Law & Order

SEMA, EcoLogic Partner Lawsuit Seeks to Protect Motorized Recreation at Oceano Dunes

By the SEMA D.C. office

The Specialty Equipment Market Association's (SEMA) joint lawsuitSEMA with EcoLogic Partners--a legal collaboration between the Off-Road Business Association (ORBA), American Sand Association (ASA) and American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) District 37--challenges the California Coastal Commission's plans to prohibit motorized recreational and overnight camping access at Oceano Dunes State Vehicle Recreation Area (SVRA). The coalition's lawsuit is scheduled for a June 15, 2023, hearing in the California Superior Court of San Luis Obispo County. 

SEMA and EcoLogic Partners seek recognition from the court that the California Coastal Commission does not have the authority to terminate off-highway vehicle (OHV) use and beach camping at the state-authorized and legislatively sanctioned Oceano Dunes SVRA. The lawsuit is combined with a suit filed by Friends of Oceano Dunes making similar allegations. 

SEMA, ORBA, ASA and AMA are leading advocates for motorized recreational activities, and the upcoming hearing marks a crucial moment in the ongoing battle to protect motorized recreation access in California and across the United States.

Oceano Dunes SVRA is a premier destination for motorized recreation enthusiasts and tourists alike as the only off-road park in the state offering direct access to the Pacific Ocean. For decades, recreationists and off-roaders have enjoyed riding all types of motorized vehicles, from trucks and SUVs to dune buggies and quads, on the California beach, which is now threatened by the Commission's March 2021 amendments to Coastal Development Permit 4-82-300 that demanded the California Department of Parks and Recreation phase out OHV access to Oceano Dunes SVRA by 2024.

"SEMA advocates for land-use policies that provide motorized recreational access to publicly owned lands while providing reasonable safeguards needed to protect natural resources," said SEMA President and CEO Mike Spagnola. "The Coastal Commission's efforts to stop off-road access at Oceano Dunes are unreasonable and set a dangerous precedent. Oceano Dunes is enjoyed by more than two million enthusiasts and tourists each year. SEMA is committed to their rights to responsibly recreate on California's coast and public lands throughout the country."

The Honorable Tana Coates is the presiding judge for the June 15 hearing. The judge is expected to issue a final decision in July or August. Any additional appeals following this ruling could extend the outcome of this litigation for an additional 10-13 months.

The trial court's decision is critically important to SEMA and EcoLogic Partners' efforts to protect motorized recreational access at Oceano Dunes.

For more information, contact Eric Snyder at