Opinion: Chambers of commerce oppose Coastal Fee’s plan for Ocean Dunes

–The South County Chambers of Commerce on Friday wrote a letter to the California Coastal Fee asking for a brand new financial evaluation of the Ocean Dunes influence on the native financial system and regional illustration on the fee. The Coastal Fee is March 18 and is predicted to vote to section out off-road autos on the dunes.

Opposition to voting with no accomplished financial evaluation, nor regional illustration on the fee

The South County Chambers of Commerce is honored to signify the South San Luis Obispo County enterprise group and its tens of 1000’s of workers. Our mission is to create partnerships and alternatives to make sure companies prosper. We want to impress upon the Commissioners that you needn’t determine on the phased closure of the Oceano Dunes Off-Freeway State Car Recreation Space (ODSVRA) on the particular assembly on March 18, 2021. Actually, doing so with no accomplished financial evaluation, nor South Central Coast regional illustration on the Coastal Fee might set a harmful precedent for future proceedings of this magnitude, all through the Coastal Fee’s jurisdictional space.

One of many Chamber’s prime priorities for the final three years has been to advocate for the continued use of the Off-Freeway Car (OHV) Recreation Space on the Oceano Dunes State Park and the vacationers this amenity brings to our area. We signify the curiosity of enterprise to authorities for 750 companies in South County. The Oceano Advisory Council doesn’t signify the companies.

Actually, now greater than ever, we’re dedicated to being an efficient advocate for South County companies. For this reason, although we perceive that the native financial system and jobs aren’t central to the Fee’s decision-making course of, we consider it is very important perceive the present state of the South County financial system and impacts we already know to be coming to the area within the close to future.

Present financial state and extent of identified and unknown impacts

The South County companies that can, little doubt, undergo irreparable impacts by taking the motion proposed, are selecting up the items of the closure brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. These companies didn’t have the chance to arrange for the pandemic shutdown and its impacts on their operations (within the quick, or long run). We consider the extent of those impacts is not going to actually be identified for a number of years to return.

Lately, the companies have realized that they might quickly be dealing with one other detrimental influence to their enterprise, the closure of OHV and avenue authorized driving on the Oceano Dunes State Park, and thus the OHV vacationer spending this brings to their companies.

Tourism to the Oceano Dunes SVRA is a major financial driver in South San Luis Obispo County. Guests and locals have been having fun with the seaside of their autos because the flip of the final century and a particular financial system has fashioned round this exercise.

Previous to COVID, the Chamber and our regional companions had begun to plan and put together for the decommissioning of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Energy Plant, the most important non-public employer in San Luis Obispo County. This closure will consequence within the lack of 1,500 high-wage jobs. Moreover, Phillips 66 has introduced the closure of their Nipomo Mesa Refinery and the lack of one other 200 high-wage jobs.

Significance of an entire and present financial influence evaluation

There isn’t any current Financial Influence Evaluation to supply measurable information to assist an knowledgeable resolution by the Commissioners. The Fee’s mission is to guard coastal entry and sources. Due to this fact, we perceive that the native financial system and jobs just isn’t central to the Commissioner’s decision-making course of. The latest examine in 2016 was commissioned by State Parks and did have flaws within the methodology. There’s additionally a conflicting report from Affiliate Professor Patel that additionally has methodology flaws. It also needs to be famous that Patel has been lively in his assist of the closure of the OHV use on the park.

Nonetheless, as mentioned above, the native financial system and jobs are central to the Chamber’s mission—and financial improvement is a prime aim for our native cities and unincorporated County communities. We’ve spoken with a number of companies, together with a number of from Oceano, that said their gross sales doubled when the OHV driving reopened in February 2021. The Commissioners also needs to bear in mind that, thus far there has not been a honest outreach to the Spanish-speaking residents of Oceano. Their voice has not been heard on this difficulty and plenty of of those residents work within the native eating places and accommodations that can be impacted.

We’re scheduled to open a Request for Proposals for an Oceano Dunes State Park Financial Influence Evaluation in partnership with the native municipalities: SLO CAL, the San Luis Obispo County Tourism Advertising and marketing District, REACH, the Central Coast regional financial improvement group; and the County of San Luis Obispo.

Regional illustration on the Coastal Fee

The agenda requires the Commissioners to make a landmark resolution, which can expound powerfully unfavorable impacts upon the South County financial system, with out the enter of a Commissioner representing the impacted area.

The South County Chambers despatched a letter to the Governor and the Coastal Commissioners respectfully requesting that the Fee postpone this agenda merchandise till there’s a South Central Coast Commissioner appointed to fill the current emptiness left by Commissioner Erik Howell. The Oceano Dunes SVRA is a longstanding and sophisticated difficulty with financial, environmental, and public well being elements. A South Central Coast Commissioner will want time to turn into accustomed to the historical past of the park and listen to from the native stakeholders.

The burden of this resolution deserves regional illustration. We’re unaware of a call of such magnitude that has been made with out illustration of the impacted area. Briefly, our space’s seat on the desk is vacant, and the proposed motion would set a harmful precedent for future choices, needlessly, inside Coastal Fee jurisdiction. As such, we emphatically implore the commissioners to chorus from taking motion on this merchandise this night.

In conclusion

We implore the Fee to not make a significant resolution that can have an effect on the local people till there’s a consultant from our area and a radical, unbiased, and sturdy Financial Evaluation has been accomplished.

There are a number of suggestions from employees that haven’t been completely vetted and are unrealistic. For instance, the tenting space in a bit of the seaside that repeatedly experiences excessive tides that might make tenting there unattainable. Additionally, the closure of the Pier Avenue seaside egress can’t be completed with no site visitors examine and a parking plan. Due to this fact, we want to lengthen an invite to the Commissioners and Fee employees to tour the Oceano Dunes State Park, Oceano, and Grover Seashore.

The Chamber is grateful for the chance to work collaboratively with the Commissioners, Fee employees, State Parks, the native municipalities, and the non-public sector to make sure our group is ready and our financial system is diversified.


-2021 South County Chambers Board of Administrators
-Jocelyn Brennan, President & CEO

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