Trestles June Update

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.


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

of life.

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.


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:

Unneeded Road

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.

Trestles Beach

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

Highway Administration.

(Editor’s Note: While this Rancho Mission Viejo meeting has already happened, McKee is still hapy to take comment on this issue.)


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


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:, fax to 714-796-3657

Write to the Times at:, fax to 213-237-7679

The two articles are below.

Sunday, June 20, 2004


Opponents and backers of the proposed Foothill route extension pack a

hearing in Rancho Santa Margarita.


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

the extension.

“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.,1,1870751..story


Many at the Foothill South hearing criticize the suggested routes, citing

environmental concerns.

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

Santa Margarita.

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

economic effects.

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

is exaggerated.

“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.”


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: , fax to 213-237-7679

Orange County Register: fax to 714-796-3657

San Clemente Sun Post: fax to 949-492-0401,

mail to: Sun Post News, 95 Avenida Del Mar, San Clemente CA 92672.

The Capistrano Valley News:

The Capistrano Dispatch:

Dana Point News: , fax to 949-454-7354, mail to:

Dana Point News, 22481 Aspan, Lake Forest CA 92630

Laguna Niguel News:

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