After almost 15 years of pitched battle between the Save San Onofre Coalition (a stalwart collection of nonprofit environmental organizations, including CSPF) and the Transportation Corridor Authority (TCA), the fight over San Onofre State Beach finally came to an end on November 10. The TCA Board approved a long-negotiated settlement that at its core protects San Onofre State Beach and the Richard and Donna O’Neill Land Conservancy from future routes of the Foothill-South toll road (SR 241).
In addition to the TCA and the Save San Onofre Coalition, Attorney General Kamala Harris is also a party to the settlement on behalf of the People of California, the Native American Heritage Commission and the Park and Recreation Commission. The settlement represents a key acknowledgement that the protection of these precious lands can co-exist with the exploration of new routes for a connection between the SR 241 and the I-5.
The fight over San Onofre took on symbolic importance as the poster child for development projects that threatened state parks. For CSPF, this iconic issue was so important that it was the first time we ever entered into a lawsuit to prevent a project from being built.
We fought battles in many different venues and under many different circumstances — from our persuasion of Congress to undo special legislation that granted the TCA exemptions from state and federal laws to the decision of the California Coastal Commission to reject a TCA permit request for the so-called Green Alignment that would have destroyed San Onofre State Beach; from a TCA appeal of the Coastal Commission ruling to the federal Department of Commerce (which ultimately was also rejected) to heated discussions about water permits and the proposed Tesoro Extension.
In the end, new leadership at the TCA, Michael Kraman, and Lucy Dunn, the president and CEO of the Orange County Business Council, brought the Coalition to the table to talk about whether there were ways to protect San Onofre and the Conservancy that would allow us to move on. To be honest, coalition members were concerned at first — these were not our first discussions with the TCA. Slowly but surely, however, trust was built that allowed the settlement to move forward.
We are especially grateful to the thousands and thousands of members and supporters who showed up at hearings, wrote letters and joined the fight for San Onofre. This decade-plus effort has been about ensuring public access to important lands for every purpose suited to them, whether that be the sacred practices of the Juaneño/Acjachemen people, the pursuit of the next great wave at Trestles Beach, or the simple gathering of family to camp, hike or picnic in one of southern California’s most popular state parks and most pristine habitats. As a result of our work with some surprising partners, that may indeed be possible for a long time to come.
“California law is still not protective enough of our state parks. This reality is something that needs to be addressed, but this settlement is a good reminder that where there is a will to find a solution to some of the state’s thorniest problems, there is often a way.”
– Elizabeth Goldstein, Former CSPF President
Settlement Ends the Threat of a Toll Road through San Onofre State Beach
Los Angeles Times, November 10, 2016
After a 15-Year Battle, Trestles Surf Spot Is Saved
Orange County Register, November 10, 2016
Settlement Reached Between TCA, CA Attorney General and Toll Road Stakeholders
San Clemente Times, November 10, 2016
San Onofre Saved: Landmark Agreement Ends OC Toll Road Dispute
Huffington Post, November 10, 2016
Trestles Saved from Toll Road—Finally
Surfer magazine, November 10, 2016
Trestles Saved Forever! (At Least from the Toll Road)
Surfline, November 10, 2016
Trestles Is Officially Saved Forever
The Inertia, November 10, 2016
Landmark Agreement Ends 15-Year Dispute over SR 241 Toll Road Extension
BusinessWire, November 10, 2016
Environmentalists Save Trestles from Toll Road
Surfer Today, November 11, 2016
Trestles Is Saved after State, Toll Roads and Enviro Groups Agree to End Fight
OC Weekly, November 14, 2016
We cultivate stewardship of state parks by hosting and funding a range of volunteer and educational programs aimed to support state parks.
We give direct support to state parks by offering a series of competitive grants to state park units, qualified nonprofits, government entities, and partners of state parks.
We serve as the independent voice for state parks by advocating for sound policies for state parks, including deferred maintenance support and adequate funding for parks.