Dear Friends of the Foothills,
Please read on to find out more about:
1. Turn out to Saturday’s Foothill-South Hearing
2. How you can still send comments to the Federal Government about the toll
3. Attend the Rancho Mission Viejo briefing on Wednesday, June 23
4. Great opportunities for letters to the editor.
1. 800 PEOPLE ATTEND SATURDAY’S TOLL ROAD HEARING
On Saturday, June 19th, 800 people turned out to the Foothill-South Toll
Road hearing in Rancho Santa Margarita – a 25 minute drive from the
communities, open space, and beaches most threatened by the proposed
road. Thank you for taking time out of your busy Father’s Day weekend to
attend the hearing and let the toll road builders and the Federal Highway
Administration know why the Foothill-South Toll Road threatens our quality
The meeting room was packed with virtually everyone wearing our stickers
and buttons and waving surfboard “Stop the Toll Road” signs, and as the
toll road builders gave their presentation of the toll road alternatives,
the crowd erupted in cheers and applause to the “no build” alternative.
Over 70 people gave eloquent, passionate, and thoughtful testimony and
received an enthusiastic supportive response from the crowd as they talked
about the importance of stopping the toll road and protecting San Onofre
State Beach, Trestles, and the South Orange County quality of life.
2. YOU CAN STILL SUBMIT COMMENTS
If you missed Saturday’s hearing, you can still submit comments until
August 6th. Some points you might want to make are below. Please send
your comments to the Federal Highway Administration care of the Friends of
the Foothills/Sierra Club.
Your comments should reflect your concerns about the proposed Foothill-
South Toll Road. For example:
The Foothill-South Toll Road will not solve traffic problems and will not
pay for itself, it will only increase the financial burden to an already
troubled system. The Foothill-South will only worsen the quality of life
in South Orange County. There are smarter, more modern solutions to
Southern California’s transportation problems and we urge the Federal
Highway Administration to look at them.
San Mateo Campground
TCA’s environmental documents avoid any discussion of the San Mateo
Campground and its unique recreational resources. The documents provide
absolutely no mitigation to compensate for this irreplaceable campground.
The TCA fails to acknowledge, analyze, or mitigate impacts to surfing
quality at Trestles. Their environmental documents fail to properly
analyze impacts on sediment flow, natural beach replenishment, and sand
bars. The TCA’s conclusion that there are no water quality impacts from
the project is fundamentally flawed. No road can be engineered to collect
all pathogens, trash, and toxics the road generates so that none of these
materials enter adjacent waterways.
Donna O’Neill Land Conservancy
The TCA fails to adequately describe the Donna O’Neill Land Conservancy
and the recreational resources present there. The environmental documents
fail to take into account the noise and visual impacts of the toll road on
the recreational experience.
Your can send your comments to Federal Highways Administration care of the
Friends of the Foothills/Sierra Club.
The Sierra Club e-mail address is
Or you can send your comments on paper to:
Sierra Club/Friends of the Foothills
P.O. Box 3942
San Clemente, CA 92674.
We’ll make sure your comments get to the right people at the Federal
(Editor’s Note: While this Rancho Mission Viejo meeting has already happened, McKee is still hapy to take comment on this issue.)
3. ATTEND THE HEARING TO PROTECT RANCHO MISSION VIEJO OPEN SPACE ON WEDNESDAY, JUNE 23RD
The Rancho Mission Viejo Company recently released an Environmental Impact
Report on its proposed development plan which calls for 14,000 new houses
and over 5 million square feet of commercial development in the areas East
of San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente.
This is a disappointing move by the Rancho Mission Viejo Company because
they have walked away from the integrated planning process that involved
hundreds of members of the public attending numerous workshops in San Juan
Capistrano. By moving forward, the Ranch has abandoned the coordinated
planning process with the public and the resource agencies currently
analyzing the impacts of the proposed development on the land. The Ranch
is now seeking to get its development entitlements before the agencies
have finished their review of land and pristine watersheds.
This Wednesday, June 23rd, at 1:30 pm, the Rancho Mission Viejo Company
will be giving a presentation to the Orange County Planning Commission.
Please join us at 10 Civic Center Plaza in Santa Ana on Wednesday, and
express your concern about the Ranch moving away from the collaborative
process. Below are some points you might want to make:
1. The loss of the concurrent component must be fixed. The South County
Outreach and Review Effort (SCORE) process promised a concurrent Natural
Community Conservation Plan (NCCP) approved by the state and federal
agencies. To break this promise would be wrong, and violate the Countys
own longstanding commitment to the NCCP. Granting premature entitlements
will preclude NCCP options, and that is unacceptable. The Commission must
ensure that the NCCP and entitlement processes get back on track, and move
forward together. Please keep faith with the public.
2. Requesting a 30 day extension of the comment period. The massive
and complex nature of the project necessitates a long period. Also,
documents are difficult to obtain, and were not immediately available from
the copy company. CDs are $75 and hard copies are over $300!
What: Rancho Mission Viejo presentation to Orange County Planning
When: Wednesday, June 23rd, 1:30 pm
Where: Orange County Planning Commission, 10 Civic Center Drive, Santa Ana
If you can attend this hearing, need more information, or directions,
please contact Brittany at 949-361-7534 or email
4. GREAT OPPORTUNITIES FOR LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
There were two great articles in the LA Times and the Orange County
Register on Sunday about the Saturday’s Foothill-South Toll Road Hearing.
This is a strategic time to write to the Times and the Register and
express your own concerns about the toll road. The Sierra Club and
Friends of the Foothills think all proposed alignments of the Foothill-
South Toll Road are bad for South Orange County and bad for San Clemente.
The people of South Orange County deserve better solutions to their
traffic problems than a toll road that will facilitate urban sprawl and
increase traffic congestion to local streets and pollute the surf at
Write the Register at: [email protected], fax to 714-796-3657
Write to the Times at: [email protected], fax to 213-237-7679
The two articles are below.
Sunday, June 20, 2004
TRESTLES, TOAD AND TOLL ROADS
Opponents and backers of the proposed Foothill route extension pack a
hearing in Rancho Santa Margarita.
by JEFF ROWE
The Orange County Register
RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA – Hundreds of people turned out Saturday morning to
vilify plans to extend the Foothill (241) Toll Road, which could stretch
almost 17 miles along the eastern side of the county to connect with the
San Diego (I-5) Freeway.
Some 800 people filled the Tesoro High School gymnasium near where the
Foothill Toll Road now ends. Many said they fear the extension will damage
the environment and cause overcrowding.
“Roads don’t relieve more congestion, they just result in more
development,” said Eddie Ross, a former Laguna Niguel city council
member. “What we need is more public transit.”
Mark Massara, a lawyer and director of the Sierra Club’s California
Coastal Program, said preventing any extension of the Foothill Toll Road
is one of the club’s top national priorities. The conservation group says
three mountain lions, 75 deer and 50 coyotes have been killed in the past
four years on the first stretch of the Foothill Toll Road, which opened in
Ross and Massara were among about 70 people who spoke on the issue, the
majority opposing all six of the proposed routes, some of which would cut
through wilderness areas and some of which would result in the removal of
hundreds of houses and businesses.
Focal point for the fight is where some of the toll-road alternatives
would intercept the I-5 near Trestles state beach in San Clemente. The
beach is a storied surfer spot, reachable only by a half-mile hike along
San Mateo Creek from the east side of the freeway.
Opponents fear the extension, and the development it would bring, will
increase pollution there.
“The No. 1 problem in the oceans is urban runoff,” said Chris Evans,
executive director of the Surfrider Foundation, an ocean conservation
Surfing great Mickey Muñoz, who surfed the Trestles since the early 1950s,
told a reporter he feared the extension would ruin one of the top surfing
breaks in the world.
“People come from all over the world to surf there,” he said.
Cost of the six proposed routes ranges from $513 million to $1.1 billion,
with the gap attributed to differences in grading and construction costs
and the number of houses and business that would have to be removed.
All of the routes would adversely affect some wildlife, including
peregrine falcons, arroyo toads and Pacific pocket mice.
Alternatives to extending the toll road include widening regional roads,
adding more lanes to the San Diego Freeway, and the favorite of almost all
the opponents – doing nothing. But in opening the hearing, the
Transportation Corridor Agencies, which operate the toll roads, said the
price of doing nothing will be a 60 percent increase in San Diego Freeway
traffic by 2025.
Occasionally, a pro-toll road speaker interrupted the procession opposing
“We’ve done a good job of balancing the development and maintaining open
space in south county,” said Richard Watson, a Mission Viejo-based urban
and regional planner. “Let’s make a decision based on good science and
planning, rather than emotion.”
Most in the audience groaned.
At the beginning of the hearing, about a dozen sheriff’s deputies
patrolled inside and outside the gym. Three deputies were mounted, their
horses fitted with face shields. But as it became clear the event would be
peaceful, the mounted patrols and some of the deputies left.
Only a few dozen remained when it was Margaret McClean’s turn to speak at
2 p.m. The owner of a San Juan Capistrano printing business said she
is “very concerned about the environment” but didn’t see “how anyone could
have a good quality of life stuck on the freeway.”
For the private and the shy, a court reporter in another room took
dictated statements. About 140 commented that way; others wrote their
concerns on cards and put them in a large carton.
About 100 others already have submitted written statements.
Toll-road officials said that whatever form the statements are given in,
they will have equal weight.
ORANGE COUNTY TOLLWAY EXTENSION PLANS GIVEN THE COLD SHOULDER
Many at the Foothill South hearing criticize the suggested routes, citing
By Kevin Pang
Times Staff Writer
June 20, 2004
South County residents concerned about a proposed toll road extension
voiced their opposition with protest signs and impassioned speeches at a
public hearing Saturday.
About 600 people the majority wearing stickers denouncing the Foothill
South extension filled the Tesoro High School gymnasium near Rancho
The Transportation Corridor Agencies, Orange County’s toll road owners,
organized the hearing to present possible routes for the toll road. Cheers
and applause erupted when an agency official spoke of the “no action”
The proposed 16-mile extension would connect the end of California 241,
east of Mission Viejo, with San Clemente. Agency officials said the
extension is needed to serve the county’s growing population.
But the Sierra Club, the Surfrider Foundation and other environmental
organizations are opposed because construction could affect up to 500
acres of wetlands and wildlife habitat, according to environmental
studies. Three proposed routes would run through the Donna O’Neill Land
Conservancy and San Onofre State Park.
One after another, residents and members of at least two city councils
took the podium to criticize the proposed extensions’ environmental and
Marni Magda, an 18-year resident of Laguna Beach, said construction will
harm animals protected by the Endangered Species Act, including the
California gnatcatcher, the Arroyo toad and the Southern steelhead trout.
“It’s illegal and ill-conceived,” Magda said to applause.
Said surfing magazine publisher Steve Pezman: “Everything about the toll
road destroys and degrades the experience of surfing Trestles [Beach].”
Pezman said construction would disturb surf breaks and that runoff would
affect water quality. The San Clemente resident surfs several times a week
between San Onofre State Beach and the San Diego County line, and said the
coastline would lose its rustic charm if the tollway were built. “Its
value as a relief from urban sprawl would be hugely degraded,” Pezman said.
Others say the toll road does not make economic sense, citing financial
problems with the San Joaquin Hills tollway, which runs between Newport
Beach and San Juan Capistrano. The 16-mile road, also known as California
73, has seen lower-than-expected traffic and revenue since it opened in
Those who supported the toll road’s construction drew mostly boos from the
Richard A. Watson, president of an urban planning and development group,
said the opposition’s concern that the toll road would diminish open space
“Orange County has done a good job balancing development and open space,”
said the former professor of planning. “The [agency] should use sound
planning, good science and reason rather than emotion.”
Among those in attendance was Eric Norby, an alternate on the Foothill-
Eastern TCA board of directors, which will ultimately decide whether the
toll road is built.
Norby was jotting down notes from each speaker, and said he would take
residents’ concerns back to the 15-member board.
“I’ll listen and hear what they have to say,” he said. “Our minds are not
made up until we vote.”
THANKS TO EVERY PERSON WHO WROTE A LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Sending Letters to the Editor is a great way to keep editors aware that
many readers are concerned about the Foothill-South Toll Road and the
Rancho Mission Viejo development, and it means theyre more likely to
publish stories on the topics. Published letters keep decision-makers
aware of citizen concerns and helps to shape their opinions on the issue.
LA Times: [email protected] , fax to 213-237-7679
Orange County Register: [email protected] fax to 714-796-3657
San Clemente Sun Post: [email protected] fax to 949-492-0401,
mail to: Sun Post News, 95 Avenida Del Mar, San Clemente CA 92672.
The Capistrano Valley News: [email protected]
The Capistrano Dispatch: [email protected]
Dana Point News: [email protected] , fax to 949-454-7354, mail to:
Dana Point News, 22481 Aspan, Lake Forest CA 92630
Laguna Niguel News: mailto:[email protected]
Be sure to include your name, home address and daytime phone for
verification. 150 words or less is best.
Surfrider Foundation San Clemente Chapter
PO Box 865
San Clemente, CA 92672