Oceano Dunes residents raise concerns about safety on beach

Oceano Dunes residents raise concerns about safety on beach

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Oceano Dunes residents continue to raise concerns about the impact that the beach state park has on the community and environment. 
Some want the park to be closed to vehicles.
But a study released by the California State Park shows millions of dollars being generated for the local community by visitors to the park. 
“When you read things in the paper on people getting hurt or killed you don’t see half of what really happened,”said local resident Bob Lyga.

With 3 vehicle deaths already this year.
Several life-threatening injuries.
A shooting, and a lengthy list of other resident complaints Oceano neighbors are asking why are vehicles still allowed on one of California’s most scenic state beaches.

“We have had an unusual circumstance of events that have happened in a short period of time,” said  California State Parks Commander Kevin Pearce.

California State Parks Commander Kevin Pearce says each death at the beach was not related. 

“It's just a matter of circumstance and coincidence,” said Pearce.

But local residents say it's any thing but a coincidence. 

“The dunes they change all the time people take their ATV's over the top, and they roll them over or they hit another one. Its not all the time but its steady. And then deaths,” said Lyga.

Deaths Commander Pearce says are unusually high this year, and are not the norm. 

“We are looking at an average, about one a year,” said Pearce.

Neighbors also say the congestion creates an unsafe environment. 

“I would like to see this as a day use area. Not have to worry about a whole bunch of cars driving up and down the beach and having to work between them to get to the water,” said Lyga. 

The other side to the congestion and community cries is the economic impact the dunes bring.
According to California State Park the dunes bring 2.2 million visitors per year and $243 million dollars to the community.

“This area has always thrived on the revenue by everyone who wants to come here and vacation.
I'd say 80% of those people come here to ride ATV's on the Dunes,” said Ryan Doty, a  4th generation Oceano local resident.

An independent consulting firm the State Park hired concluded that in 2016 and 17 the dunes generated $243 Million for the community. 
$1.9 Million dollars in both state and local taxes.
And $45 million dollars in local housing expenditures. 

“We wanted an extreme beach experience, so we googled ATV California, found out it was here and that is how we built out entire trip for our whole family vacation just on coming her for that,” said a tourist from LA that came to Dunes.

Even with the financial gain, Residents say they are banning together in efforts to restricted vehicle access.  

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