Law & Order

California Coastal Commission Votes to Eliminate OHV Access to Oceano Dunes

By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff

On March 18, 2021, the California Coastal Commission voted unanimously to abolish off-highway vehicles (OHV) at California’s Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA). The action was opposed by organizations representing the off-roading community, including SEMA and the SEMA Action Network (SAN), along with car clubs and individual enthusiasts. The Commission also voted to speed up the timetable for ending OHV access, from five years to three years.

The OHV community is reviewing options to address the action, including filing a lawsuit. Two California agencies with jurisdiction over Oceano Dunes have reached different conclusions on OHV access. The Commission cites environmental concerns as a reason to not renew the permit it issued more than 40 years ago granting OHV access. On the other hand, the California Department of Parks and Recreation (State Parks) which manages the area in collaboration with the California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission, is currently reviewing public comments to its proposed Public Works Plan (PWP) for long-range management of the SVRA to include continued OHV access. The deadline for submitting comments on the draft PWP is April 19, 2021.

Oceano Dunes SVRA encompasses nearly 3,600 acres along the Pacific Ocean near San Luis Obispo, of which OHV use is now limited to 1,500 acres or less. Oceano Dunes became a state OHV park in 1974 and is the only such park on California’s coast. It has been enjoyed by outdoor enthusiasts from across the country for decades under a permit first issued by the Commission in 1982.

OHV recreation is an important contributor to the local economy. While bringing pleasure to thousands of enthusiasts, the monies spent at area stores, motels, restaurants and gas stations support jobs and generate tax revenues. SEMA will continue to fight to keep Oceano Dunes as an OHV recreation resource.

For more information, contact Christian Robinson at