On March 18, the California Coastal Commission will consider State Parks' plan for the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA). The plan includes maintenance improvements but also new development at the Oso Flaco Nature Reserve, including 320 campsites, 270 parking places, convenience facilities, residences for staff, and a new off-highway vehicle trail to the Oceano Dunes SVRA.
The League of Women Voters of San Luis Obispo County opposes this plan. We are committed to preserving the shoreline, conserving agricultural lands, and protecting open space. The plan as currently envisioned is a serious departure from the existing situation and not appropriate for the area. A new major access trail to the dunes riding area from Oso Flaco Lake would inflict damage on a unique designated environmentally sensitive area. The current riding area has generated the need for habitat conservation plans and particulate matter reduction plans. It is inappropriate to introduce disruptive uses into additional sensitive areas thereby exacerbating the impacts to the environment, habitats, and human health.
We urge State Parks to reconsider the scale, location, and timing of any new development proposed for the Oceano Dunes SVRA and to recognize that public policy concerns and our knowledge of the impacts at the SVRA have changed since vehicular use was first introduced to the dunes. We recognize the state directive to provide affordable access to the coast for the benefit of all residents, and we believe that there are other options that will provide a wide range of access while at the same time protecting the very resources to which affordable access is desired.
Ann Havlik and Cindy Marie Absey
League of Women Voters of San Luis Obispo County