By Eric Heinz

Hundreds gathered at The Reserve, a subdivision in San Clemente, on Sept. 9 to promote the Coalition to Save San Clemente’s campaign to block any toll roads from being built through the city.

The Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) have proposed various ways to alleviate traffic by constructing toll roads. The TCA contends traffic will become a major problem for South Orange County within a few decades.

Mayor Kathy Ward said she recently went on a trek with TCA officials who explained some of the alignments and where they could potentially be built, some of which she said are planned in places that could be more detrimental to the city than originally thought. The TCA is looking to complete a supplemental environmental impact report by the end of the year and a draft environmental impact report in early 2018 for the proposals.

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Roger Bütow, the executive director of the environmental organization Clean Water Now, said he and his organization are offering their services to the Coalition. Bütow said he intends to comment on the environmental reports when they become available.

“We’re trying to refine the structure (of the Coalition), and what we’re hoping is to make things work more efficiently because we have expertise in these fields,” Bütow said during the Sept. 9 gathering. “Part of what we want to bring to the table…are our in-house skills and abilities we want to bring to this effort.”

Mark McGuire, who is working with the Coalition, presented documents that state the toll roads were supposed to be paid for and made free to access in an initial agreement, but now the TCA has planned to keep the roads tolled through 2050 or 2053, depending on the road.

Two lawsuits are currently challenging the legitimacy of a settlement agreement forged between the TCA and various environmental groups under the Save San Onofre Coalition (SSOC) that designates an avoidance area to the south of the city, as well as promises $28 million to environmental efforts, which will be used at the discretion of the powers linked to the agreement.

SSOC members have taken exception to the city’s and The Reserve’s lawsuits against the settlement agreement, alleging that it would undo the protections set forth by the agreement, which took about 15 years to complete.

“We’d like to see the city drop the litigation; why would the city want to (undo the settlement agreement)?” said Dan Silver, the executive director of Endangered Habitats League. “The only purpose of the litigation is to eliminate the protection of the avoidance area. If their suit or (The Reserve’s) lawsuit are successful, then these important lands would be open to this green alignment option (through environmental areas).”
Dan Bane, the lead attorney for The Reserve’s lawsuit, said the city and The Reserve’s lawsuits are being presided over the same judge. A hearing for the lawsuits has not yet been set.

“I still feel that designating the avoidance area is something that violated the Brown Act because it required a public hearing,” Bane said, who has argued that action was not made public.

In the meantime, it’s still unknown what effects the widening of the I-5 Pico corridor will have on traffic in the area. That project is likely to be completed in spring of 2018.

According to Coalition co-leader Eva O’Keefe, the event raised about $10,000 for the Coalition’s efforts, and about 400 people attended the event.


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comments (2)

  • Ask yourself this; what protections for San Clemente did Surfriders put in place with the original settlement? Or how about this; during the years of the settlement negotiations, who thought to ask San Clemente city or the residents what they thought and where they stood? It’s time that San Clemente had a voice in this matter.

  • Cord:
    Great meeting and speaking with you @ the gig……you’re 100% correct, the litigation left NGOs, many of them having no higher echelon staff in residence here, hence not directly impacted by other alignments, solely, unilaterally in charge of the resolution.
    Which obviously wasn’t a 100% resolution of the issues regarding the City because of those alternative routes!

    WARNING: If like me, after reading quotes (which I don’t dispute, Eric had a recorder) you feel like someone cut 50 points off of your IQ” Never ever wing it, give an on-the-fly interview 100 feet from a rock’ n roll band’s blasting speakers!
    If I had a do over, I’d remove that word REFINE and nix the run-on sentences: The CSSC and NMTR folks have incredible in-house, highly educated already refined volunteers. Attorneys like Dan Bane and Mark McGuire incredible campaign assets.

    The fact is that my NGO has a history of taking (head on) the OC BOS, OC municipalities, TCA, CalTrans et al over our 20 years—even taken EPA to the woodshed successfully. What we sense that we offer is exactly that kind of expertise, war record, conflict/confrontation veterans.
    These campaigns can take years to sort out, especially if litigation is involved….we’re accustomed to protracted battles, wars consisting of innumerable skirmishes. But yes, we also have in-house strengths, abilities that could supplement/augment the SC campaigners.

    Most of the public don’t need more intrigue, are conflict adverse and nothing wrong with that. You have lives, you have families to raise. All 6 of our Board members are single, we’re in essence dogs of war, and these things can get ugly, repugnant, taking over stakeholder’s lives.
    We thrive where many are turned off, or just plain drop out due to distress.
    Unfortunately, opponents offer rely upon a significant attrition rate, also use a tried and true “divide and conquer” tactic. Look for the TCA and/or settling NGOs to try and cut strays from the increasingly large herd now on a raging stampede!

    Stay strong, stay focused, stay united, stay engaged SC….we’re not here to distract from your effort. Personally, I’d have rather read more interviews of attendees, of locals, their thoughts and feelings. Being a public figure is over-rated, but doing good deeds for the stakeholders, those being threatened and intimidated, bullied? Now THAT’s rocking!

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