Oceano Dunes Stewardship Study 2023 

Oceano Dunes is the second most visited destination in SLO CAL with 3.4 million visitors (2019). Following the decision by the California Coastal Commission in March 2021 to end off-road vehicle use at the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area (ODSVRA), it was vitally important to begin developing future stewardship recommendations to mitigate the impact of permanently reduced or a complete phase-out of off-road vehicle use at Oceano Dunes. Visit SLO CAL, the non-profit destination marketing and management organization for the County of San Luis Obispo, commissioned an independent study to assess the area, solicit stakeholder input and understand community aspirations, and identify future use opportunities to help ensure a vibrant future for the Oceano Dunes SVRA.

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Oceano Dunes Study FAQs

  • The Oceano Dunes Stewardship Study research project was funded co-operatively by Visit SLO CAL, the County of San Luis Obispo, and the cities of Pismo Beach, Grover Beach and Arroyo Grande. Visit SLO CAL engaged Resonance Consultancy to conduct the independent study in October 2022.

  • The independent study had two primary goals:

    • Quantify the direct and indirect economic impact of a permanent closure of off-road vehicle use at the ODSVRA for use in possible future state mitigation requests.

    • Identify a range of future use scenarios to ensure the economic, environmental, recreational and cultural stewardship of the State Park.

  • A diverse group of more than 40 individuals and organizations were invited to participate in the research process. More than 30 stakeholders accepted the invitation and provided valuable input into the research through one-on-one interviews, a visioning workshop and an All-Stakeholder's Open House event. Stakeholders participating in the April 19, 2023 virtual Open House event provided input and feedback on preliminary future use scenarios and recommendations. The study's final 20 recommendations were informed and co-developed with the broad group of participating stakeholders.Participating stakeholders included representatives for local businesses, city and county government, California State Parks, environmental organizations, Northern Chumash tribal leaders, tourism leaders, economic development organizations, equestrian groups, off-road enthusiasts, historical experts and Oceano residents. A full list of participating stakeholders is included in the study's final report.

    Resonance partnered with Tourism Economics, a leader in global tourism, data, forecasting and economics, for the study's economic impact analysis.

    Visit SLO CAL did not provide input into any portion of the study and remains an independent, neutral party.

  • The future of the Oceano Dunes stewardship planning process, including additional research, priority-setting and funding, will ultimately be decided by California State Parks and other state agencies, the County of San Luis Obispo, and the three surrounding municipalities, with approval from the California Coastal Commission.

    One of the study's final and key recommendations is the creation of an Oceano Dunes Stewardship Committee comprised of a broad group of stakeholders to determine how best to advance some or all of the study's recommendations. The committee would be tasked with long-term consensus-building and prioritization of the recommendations. Many will require public-private partnerships for additional research, funding mechanisms and project planning.

    Visit SLO CAL is not the owner or funder of any future use recommendation or development at the ODSVRA. Visit SLO CAL does not plan to take a primary role in advocating for specific recommendations or future use opportunities, but instead plans to act as a supporting resource once a consensus is reached by San Luis Obispo County, the three South County municipalities, California State Parks and other key stakeholders.

To request a copy of the Oceano Dunes Stewardship Study report by mail please write to:
Visit SLO CAL, 81 Higuera St. Suite 220, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401