Why The Toll Road Is Dead
Bold claim, you say? Presumptuous, maybe? Not so.
Recently, mi hermano Gustavo Arellano pinpointed the root cause of the Transportation Corridor Agencies' failure to gain Coastal Commission approval for their Final Solution to San Onofre State Beach: ARROGANCE. The TCA presumptuously and sometimes even indignantly refuted the majority of criticism of their project, as reflected in the Response to Comments section of the Environmental Impact Report. A juicy excerpt:
Comment Number: O19-13
Commenter: Terrell Watt Planning Consultants
Comment: There is a remarkable claim made that PM10 emissions will increase but that PM10 levels will not and that violations of state standards will not worsen (AQR 4-69, 4-70, 5-10). This defies all logic. And of course that is without accounting for most of the PM10 emissions. Obviously any increase in emissions will increase PM10 levels. The large emissions increases that would actually occur would increase the levels substantially, quite possibly above the federal standards.
Response: The comment is incorrect in summarizing the statements in the Draft EIS/SEIR...."
The comment is incorrect. The impacts are insignificant. You're wrong. We're not listening. Nya nya nya. This has been the general tone of the TCA's response to criticism in the past, and it continues today.
The TCA has appealed the Coastal Commission's decision to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce. According to the Coastal Zone Management Act, if a state denies approval of a project, the project builders can file an appeal with the Secretary of Commerce. It takes 265 days to analyze, or up to 325 days if extensions come into play.
Lance MacLean, who chairs the Foothill/Eastern TCA, told the LA Times, "Of the 16 miles to complete the toll road, only 2.2 miles are in the coastal zone. We can change the route, but that's just an idea, and of course, we will have to do studies."
What MacLean fails to understand, even though it was clearly articulated many times at the Feb. 6 Coastal Commission hearing which he attended, is that it doesn't matter how much of the project is in the coastal zone. If the project's impacts reach the coastal zone, then the Coastal Act applies.
Section 307(c)(3) of the Coastal Zone Management Act provides:
(3) (A) After final approval by the Secretary of a state's management program, any applicant for a required Federal license or permit to conduct an activity, in or outside of the coastal zone, affecting any land or water use or natural resource of the coastal zone of that state shall provide in the application to the licensing or permitting agency a certification that the proposed activity complies with the enforceable policies of the state's approved program and that such activity will be conducted in a manner consistent with the program. … No license or permit shall be granted by the Federal agency until the state or its designated agency has concurred with the applicant's certification or until, by the state's failure to act, the concurrence is conclusively presumed, unless the Secretary, on his own initiative or upon appeal by the applicant, finds, after providing a reasonable opportunity for detailed comments from the Federal agency involved and from the state, that the activity is consistent with the objectives of this title or is otherwise necessary in the interest of national security.
Even IF the TCA gets an override from the Secretary of Commerce, they will still have to come back to the Coastal Commission for a Coastal Development Permit for the project, according to Coastal Commissioner Steve Blank. "Given an 8-2 rejection by this commission," Blank told The Weekly, " they would have to either a) change the law that requires them to get a Coastal Development Permit, or b) change the makeup of the Coastal Commission so they can get an approval. Neither are impossible when a billion dollars are at stake."