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RON HERBERT, San Clemente

The recent Letter to the Editor criticizing the San Clemente City Council’s vote in favor of the Cooperative Agreement between San Clemente, the County, and the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) missed the mark. It listed random TCA talking points rather than offering a fair, accurate critique of the agreement. 

The agreement committed San Clemente, Orange County, and the OCTA to work on three specific projects to alleviate South County traffic, to the exclusion of a freeway, tolled or otherwise, through San Clemente. The agreement makes it virtually impossible for the TCA to construct any project in San Clemente, because both the county and OCTA have pledged to oppose such a project.

The TCA’s efforts to undermine the Cooperative Agreement, like its efforts against Sen. Patricia Bates’ legislation, demonstrate the efficacy of both. The TCA’s refusal to join the agreement is both expected and a sign that the agreement is good for San Clemente and bad for the TCA.

Unfortunately, neither of Bates’ two bills to preclude the TCA from building a toll road through San Clemente got out of committee, so the city’s pledge to withdraw support for them as part of the agreement, which Bates condoned, is inconsequential.

The expressed concerns about Supervisor Lisa Bartlett’s past role on the TCA and the city’s withdrawal from the TCA ring hollow, because three other supervisors and the OCTA—no friend to the TCA—supported the agreement. There is a broad consensus the agreement is beneficial to San Clemente and South Orange County as a whole. 

Finally, our council’s principled withdrawal from the TCA, the first city to do so, should be applauded, not condemned. Our San Clemente contingent was routinely outvoted, but their presence on the TCA gave it a false veneer of legitimacy.

By withdrawing due to the TCA’s financial mismanagement, and prompting others like Santa Ana to contemplate doing so as well, San Clemente City Council took the biggest step so far to force the TCA to pay off its debt and go out of business rather than seeking new unnecessary projects to justify its existence.

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