By City Council Member Chris Hamm
In San Clemente, we have been fighting the toll road extension for over 20 years. I would like to say thank you to everyone who fought to stop the toll road from destroying one of San Clemente’s greatest resources, San Onofre State Park. Unfortunately, the time for fighting is not over. We need to work together to raise awareness and grow the number of people to fight. It’s important that we don’t allow the interests of the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) to harm South Orange County. Divisiveness and infighting are not productive and play into the TCA’s plan. Even though we have boundaries denoting the many cities in South Orange County, we are all neighbors. I am here to say we do not support a toll road destroying our state park, open space in San Clemente, Rancho Mission Viejo or San Juan Capistrano. We do not want to see any community’s open space or its natural resources decimated.
San Onofre is not just a local resource, it is used by people from all over the world. I stood arm-in-arm with environmentalists and surfers to protect this great asset. Don’t be fooled by the TCA, this is not a question of where to put the toll road. It is a question of how do we abolish the TCA and stop it forever.
Unity is power, and only together can we be productive in our effort to stop the toll road from destroying South Orange County. The conservation of our open space is critical to the ecosystem in our region, and I welcome neighbors in all communities to engage in this fight for our environment because once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. Our message is free roads, not toll roads. The lack of fiscal responsibility demonstrated by the TCA is costing taxpayers. The price increase to ride the toll road (10 such increases already since inception) have been irresponsible. The TCA has refinanced the toll road bonds to the point that the roads will not be “free” until 2053! Toll roads are not solutions or profitable. Don’t support building another toll road that will cost us hundreds of millions of dollars and won’t be free for our grandchildren to use. Join me in calling for the abolishment of the TCA, they have served their purpose.
I know many people outside of San Clemente fought beside the environmental groups to preserve the environment and protect the San Mateo Watershed and Trestles, and I ask all of you to stand up once again and fight to end this nightmare forever. Let’s make our voices heard and let the TCA know that no toll road through any open space is acceptable. Don’t be fooled by the TCA’s messaging, join us in preventing the toll road from destroying the precious plant and animal species that call open space their home. There is too much at stake when we look at the overall environmental, financial, social, and health impacts of the toll road.
I invite all to come together, including those that supported the Save San Onofre Coalition and oppose any toll road extension. Please embrace the no toll road goal and rally to protect our ecosystem everywhere so that all sensitive watersheds are preserved. This issue affects everyone in Orange County. Do we want another Kings Highway that only the rich can use on a regular basis? Or do we want free roads that will be utilized by the masses and reduce traffic? The TCA needs to embrace change and realize that 1980s-style massive toll roads are not the solution. There are other mobility solutions that must be explored for South OC.
Learn more at www.san-clemente.org/about-us/city-news/toll-road-informationor email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, attend City Council meetings, which will include status updates on this topic.
Chris Hamm is a San Clemente City Council member, who served as mayor in 2015. He was reelected to office in 2016.