Key Legislation Signed to Permanently Protect San Onofre State Beach | Cal Parks

Assembly Bill 1426 provides permanent, statutory protection against any road construction affecting the state park


Sacramento, CA (September 25, 2020) – Today, after nearly two decades of hard-fought advocacy to protect San Onofre State Beach permanently and statutorily, Governor Newsom made that goal a reality.  Newsom signed Assembly Bill (AB) 1426 by Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvath (D-Encinitas), which ensures that no road infrastructure can be built that severely damages San Onofre State Beach.   The Save San Onofre Coalition celebrates that bill’s passage and signing. 

“For two decades, park lovers have been fighting to protect San Onofre State Beach from road construction. Signing AB 1426 into law provides the long-term protection we need to ensure this incredibly important place remains intact for future generations,” said Rachel Norton, Executive Director of the California State Parks Foundation. “We are tremendously grateful to everyone who stayed in this long fight, and to Assemblymember Boerner Horvath for helping achieve this critical permanent protection.”

The Save San Onofre Coalition is a coalition of local, regional, and statewide conservation and environmental organizations that have worked for years to stop the construction of a proposed toll road through the state park. 

“We are elated that Governor Newsom is prioritizing the protection of San Onofre State Beach,” said Surfrider Foundation’s Stefanie Sekich-Quinn. “Our supporters have logged countless hours on this campaign for nearly two decades.  By signing AB 1426 into law, the Governor provided an incredible affirmation and testament to the power of grassroots activism and the importance of protecting California’s 5th most visited state park for generations to come.”

AB 1426 upholds the state’s interest in protecting San Onofre State Beach and respects the intent of legal agreements signed by state agencies and conservation groups to protect the park. In 2016, the Save San Onofre coalition organizations joined the Attorney General, Native American Heritage Commission, and the State Park and Recreation Commission in settling litigation with the Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency.  That settlement was later recognized in additional agreements with the California Department of Transportation and California Natural Resources Agency.  Those agreements followed rejection of a proposed toll road through the park by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Coastal Commission because of the damage the road would cause to the state park and other resources.

Together, the Coalition has been working to permanently protect San Onofre State Beach, the Richard and Donna O’Neill Conservancy, and the San Mateo watershed from road construction.  Established in 1971 by then-Governor Ronald Reagan, San Onofre is one of California’s most popular state parks, receiving more than 2.4 million visitors per year and providing habitat for 11 endangered or threatened species.  San Onofre also offers low-cost recreational opportunities for working families and boasts a world-renowned surf spot at Trestles Beach.

“San Onofre State Beach is a microcosm of the biodiversity along Southern California’s coast, containing an astounding 11 federally listed species,” said Dan Silver, Executive Director of the Endangered Habitats League. “And now it's safe, for all Californians to enjoy and appreciate.”

“California’s leaders have taken a bold step in protecting important coastal species, and ensuring everyone has access to one of our state’s most popular state parks,” said Damon Nagami, Senior Attorney and Director of the Southern California Ecosystems Project at Natural Resources Defense Council. “AB 1426 ensures affordable coastal accommodations for low-income families and stops road construction that would threaten the natural heritage that makes San Onofre State Beach so special. This is an important move by Assembly Member Boerner Horvath to keep this park accessible to all Californians.”

About the Save San Onofre Coalition

The Save San Onofre Coalition comprises the following 12 California and national environmental organizations: Audubon California, California Coastal Protection Network, California State Parks Foundation, Defenders of Wildlife, Endangered Habitats League, Laguna Greenbelt, Inc., Natural Resources Defense Council, Orange County Coastkeeper, Sea and Sage Audubon Society, Sierra Club, Surfrider Foundation and WiLDCOAST/COASTALVAjE.