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Steve Netherby, San Clemente
I have great respect for the author of the letter “Toll Road Settlement Should Be Reopened to Include San Clemente” in the Feb. 1-7 edition of the San Clemente Times, and, as a 45-year San Clemente homeowner, share the zeal for saving our town from the ravages of Transportation Corridor Agencies’ (TCA) mindless, soulless toll road proposals.
However, I respectfully take exception to two aspects of the letter.
First: If, by calling Surfrider and the 11 other Save San Onofre Coalition (SSOC) members “elite,” the author means “best” or “leading,” they’re right. These are among the finest, most effective defenders of our right to a healthy environment. But if their repetitive use of “elite” is to paint the 12 as catering to only the wealthy or privileged, the point is off base.
There’s no less elitist service than working to preserve a livable planet. These groups’ work benefits us all. And their members, volunteers and employees represent every demographic.
Second: The $28 million conservation fund negotiated by SSOC is no money grab. Surfrider and the rest of the SSOC receive none of the $28 million! The fund is set aside as mitigation for habitat destruction in the event TCA builds another route. There’s no incentive to SSOC for TCA to build a toll road through San Clemente. Should no route be built, unspent portions of the conservation fund go away.
Like the author, I’m sad that the agreement precludes these fine organizations from working with us. But, in a negotiation, you give something up to reach your goal. SSOC saved San Onofre State Park as well as the San Mateo watershed that creates Trestles—our “Yosemite of Surfing” and the contributor of more than $8 million annually to our city’s budget. We must not endanger this victory.
Though the SSOC is sidelined by the agreement, nothing prevents you and me from advancing the battle against TCA. Our goal is twofold: 1) To save our town from TCA’s ruinous road-building ambitions and 2) to abolish or repurpose TCA. San Clemente is the seaside gem it is because of its purposely piloted past and the character and grit of its citizens. We have fought for and saved our park. We must now unite and save our town.