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).