Monday, November 28, 2011

Why Trestles Matters: A Thanksgiving Tale

Rad story from Serge Dedina of Wildcoast

Why Trestles Matters

Yesterday after about over 200MGD of sewage polluted water flowed out of the TJ River, my sons, Israel 15 and Daniel 13, and their friend Jake 15, boarded a bus in Imperial Beach with their boards, backbacks, and bicycles.

Five hours later they departed the bus at the Carls Jr. in San Clemente for a two-day surf safari at Trestles and campout at San Mateo Campground.

This is the text I received last night:

“All is well..roasting wieners by a roaring fire and sipping hot choco and got perfect three to four foot trestles with four people.”

If there is any reason to stop the Toll Road, it is so generations of kids can have the best adventures of their lives at Trestles/San Mateo/and San Onofre and experience California as it is supposed to be.

So thanks to all of your for “Saving Trestles” and your ongoing commitment to making sure a toll road doesn’t plow through one of the last best places on the planet.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Serge Dedina, Ph.D.
Executive Director

Here's the IB Groms enjoying the clean water and waves at Trestles.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Let's Remember Why the Toll Road Would Be So Bad For the Coast

I thought this might be a good opportunity to go back and remind ourselves of all the reasons that the 241 Toll Road is bad for the coast and bad for California. Listen to former Coastal Commission Director Peter Douglas eloquently describe all of the damage that would be caused by building their unneeded and unwanted highway.

Mr. Douglas says very clearly: "This toll road project is precisely the kind of project the Coastal Act was intended to prevent."

Listen below to his introduction from the Coastal Commission meeting in Del Mar that so many of you attended. Thanks again for all the support!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011

Trestles, Coastal Parks, and Underwater Parks.

[Re-cap of email sent to Trestles Supporters]
A few weeks ago, Surfrider wrote with an update about possible toll road plans. At a recent Board of Directors meeting TCA officially approved a study to start building the first four miles of the 241 toll road. Even though their own Board approved plans to investigate building the first section of the road, it doesn't mean it's going to happen (not on our clock)!! The TCA is (once again) full of delusions of grandeur by thinking they can cut up the road, break environmental laws, and also obtain permits to start the first segment. Well, it's not that simple! TCA has a long road ahead of them (pun) in terms of completing an Environmental Impact Report, (which will take many, many months) and then actually obtaining the permits to build. In the meantime, Surfrider and our partners are pulling out all the stops to monitor them and be at every fork of the road (pun). In the near future, we will be reaching out to you with specific ways to help. After all, it was YOU that stopped this road in the first place! It was YOU who showed up (with thousands of your friends)…and it was YOU who wrote thousands of letters to decision makers over the years to ensure the toad was never be built.

Our Coalition wrote an official statement regarding the TCA's new plans…read it here

Park Closures.

You have probably noticed a trend in our emails…they often contain information about parks. That's partly because most of our supporters are not only environmentalists, but are also recreationalists… and we know how you care for Parks (just look how you protected San Onofre and Trestles!)!

Over the past year, we informed you about some state parks slated for closure because of budget issues. We recently obtained the list of coastal parks closing. There are about 12 parks closing that provide coastal access and 8 of those parks are designated as "state beaches". California has a total of 63 state beaches, so essentially the state is planning to close about 13% of our state beaches!

Before you look at that list, think about what a closed coastal park closure look like? Here's the visual: gates will be locked, facilities will be closed (bathroom, kiosks, all utilities, etc)…and all park Staff will be gone. Now visualize what will happen to the parks…there will be no one to pick up trash, save lives, or make sure the natural resources are protected. Even though this is a bleak reality, there is a Coalition of organization working on mitigating those impacts. You can help. Become a supporter of the Save our State Parks Coalition. here

Coastal Parks Closing: Garrapata, Gray Whale Cove, Greenwood, Manchester, McGrath, Morro Strand, Moss Landing, Russian Gulch, Tomales Bay, Twin Lakes, Westport-Union Landing, and Zmudowski.

Underwater Parks….(aka Marine Protected Areas)

There could be more fish in the lineup soon! To help improve our ocean's health and preserve coastal resources for future generations, the State is creating Marine Protected Area (MPAs). Join Surfrider Foundation and Reef Check California as we explore newly established MPAs throughout southern California. We'll look at maps, videos, photos and discuss regulations.

The State will begin enforcing MPAs in January. In order to educate communities about the new MPAs hitting the water, we are holding meetings throughout the region. Go here to find a meeting near you, during the month of November.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Get a Grip TCA

Last week activists from Surfrider Foundation and NRDC spoke at the TCA's board meeting before they approved a study to start building the first four miles of the 241 toll road. Apparently we touched a nerve when we reminded them that State and Federal agencies have said that they can't build their road through to San Onofre State Beach and Trestles.

Here's an audio clip of Tustin Mayor Jerry Amante responding to our comments. Of course, Jerry is also the one who loves to extol the virtues of pavement. Let us know what you think in the comments.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Piecemeal Toll Road is Still a Toll Road

Local activist Steve Netherby wrote this great summary of the issue in response to the TCA's latest proposal to get the toll road moving...

Pretty clever: build it in pieces so we'll say, "You've built it this far, you might as well go ahead and finish it." Go here to vote NO on the toll road; here's why:

TCA (Transportation Corridor Agencies) knows how you boil a frog. You don't throw it into boiling water; it'll jump out. You put it in nice cool water and turn up the heat a little at a time. The frog adapts and accepts. Then it boils.

Don't try to build it all at once they say; we've seen that won't fly. Build it to San Juan; when it funnels traffic onto their already clogged local streets, they'll clamor to have it continued to Pico in San Clemente (we named that the "Extortion Alignment" when they tried it before); Pico's traffic mess would get even messier, so they'll say, send the traffic on to the I-5! Thus, we're boiled.

This bankrupt proposal has been turned down by the California Coastal Commission for the watershed and coastal destruction it would cause. It's been turned down by the U.S. Dept. of Commerce as a terrible transportation idea and because it would violate a Native American sacred site. Camp Pendleton has said no to it. It's drawn decades of protests from Surfrider, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Trout Unlimited, local groups like Friends of the Foothills, and thousands of citizens from California, across the country, and around the world.

It would destroy San Clemente's neighbor, The Richard and Donna O'Neill Conservancy (bulldozing tops off the hills to fill the valleys); San Onofre State Beach (TCA lobbyists are in Washington, D.C. right now, trying to persuade the Navy department to end the park's lease); the Christianitos and San Mateo drainages; immense tracts of priceless South Orange County and North San Diego backcountry; and Trestles—the Yosemite of surfing.

On top of all that, it would, if continued to its proposed confluence with Interstate 5 south of San Clemente, create an El Toro Y of the south, snarling traffic for miles north through San Clemente ... back toward the original El Toro Y!

But this should surprise no one, especially the TCA. Years ago, I attended the Laguna Beach luncheon where Supervisor Pat Bates introduced new TCA CEO Thomas Margro to business leaders and fellow Orange County politicians. Margro didn't say on that occasion, "I'm here to solve Orange County's transportation problems." Instead, he said, "I'm here to deliver the Foothill South toll road!" Regardless of cost and consequences ... especially to our environment and quality of life, but also to the TCA itself: TCA board member Beth Krom of the Irvine City Council warned her colleagues—including San Clemente's toll-road yes-man Councilman Jim Dahl—that floating more bonds would place the agency in a precarious financial position (a position TCA is very familiar with, as toll-road use [therefore traffic reduction on I-5] never lives up to their blue-sky projections). Please go here to vote NO on the TCA's toll-road scheme.
There are alternatives to this boondoggle that will actually help our traffic situation and create even more jobs: Local officials are working to close the funding gap in order to complete La Pata north out of San Clemente to the Ortega. This will also give San Clementeans another northern exit route in the event of a radiation accident at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Plant (SONGS). And when I-5 is widened through San Clemente, as planned, it will actually speed traffic, instead of adding to it, as the toll road (and the development that would follow it) inevitably would.

Please forward this to at least 10 people, go here to cast your vote against the toll road, and, as the fight against the TCA heats up, do all you can to help us "Save Trestles" and "Stop the Toll Road"—AGAIN.

Thank you.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

TCA's Newest Plan.

As reported last week, TCA officially voted yes to move forward with building the first four miles of the road.  Here is the statement from our Save San Onofre Coalition.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

“More pavement is always better than less pavement”.

You probably figured out Surfrider didn’t say, “more pavement is always better than less pavement”. And you probably realized it was the desperate toll road developers at the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) that would even think, let alone say something so out of touch. Yesterday Surfrider Foundation along with Natural Resource Defense Council attended TCA’s Finance and Operations Committee meeting to learn they are proposing to build the first 4 miles of their once denied project. Their new cockamamie plan aims to build the road from Oso Parkway to just north of Ortega Highway.

We know. It’s utterly baffling. It's clear the TCA is proposing an illegal piecemeal project that has already been rejected by the California Coastal Commission and the Bush Administration. Their hubris is actually pretty amazing—they are trying to evade the law by breaking up the road into little chunks.

Let’s just say in a crazy, pretend world, they obtained all the permits to build the first segment of the road. There would still be major environmental impacts. In addition to substantial grading of the terrain, there would be impacts on San Juan Creek. Even the TCA’s own engineer admitted there are engineering and environmental challenges at San Juan Creek near Ortega Highway.

Plus, ending the road near Ortega doesn’t make traffic sense! Anyone who drives this area can tell you that. Even members of the Board of Directors will tell you that Ortega Highway is not a highly functioning road and it couldn’t handle the extra traffic (a few members outright admitted this yesterday).

Now, to compound an already senseless situation, they are proposing harebrained funding schemes. One mechanism of funding is based on future traffic models for the area. Funding would be calculated by taking “projected” daily trips multiplied by tolls. This scheme, founded on cooked numbers, tries to justify building the project, rather than objectively predicting actual demand. TCA once again admitted a downfall by acknowledging none of their traffic models have ever been correct. Yet they want to obtain funding on faulty models?

As if the TCA hasn’t made enough missteps with this piecemeal plan, they are also overlooking public input (just like they did with the first go-around of the project). Since being denied at the state and Federal level, the TCA has been touting their “outreach” efforts. Yet, they are allowing only one week to do more outreach before the Board fully approves the segment measure. How is that consistent with their “extensive outreach models”?

And since we are living in hard economic times with money woes dominating news cycles and dinner-table conversations, it’s worth pointing out that the TCA has been seeking Federal funding through the TIFIA program over the years. That’s our public money, people! This flagrantly contradicts their claim that they do not rely on public funds.

Well, despite hearing this bothersome news, we can actually thank the TCA. Thanks TCA for giving us a new saying that we will make into a mockery for a tee shirt design (i.e. “more pavement is better than less pavement”). And thank you once again for bringing together our tightly organized Save San Onofre Coalition. We, and the surrounding communities, are united in opposition to this piecemeal plan and will not stop fighting until it’s dead (again).

Friday, September 16, 2011

Where are the Jobs?

A few months ago, the TCA shamelessly capitalized on Japan's Earthquake/Tsunami tragedy to try and scare South County residents into supporting their preferred alignment for the SR-241 completion.  Thankfully that effort failed to gain the desired traction and the TCA quickly abandoned it.  Now the predatory vultures are circling once again – this time around the national employment crisis.

According to a recent report by the TCA, Beacons Economics concluded that the completion of the SR-241 toll road would create 13,663 jobs in Orange County.  Alas, what the TCA failed to mention in their media communications announcing their report's findings is that the other traffic alternatives, including a widening of the existing Interstate 5 highway, would result in a comparable, if not greater number of jobs!

Flashback to 2008, when TCA CEO Tom Margro stood before the California Coastal Commission during a hearing on the proposed SR-241 project.  During questioning by Commission member Steve Blank, Margro was forced to admit that all construction projects, whether they were related to SR-241 or not, would create jobs. 

Have a look for yourself:

What's more, because the TCA has non-compete clauses written into their agreements with Cal Trans,  the state is currently being prevented from moving forward with the I-5 widening and other projects.  Not only is this working to stymy job creation, it is delaying improvements that could provide some much needed traffic solutions to South County!

As we have stated before – the TCA does not care about solving mobility issues.  If they did they would be supporting solutions such as increasing municipal transportation, HOV lanes and alternative projects.

Nor does the TCA care about solving the jobs issue in Southern California.  If they did they wouldn't be standing in the way of the CalTrans beginning to work on infrastructure projects that could put Californians back to work NOW, not several years from now.

To be clear, the TCA only cares about one thing – building toll roads…whether they are needed or not.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The TCA, stooping to new levels of desperation to build a road through a state park

Reprinted from Jim Moriarty's Blog

The fight to preserve the last clean watershed in Southern California will never end. Those of us that fought the Save Trestles fight know that. The pristine lands and intact watershed that feed into Pacific Ocean, forming Trestles, are too valuable for this fight to end.

To many of us these lands are priceless. They are open spaces that have been set aside as public lands and secured as State Parks. This protected designation was done by Presidents Nixon and Reagan. They said State Parks are ours, they belong to the people of the state. With the recent announcement of 70 California state parks being closed the value of remaining parks is even higher.

To a few, protected lands such as State Parks have a price. These people, real estate speculators, literally put a price tag on State Parks. The hubris to think of taking something so valuable away from the public is stunning. These people would financially benefit from State Parks ceasing to exist as a protected, California State Park. At the top of this list is the TCA. If that's not enough, the TCA builds fee-based private roads and they build these with public funds.

Think of that for a second. What if I walked into your house, took a family heirloom which had been passed down for generations and sold it on eBay. Taking something belonging to others and then selling it for personal gain is usually considered robbery.

But this scenario doesn't seem to be bold enough for the TCA. Their recent campaign is in a category I can only label "odd."

Trying to draft off public sympathy for the horrendous disaster in Fukushima, Japan the TCA is trying to now literally sell the road as an escape route.

First of all, shame on them. Is there no level the TCA will stoop to to sell a toll road through a state park?

Second, they know that in the event of a disaster all lanes on both sides of the divider of Hwy 5 would be shifted to head north only. Even if such a road existed south of San Clemente there would be no way to go south to access it.

Third, even if you COULD go south in the event of a disaster why would you ever even consider it? God forbid, if there was a major issue at the San O nuclear plants I think it's logical to think that every single person in the region would flee away from the plants instead of finding a way to drive toward them.

The logic behind TCA's recent marketing campaign is in bad taste. It's desperate and fear mongering. It's odd.

Their choice of a spokesperson is also short-sighted. Jim Dahl, previous multi-decade fire fighter, knows that all lanes of the 5 would be dedicated to moving people north. He knows that the last thing a disaster response plan would suggest is that people drive toward a nuclear plant which is experiencing a failure.

Shame on you TCA.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Trestles Feature on Surfline

With the Nike 6.0 Lowers contest about to begin, Surfline produced this cool overview of the wave we all love. Check it out

And be sure to watch the contest next week!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Great Views of Trestles and San Mateo Creek Valley

I recently went wandering looking for a good viewpoint in San Clemente to see the San Mateo Creek Valley. This is what I lucked into.

This beautiful area definitely does not need a massive toll highway through it. Thanks to all who helped Save Trestles!!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Oops. Orange County Transportation Authority Includes Foothill-South in Long Range Plan.

The Surfrider Foundation and our Save San Onofre Coalition partners recently noticed the Foothill-South 241 toll road was included in the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP).

We were surprised the Foothill-South was included especially considering the road has been found inconsistent with both state and federal environmental laws.  And we were equally perplexed that it was contained in the baseline or “constrained portion” of the plan.   The LRTP itself defines the “baseline” as “[c]omprised of projects or services that have been assessed for their environmental impacts and approved to be implemented.”  The LRTP emphasizes that the “assumed future transportation network for the Year 2035 Baseline includes only projects that are currently under construction or will be implemented soon.”

The Foothill-South project fits neither of these descriptions; indeed, the opposite is true. The road is not under construction and its implementation was disapproved by the Coastal Commission and Department of Commerce based on its harmful environmental impacts. Our Coalition wrote a letter to the OCTA urging them to remove the Foothill-South from their baseline plan. 

You can review our letter here. Surfrider Foundation firmly believes the OCTA should not be spending time and energy on projects that have been deemed environmentally harmful.  We also believe projects included within any regional transportation plan should have secured funding (especially during hard economics times).  The Foothill-South has never met environmental regulations, nor does it have dedicated funding.  Despite this, the 2010 LRTP lists the Foothill-South’s price tag at over $1.2 billion – the most expensive highway project in the LRTP’s baseline.

We are hoping this is an oversight committed by the OCTA and that they are not seriously considering an unapproved and under-funded road. Over the past 10 years, thousands of people have said “No!” to the Foothill-South toll road (3,500 people attended the Coastal Commission hearing and nearly 3,000 people attended the Commerce Dept hearing).  The Surfrider Foundation thinks it’s important that the OCTA does not overlook the sentiments of these passionate people.   We encourage the OCTA to work toward meeting the wishes of people who have spent time providing input on Orange County’s transportation plan.