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Cord Bauer, San Clemente

I want to explain why San Clemente residents seem to be so wound up about the toll road. It’s simple, actually.

Americans feel like they’ve been lied to by our own government. We’re told that if we like our doctors we can keep them, or that our insurance rates will drop by $2,500. In California, the bullet train boondoggle has doubled in price, while slowing down and seeing ridership estimates cut in half. Californians no longer want it, but Sacramento is too busy spending our money to pay attention.

Which brings us to the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA). This group once told us the toll roads would cost less than $800 million to build. The final numbers were over $4 billion. They overestimated ridership and then had to raise the toll rates 12 times to cover it. Now, tolls are some of the highest in the country, and flex-pricing to help fight traffic? Nonexistent.

At the recent public forum, one word stood out: “process.”
To San Clemente residents, “process” is government-speak for: sit back while we lie to you, again.

We see from the outside that the process is flawed. Toll road alignments stay on the map that are drawn within 500 feet of schools, over wetlands, over open space that has already been mitigated, over known landslide areas and next to neighborhoods that would devastate home prices. Even the “green route” is still on the map. This is why people are upset.

The TCA has an easy fix: remove alignments where eminent domain is required. Remove alignments that require the mitigation of lands that have already been mitigated by developers. This is a dangerous precedent that no one should feel comfortable crossing. Live up to the green legacy the TCA promotes and avoid wetlands and coastal sage scrub habitat. And most of all, show us that you can think critically. Alignments through San Clemente will make traffic worse, and any current traffic studies will be useless prior to the I-5 upgrades.

Otherwise, San Clemente will fight. That’s our process.

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