Greg Long, San Clemente
The 2,000-acre State Park at our San Clemente southern doorstep is a world treasure. San Onofre State Beach provides a virtual coastal wilderness experience that includes the unimpeded San Mateo watershed and last remaining natural river in Southern California. The cobblestone reefs of Trestles and San Onofre create North America’s premier year-round surfing zone, while the spectacular palisade bluffs to the south provide a wilderness beach experience unlike anything else in Southern California.
The creation of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in 1942 stopped urban sprawl at the Orange County line, and the establishment of San Onofre State Beach in 1971 assured that visitors from around the world could share this zone of incomparable magnitude for generations to come.
The proposal to build a toll road through the parklands of San Onofre has been overwhelming opposed and litigated, resulting in the historic settlement agreement barring construction of a road through the park. Visitors from around the world thank the Save San Onofre Coalition for its tireless efforts to assure an undamaged “park experience” forever.
Yet today, as a result of TCA’s continuing obsession with building a highway somewhere, presumably through the heart of San Clemente, the parklands and settlement agreement are being discussed as bargaining options to be revisited. This tactic has created an unnecessary rift in our community, pitting protection of the park against sanctity of our homes and businesses.
Traffic congestion through San Clemente for the past 15 years is a result of Caltrans’ inability to widen the 1-5 corridor due to a non-compete agreement with TCA that ended in 2012. We may soon discover that traffic will flow through the I-5 with the extra lanes nearing completion. Pico and Vista Hermosa links to La Pata already serve as alternative routes to points north for anyone seeking to bypass delays.
I am encouraged that rather than accepting an either/or solution, we are beginning to engage in rational, intellectual dialog with an intent to end the possibility for a superhighway to overlay any part of the San Onofre/San Clemente region.