Tag Archives: Toll Road

Coastal Commission Rejects 241 Toll Road After Epic Hearing

The hearing lasted over 12 hours, and was apparently one of the most raucous and boisterous Coastal Commission meetings in some time. Gathered at the Del Mar Fairgrounds to handle the overflow crowds, the Coastal Commission finally voted last night to reject the planned toll road through San Onofre State Park:

Before a boisterous crowd of more than 3,500 people, commissioners decided 8 to 2 that the proposed Foothill South project violates the California Coastal Act, which is designed to regulate development along the state’s 1,100-mile shoreline. They reached the conclusion following hours of sometimes heated public testimony that pitted protecting the environment against the need to relieve traffic congestion in south Orange County.

The decision was a major setback for the Transportation Corridor Agencies, which has spent years and tens of millions of dollars preparing to construct the 16-mile tollway as an alternative to Interstate 5.

“This project looks like something from the 1950s,” said Commissioner Sara Wan of San Francisco, who voted against the tollway. “Putting a massive project in an environmentally sensitive area, it is inconceivable.”

The Transportation Corridor Agency that runs OC’s toll roads is considering appealing to the US Secretary of Commerce, which owns the land San Onofre State Beach is leased from. Susan Davis successfully attached an amendment to a recent military spending bill to prevent the toll road from being built on federal land, and Bush signed that bill with the amendment intact last month.

The coalition opposing the destructive project was impressive in its size and scope. It included environmental groups from across California, and city governments from the San Diego coast. Surfers were also active and engaged, with help from major surf and skate companies like Etnies and Vans. Obviously the lion’s share of credit goes to the Surfrider Foundation, which has been exhorting people to stop the toll road and “Save Trestles” ever since I was in high school in Orange County over ten years ago. There were finally some Juaneño Indians there to speak up on behalf of an ancestral village and burial ground that would be paved over by the road.

People-powered coalitions don’t just exist in elections – they’re all over our state, and the victory over the 241 toll road is a major victory for just that kind of organizing power. It’s also a key victory for the Coastal Act and a “defining moment” for the commission, one of its members said.

It’s also good to see that the Coastal Commission understands just how much things have changed in this state. No longer can we look to new roads to solve our transportation problems. For environmental, sustainable, climate, and even fiscal reasons, mass transit, particularly rail, is where we need to be investing for our future – not a toll road that will struggle to stay financially viable and see steadily decreasing traffic as peak oil sets in.

More importantly, this victory shows that a people-powered coalition can organize from a very broad base to articulate a 21st century vision of transportation and land use.

Schwarzenegger Says: Toll Road Good for the Environment

Today, Governor Schwarzenegger has decided to end his neutral stance regarding the controversial Foothills South tollway project. In a letter to the Coastal Commission the governor states, “I have concluded that this project is essential to protect our environment and the quality of life for everyone in California,.” he further claims, “[t]he project can be built in a manner that will enhance and foster use of the coast and protect coastal resources.”[Link]
Schwarzenegger's position regarding the protection of San Onofre State Beach should come as no surprise here. It was just last week the governor proposed closing 48 state parks as part of his plan to balance the state budget.[Link] This governor like to talk about the environment, but it actually comes to action his ring hollow.
Cross-posted at San Diego Politico

Another Blow to The Proposed O.C. Toll Roll

The onslaught of bad news for the proposed 241 toll road extension through San Onofre State Park continues. This afternoon the California Parks Foundation released a poll they commissioned of Orange County residents. According to the findings from the poll, a majority of O.C. residents favor toll roads, however, 66% of them don't favor the construction of the toll road extension across San Onofre State Park.[Link] This news comes just days after the release of a report from the California Coastal Commission claiming that the proposed toll road “would cause widespread violations of state environmental laws by threatening endangered species, marring natural resources and compromising recreational opportunities.” [Link] It will be interesting to see what new P.R. attempts the advocates of the toll road try now.

Cross-posted at San Diego Politico