Friday, December 18, 2009

Happy one-year anniversary of keeping the toll road out of San Onofre State Beach!

It was exactly one year ago today that the Federal government ruled to shut down the ‘highway from hell’.  This morning, the Union Tribune ran a front-page story examining some of the steps toll road developers have taken since the Dept of Commerce decision last year.

Surfrider has received several inquiries about what is transpiring.  At this point, it appears there is no “new plan”  A toll road Director is quoted as saying: “We are looking at a host of concepts. I don’t even call them options at this point”.

Regardless, Surfrider continues to keep an eye our Park and surrounding watershed.  We are steadfast in our belief that a toll road doesn’t belong in a watershed that contains a popular park, sacred Native American sites, and some of the last open space we have in Southern California!  

We continue to attend the TCA’s public board meetings and we are present at any regulatory meetings the TCA goes to. Rest assured, Surfrider and our Coalition partners (CA State Parks Foundation, NRDC, Sierra Club, Endangered Habitat League and others) will make sure our Park and watershed remains intact.
Read the article here and please leave comments if you have time.

Speaking of Park Protection….
For those of you who follow California politics you still might be cringing from the threat to close 80% of our State Parks and Beaches. While that death sentence didn’t fully come to fruition, California Parks and Beaches are facing some closures and major cutbacks-- and it will become painfully obvious next spring and summer when people show up at State Parks to realize half of the lifeguards are gone, Park amenities (bathroom, kiosks, etc) are shabby-shape, and a few Parks have a padlock around the gates.

The current State of our State Parks can be described like this:

"Sort of closed, sort of open." That's how Greg Retsinas, an editor at the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, summed up the cutbacks to California's state park system.  Our friends at the California State Parks Foundation are spearheading a statewide ballot measure, slated for November 2010, which would create a stable source of funding for the state park system, wildlife conservation, and to provide increased and equitable access to those resources for all Californians.

Funding would come from an annual State Park Access Pass surcharge of $18 per vehicle. The surcharge would apply California vehicles and they would receive FREE DAY USE ADMISSION throughout the year. Voters need to approve the measure.

The Surfrider Foundation has singed on as an official supporter of this effort because we believe our State Parks need protection.  If you would like to learn more about the State Park Access Pass and how you can gather signatures to qualify it for the ballot please visit 

See a recent blog post about why Surfrider is supporting this initiative (hint: 8 of the ‘top 10’ Parks are located on our coastline!!).

Thank you for your continuing support!  Surfrider is an all grassroots organization and we would not be able to do our work without your support!

Happy Holidays!

Your Pals at Surfrider

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Toll Road Debate Coming up in San Clemente

Last night the SC City Council discussed the 241 toll road and a possible letter opposing any future routes through the city and supporting a route just south of San Onofre State Beach through Camp Pendleton. Watch for a possible debate at an upcoming Council meeting in January.

D.C. trip rekindles San Clemente toll-road debate

A year after the U.S. secretary of commerce killed a controversial plan to run a toll road south of San Clemente through a state park, San Clemente City Council members are concerned about the alternative suggested by the Commerce Department – a toll road through San Clemente.
On Tuesday night, council members said they expect to vote in January on a resolution opposing a toll road into San Clemente.
The topic is back on the table following a trip that now-Mayor Jim Dahl, who represents San Clemente on the Transportation Corridor Agencies – which runs Orange County's toll roads – took to Washington, D.C., with a TCA delegation two weeks ago.
Dahl's colleagues asked him Tuesday what the TCA had talked about and how federal officials responded. Dahl said there was nothing concrete – TCA delegates discussed last year's rejection of the TCA's plan to route a 16-mile extension of the 241 Toll Road from Oso Parkway to south of San Clemente. It would have merged with I-5 at Basilone Road. Dahl said the group also talked about alternative routes that would cut through San Clemente.
Read the rest at OC Register

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Park Protection News: Bills Awaiting Governor's Signature and the State of State Parks

The past few weeks have been interesting for California State Parks. Two very important bills (that Surfrider actively supported during the legislative season) passed out of the Assembly and Senate and are now sitting on the Governor's desk waiting for his signature. He has until Oct 11 to sign. SB 679 (Wolk) protects Parks by setting a requirement that parklands used for “non-park purposes” must be replaced by other park lands that are of equal environmental, recreational, and fair market value.

SB 372 (Kehoe) simply requires the Legislature to make a final decision about allowing any non-park use in a state park system (i.e. the Legislature finally has a say in horrible projects like a toll road through a state park). Please take a minute and urge the Governor to sign the bills:

Finally, as you may have heard last week, the Governor released a statement saying the State would avoid permanently closing several state parks. In the statement, he also proposed major changes to the state park system in order to “close some of the budget gap”. While it’s fantastic news parks will not be permanently closed, some parks will be partially or seasonally closed. He also proposed major reductions in seasonal staff, reductions in hours of operation at most state parks, and reduced maintenance.

This all means having fewer lifeguards on state beaches, poorly maintained facilities (i.e. restrooms, kiosks, etc), that will inevitably impact the health and safety of our parks. Our friends at the California State Parks Foundation say it best:

“We all want to see our state parks open, and it’s been the efforts of advocates that have kept the Governor’s feet to the fire since late May. But California State Parks Foundation isn’t fully celebrating this news yet. While the Governor has found a clever way to get political cover on this issue, it’s not clear that this plan won’t actually leave Californians with just as limited access to their state parks as if they had been fully closed”.

Review their statement for more news on park closures.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Toll Road Update: Rancho Santa Margarita City Council STILL wants the Road!

Photo: RSM City. The Mayor who Hearts the Toll Road

Yep, you read it right. Rancho Santa Margarita still wants the road and the Mayor wishes the Park would go away....!

This week Surfirder had an interesting experience sitting through a City Council meeting where the Mayor and City Council of Rancho Santa Margarita doted over the toll road! They actually had an agenda item to: “discuss the status of the 241 and consider all means to ensure the project is moved forward in a timely manner”.

Surfirder was there to set the record straight in public testimony. We politely reminded them the project is inconsistent with both state and federal law and that the City should be considering some of the creative measures the Orange County Transportation Authority put forward in their Major Investment Study to relieve traffic.

Here is an article from the Orange County Register.

During the meeting, the Mayor flippantly said: “there is a high chance THAT Park will go away very soon” (meaning the Camp Pendleton will not renew the Park lease)….then, he continued to rant about the need for the road and essentially blamed “the Trestles and State Parks people” for making such a stink about the project and subsequently bringing undue public attention/scrutiny to the project .

So, congratulations to YOU, you “Trestles and Parks People” for raising awareness about the horrible impacts of this road and ultimately halting the project from going forward!! If you live in Rancho Santa Margarita, please take a moment to send a very polite, nicely worded, email to the Mayor reminding him that the road doesn’t stand up under state and federal law….AND that as a citizen of Rancho Santa Margarita you are disappointed they wasting City time talking about a dead project.

Here’s the City email list….

In other News….Come and Explore Maps of Marine Protected Areas with the Surfrider Foundation!

After a year of ‘map-making’ and planning, the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) process is in the home stretch. Local stakeholders are putting final touches on the maps and will come up with three different proposals. The three proposals will ultimately be forwarded to the Fish and Game Commission where they will vote on one map they think will work best for southern California.

This is one of your last chances to give meaningful input on where marine protected areas should be located! Please join Surfrider to learn more about the Marine Life Protection Act and to discuss the proposed maps. After the community forums, Surfrider will compile all constructive comments into a letter that will be sent to decision makers before the final vote. We need to hear from you!


  • 7:00-7:10—Welcome and brief overview.
  • 7:10-7:20—Summary of Surfrider’s outreach efforts over the past year and what we learned from local communities and Surfrider supporters.
  • 7:20-7:40—Overview and discussion of each map.
  • 7:40-8:00—Questions & Answers.

Community Forum Information:

WHEN: Four different forums will be held in the following areas: Orange County, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and San Diego. All forums will be from 7-8pm.


Sept 23. San Clemente Senior Center: 242 Avenida Del Mar. San Clemente, CA 92672.

Sept 24. Watershed Resource Center: 2981 Cliff Drive. Santa Barbara, CA 93109

Sept 29. Santa Monica Library--Ocean Park Branch: 2601 Main St. Santa Monica, CA 90405

Sept 30. Encinitas Community Center: 1140 Oakcrest Park Drive. Encinitas, CA 92024

About the Marine Life Protection Act

The MLPA is a law that requires the state to establish a “network” of marine protected areas from Oregon to the Mexican border. The goals of the MLPA are to: ‘set aside’ areas of the ocean to increase fish populations, enhance marine habitat, and to improve recreational and educational opportunities. Over the past year, Surfrider has been working with diverse groups of people including recreationalists, fishermen, environmentalists, and Chapter activists to ensure the law is effectively implemented. To learn more go here: or email

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Surfrider Continuing Park Protection Efforts

Yesterday was an interesting day for State Parks.  In case you haven't heard, the Legislature's Budget Conference Committee voted to eliminate funding for our state parks.  

BUT, the good news is that the committee also voted to enact the State Park Access Pass; which would allow Californians free day-use access to state parks Californians (and generate much-needed State revenues) by instituting a surcharge on vehicle license fees of non-commercial vehicles.

In exchange for paying the fee, residents driving into state parks with a California license plate would receive free day-use entrance into state parks.

This is good news, but it's only one step toward a final budget victory.  Since the vote was divided, this proposal still has a high hurdle to overcome, in order to be enacted. Please take action and send a message to your legislator supporting the State Park Access Pass and urging the Legislature to Save Our State Parks!  Our friends at the State Park Foundation set up this action alert.

Also, this weekend hit one of the many International Surfing Day Beach Cleanups sponsored by Surfrider ... and then demonstrate your support for our State Parks by visiting your favorite state park--here is a list of informal gathering areas and what else you an do to support State Parks.

Speaking of Parks...Underwater Parks... The Surfirder Foundation is working the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) and we just launched a new blog so that you can stay updated, but sure to check out the FAQ sheet.  If you are interested in MLPA contact Stefanie:  


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Urgent! Contactyour legislators. Tell them not to cut Park funding

Trestles/San Onofre State Park Supporter, 

The good news is the park protection bills Surfrider has been following are moving through their respective committees and will soon make it to a full  vote on the senate floor. If you need a refresher on the bills, visit . Once they get to the floor, we will set up an action alert…we want to make sure these bills pass so the chances of a horrible proposal (i.e. like a toll road through a state park) will be down right impossible in other state parks! 

The bad news is that the Governor announced this week to eliminate General Fund support for state parks. Bad, bad, move….Mr. Governator! 

But as you know, one person can make a difference by pressuring decision makers! And we need you to act fast! There is a budget hearing on the proposal next Tuesday, June 2 and your legislators need to hear from you. 

Our friends at the State Parks Foundation have set up this online action alert: 

Please send a message to your legislators. There is a great fact sheet listed below about what the budget cut means to us and our State Park system. 

We also want to keep you updated about our efforts on the Marine Life Protection Act. The State is on a timeline to implement the MLPA by establishing a network of protected areas that will help restore our impaired ocean. It's critical the State hears from the public about how important marine protected areas are to you and you local community. Surfrider will soon host MLPA trainings where you can learn more about our efforts and get trained on how you can be part of the MLPA process. There are upcoming MLPA meetings this summer and fall where we need your voices! To learn more about MLPA and how you can get involved, contact Stefanie at: Go here to learnmore about: and 

As always, thanks for your continuing support. We appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedules to reach out to your elected officials. 

For the ocean, beaches and waves, 

Your pals at Surfrider 





Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Legislation to protect state parks clears first hurdle

California Chronicle

April 29, 2009

SACRAMENTO— Senate Natural Resources Committee voted today to approve legislation by Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis) to protect the beauty and integrity of California´s state parks by preventing their conversion for private or corporate use. "Increasing development throughout the state has put considerable pressure on California´s state park system," Wolk said. "State parks are looked at as the path of least resistance for development projects, which pose significant threats to these diverse natural, historic and recreational resources." Wolk´s Senate Bill 679 prohibits the use of state park lands for non-park purposes without legislative approval.

Even with legislative approval, the bill would not allow a project to move forward unless the use of the park land was compensated for with a parks´ designation for land with equal environmental and fair market value. The bill is being sponsored by the California State Parks Foundation, which conducted a survey in 2007 that identified 122 threats to 73 state parks. High-profile examples include proposals to run a toll road through the heart of San Onofre State Beach and build two mega-dairies approximately a mile from Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park, the site of California´s only historic community founded and governed by African Americans.

Among those testifying in support of the measure was Traci Verardo-Torres, Legislative & Policy Director for the California State Parks Foundation, the bill´s sponsors. "SB 679 builds on the Legislature´s existing responsibility to protect our state parks system, by ensuring that the legislature is given the right to review projects that would alter or modify that park for non-park purposes," Verardo-Torres said. "This measure helps ensure that our state parks system, which is an asset that provides this state with economic, recreation, and education value, is maintained in perpetuity." "We are privileged in California to have the largest state park system in the world, and the state´s voters have voted consistently to support improvements for these resources.

My intent in authoring this bill is to protect the taxpayer´s investment for the enjoyment of future generations of Californians with clear, commonsense legal protection," Wolk concluded. The bill, which will next be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee, is also supported by Audubon California, California Council of Land Trusts, California Wilderness Coalition, Natural Resources Defense Council, Trust for Public Land, and the Surfrider Foundation.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Contact Your Senator to Protect State Parks

Right now there are two critical bills going before the State Senate and we need you to contact your Senator and tell them to support SB 372 and SB 679. These bills have been introduced to establish much-needed processes and policies that protect our parks--so that ill conceived proposals (like toll roads through parks) will be impossible in the future. See below for a sample letter you can use when contacting your Senator.

Next week, the Surfrider Foundation will be down at Trestles for the Nike Pro surf competition educating the public about our efforts to Save Trestles and to thank the community for all the support we have received over the years to stop this toll road.

Come down and say hi! click here for more info.

Thanks for your continued support!

For the Ocean,

Contact Your Senator

Copy and paste this website:

Enter your address and zip code to find your Senator. Then simply go to their website and click on the form that says "contact me" to send the email. You are welcome to use the sample email below.

Sample Letter:

Subject: Please support SB 372 and SB 679.

Dear Senator:

I am writing to urge your support for Senate Bill (SB) 372 (Kehoe) and SB 679 (Wolk). State parks were created to offer Californians recreational opportunities, protect natural resources, and showcase some of the most unique cultural and historic features of the Golden State. Voters repeatedly support improvements and additions to the state park system through approval of bonds and, in some cases, through gifts of land donations.

Unfortunately, however, state parks are increasingly looked at as the path of least resistance for placing infrastructure and other development projects. These proposals have significant impacts to sensitive natural, cultural and historic resources in the state park system. Instituting clear statutory protection to safeguard state parks is consistent with upholding the will of the California public and ensuring these resources remain part of the public trust. SB 372 establishes an appropriate process for protecting state parks.

It requires that alterations or modifications that are inconsistent with state parks be enacted only upon an act of the Legislature, preceded by a recommendation from the state Park and Recreation Commission. SB 679 will further protect California's state park system. The bill requires that lands specifically acquired for the purpose of a state park cannot be used for non-park purposes unless the Legislature takes an affirmative action to allow that non-park use and replacement lands of equivalent value are provided.

Together, these two bills create a thorough, transparent process where state-level decision makers have the final say in deciding whether to impact a state resource. As a strong supporter of our state parks and California's environment, I urge you to value the investments in our state park system and cast an AYE vote for SB 372 and SB 679.


Monday, April 6, 2009

Surfrider Foundation hits the state Capitol in full force!

We recently participated in Park Advocacy Day where we met with elected officials to advocate for the protection and enhancement of our State park system. The Save Trestles campaign was featured as a key issue; and Surfrider was pleased to showcase our work on this campaign in order to provide legislators with a tangible example of why protecting parks is so important. Keeping in line with our Park protection efforts, we were also an expert witness at the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee where we testified in support of SB 4 (the smoking ban on State Parks and Beaches). The bill passed committee! Click here to learn more and take action.

What's Up with Toll Road Developers, you ask?

Well, we still aren't sure ourselves. Regardless of what they are doing, Surfrider is maintaining our outreach efforts and will continue to pressure the TCA to do the right thing and stay out of San Onofre State Beach. We are attending their Board of Directors meeting this week, so hopefully we will learn more. Stay tuned….

In the meantime, catch up on other issues outside of the Save Trestles campaign. We need folks in Southern California to take a survey about Marine Protected Areas. Go here to learn more about Surfrider's Marine Protected Areas efforts and share your thoughts. click here

If you like big public hearings (and we know you do since you probably attended one of the Save Trestles hearings over the years) then we have something you will love! US Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, is holding public meetings to talk about the federal government's plans for new offshore drilling. These hearings will help determine what actions the Obama Administration will be taking this fall with regard to allowing new offshore oil and gas drilling in our most sensitive coastal waters, and for approval of renewable energy industry proposals off of our coast. We need people to attend the hearing in San Francisco on April 16, go here to learn more: click here

Thanks for your continuing support.

For the ocean, beaches and waves,


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Toll Road is Dead, OC Needs to Move On!

Great piece in the LA Times today.. the TCA remains in the way of real solutions..

OC's Road Test

Rejection of the Foothill South toll road is a chance for a new path.
By Bobby Shriver and Joel Reynolds

March 10, 2009

It was a bad idea that deserved to die: the six-lane Foothill South toll road through a popular Orange County/San Diego County state park. It violated the principle that parkland is permanently protected. The California State Park and Recreation Commission and the California Coastal Commission rejected the toll road through San Onofre State Beach -- no surprise there. But when the Bush administration also said no, the project's fate was all but sealed.

Now what?

There are real traffic problems in Orange County that the Foothill South toll road was meant to solve. But there are other ways to cure the congestion, alternatives that won't destroy our quality of life or our natural resources.

There is also a roadblock to those alternatives: the Orange County Transportation Corridor Agencies, which dreamed up Foothill South and hasn't yet publicly abandoned it.

...Lots more here

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Keeping our Eye on the TCA and State Parks....

The Surfrider Foundation has not stopped monitoring the TCA. We still attend (and film) their Board of Directors meetings… AND we are waiting with bated breath to see what they actually mean when they say: "The TCA will reach out to stakeholders and seek common ground for traffic solutions…" While we are waiting... and they are attempting to reach out to stakeholders, it seems they are finally backing away from the toll road alignment that would have ruined San Onofre State Beach (which is officially illegal under both state and Federal law). Just this week, the TCA officially withdrew their application to the Regional Water Quality Control Board for a permit to build the toll road as planned. Dare we applaud them now, but it seems the TCA realizes the particular alignment through a State Park is dead! In fact, the Surfrider Foundation calls upon the TCA to make a public statement promising to give up on a route through the Park. We'll keep you posted. In the meantime, revisit the mischievous ways of the TCA. The OC Progressive (a newly formed blog) is uncovering the missteps of the TCA. The authors (Former Huntington Beach Planning Commissioner Joe Shaw, Former Fountain Valley Mayor Gus Ayer, and Heather Pritchard) have a keen insight into Orange County politics and expose interesting TCA shenanigans. click here

Speaking of State Parks…. The Surfrider Foundation is heading to our state Capitol for Park Advocacy Day in March. Park Advocacy Day is an event that brings together park supporters from throughout California to advocate for the protection and enhancement of State parks. Participants meet with policymakers to discuss the important issues facing state parks throughout California. These meetings make a great impact in legislators' support for key park policies and issues. We are pleased to be part of the event because we believe our work on the Save Trestles campaign can help raise awareness about the importance of protecting our State Parks. If you are interested in attending or learning more about Park Advocacy Day, go here: click here

And in Other State Park News... The Surfrider Foundation is following, and supporting, newly introduced legislation that would ban smoking at State parks and beaches. For the past 15 years, our campaign "Hold Onto Your Butt" has focused on the major problems associated with cigarette litter. Not only will this legislation make our State parks and beaches more enjoyable, but it will help decrease litter harming wildlife and creating wild fires. In the near future we will have specific actions on how you can support this effort, but until then, please visit Senator Oropeza’s website to learn more about the bill she has introduced and why it’s so important. click here
For the ocean, beaches and waves,


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Help us Celebrate a Victory for Trestles and San Onofre State Beach

Now that we have had time to let our victory sink in, and allow the busy holiday season to pass…it’s time to celebrate again!

The Surfrider Foundation South Orange County Chapter is hosting a Trestles victory party on Friday, February 6, 2009, to celebrate the Federal government denying the proposed toll road through San Onofre State Beach. The party is being held on February 6th to mark the one year anniversary of our most gratifying victory when the California Coastal Commission voted to strike down the toll road.

Come help us celebrate two victories in one night!

Location: O.C. Tavern2369 S El Camino RealSan Clemente, CA 92672 US View Map

When: Friday, February 6, 8:30PM

What: Celebration! Doors at 8:30. Entertainment includes: Micah Wolf, Sli Dawg, Blues Offenders, The Jive Kings and some very special surprise guests!

Please note: First come, first served. We need to respect the fire code, so if we reach capacity, you might have to wait for others to leave before you can enter.

In Other News…. We attended the recent TCA board meeting to learn toll road developers have decided not to currently pursue litigation against the Federal government for the Secretary of Commerce decision. TCA Board of Directors indicated they will reach out to "stakeholders" to work on finding traffic solutions. This is very interesting news….check out their press release. click here

Surfrider and our coalition partners will continue to monitor any/all efforts by the TCA and we will keep you informed as we go along.

In the meantime, let’s celebrate! Hope to see you on Feb 6th!

Your pals at Surfrider.