Friday, July 19, 2019     Volume: 20, Issue: 20

Santa Maria Sun / Commentary

The following article was posted on December 5th, 2018, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 19, Issue 40 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 19, Issue 40

State Parks is a fox in charge of the chicken pen


I am a resident of Oceano. Lately, I have been attending the meetings of  the Nipomo/Oceano local area board for the San Luis Obispo County Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID). I was shocked to learn that State Parks is represented on such a board. Campgrounds or RV parks are not considered lodging businesses as it pertains to the improvement district. Campgrounds and RV parks in the unincorporated county do not pay transient occupancy tax (TOT). Neither State Parks nor county parks pay the business improvement district assessment.

The primary goal of the TBID is to increase occupancy and room nights across all lodging types (motel, hotels, bed and breakfast, vacation rentals) that pay the business improvement assessment along with TOT. Why is State Parks on this board? 

The local area boards, as well as the TBID advisory board, are appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the Board of Supervisors. The bylaws of the local areas allow for a non-lodging member as long as two-thirds of the board is made up of lodging owners and/or a representative of a lodging property. State Parks, then, is on the local area board in Nipomo/Oceano solely as a member of the general public because it pleases the supervisors. The employee representing State Parks is not even a Nipomo/Oceano resident, but there is no residency requirement to serve on the board. How undemocratic that anybody could come over from anywhere and be placed on the board just because it pleases the supervisors!

State Parks is working in the exact opposite direction of what the primary goal of the TBID is: to increase occupancy and room nights across all lodging types that pay the business improvement assessment along with TOT. In fact, State Parks is in competition with the assessment paying lodging businesses because it offers hundreds of campsites on the beach in the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area with who knows how many beds for $10 a night without paying any taxes on them! Besides, State Parks gives concessions to businesses that have pulled trailers to the beach for rental by the night and they do not pay any assessment either! All of these people could be staying in our motels and bed and breakfasts and paying taxes to the county. 

Furthermore, State Parks has been found responsible for polluting the air of Nipomo Mesa and Oceano beach communities by the SLO County Air Pollution Control District and the grand jury. Oceano residents have been impacted greatly by the operations of the recreation area for decades. Problems are well known: abundant trash, traffic, noise, along with impact on our quality of life and access to safe recreation have repeatedly failed to be acknowledged and addressed by State Parks. Our one small beach and Pier Avenue have become State Parks' personal highway. For us residents and non-ATV businesses in Oceano, State Parks is not a friendly neighbor but rather a nuisance.

And on top of it all, State Parks sits on our TBID's local area board! The fox has been put in charge of the chicken pen. 

State Parks is using the Oceano/Nipomo area board for self-aggrandizement and to further advertise the equation that Oceano equals the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area. Oceano is not the doormat to the recreation area. We have plenty of distinctive cultural, historical, and environmental resources to attract tourists if only we had a pedestrian-safe beach! Unsurprisingly, the last few meetings of the board have been held on State Parks' property. 

Lucia Casalinuovo is a resident of Oceano. Send your thoughts or a response to

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