Monday, August 31, 2020

Urge Governor Newsom to Permanently Protect San Onofre!

 



Surfrider and the Save San Onofre Coalition are thrilled to report that the California legislature passed a bill, AB 1426, that will permanently protect San Onofre State Beach. Now, this historic legislation is headed to Governor Newsom’s desk!  

 
Please help us urge the Governor to once and for all protect San Onofre State Beach—California’s 5th most visited state park that is home to the last undeveloped watershed in southern California, houses the world-famous Trestles Beach, endangered species, and contains sacred indigenous sites. 
 
As you may know, for numerous years Surfrider has fought to protect San Onofre from a six-lane toll road.  During our fight, we won many battles.  In 2008, thousands of activists defeated the toll road at the Coastal Commission hearing. In 2016, we successfully settled a lawsuit which secured an agreement that bans Toll Road Developers from building a road through the park. 
 
Unfortunately, two lawsuits have been filed to undo our park protections, and that is why we need the Governor to sign this legislation into law!
 
Send a message to Governor Newsom and urge him to permanently protect for San Onofre State Beach by signing AB 1426. 

 

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Legislation Permanently Seeks to Protect San Onofre






“The coast is never saved, it is always being saved.” This statement was famously coined by former California Coastal Commission Executive Director, Peter Douglas. Surfrider can attest to the accuracy of this statement. Even when we have fought and won a battle to protect a special place, that victory must constantly be maintained. Which is now the case, as we fight to maintain our victory to Save Trestles forever.

For over 15 years, Surfrider has tirelessly fought to stop toll road construction through San Onofre State Beach. San Onofre State Beach, California’s 5th most visited state park, is home to the last remaining undeveloped watershed in southern California and houses ten federally-threatened or endangered species. The park is also home to the world-famous Trestles Beach and contains many sacred Native American sites.

Over the years, we have won many battles. In 2008, thousands of activists showed up to the Coastal Commission hearing, defeating the toll road. In 2016, we successfully settled a lawsuit which secured an agreement that bans Toll Road Developers from building a road through the park.


Unfortunately, two lawsuits have been filed to undo our historic park protections, leaving San Onofre State Beach vulnerable again. But we are not idly standing by and we have received help from Assemblymember Tasha Boerner-Horvath who introduced a bill that will shore up protections for San Onofre State Beach by codifying the judicial decree that currently protects San Onofre State Beach, the Donna O’Neill Land Conservancy, and the San Mateo Watershed.

Please send a message to your elected official and urge them to permanently protect for San Onofre State Beach and vote YES on AB 1426.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Camp Pendleton Supports Extension of Lease at San Onofre State Beach





Recently, Camp Pendleton issued a statement regarding an extension of the lease at San Onofre State Beach. The Surfrider Foundation was pleased to learn about the support to extend the lease three years for San Onofre State Beach. The original lease was set to expire in 2021. A lease extension is exciting to both Surfrider and our partners in the Save San Onofre Coalition who have been working together for more than 15 years to protect the 5th most visited state park from road construction. San Onofre is truly a world-class park—home to the last remaining undeveloped watershed in Southern California, world-famous Trestles Beach, and ten federally-threatened or endangered species. San Onofre State Beach also protects sensitive cultural resources, including the ancient Acjachemen village of Panhe. 

Surfrider believes a lease extenstion will provide the Department of the Navy (DON), which owns the Camp Pendleton property, with a path towards planning for a long-term lease renewal of San Onofre. The timing of the park lease extension would coincide with the decommissioning and dismantlement of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS). In 2024, an easement between Camp Pendleton and SONGS’ operators is set to expire. Surfrider believes a park lease extension will provide the DON with additional time to collectively analyze the issues regarding the park and SONGS leases.  

Over the years, Camp Pendleton has been an incredible steward of the land—mindful of public access while protecting the environment, endangered species and cultural resources. Surfrider looks forward to working with local stakeholders, including the DON, Camp Pendleton, California State Parks and the San Onofre Parks Foundation as a new future unfolds for San Onofre State Beach. As Surfrider has done for several decades, we will continue our work to protect this treasured park for generations to come. To learn more about the Save Trestles campaign over the years, go here.  

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

UPDATE ON TOLL ROAD DEVELOPMENTS OUTSIDE OF SAN ONOFRE STATE BEACH


At the TCA’s March 12 board meeting, they voted to narrow the scope of their planning process for south Orange County to a single alternative.   The Save San Onofre Coalition (SSOC) is pleased to see the developments unfold at this meeting. After public comment consisting of over 50 speakers, the TCA selected Alternative #22 un-tolled as its only project to move forward for analysis in Southern Orange County.

Alternative #22 would be an extension of the already existing Los Patrones Parkway from its current terminus at Cow Camp Rd to a new terminus at La Pata. OCTA would take the lead on construction of this extension which would remain a county arterial on which tolls would not be charged.

This decision came after many months of tension with residents, organizations, and governmental agencies. This move by the TCA marked an end to all of the alignments that had stirred local controversy.

Throughout this process, the SSOC  has steadfastly and successfully defended in court its hard-won agreements protecting San Onofre State Beach from roadway development.  Hopefully, TCA’s pursuit of Alternative #22 will persuade those challenging those protections to finally drop their lawsuits.

Thanks for your continued support to keep San Onofre State Beach free from any roadway construction. These protections would have been impossible without the support of conscientious and concerned citizens. And with your continued vigilance and support, the SSOC will continue to protect this park for future generations to come!

Thursday, April 25, 2019

SAVE TRESTLES LEGISLATIVE UPDATE


For almost two decades, the Save San Onofre Coalition has fought to prevent highway infrastructure through San Onofre State Beach, which is one of the top five most-visited state parks in California.  The park protects the last remaining undeveloped watershed in southern California, is home to the world-famous Trestles Beach, and houses ten federally-threatened or endangered species.  
Over the past 15 years our coalition has won many victories to protect this world-class park.  In 2008, thousands of activists showed up to the Coastal Commission hearing, defeating the permitting of a 6-lane toll road and fight for park protections.  And during our hard-fought lawsuit and settlement negotiations, we received support from the California Attorney General and many other agencies and leaders to ensure the park was protected from a toll road.  
While we successfully settled the lawsuit and secured an agreement that bans Toll Road Developers from building a road through the park, we are concerned about recent statements by local government officials calling for building road construction through San Onofre State Beach and other protected conservation land.  Such statements defy the decades-long battle to protect the park and, once again, put San Onofre State Beach at risk.   
Last week, Assemblymember Tasha Boerner-Horvath introduced a bill which aims to shore up protections for San Onofre State Beach. The bill promptly passed successfully through committee.
The Save San Onofre Coalition seeks to mobilize elected officials, municipalities, and members of the public to take action supporting this bill so that it will pass into law.  In the early days of the fight, many leaders, municipalities, and thousands of members of the public endorsed our cause, writing letters, signing petitions, and passing resolutions supporting the protection of San Onofre State Beach. Now, we’re reaching out to inform you of this crucial bill which stands to create additional protections for San Onofre.
We will continue to update you as this bill works its way through the legislative process. In the coming months, we will ask that you reinforce your support for the protection of San Onofre State Beach through communications with the legislature. Thank you for your vigilant and sustained help over the course of the long struggle to protect San Onofre from roadway construction!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

SAN CLEMENTE ARTERIAL & MOBILITY STUDY FINDS A ROAD THROUGH SAN ONOFRE USELESS

In November 2016, after 15 years of battling the Transportation Corridor Agency’s 241 Toll Road extension, the Save San Onofre Coalition (SSOC) entered into a lawsuit settlement and signed a Protective Agreement which protects San Onofre State Park and most of the San Mateo Watershed from road construction in this precious open space. In July 2017, the San Clemente City Council filed a lawsuit seeking to invalidate this Protective Agreement and open the protected area back up to consideration for roadway construction. Apart from requiring the SSOC to defend the Protective Agreement in costly litigation, this action sent a powerful and disconcerting message that the San Clemente City Council could be ok with roadway construction through California’s 5th most visited state park. 

During the past year, council members have expressed interest in extending Avenida La Pata to Cristianitos Rd – a road that would cut through San Onofre State Park. The Save San Onofre Coalition expressed concern that the San Clemente City Council was interested in this arterial. We were worried about this potential road alignment because this arterial construction through the park would pose many of the same detrimental impacts as the southern part of the previously proposed 241 Toll Road extension that we fought against for 15 years. 

On March 1, 2018, the San Clemente City Council held a press conferenceto announce the results of an Arterial and Mobility Study performed by the IBI Group.  This study was conducted to determine the congestion reduction utility of four different roadway development alternatives or “packages.” The study analyzed the traffic releif benefit of the hypothetical La Pata – Cristianitos connection as well as the original 241 Toll Road alignment through San Onofre. The IBI study found that there is virtually no traffic benefit in building an arterial or toll road through San Onofre State Park.

At the City Council’s March 6, 2018 meeting, the IBI engineers presented these same conclusions to the San Clemente City Council. At that meeting, Councilmembers Lori Donchak and Kathy Ward both express opposition to a toll road through San Onofre State Park in their post-presentation comments. (Beginning 24:15)After Councilmember comments, the council voted to submit an arterial plan that excludes both the La Pata – Cristianitos connection and the 241 Toll Road extension through San Onofre State Park. 

As far as the SSOC is concerned, the conclusions of this IBI study are great news. The study shows that there is no need for any road through San Onofre State Park, and the San Clemente City Council is now on record as not pursuing such a road. We are thankful for the City Councilmembers who have spoken out against the toll road through San Onofre both from the dias and in print media

The other great news about the conclusions of this IBI Study is that it presents an opportunity for the San Clemente City Council to suspend it’s lawsuit. The City Council’s lawsuit against the TCA and the SSOC only seeks to invalidate the Protective Agreement which prohibits road construction through the Avoidance Area. Since the City Council has now gone on record supporting a plan which excludes any such road construction it has no reason to invalidate the Protective Agreement. If the City Council is no longer studying or advocating for a road through the park and the open space protected in the Avoidance Area, there is no longer any motivation to include this important open space in any future discussion of roadway construction. 

Common sense dictates that the San Clemente City Council could save significant taxpayer money and effort by suspending its lawsuit.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Can Someone on The San Clemente City Council Step Up and Help Stop Misinformation? Please.

Despite the Save San Onofre Coalition (SSOC) winning a 15-year battle to protect San Onofre State Beach from a toll road development, and settling a lawsuit to codify permanent protection of the park, the City Council of San Clemente and the Reserve Management Corporation filed lawsuits to undo our historic settlement 

Clearly, these lawsuits are disheartening.  However, what is even more concerning is that for the past year a false narrative has been circulating around San Clemente about SSOC’s lawsuit settlement with the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA). In July of 2017, rather than sitting down with SSOC to learn more about the Protective Agreement secured to save San Onofre State Beach, the San Clemente City Council chose to perpetuate flat-out misinformation. As recently reported, the public learned the City Council hired a PR firm. Upon reading a memo from the  PR firm, we learned the City Council spent taxpayer funds to drive a mistruth that SSOC took a $30 million payout during the settlement negotiations.

SSOC did not receive a $30 million bribe, or any other amount of money. Not even a $1.00. As clearly stated in the Settlement Agreement, $28 million was set aside by TCA in a conservation fund to be spent on mitigation if the TCA builds any project that impacts the area’s environment. This money is held by the TCA and can only be used on conservation efforts such as habitat restoration, land acquisition, and other activities that preserve and restore San Mateo Creek and its watershed. None of the funds in the conservation fund has ever been, nor ever will be, paid to SSOC or its members organizations.

Not only is the narrative that SSOC took a huge payout patently false, but unfortunately it is coming directly from elected officials and staff at the City of San Clemente. Starting in March of 2017, San Clemente City Councilmembers introduced the idea that SSOC took huge sums of money from the TCA. Following these misstatements, we attended a later City Council meeting and asked them to correct their misstatements. To this day, no such correction, even in light of black-and-white text proving otherwise, has been made. Instead, city officials continue to perpetuate this knowingly false narrative. This video shows the misinformation being espoused from the dais and SSOC testifying to set the record straight (this was from nearly a year ago!).  

While it is a shame that SSOC was subject of a false narrative, drummed up by a taxpayer-funded PR campaign, the most disturbing element is that San Clemente residents were fed misinformation by their own elected officials. Hiring a PR firm was not the misdeed. The misdeed was engaging in a misinformation campaign that pitted neighbor against neighbor. Rather than sit down with SSOC and engage in constructive dialogue, city officials chose to misrepresent the protective agreement SSOC won in a 15-year-long battle to protect San Onofre State Beach.

San Clemente residents, how are our city’s elected officials using our tax dollars? Why did the City Council and staff knowingly spread false information? To find out more about the importance of protecting the Park read the resources we have here.

The SSOC is comprised of 12 national and local organizations representing millions of Californians with Staff members and constituents living in South Orange county and San Clemente.


Monday, August 14, 2017

Defend Trestles and San Onofre Park. Sign Petition.




After 15 years of hard work by thousands of passionate advocates, the Surfrider Foundation and Save San Onofre Coalition signed a historic settlement agreement that forever saved the Trestles surf break and San Onofre State Beach. This agreement protected a state park enjoyed by millions that contributes more than $8 million annually to the economy of San Clemente. The settlement brought an end to one of the most hard-fought environmental battles in California history, protecting the coastline for current and future generations.
 
Now, Trestles and San Onofre State Beach are again threatened. Congressman Darrell Issa is considering taking action to try to reverse this permanent protection. To compound the situation, two lawsuits were recently filed by the City of San Clemente and The Reserve Management Corporation to undo our historic settlement. By filing the lawsuits, the San Clemente City Council and The Reserve Corporation are both supporting a toll road route that would devastate San Onofre State Beach. 
 
We need your help! Sign our petition now to show your support for San Onofre State Beach and your opposition to the attempts to reverse the hard fought permanent protection of Trestles and the state park. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Two Wrongs Don't make a Right

Congressman Issa and the City of San Clemente should know that "two wrongs don't make a right." But that doesn’t appear to be the case because they are both trying to dismantle a lawsuit settlement that permanently protects San Onofre State Beach.  The lawsuit settlement was reached between Save San Onofre Coalition (SSOC) and the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) after a 15-year battle to protect San Onofre from a toll road.

Congressman Issa flat out said that he wants to undo the settlement and work with the Marines to build a road through the park.  Then, this week, the City of San Clemente announced it will file a lawsuit against the TCA challenging the settlement that permanently protects the park.  By filing a lawsuit, the City is effectively saying they want a road to go through the Park.  The SSOC is not making that assumption flippantly.  In addition to wanting to undo our protective lawsuit, city councilmembers said at a March 21 council meeting that they “want an arterial that connects La Pata to Cristianitos”—that, my friends, is secret code for “build a road through the park.” 
Look, we understand there are going to be diverging ideas amongst local communities about the best way to solve traffic—but one thing is exceptionally clear—thousands of people have already adamantly opposed building a road through a park.  

Remember the 4,000 of us who attended the Coastal Commission hearing and the 3,500 who attended the Secretary of Commerce hearing in 2008 to protect San Onofre?  Oh, and lest not forget the many state and federal agencies that rejected the road numerous times. 
It's extremely tone deaf to dig up these tried-and-failed plans again. It has been proven repeatedly that people from around the world cherish San Onofre State Beach—California’s 5th most visited state park that brings in 2.5 million visitors a year who contribute to the local economy. 

News flash: It’s time to move on! Building a road through a State Park is an outdated idea that sabotages the majority voice. However, if the City of San Clemente and Mr. Issa want to target the Park again, the SSOC is ready to do what we have done successfully for 15 years—rally thousands of people to protect our beloved park from a road, and influence the flawed decision-making. 

For more information about the victory that was made possible with the help of thousands of passionate and motivated advocates who stood up to forever protect San Onofre State Beach and Trestles, read this blog and read this FAQ about our lawsuit settlement.  If you live in Congressman Issa's district, send him a message asking him to ditch his plans to put a road in the Park. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016



Trestles Saved Forever! 

Landmark Lawsuit Settlement Protects Trestles And Ends 15-Year Dispute Over San Onofre State Beach

It’s hard to believe that 11 years ago, in November 2005, the first throng of Save Trestles supporters showed up at a Parks and Recreation Commission hearing to speak out against a six-lane toll road that was proposed to cut through San Onofre State Beach—irreparably harming the park and surrounding watershed. 

That particular meeting kicked off what later became a historic campaign. 

That fateful Parks and Recreation hearing brought together many different local and national organizations, and, as serendipity would have it, those groups officially started organizing and formed the Save San Onofre Coalition (SSOC). The 12 organizations that make up SSOC represent millions of people who cherish the park and the surrounding watershed.

Over the course of a decade, the SSOC would create history.  This formidable coalition organized the largest public turn out in Coastal Commission history.  In 2008, nearly 4,000 people attended the Commission hearing where the road was unanimously rejected. Following the Coastal Commission vote, the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) appealed to the Bush Administration to overturn the Commission decision.  But the TCA’s appeal decision didn’t stop our activists. Once again we organized! More than 3,500 attended the Department of Commerce hearing to voice strong opposition to the toll road that threatened San Onofre State Beach.

SSOC continued our winning streak in 2013, 2014 and 2015, when both the State and Regional Water Quality Control Boards rejected TCA’s attempts to build the road in “segments.”

These victories, over the course of a decade, helped us arrive where we are today – achieving a landmark settlement that forever saves Trestles!

This agreement settles five lawsuits brought by the SSOC and the California Attorney General and requires the TCA to rescind its 2006 approval of the so-called “Green Alignment” that would have run through San Onofre State Beach (SOSB) and its 2013 approval of its Tesoro Extension project, the first segment of the Foothill South.

The most significant and most hard-fought aspect of the settlement carves out “avoidance areas” that requires TCA to refrain from building or funding a road project within an area that includes San Onofre State Beach, the Richard and Donna O’Neill Conservancy and other critical open space, wildlife habitat and cultural resources in the San Mateo Creek watershed.

In addition to the avoidance areas, the settlement establishes a $28 million conservation fund to help preserve and restore San Mateo Creek and its watershed. View a summary of lawsuit settlement here and a joint public statement here.

The word “historic” is often over-used, but in light of this settlement, today truly is a historic day.  This settlement culminates a decade of hard work to save San Onofre and brings an end to one of the most hard fought, long-lasting environmental battles in California history.

This victory would have not been possible without the thousands of passionate and motivated advocates who stood our ground to FOREVER save Trestles. 



Monday, March 16, 2015

Trestles Saved Again.

SAN DIEGO REGIONAL WATER QUALITY BOARD REJECTS ORANGE COUNTY TOLL ROAD PERMITS


SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board today rebuffed the Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency (TCA) in its attempts to secure a necessary water quality permit for its Tesoro Extension project. The Board voted unanimously 6 to 0 to adopt findings that reinforced its decision of June 2013, when the Regional Board rejected the requested Waste Discharge Requirements permit because the full project impacts of the entire road were not disclosed to it. The Save San Onofre Coalition applauds the Board’s decision. 

The Tesoro Extension comprises the first five miles of TCA’s plan to connect the 241 toll road in Orange County to Interstate 5 in San Diego County. The project is part of TCA’s 16-mile toll road project that would bisect San Onofre State Beach, California’s fifth most popular state park, and protected natural lands in the Donna O’Neill Conservancy. If the full project is built, the state parks department has indicated it will abandon 60% of the state park because of the damage the toll road would cause.

The Board rejected TCA’s application for a Waste Discharge Requirements permit because TCA had failed to adequately disclose and mitigate the damage the project would cause to water quality and other natural resources. The vote today to adopt legal findings explaining why it rejected the toll road project represents the third time the Board has voted to stop the 241 extension project because of environmental concerns.

The TCA has spent more than $300 million in public funding for a project that has been repeatedly turned down. In fact, 78 percent of Orange County opposes building the proposed toll road through San Onofre State Beach, according to an August 2014 poll. 

Following is a statement from Elizabeth Goldstein on behalf of the Save San Onofre Coalition:

“The Board today voted to protect our water quality, our parks and beaches from this destructive toll road project. We commend the Board for upholding California’s water quality laws and protecting the public interest,” commented Goldstein.

“The Board responded to the overwhelming evidence that the Tesoro Extension is no more than an attempt to commence construction of a larger, environmentally destructive that has been rejected by the Board and every other agency that has considered the project to-date.”

“This project needs to be rethought from the ground up, or abandoned, rather than twisted to accommodate every rejection the TCA experiences.” 

About the Save San Onofre Coalition
The Save San Onofre Coalition includes a wide range of organizations including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the California State Parks Foundation, Endangered Habitats League, Surfrider Foundation, Sea and Sage Audubon Society amongst others convened to prevent the destruction of San Onofre State Beach by the Foothill-South Toll Road.