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Eric Heinz

The city of San Clemente has entered into an environmental easement agreement with the Marblehead Community Association to establish 287 acres of land as eligible for natural-habitat-serving land.

The city did this in an effort to dissuade the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) from bringing Alternative 14 to fruition, which is where one of the several toll roads is proposed to be built through San Clemente.

“You can’t do better than Measure V,” Smith said, regarding the San Clemente 2008 voter initiative that zoned the city’s open space as basically untouchable with minor exceptions. “What this would do is create additional legal protections and hurdles. What happens is now that the easement is created, it can be sold and conveyed.”

Similar to the Marblehead Coastal project that set space aside for natural habitats around the Outlets at San Clemente, the easement would be available for developers to buy into environmental credits.

About 287 acres in the Marblehead Community Association will be designated under an environmental easement agreement the city is using to try to further hinder the Transportation Corridor Agencies from building one of its proposed toll roads. Photo: Eric Heinz
About 287 acres in the Marblehead Community Association will be designated under an environmental easement agreement the city is using to try to further hinder the Transportation Corridor Agencies from building one of its proposed toll roads. Photo: Eric Heinz

“The city would solicit nonprofit partnerships, and they’d be able to restore and enhance the areas, and to pay for that, they would sell conservation credits to people who need to mitigate development,” Smith said.

Some of the most common endangered species the habitat would likely house are the California gnatcatcher as well as several plant species that can be grown out of seedbanks and other means of environmental stewardship.

“The city would focus generally on what’s happened across the freeway, but the solicitation to nonprofits would invite them to propose a focus on plants such as coastal sage scrub, wetlands restoration, etc.,” Smith said. “The city and the Marblehead HOA would be able to dictate the parameters of the restoration, but they would ultimately need approval by state and federal resource agencies to be used as ‘banks’ for mitigation credits by others.”

Smith said the agreement is not completely operational yet, as it has to go through a “warrant period” that would likely be scrutinized by the state’s environmental departments. Whether this would help the city fend off Alternative 14 remains to be seen.

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comments (4)

  • No toll road through or around San Clemente – the TCA needs to go – the studies are clear the traffic will be made worse. Be careful of districting unscrupulous people are trying to take away our votes. We can vote for 3 council members now – if districting goes in it will be only one vote for each no matter how many candidates are up for election. This is what the TCA wants is districting.

    • This conservation easement protects this valuable open space in perpetuity. There have been statements made about city payments to the city attorney when Best Best & Krieger has taken the litigation against TCA on contingency. I have had many residents offer to be taxed to pay for the fight against the toll road. The city attorney taking this case on contingency makes that unnecessary.

      While the litigation against TCA is on contingency, there are still many actions or services the city attorney undertakes for the city that involves the toll road issue but are not part of the litigation itself. For those actions, the city attorney will be paid as part of the services he performs for our city. This conservation easement is a good example of that.

      When a transportation agency suddenly decides they want to put a regional road right through our city, we must act. The residents of San Clemente have told us they wanted the city to fight. The city has done a lot of work to disprove route #14 to Pico is necessary.. The IBI Group traffic study gave us information the extension will provide little benefit and the damaage it will do to our city, our residents’ quality of life, and destroy residential and commercial peroperties .

      Now that the proof is out that Route #14 isn’t viable, TCA has pivoted to a new project that would include managed lanes on I-5. This new “idea” will also destroy our city and take out up to 50 properties close to the freeway. The city’s current lawsuit will address this destructive idea proposed by TCA.

      There are two things wrong with TCA putting managed lanes on I-5. 1. TCA has no authority to study or build lanes on I-5. TCA was created to build two toll road corridors that are seperate and run parallel to existing freeways.
      2. There is not enough traffic need to justify adding these lanes and taking out 50 San Clemente properties. OCTA has said finishing the carpool lane to the county line will provide the necessary traffic relief. OCTA is our county transportation planning commission. If they say traffic can be controlled by less invasive and less costly improvements, we can rely on that information.

      No tranportation agency would propose building a road that is so costly and destructive for so little need. That is why TCA must be stiopped and San Clemente will not stand to be threatened any longer by this agency.

      • might we tie it into the donna o’neill conservancy
        i hope it becomes a place to use not to just look at
        i always thought the trw area was a winner for a escape country type thing how fun was that

  • i like the wet land restoration im sure american indians blocked the creek to provide water for farming and wild life , this new creek and ponds would do the same and may provide water for fresh water fishing and fire fighting ,
    , just make it so the citizens love it need it and enjoy it because they deserve it

    :::::::::( -;P

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