March 2021 Hearing Report

Mandy Sackett
March 1, 2021
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March Hearing Description

The March Coastal Commission meeting took place virtually on March 10-12 with a special meeting on March 18. On Thursday, the Commission approved a utility pole replacement project and habitat restoration near Temescal Ridge Fire Road in Palos Verdes, a follow up permit to a previous enforcement action. The Commission also approved the Long Beach Grand Prix event permit. On Friday, the Commission denied a permit for a new mixed-use development in Pacifica. The special meeting on March 18 was held to review State Parks’ coastal development permit on allowable uses and intensity of use of Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area. This meeting resulted in 3 vote charts.

Oceano Dunes

It’s official! At the March 18 special meeting, the Coastal Commission unanimously voted to phase out Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) use at Oceano Dunes over the next three years, opening opportunities for conservation and peaceful recreation on the beach. This is the culmination of efforts spanning decades.

For decades California State Parks has failed to enforce its own rules and regulations at Oceano Dunes, and the community and creatures have been paying the price: the area has some of the worst air quality in the nation and dune buggies regularly crush snowy plovers under their tires while tearing up the dunes. Additionally, the people who live in Oceano have been unable to enjoy the sort of restorative recreational experience most of us take for granted in California due to their beach being, in essence, a highway.

The 2020 closure of the ODSVRA due to COVID-19 provided a window into what Oceano Dunes might look like without OHVs. Low-impact recreation thrived, natural dunes formed, beached marine mammals were protected and snowy plovers expanded their breeding grounds. People from all walks of life were able to enjoy the beach in its natural state.

After this historic decision, Oceano Dunes can now permanently become the environmental gem that’s been hidden beneath tire tracks for all these years. Read the Surfrider Foundation’s full blog on this here!