SEMA, EcoLogic Partners File Lawsuit Over Oceano Dunes SVRA

SEMA has filed a joint lawsuit with EcoLogic Partners—a legal collaboration between the Off-Road Business Association (ORBA), American Sand Association, and American Motorcyclist Association District 37—to challenge the California Coastal Commission’s plans to prohibit motorized recreational and overnight camping access at Oceano Dunes State Vehicle Recreation Area (SVRA), the organizations announced.

The coalition’s lawsuit is scheduled for a June 15 hearing in the California Superior Court of San Luis Obispo County.

According to a joint statement from the organizations, SEMA and EcoLogic Partners seek recognition from the court that the California Coastal Commission does not have the authority to terminate off-highway vehicle (OHV) use and beach camping at the state-authorized and legislatively sanctioned Oceano Dunes SVRA. The lawsuit is combined with a suit filed by Friends of Oceano Dunes making similar allegations.

Oceano Dunes SVRA is the only off-road park in the state offering direct access to the Pacific Ocean, according to SEMA. Access is now threatened by the California Coastal Commission’s March 2021 amendments to Coastal Development Permit 4-82-300 that demanded the California Department of Parks and Recreation phase out off-highway vehicle (OHV) access to Oceano Dunes SVRA by 2024.

“SEMA advocates for land-use policies that provide motorized recreational access to publicly owned lands while providing reasonable safeguards needed to protect natural resources,” said SEMA President and CEO Mike Spagnola. “The Coastal Commission’s efforts to stop off-road access at Oceano Dunes are unreasonable and set a dangerous precedent. Oceano Dunes is enjoyed by over two million enthusiasts and tourists each year. SEMA is committed to their rights to responsibly recreate on California’s Coast and public lands throughout the country.”

Tana Coates is the presiding judge for the June 15 hearing. The judge is expected to issue a final decision in July or August. Any additional appeals following this ruling could extend the outcome of this litigation for an additional 10-13 months.

Photo Courtesy of California Department of Parks and Recreation

A.J. Hecht

A.J. Hecht is the managing editor of THE SHOP and host of the In Gear with THE SHOP podcast. Have an idea, a tip, or a question you’d like to see answered? Contact A.J. at

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