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CA State Parks to work on finalizing Oceano Dunes work plan

Greta Mart
The entrance to the Oso Flaco Natural Area.

January 24 is the deadline to submit public comment on a draft long-term planby California State Parks for Pismo State Beach and Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area (ODSVRA). Part of the plan calls for development of the Oso Flaco Lake Natural Area. State Parks isproposing to pave the area and create a new campground for RVs, cabins and tents, but many Central Coast residents are against it.

“The whole region should be a part of this conversation about what we want to do with this undeveloped land, because I think every little icon [CA State Park planners] add to their planning document—the lifeguard tower, the plumbing, the electricity, the RV camping needs—everything they add will put more pressure on the environment,” said Arroyo Grande resident and Oso Flaco regular Leif Behrmann.

Other aspects of State Park’s new Public Works Plan (PWP) includes changes to Oceano campground infrastructure, changes to the current park entrances and adding sewer lines, electrical utilities and bathrooms to other areas of the parks.

As work on the new plan got underway in spring of 2019, Dan Canfield, acting deputy director of the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation division of California State Parks, said the public works plan is described by the California Coastal Act.

“It's a way for us to propose a group of projects that would be implemented over a long period of time under one packagem as opposed to developing projects one at a time,” Canfield said.

But it’s proposed changes to Oso Flaco Lake that’s getting the most community pushback.

It will ultimately be up to the California Coastal Commission (CCC) to decide whether or not to approve all or parts of the new plan. A commission spokesperson told KCBX News this week the public works plan is tentatively scheduled for the September 2020 commission meeting in San Luis Obispo. And that commission staff continue to remain wary of State Parks’ direction as demonstrated through what’s been proposed so far in the draft public works plan.

“To date the Commission has not seen any draft PWP language that reflects an appropriate plan that can be found consistent with the [local coastal program] and Coastal Act,” wrote CCC staff in a July 2019 letter to the head of California State Park, which spokesperson Noaki Schwartz said this week articulated the current stance of commission staff.

“State Parks’ recent PWP proposal to construct a new campground, staging, riding, and OHV entrance at Oso Flaco Lake presents what appear to be serious [local coastal program] inconsistencies related to agricultural conversion and [environmental] degradation, at a minimum. Moreover, in place of circumscribing ODSVRA uses and activities in ways that resolve the issues and problems...it actually would appear to increase OHV use and related coastal resource impacts. The Commission does not believe that the proposed Oso Flaco Lake project is an appropriate management alternative or approvable...and it appears to indicate that State Parks is not yet pursuing the PWP in a manner that considers all of the coastal resource constraints and sensitive issues relevant here.”

Public comment can be submitted via the website www.oceanodunespwp.com.

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