submitted to the APCD Hearing Board a petition requesting a modified or new Order of Abatement.  At a hearing on November 18, 2019, the APCD Hearing Board heard testimony from Willey and APDC staff, State Parks and the public.  State Parks was represented by Lisa Mangat, Director of California Department of Parks and Recreation.  She committed to the Hearing Board a new resolve to comply with the requirements of the SOA.  The Hearing Board then approved an Amended Stipulated Order of Abatement (see the Amended SOA and original SOA).   The Amended SOA required the following: Changes in the process for submitting, reviewing and approving Annual Reports and Work Plans, setting time frames for completing of each aspect. Fencing of 48 acres of foredunes by January 1, 2020.  This has been completed. Start of planting these 48 acres by April 1, 2020, contingent on CEQA and Coastal Development Permit approvals. Fencing and installation of 40 acres of seasonal wind fencing by  April 1, 2020. Fencing of 4.2 acres of permanent dust controls in a highly emissive area by June 1, 2020 Completion of all other dust controls as required by the original SOA. The Amended SOA also required State Parks to submit a revised Annual Report and Work Plan (click here) addressing the above by January 1, 2020, which State Parks did.  It also submitted a project proposal (click here) for the 40 acres of seasonal dust controls and the 4.2 acres of permanent dust controls in a highly emissive area identified in the Amended SOA.  In this plan State Parks stated completion of the seasonal wind fencing would not be completed until May 15.  Also, it proposed putting the 4.2 acres of permanent dust controls is a different location.  APCO has deferred approval of the plan pending compliance with the Amended SOA required completion dates or acceptable justification for the schedule change.  (See the APCO’s letter to State Parks and SAG comments.) In December, as required by the original and amended SOA, State Parks hired a consultant to act as project manager for the SVRA dust control projects.  In 2019 little was accomplished toward the PM reduction objectives of the SOA.  State Parks demonstrated a continuation of its long history of denial, resistance, foot dragging and excuse-making. (See the SOA Background page).  The actions by Gary Willey and the Hearing Board to put the Amended SOA in place, the assurances by Lisa Mangat of a reset on State Parks part, and the fencing off of 48 acres for foredune restoration are promising developments.   Links to all documents related to the Stipulated Order of abatement can be found on the APCD website (click here). =================================================================================================================================

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Highway Dune Riding - Commission Action Deferred

At its meeting on July 11, 2019, the California Coastal Commission conducted a hearing on Oceano Dunes SVRA operations as required by the 1982 Coastal Development Permit establishing 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 SVRA 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 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 LCP, and recommended such activity be phased out.  This highly controversial recommendation resulted in hundreds of people participating in the hearing on both sides of the issue.  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 Public Works Plan (PWP) currently being developed by State Parks.  After a day of often heated comment and testimony, the Commission voted to defer action, but did require that State Parks include the recommended changes in the PWP that is to be submitted in the summer of 2020 to the Commission for consideration.  The Commission Chair asked and got from Mangat a promise that the changes would be addressed by the PWP.  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.) It is worth noting that while the Commission staff report called for support for the PM Reduction program, deferral of the recommended changes does not relieve State Parks from proceeding with the dust control projects necessary to comply with the Stipulated Order of Abatement.  Indeed, State Parks committed to the APCD Hearing Board that the SVRA Public Works Plan process would not adversely impact PM Reduction efforts.   

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