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Friends of Oceano files another lawsuit against California Coastal Commission

Oceano Dunes 1978 by Betty Burton

Reprinted from Paso Robles Daily News, October 7, 2021

Friends of Oceano Dunes announced on Tuesday it filed a fourth lawsuit challenging the California Coastal Commission’s effort to close Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area (“SVRA”).

In its latest lawsuit, the group alleges that the commission violated its own regulations when it purported to adopt “revised findings” on August 12, 2021. The “revised findings” were for the Commission’s March 18, 2021 action ordering the end of OHV at the park.

“The commission is not legally allowed to change the reasoning that it adopted at the March 18, 2021 hearing five months after-the-fact,” the group said in a news release. “Realizing the validity of Friends’ other pending legal cases, the Commission attempted in August to file papers to create a better record for its March 2021 decision. But the law doesn’t allow that.”

Friends of Oceano Dunes’ President Jim Suty said, “Friends will not stop fighting for our rights to camp and ride OHV on the beach and dunes near Oceano. Our tradition and culture is more than 100 years old. The California coast already has 99.9% of the beaches closed to camping and OHV. There is no fairness or balance.”

Friends of Oceano Dunes is a 501(C)(3) California not-for-profit corporation expressly created in 2001 to preserve camping and off-highway vehicle recreation at the Oceano Dunes State Vehicle Recreation Area (ODSVRA). Friends is a grass-roots volunteer organization that represents approximately 28,000 members and users of the Oceano Dunes SVRA.

Legislators reach agreement with governor to preserve Tesla Park

If approved, agreement will end plans to expand Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area in California

Legislators reach agreement with governor to preserve Tesla Park

If approved, agreement will end plans to expand Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area in California

After several years of advocacy efforts, Tri-Valley legislators Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda) and State Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Orinda) are one step closer to a victory in the fight to preserve thousands of acres of wilderness outside Livermore.

Read the article here: https://www.pleasantonweekly.com/news/2021/09/08/legislators-reach-agreement-with-governor-to-preserve-tesla-park

San Luis Obispo County responds to Oceano Dunes lawsuits

San Luis Obispo County responds to Oceano Dunes lawsuits

Reprinted from The Tribune, July 28, 2021

California State Parks, the California Coastal Commission, San Luis Obispo County and the local Air Pollution Control District have filed responses to the lawsuits they face after the commission’s historic vote in March that effectively banned off-roading in the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area in three years.

The government entities now face two lawsuits, down from the four originally filed after three of the cases were consolidated due to overlapping legal claims, according to San Luis Obispo County Superior Court records.

Friends of Oceano Dunes and EcoLogic Partners allege in the consolidated lawsuit that the Coastal Commission violated state environmental laws by ordering State Parks to prohibit off-highway vehicle (OHV) use at the Oceano Dunes by 2024.

The second suit, filed by Friends of Oceano Dunes — a nonprofit off-road riding group that advocates for continued OHV access to the dunes — asks for a judge to grant a quiet title for nearly the entire Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area. That quiet title lawsuit alleges the area has an “implied-by-law dedication” for OHV use, beach camping and camping and therefore cannot be used for any other purpose.

“Quiet title” lawsuits are usually brought against private landowners and are typically used to “quiet” a dispute over who owns the land.

In this case, Friends of Oceano Dunes in its lawsuit doesn’t dispute who owns the land, just that the owners allegedly are improperly using the land by banning OHVs and camping in some areas of the park.

Attorneys for the San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District and State Parks generally denied all of the allegations in the quiet title lawsuit in separate filings received by the court on July 14 and 16, respectively.

Coastal Commission and State of California attorneys filed a demurrer in the case. That means the attorneys may not dispute the facts but argue that there is no valid legal claim.

“Friends (of Oceano Dunes) seek, in effect, to adversely possess the public’s property for specific recreational uses,” the demurrer says. “This they simply cannot do.”

A hearing is set for Jan. 5 in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court, during which Judge Tana Coates may decide to sustain the demurrer, meaning Friends of Oceano Dunes may be able to revise their case.

If Judge Coates decides to overrule the demurrer, then the case is allowed to proceed as is.

Other Oceano Dunes lawsuit consolidates three cases into one

Only the county has responded to the first lawsuit.

That case, which was originally three separate cases consolidated into one, alleges the Coastal Commission violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) in its vote to ban OHV use at the Oceano Dunes because it did not conduct a proper environmental review to determine whether the prohibition would impact the environment.

CEQA reviews are conducted when an adverse environmental impact is expected to occur from an action or development.

The Coastal Commission’s staff report before the commission’s March meeting did not find that eliminating OHV use at the Oceano Dunes would negatively impact the environment.

The first lawsuit additionally alleges that State Parks also violated CEQA because it was mandated to comply with the Coastal Commission’s ban of OHV use without proper environmental review.

The county, which was named as a “real party-in-interest” because it owns the nearly 600-acre La Grande Tract property within Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area, generally denied all of the allegations against it.

The Coastal Commission, Friends of Oceano Dunes and EcoLogic Partners are currently gathering all administrative records related to the commission’s March vote.

In its lawsuit, EcoLogic Partners alleged the Coastal Commission “has deleted or destroyed records relating to the amendment of CDP 4-82-300 (the Coastal Development Permit for Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area) and any environmental review thereof, and that such destroyed records were required to be retained for inclusion in the administrative record for this action.”

The Coastal Commission has indicated in court documents that those records are held in “approximately 20 bankers boxes of physical documents, as well as an untold number of electronic documents.”

Therefore, the three parties may hire a third-party vendor to help with the gathering of records, which Friends of Oceano Dunes indicated could cost “in excess of $75,000,” according to court documents.

Those records will be compiled and reviewed by the parties over the next few months. A case status conference is set for Oct. 28 in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court to discuss the record preparation.

California smog inspectors to begin checking for illegally tuned vehicles

Begins July 19, 2021

California smog inspectors to begin checking for illegally tuned vehicles

Beginning July 19, California’s Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) may fail motor vehicles during their “smog check” inspection if they are found to have software modifications (tunes) not provided by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) or approved through a California Air Resources Board (CARB) Executive Order (EO).

Read more: https://www.semasan.com/legislative-alerts/california/california-smog-inspectors-check-illegally-tuned-vehicles

Oppose AB1512, SB799 regarding Carnegie SVRA

Photo courtesy Carnegie SVRA Facebook page

Reprinted from this link

Assembly Bill 1512 and Senate Bill 799 seek to stop the Alameda-Tesla Expansion Area from use by Jeeps, 4x4s and UTVs.

If you own one of these recreational vehicles and enjoy seeing nature using them, these bills would eliminate any chance of having this opportunity in the Bay Area. Oppose these bills.

The Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA) General Plan for the expansion area allows one-third of the 3,100 acres to be a buffer zone dedicated to conservation and restoration, in which there would be no motorized travel. The remaining part of the expansion area would be an off-road experience for four-wheel driving and backcountry camping.

An off-road experience doesn't mean you just go out and drive wherever you please. Off-road driving takes place on designated dirt roads, trails or in special off-highway vehicle (OHV) areas. It is an enjoyable form of recreation for all ages and families. It would be fun to explore the hills in this area in a park specifically dedicated and planned for such use.

Carnegie SVRA is to be commended for having the foresight to buy the Alameda-Tesla Expansion Area for OHV recreational use using OHV funds. There is no place in the Bay Area for this kind of off-road nature experience for those of us who enjoy Jeeps, 4x4s and UTVs.

Oppose this legislation by contacting your State Legislator or the Bills' authors, AB1512 Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan or SB799 Senator Steven Glazer.

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