Articles tagged with: oceano

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.

Friends of Oceano Dunes Files Quiet Title Lawsuit to Ensure Continued Camping and OHV Recreation at the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area

Friends of Oceano Dunes Files Quiet Title Lawsuit to Ensure Continued Camping and OHV Recreation at the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area

Friends of Oceano Dunes (Friends) filed a third lawsuit arguing that state law mandates that OHV recreation, beach driving and camping are permanent uses at the Oceano Dunes that cannot be banned by any agency.

Friends’ new lawsuit is known as a “quiet title” action and it argues that public off-road riders used nearly 145 parcels within Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area (ODSVRA) long before the land was owned by the public, and that use created an implied dedication for off-road vehicle recreation, and camping, and also for driving vehicles on the beach. Under state law, neither the Coastal Commission, State Parks, or any other governmental agency has authority to prohibit uses established by an implied dedication. Once established, an implied dedication exists forever.

Friends previously filed a lawsuit claiming that the Commission’s action violated the California Environmental Quality Act, and another lawsuit arguing that the Commission violated the Coastal Act which expressly forbids the Commission from decreasing, duplicating or superseding the authority of State Parks, which manages the park. All three lawsuits are currently pending before the San Luis Obispo County Superior Court.

Friends attorney, Tom Roth, is a well-respected land use attorney specializing in California coastal matters and has led the Friends legal actions for 17 years which include delisting the California Brown Pelican, and has won court victories for Friends against the Coastal Commission, State Parks, Air Resources Board, Air Pollution Control District and the United States Fish and Wildlife Services to name a few.

The Friends Board of Directors has made it clear that “Friends is in it to win it” and “are prepared to file more lawsuits and do what is needed to defend our rights and our culture to have families continue to camp and recreate on the beach and dunes as has been done for over 100 years”. Friends president, Jim Suty also said that “Friends is deeply concerned for those with disabilities who count on driving on the beach and dunes to gain the access that is otherwise not easily available to them in California”. In addition, Suty added, “this is an affordable way for people to camp and spend the night on the overpriced California coast for only $10 a night”.

The Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area is in the central coast of California near Pismo Beach and attracts approximately 2 million annual visitors and provides over $200 million to the local economy each year. This unique 20 mile stretch of sand and dunes has been enjoyed by families for vehicle recreation and camping that is well documented going back to the early 1900’s. Land speed races occurred on the beach in the 1930’s and the first beach buggy was invented in the 1950’s.

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 root volunteer organization which represents approximately 28,000 members and users of the Oceano Dunes SVRA. www.oceanodunes.org

Coastal Commission decides fate of OHV use at Oceano Dunes

CCC votes to phase out OHV in three years

Coastal Commission decides fate of OHV use at Oceano Dunes

Reprinted from The Sacramento Bee, March 18, 2021

Update, 9 p.m.

In a historic vote, the California Coastal Commission unanimously voted to revise the coastal development permit for Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area to prohibit off-highway vehicle use in the park by 2026.

Read more here: https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/article250028929.html

OHMVR Commission unscheduled meeting February 18, 2021

Zoom meeting February 18 at 8:30AM PST

OHMVR Commission unscheduled meeting February 18, 2021

The Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation (OHMVR) Commission will hold a meeting, on February 18, 2021. This is an additional meeting to the four regularly scheduled commission meetings. Among regular reports, the Commission may desire to send a comment to the California Coastal Commission regarding the approval of the Pismo State Beach and Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area Draft Public Works Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Report (PWP) (December 2020). The public can offer comments to inform the Commission’s comments on the PWP. The Commission may consider writing a letter as a group or the Commissioners may send in comments as individuals who are commissioners. If the Commission decides to write a letter, it may be drafted at the meeting or a draft copy may be brought back before the Commission at the February 26, 2021 Commission meeting. The comments made by the public at the meeting will not be considered actual PWP public comments. If the public has comments on the PWP, those comments shall submitted to the PWP per the instructions on the website https://www.oceanodunespwp.com/en/meetings.

Pismo State Beach and Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA) comments due

State Parks is preparing a Public Works Plan (PWP) for Pismo State Beach and Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA). A PWP is a long-range land use management plan for compliance with the California Coastal Act (Coastal Act) that is reviewed and certified by the California Coastal Commission. The PWP will document existing conditions, consider improvement projects and management programs to improve access for motorized and non-motorized recreation opportunities, and develop policies and programs.

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