Sacramento, CA – On January 22, 2008, a coalition including environmental groups, campers and surfers spoke out against Governor Schwarzenegger’s recent decision to support a six-lane, 16-mile toll road extension through San Onofre State Beach in Northern San Diego County. Scattered on the capitol lawn were 161 little red tents representing campsites that would likely be abandoned due to the harm the toll road would have on the San Mateo Campground.
“Approval of the Foothill-South Toll Road through San Onofre State Beach would set a dangerous precedent and put all our parks at greater risk,” said Elizabeth Goldstein, President of the California State Parks Foundation. “As California becomes more and more crowded, we are at a turning point. It is our generation that will decide whether state parks are merely warehouses for future development projects or if the lands we cherish will be protected for future generations to enjoy.”
“Because we live in San Bernardino, far from the coast, being able to camp at such a lovely campground near the beach is very important to us,” added Deborah Fry, a teacher whose family camps at the San Mateo Campground several times a year. “Camping together brings my family closer and creates memories that will last a lifetime.”
The protection of San Onofre State Beach from the Foothill South Toll Road is not just an issue of local concern but one of statewide significance as well. If they can put a road through San Onofre, it will set a dangerous precedent and put all of our parks at greater risk. As California becomes more and more crowded we are at a turning point. “Will our parks and natural spaces remain open protected for future generations to enjoy or will they be seen as just warehouses, set aside for future development?” said Jim Metropulos, Legislative Representative for Sierra Club California “Parks should not be looked at as the path of least resistence for developers proposing bad projects."
Early next month, the California Coastal Commission will decide if the Foothill South-Toll Road is compliant with California’s Coastal Act. Last year, the Coastal Commission staff released a 236-page report stating the road violates the Coastal Act in substantive and unmitigable ways. The Coastal Commission will make a decision regarding the toll road extension when they meet on February 6th in Oceanside.
The proposed Foothill South-Toll Road has long been a source of contention between environmentalists, campers and local citizens and toll road proponents. Environmentalists assert that the road will not significantly reduce the county’s traffic problems and construction of a road through a state park will set a dangerous precedent. The proposed extension would connect the current portions of the Foothill South Toll Road to the I-5 freeway at the Orange County/San Diego border cutting through San Onofre State Beach, the San Mateo Campground and the San Mateo Watershed causing the abandonment of nearly 60% of the park.
Not only would the road ruin San Mateo Campground, but Surfrider Foundation is also concerned the toll road will pollute the San Mateo Creek and alter the natural flow of sediment and cobbles that help form the waves at Trestles. “Why risk ruining a pristine watershed, impeccable water quality, and a perfect wave for a toll road?" asks Stefanie Sekich, Save Trestles Campaign Coordinator for Surfrider Foundation.From the California Progressive Report: "Who Wants to Camp Under a Toll Road? A Bad Idea for California’s Parks"
From Capitol Weekly: "Coalition rises to protect San Onofre State Beach"