Keep Oceano Dunes closed to vehicles during the pandemic to protect public health

0 have signed. Let’s get to 2,500!

California State Parks temporarily closed vehicle access to the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and visitation surges. 

State Parks is under enormous pressure to reopen the park to vehicular recreation as soon as possible, and State Parks is currently working with SLO County's Public Health Department to make this happen. We think this action would be premature and dangerous during the pandemic.

A study available on the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division's website, estimates that 1.8 million people from outside of SLO County visit the Oceano Dunes District each year. The largest number of visitors come from the Central Valley (39%), followed by Southern California (18%), and the Bay Area (17%). Of the total out-of-county visitors, 19% come from Fresno and 17% come from Bakersfield.

It’s widely known that the Central Valley has become a hotspot for the coronavirus in California. According to ABC30 Fresno’s coronavirus tracking system, as of September 11, 2020, Fresno County has had 26,783 cases and 337 deaths, while San Luis Obispo County has had only 3,222 cases and 23 deaths. Now is not the right time to reopen the Oceano Dunes to vehicular recreation.

State Parks' own website currently reads:

"This park continues to be temporarily closed to vehicular access… to protect public health from the COVID-19 pandemic. Although this park is open to local residents, they must abide by the following guidelines:

  • Stay Local: Walk or bike into the park. Do not drive to the park.
  • Stay Active: Keep walking, jogging, hiking and biking. Watch for one-way trails.
  • Stay Safer at 6 Feet: Maintain a physical distance of 6 feet or more. Gatherings, picnics and parties are not allowed. Visitors are being asked to leave if there are too many people at the park or on trails to allow for the required physical distance.
  • Stay Clean: Be prepared. Bring soap/sanitizer and pack out all trash.

"Statewide, many parks and beaches are temporarily closed or have very limited access to ensure Californians are abiding and practicing physical distancing. The goals are to make sure people are safe and to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 as much as possible.”

For the reasons presented on State Parks' website, the park must remain closed to vehicular access for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic or at least until the number of COVID-19 cases in SLO County and surrounding counties falls within acceptable levels in accordance with the state's criteria.

Protecting our public health must be the priority. Therefore, we call upon our local Public Health Officer, Dr. Penny Borenstein, and the Director of California State Parks, Armando Quintero, to help prevent the spread of coronavirus by keeping the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area closed to vehicles. Doing so will avoid dangerous visitation surges in San Luis Obispo County from areas with higher rates of COVID-19.