Appellate court sides with off-roaders in Oceano Dunes case



In the next chapter of a years-long legal dispute over the controversial Oceano Dunes "dust rule," the California Second District Court of Appeal in Ventura ruled in favor of an appeal by off-highway vehicle advocacy group Friends of Oceano Dunes on April 6.

The decision means that the San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District (APCD) no longer has the power to regulate air pollution emanating from the Oceano Dunes through the permitting process. It reverses an earlier SLO Superior Court decision by Judge Charles Crandall that held the permitting process was legally acceptable.

"We're obviously disappointed by the appellate court's decision, but it's really inconsequential to the dust rule implementation process we currently have in place," said APCD Executive Officer Larry Allen. "Over the past 11 months, we've been working cooperatively with State Parks through the 'consent decree' process, which is completely outside of the permitting process."

APCD attorney Ray Biering told New Times he disagreed with the appellate court decision, but added it was "essentially moot."

"This won't end the dust rule, and this doesn't end the APCD's legal obligation to protect the public from air pollution," Biering said. "The consent decree continues, and we continue to work with State Parks to address the dust issue."

Friends of Oceano Dunes attorney Tom Roth hadn't responded to a request for comment from New Times as of press time.

Going forward, Biering said the APCD Board of Directors is aiming to schedule a special closed session meeting to discuss the court decision and possibly take action sometime next week.

The APCD board could pursue a number of different strategies, including doing nothing and accepting the decision, filing a motion for reconsideration by the appellate court, filing a motion to decertify the court's decision, or filing a petition for review to the California Supreme Court.

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