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San Luis Obispo County Grand Jury finds Oceano Dunes safe

ATV rentals at the Oceano Dunes
KEYT/Anikka Abbott
ATV rentals teach safety protocols.

OCEANO, Calif. - The San Luis Obispo County Grand Jury released a new report on safety at the Oceano Dunes Thursday.

A newly released grand jury report finds that the Oceano Dunes are safe for ATV riders.

The jury recommended that the county actively promote public safety at the dunes, encouraging riders to be educated to the surroundings and vehicle, be attentive and be mindful of speed.

The jury also recommended that the county look into cost recovery for county services rendered in light of the fact the Oceano Dunes SVRA requires a unique level of support.

Right now, the beach is closed to vehicles during the pandemic. Robert Joel Gonzales went to soak up sun with his family, despite not being able to ride an ATV yet. He echoed the need for safety.

"There's no clock on how long you can and cannot go out there," said Gonzales. "Just take your time, don't be in a rush... Ultimately, it's your safety at hand."

ATV riders said that ATV rental shops all provide safety training. Jesse O'Reilly worked at one such shop before the pandemic.

"I felt safe," said O'Reilly. "As far as the other venders that have been out here, they do a really good job at instructing people."

At any given time, there's two to four rangers on duty at the Oceano dunes. Of their 5,800 annual calls, most of them are for speeding or for dogs off leash.

Last year, six people died in ATV crashes at the dunes. Only one of the six crashes had alcohol as a factor.

"Just because you're out here to have fun doesn't mean you don't have responsibilities," said O'Reilly, adding that riders should not drink.

The report shows most crashes are due to inexperience, speed, or not paying attention.

"When you're kind of looking forward and everything when you're riding, the landscape looks the same," said Gonzales. He said it can be hard to see dips in the terrain if you're not cautious.

Riders say they can't wait to go back when the dunes open to vehicles.

Community / Lifestyle / Outdoors / San Luis Obispo County
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Anikka Abbott

Anikka Abbott is a weather anchor and reporter for NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Anikka, click here.

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