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Chad Nelsen, Ph.D, CEO of Surfrider Foundation
After 15 years of fighting to protect San Onofre State Beach and Trestles from a toll road, we are gravely concerned about the San Clemente City Council’s recent lawsuit that seeks to invalidate a protective agreement we signed to safeguard the state park and San Mateo watershed from a destructive road.
The following is a quote from the San Clemente City Council’s lawsuit:
“…any alignment approved concerning the southern portion of the Foothill Transportation Corridor segment of SR-241 must connect to Route 5 south of San Clemente near Basilone Road in San Diego County.”
San Onofre State Beach lies directly south of the city of San Clemente near Basilone Road. This statement from the city’s own lawsuit makes it clear that the City Council wants to dig up already-rejected plans to build a road through San Onofre State Beach because there is no other way to connect SR-241 to I-5 south of San Clemente without bifurcating the sensitive watershed and state park.
The protective agreement prevents the road from being built through the state park and sensitive watershed lands. It does not require that a new road be built in Southern Orange County or direct where any new roads should be built. The city’s lawsuit has one purpose: to take away these protections and allow a road through the state park.
Thousands of people joined us in stopping this type of road when it came before the California Coastal Commission, President George W. Bush’s Department of Commerce and the Regional Water Quality Board because of the tremendous damage the road would cause to environmental, recreational and cultural resources in the park and watershed.
San Onofre State Beach is an invaluable community asset for the City of San Clemente. Millions of beach goers, campers, bikers, surfers and hikers visit the park each year. It generates more than $8 million for San Clemente’s economy. San Onofre State Beach is not only important to our economy, it improves our quality of life by providing world renowned recreational opportunities and a home to abundant nature. We need to come together to keep the protections in place for the state park.
For these reasons, we urge San Clemente residents to join us in urging the San Clemente City Council to drop its ill-advised lawsuit.