Oceano Dunes to remain open to off-roading, for now

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It’s a victory for some valley off-road enthusiasts, at least for now.

In an 8-2 vote the California Coastal Commission rejected a proposal to restrict off-roading at Oceano Dunes, but are asking for a management plan addressing concerns by next year.

It was good news for people fighting to keep the dunes open.

“People need places to play and relieve themselves and that’s where they go,” Terry Burnett who owns Burnett’s Motorsports said Thursday.

Burnett services and builds dune buggies and was among those in favor of the commission’s decision.

“A business like mine, you work on these toys that they have and nobody buys them if they can’t go nowhere,” Burnett said.

The potential economic impact was also heard in the roughly seven hours of public comment.

“It’s been a struggle the whole time to make business work, and it’s a small community, and what you’re going to do is shut that down,” said one man.

Josh Bowman traveled from Fresno to San Luis Obispo to attend the meeting.

“I’ve been going 20 plus years, before high school. I take my kids there. I think the experience, to take away from generations, is just absurd,” he said.

At the other end of the spectrum, the staff recommendation called for an end to off-roading due to environmental impacts..

“Together beach dune complexes constitute 2 to 4-percent of the state’s land mass. Making them one of the state’s rarest landscapes,” said one woman.

Staff and public comment raised concerns over destruction of habitat for endangered species, as well as effects on air quaility.

“Everyday we wake up to the threat of serious air pollution,” one man said.

For now acreage of the dunes will not be cut down.

“It’s a relief for now. I mean It’s going to be a another year. It’s just been going on for so long it’s like you just wish it would come to a head one way or another,” Burnett said.

State Parks must now come up with a management plan within a year and give quarterly updates.

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