Article: New Oceano Dunes concrete restrooms...

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Article: New Oceano Dunes concrete restrooms...

Post by ChoppedLiver »

New Oceano Dunes concrete restrooms not a comfort to everyone
The six extra ‘vault toilets’ would pollute the creek and could be illegal, some Oceano residents say
By Bob Cuddy

Do you agree with the decision to install new restrooms at Oceano Dunes?
Yes. It'll be great to have nice new facilities. No. They may be illegal and might pollute the beach. Maybe one or two new restrooms, but six? They should have added more! Doesn't really matter to me.
Your vote has been counted, thank you for voting.

The 2 million people who visit the Oceano Dunes each year will have half a dozen new state-of-the-art public toilets in 2009, despite claims from several Oceano residents that the restrooms—and installing them — are illegal and might pollute the beach, Arroyo Grande Creek and the ocean.

The restrooms — each of them 5 feet deep by 40 feet wide —would join eight already there under a plan approved tentatively by the county Board of Supervisors last week.

One of them is a replacement for a toilet that someone burned down.

The new facilities would cut down on long lines and could eventually let the park cut back its chemical toilets to a dozen, according to State Parks local Superintendent Andy Zilke.

At one point, the number of chemical toilets—where chemicals help break down waste—at the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreational Area approached 200, he said.

Chemical toilets need daily servicing and pumping, Zilke noted. The new, so-called “vault toilets” would be pumped twice a year, with the contents trucked along the beach and pumped into the Grover Beach sewer system.

Four people — Nell Lang-ford, Christie Camphorst, Kelly Devaney and Joey Racano —separately appealed a planning department hearing officer’s approval of the project.

They argued that the trucks would harm Arroyo Grande Creek, which empties into the ocean at the Dunes.

They also argued that the project site is not in the vehicular recreational area but rather in the Pismo Dunes Natural Preserve—and therefore not allowed — and that the project would harm the environment, including the ocean.

County planners said the plastic-lined concrete restrooms would be enclosed and designed to prevent spillage.

They added that the crane, trucks and other equipment would not harm the creek.

Larry Bross of Oceano called the new restrooms a “stalking ground” that would encourage greater use of the recreational area.

Bross and some activists have long opposed recreational vehicles on the Dunes, arguing that they create noise, air pollution and traffic and lead to injuries and deaths. There have been 2,500 reported injuries since 2000, and 17 deaths, including a woman killed two weeks ago.

Zilke argued that the state seeks a balance between park use and natural resources, adding: “We do a very good job.”

He said he understands people who don’t want the state vehicular recreational area being there, and he tries to work with them, but “it can’t be a one-sided partnership. The problem can’t be, ‘Should there be (a state vehicular recreation area)’ — there is one.”

These discussions, Supervisor Bruce Gibson reminded Zilke and others, were off the subject of the restrooms, which was the only thing supervisors were there to decide.

In the end, supervisors approved the restrooms so long as a biologist monitors Arroyo Grande Creek when construction and sewage removal vehicles are going over it.

They also asked the County Counsel’s Office to look into whether the site is in the vehicular recreational area or the Pismo Dunes Natural Preserve.

Construction was to have taken place in October and November last year to minimize impact on threatened and endangered species. Because of the appeal, it will be delayed until next October and November.[/url]

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