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SEMA and Major OHV Groups File Lawsuit to Protect Off-Roading at Oceano Dunes

By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff

SEMA and other organizations representing the off-highway vehicle (OHV) industry and enthusiast community are seeking to overturn a March 18, 2021, decision by the California Coastal Commission (Commission) to terminate OHV access at the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA). SEMA joined with Ecologic Partners Inc., comprised of the Off-Road Business Association (ORBA), American Sand Association (ASA) and American Motorcyclist Association District 37 (AMA District 37) in filing a lawsuit in California State Superior Court for San Luis Obispo County.

Since 1974, Oceano Dunes SVRA has been a state-designated OHV park managed and operated by the California Department of Parks and Recreation (“State Parks”). The SVRA comprises 3,500 acres, of which less than 1,350 acres of dunes and 3.5 miles of beach provides open riding access for OHVs. In March, the Commission voted to eliminate OHV access within three years.

The lawsuit states that the Commission does not have substantive evidence to support the closure and has failed to conduct an environmental impact review required under the California Environmental Quality Act or consider alternatives.

“The Commission’s decision was unjustified since State Parks has undertaken a three-year public process to develop a long-range management plan,” said Chris Kersting, SEMA’s president and CEO. “It renders meaningless the State Parks’ ongoing effort to adopt a plan consistent with the Coastal Act that will include OHV access to this unique resource.”

“It is important that government agencies follow their own rules,” said Fred Wiley, ORBA’s president and CEO. “The Commission is acting in a unilateral fashion that exceeds its own authority under the California Coastal Act. It is imperative that the courts step in to protect OHV access.”

Oceano Dunes SVRA provides the only opportunity for motorized recreation at a state park along California’s Pacific coast. 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.

For decades, SEMA has supported reasonable land-use policies that include motorized recreation. SEMA remains committed to this mission on behalf of the off-road industry and the enthusiasts who enjoy outdoor recreation. This includes protecting Oceano Dunes SVRA.

The lawsuit asks the court to issue an injunction and vacate the Commission’s March 18 decision to eliminate OHV access to Oceano Dunes.

Questions? Contact Stuart Gosswein at stuartg@sema.org.