Dunes decision delayed



San Luis Obispo County supervisors had no official announcement regarding selling or leasing 584 acres the county owns in the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area after a closed-session meeting April 24.

A week earlier, a lengthy Board of Supervisors meeting didn't bring about a decision on whether to accept a State Parks offer of $4.8 million to purchase the land, in the heart of the off-road riding area in the dunes. The board decided instead to meet behind closed doors to discuss the controversial issue.

"There are issues that need to be resolved before I'll agree to sell," said Supervisor Jim Patterson after the marathon meeting. "It's time to talk of solutions."

Patterson said the county should negotiate with State Parks and the Coastal Commission on behalf of local residents impacted by vehicle use of the beach and dunes.

"People have a right to come and use the park, but I want it done without adverse impacts to the endangered species and the people who live there. I'm fearful if we turn it over to the state, these issues won't be addressed," he said.

Supervisor Katcho Achadjian, whose district includes the dunes, wasn't allowed to vote or to participate in the closed session discussions because of a possible conflict of interest due to his ownership of several service stations in the area.

"It's very frustrating," Achadjian said after the April 17 meeting, where he spoke as a member of the public after receiving a letter from the Fair Political Practices Commission the day before.

Although supervisors didn't want to comment about the closed-session meeting, Patterson did say any decisions about the county-owned dunes land will be made in open session.


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