Victory seemed the outcome in February at the Del Mar fairgrounds when the California Coastal Commission (CCC) voted 8-2 to deny the proposed six-lane 241 Toll Road extension that would cut directly through San Onofre State Beach and threaten the Trestles breaks, close off the popular San O campgrounds and spoil much of one of Southern California's last natural coastal environments. Over 3,000 people turned out for the successful protest, but to countless surfers, environmentalists and park enthusiasts' frustration, the Transportation Corridor Authority (TCA) appealed the ruling and has since lobbied the Federal Government to overturn the CCC's decision and revisit the issue.
On Friday, July 25 the US Department of Commerce will hold a public hearing at the Bren Center at the University of California, Irvine. Now, more than ever, Surfrider needs your support, and attendance, in order to prevent the beautiful environment of San Onofre State Beach – and its world class waves – from being turned over to the hands of greedy Toll Road developers. We decided to ask Surfrider San Diego Chapter Coordinator, Bill Hickman, his thoughts on the matter at hand and how we can all help.
SURFING. What will the toll road mean for the state park's environment?
BILL HICKMAN: The San Mateo campground will be directly affected as [the Toll Road] would go right through it. Also, just to have that much concrete running through the area would be quite the painful eyesore from how it looks right now. Considering that during the walk down to Trestles you're hiking through the bush and nature, the Toll Road would remove every bit of separation from society that we are grateful to have right now.
And for Trestles?
Anytime you completely alter the way the sand flows to the ocean, you are going to greatly change the setup of the breaking waves along the shore. And in the case of Trestles, that means the cobblestones coming from San Mateo Creek that create the perfect waves of Lowers (and Uppers).
How did the Toll Road developers rewind the progress and gain another chance?
Well, they're going over the heads of the CCC. In February, [the CCC] voted against the Toll Road reasoning that it didn't fit in with the Coastal Act and that they could not approve it for various reasons. The Toll Road developers are looking to supersede the February 6 ruling by the CCC by going to the Federal Government.
What exactly is going to take place at the next hearing?
The Bren Event Center is reserved and right now we are expecting two sets of testimonies (from us and the developers) and then some public opinions. It is going to be a full day event, just like the hearing in Del Mar.
How important is it that there are large numbers at the hearing?
Numbers are extremely important. That seems to be the definitive point in showing the public's disapproval. There were around 3,000 people at the last hearing and it is going to be even more important that we have even higher numbers at the upcoming hearing. We'd love to get at least 5,000 people for this one. We will provide free transportation and car pools from San Diego, Orange County and Los Angeles. There will also be food provided at the event.
Free food never hurt a cause, that's for sure. Surfrider needs everyone this time around if that five-thou mark is to be reached. It's never been more important, so if you missed the last meeting here is your chance to make up some of that lost karma. Trestles needs YOU! Ditch work, school and/or a day of surfing to help a good cause.