By Don Amador
January 4, 2021
PARK DUNE PLAN KICKS SAND IN FACE OF OHV
On December 31, 2020, California State Parks (PARKS) released its much anticipated Draft Public Works Plan (PWP) and associated Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for Pismo State Beach and Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA).
LINK TO DRAFT PWP (comments due March 2, 2021)
After attending – and speaking at - the December 3, 2020 OHV Commission meeting, many in OHV leadership and other stakeholders had hoped the draft PWP would address our concerns about the planning effort having nothing to do with enhancing OHV recreation but rather was adding momentum to ongoing political efforts that seek to permanently ban OHV recreation at the SVRA.
My comments at the commission meeting also centered on the PWP potentially supplanting the 1982 Coastal Development Permit (CDP) that authorized current levels of OHV activities including beach camping.
Unfortunately after doing a speed read of the Executive Summary and the Plan, it appears our comments fell on tone deaf ears based on some of my initial takeaways from the draft Plan.
KEY POINTS OF CONCERN IN THE DRAFT PWP
Addresses failure in the initial PWP process to include any meaningful benefits to OHV recreation by creating a “future” OHV enhancement concept that might be considered AFTER the Oso Flaco Improvement Non-Motorized Project is completed.
RESPONSE: OHV representatives have stated all along the Oso Flaco Improvement Project must include motorized access and camping immediately and not at some uncertain future date.
Addresses failure in the initial PWP process to include any meaningful benefits to OHV recreation by stating they might purchase a hazardous waste site - where OHV families can play and camp - from Phillips 66 if the property becomes available for acquisition.
RESPONSE: Placing OHV facilities at hazardous or toxic waste sites is insulting to the OHV community. It would place an exorbitant cleanup fiscal burden on the OHV program and nobody wants their children to play on an old toxic waste site. This OHV option also places OHV recreation and camping that much closer to the Mesa residents.
Addresses concerns in the initial PWP process about it supplanting the CDP by stating it does not affect or remove State Parks’ vested rights as a State agency that were codified in CDP 4-82-300 relating to park use, or other State laws and codes.
RESPONSE: Why worry now about grandfathered OHV use in the CDP when the draft PWP proposes to enact their own draconian OHV use and camping bans that are far more restrictive than allowed in the CDP? Here are those proposed capacity limits.
Interim street-legal day-use limit of 1,000 will be implemented and retained until an updated carry capacity study is completed. This limit is a 62% reduction from the current use limits.
An interim day-use limit for OHVs of 1,000 will be implemented and retained until an updated carry capacity study is completed. This limit is a 42% reduction from the current use limits.
Interim Beach Camping (Oceano Dunes SVRA): 1,000
Phase-out OHV/ATV rental concessions as current contracts expire. All existing agreements are set to term out in April 2022 and would not be renewed with the current scope of services. Phasing out of concessions is anticipated to limit the number of inexperienced OHV riders in the riding area, as visitors would have to bring in their own OHVs.
RESPONSE: Tourists from around the world visit Oceano Dunes SVRA to experience riding an OHV at this bucket-list destination. This feat is usually accomplished by renting an OHV from a concessionaire. Also, people from all demographics and locations often rent an OHV because they cannot afford to purchase one or they want to try out an OHV to see if they want to take up the sport. This phase out of rentals would disenfranchise a lot of stakeholders.
The draft PWP continues to avoid offering any meaningful enhancements to motorized recreation at the SVRA while trying to console the OHV community with promises of potential “future” opportunities at a hazardous waste site or next to the new non-motorized facilities at Oso Flaco.
Nobody likes getting sand kicked in their face and that includes the OHV community.