By Eric Heinz

Both the homeowner’s association The Reserve Maintenance Corporation and the city of San Clemente filed lawsuits on Friday, July 28, against the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) for what they both claim were violations of California’s open meetings act laws.

The TCA is currently examining 18 different proposals for toll roads to connect the 241 road to Interstate 5, which are based off public comment it took two years ago. Litigants in the most recent suits claim the only feasible option, based on the TCA’s objectives, would be the one that evidently goes straight through San Clemente.

“No Toll Road Through San Clemente” signs such as this one on Costero Risco near The Reserve are seen throughout the city’s residential and commercial properties. The Reserve homeowners association and the city of San Clemente both recently filed lawsuits against the Transportation Corridor Agencies regarding items related to toll road construction. Photo: Eric Heinz
“No Toll Road Through San Clemente” signs such as this one on Costero Risco near The Reserve are seen throughout the city’s residential and commercial properties. The Reserve homeowners association and the city of San Clemente both recently filed lawsuits against the Transportation Corridor Agencies regarding items related to toll road construction. Photo: Eric Heinz

TCA officials said at a forum on June 5 that not building a toll road is also an option. The roads are intended to alleviate traffic jams in South Orange County, but opponents of the roads have said once the I-5 expansion in San Clemente is complete, traffic should stabilize.

City of San Clemente Complaint

Click here to read the full writ of mandate from The Reserve Maintenance Corporation

The lawsuits are based on a settlement of various lawsuits from the Save San Onofre Coalition and multiple environmental agencies, which was forged in November 2016. The agreement established an “avoidance area” that ensures no toll road could be built through the San Mateo Watershed and Trestles south of San Clemente.

“…The Settlement Agreement was plainly used as subterfuge by the TCA for various non-litigation oriented policy decisions, such as the designation of a several square-mile ‘avoidance area’ concerning any and all conceivable toll road alignments,” stated a letter from Dan Bane, the lead attorney for The Reserve’s lawsuit. “Such ploys are illegal as a matter of law under the Brown Act.”

The lawsuits also mentions a protective agreement between CalTrans and the TCA, which litigants are asking the court to declare illegal. The Orange County Board of Supervisors, the California Department of Transportation and the TCA’s Board of Directors are also being sued by the city.

In the city’s lawsuit, it states that Mayor Kathy Ward, the city’s elected liaison to the TCA who at the time of the vote was the Mayor Pro Tem, was not briefed on the current litigation of the TCA and the environmental groups and that she felt uncomfortable voting on closed session items without sufficient background information.
When it came time to vote on the agreement, Ward and San Juan Capistrano Council member Kerry Ferguson voted against it, while the rest of the joint board voted to approve.

City attorneys are asking the Superior Court to prohibit actions regarding the protective agreement until they can be vetted by requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act and to halt any proposals related to the protective agreement.
“If the TCA truly desires to engage the residents of Orange County in its purported ‘process,’ concerning mobility solutions as it has repeatedly asserted, then the TCA Board can start by ensuring compliance with California law regarding the provision of noticed, open and fair public hearings with a full opportunity afforded for meaningful public comment regarding important policy decisions,” the letter from Bane stated.

The next joint board meeting of the San Joaquin Hills and Foothill/Eastern Board of Directors is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 10, at the TCA headquarters, located at 125 Pacifica in Irvine.

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comments (7)

  • Dan Bane are you interested in overturning the protected area decision and forcing the toll road through the south of town?

    • One – the lawsuit says NOTHING about supporting or forcing a toll road extension through ANY part of town.
      Two – This lawsuit is trying to fix a faulty settlement that jeopardizes the ENTIRE town (South Included)
      Three – It’s completely unnecessary to personally attack Dan Bane with an assumption about his intention.

  • Question is for Dan Bane; Is your attempt to throw out the agreement to protect the San Mateo creek bed and the south side of town agreement with the TCA in hopes that you can build momentum to reopen the option for the toll road? I don’t expect Dan to answer, he never answers in a public forum.

  • Lindsey no one is interested in forcing a toll road through the South end nor North, East or West ends of town including Dan. If you want to be technical the previously proposed and contested toll road was run outside of town and on state land. None the less no one is interested in a toll road endangering a pristine water shed be it San Mateo or the 2 others threatened by current disastrous proposals….including Dan.

    So let’s be clear No Toll Roads through San Clemente period….and anything that threatens any part of town is going to be fought against and contested and vigorously so.

    And all of us who fought to say no to the toll road through San Mateo including Dan are going to fight any and all who are trying to shove a toll road through any part of town regardless of what justification or self serving crafted without San Clemente representation agreements might say. And we will do so by every means and strategy necessary…..including Dan.

    Hope that answers your question.

    Best regards,

    Raad

  • God I hope so Raad. Nameste

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