San Onofre Timeline | Cal Parks
San onofre state beach 1971

San Onofre a state park

San Onofre was originally designated a state park in 1971 by then-Governor Ronald Reagan in cooperation with then-President Richard Nixon. The state park land is leased by the Department of Parks and Recreation from the U.S. Navy, on lands adjoining nearby Camp Pendleton U.S. Marine Corps Base. A 50-year lease was signed in 1971 for the land, which vests the Department of Parks and Recreation with authority to operate the park. 

Toll roll plan is created

In 1986, two joint-powers authorities were created to plan, finance and operate toll roads in the county. The Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency (TCA) and the San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency were established and seated with elected officials from the areas where the toll roads would be created. The Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency has jurisdiction over the existing 241, 261 and 133 toll roads and is the body with final decision-making authority for the proposed extension of the 241.

San Onofre Trestles
San Onofre Toll Road 1993

San Onofre: Southern Extension Toll Road

After the first section of the 241 was built near Lake Forest in 1993, the TCA began planning the southern extension, referred to the Foothills-South. As proposed, the road would extend Route 241 from Oso Parkway to I-5 in San Diego County. 

State Park and Recreation Commission

A 2005 State Park and Recreation Commission hearing was one of the most-attended Commission hearings ever, and public support for the park helped later convince the Commission to enter in litigation against the TCA. The SSOC also organized the largest public turnout in California Coastal Commission history.  

San Onofre SB Julianne Bradford
Toll road protest 2006

TCA determined toll route

After studying several potential routes, in 2006, TCA determined their preferred alignment, the “Green Alignment,” was the one that would significantly affect San Onofre State Beach. Throughout the fight, the Save San Onofre Coalition, State Park and Recreation Commission, and California Native American Heritage Commission had sued TCA for their certification of environmental documents in 2006, and in 2013 for its attempt to build the Tesoro Extension.

Coastal Commission Hearing

In 2008, nearly 4,000 people attended the Commission hearing where the road was overwhelmingly rejected. Under its authority to review and apply the Federal Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) to projects that impact California’s coastline, the Commission found that the toll road proposal could not meet any standard for consistency with state and federal coastal laws. In December 2008, the appeal was ultimately denied, leaving in place the Coastal Commission’s ruling. 

2008 Coastal Commission Hearing
San Onofre State Beach

Tesoro Extension

Since it was denied from pursuing the entire alignment, the TCA attempted to pursue a scaled-down version, dubbed the Tesoro Extension. 

Attempt to build road in segments

Since it was denied from pursuing the entire alignment, the TCA attempted to pursue a scaled-down version, dubbed the Tesoro Extension.  The TCA was rebuffed in 2014 and 2015 when both the State and Regional Water Quality Control Boards rejected inappropriate attempts to build the road in “segments.”  

San Onofre Petition 2015
San Onofre Surfer

San Onofre Settlement

After years of advocacy, lobbying at the state and federal levels, organizing and mobilizing grassroots supporters and organizations, and engaging in litigation to protect the park, in late 2016, California State Parks Foundation and its allies in the Save San Onofre Coalition (SSOC) negotiated a key settlement with the TCA that ended the toll road threat to the park. This settlement was the product of more than two years of meetings and discussions among the SSOC and TCA. The most significant and hard-fought aspect of the settlement carves out an “avoidance area” that requires TCA to refrain from building or funding a road project within an area that includes San Onofre State Beach, the nearby Richard and Donna O’Neill Conservancy and other critical open space, wildlife habitat and cultural resources in the San Mateo Creek watershed. 

Move to invalidate the settlement

Unfortunately, in July 2017, TCA, SSOC, and the state of California were sued by the City of San Clemente and a local homeowners’ group, Reserve Maintenance Corporation (Reserve), to invalidate the settlement agreement. The City and Reserve fear that, because it can no longer construct a route through the park, the TCA will pursue a route that goes through the City of San Clemente. 

Save San Onofre
San Onofre


AB 1426 (Horvath): Protect San Onofre State Beach was introduced in the legislature. This would require that State Parks report any proposed state or local agency infrastructure projects that would encroach or interfere with the operation of San Onofre State Beach to the legislature. Current status: Assembly Appropriations.

Protect San Onofre State Beach in 2020

We are hopeful and will continue to push forward AB 1426 (Horvath): Protect San Onofre State Beach in 2020. Please sign our petition supporting Assemblymember Tasha Boerner-Horvath’s AB 1426, which shores up protections for San Onofre State Beach, the Donna O’Neill Land Conservancy, and the San Mateo Watershed.

San Onofre State beach at dusk
San Onofre Saved

San Onofre State Beach Saved!

On September 25, 2020, Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvath’s bill Assembly Bill 1426 to permanently protect San Onofre State Beach was signed by Governor Gavin Newsom. After nearly two decades of hard-fought advocacy to protect San Onofre State Beach permanently and statutorily, Governor Newsom made that goal a reality.