Happy International Surfing Day! Water Pollution Regulators Reject Toll-Road Extension

Categories: 241 Toll Road

toll-road-trestles_victorio.jpg
Photo by Christopher Victorio/OC Weekly
2008: Back to the future
Here is great news for Surfrider Foundation members to wake up to on International Surfing Day: the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board on Wednesday denied the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) the necessary permit to build the first segment of the 241 toll road extension.

Activists from Surfrider and other groups fearful about the final stretch of what they expect would be a new 20-mile route spoiling San Onofre State Park and Trestles beach filled two hearings to oppose the TCA's new piecemeal strategy, as they did when the toll road builders unsuccessfully tried to win approval of the whole shebang in 2008.

The TCA has denied its "Tesoro Extension" is phase one of the entire route unveiled (and shot down) previously.

The process of building the five-mile route before the Regional Water Quality Control Board required the TCA to receive a waste-water discharge permit. Members of Surfrider, the Natural Resources Defense Council, California State Parks Foundation, Endangered Habitats League, Orange County Coastkeeper, Sierra Club, Audobon Society, WildCoast and the California Coastal Protection Network had accused the TCA of trying to slip the 5-mile 241 extension with little public notice and of illegally "segmenting" the preferred 20-mile route.

The TCA vehemently denies both, claiming it is only trying to provide critical jobs and traffic relief with this single Tesoro Extension.

Water board member Sharon Kalemkiarian did not see it that way, saying, "I do not believe that the project is Tesoro, I believe that the project is the entire toll road."

"I think the project here is pretty clear," observed Kalemkiarian's colleague Henry Abarbanel. "It's the project that was presented in 2008 and rejected by the people of California and the United States."

They joined board chairman Tomas Morales in denying the permit. Eric Anderson and vice chairman Gary Strawn voted in favor, although the latter did not sound as if he really wanted to. "I don't like this project," he said. "I don't like the toll road through the hills; I don't like what it does to endangered species. ... But looking at the project we were presented, I reluctantly think I need to vote in favor."

Stefanie Sekich-Quinn, the San Clemente-based Surfrider Foundation's California policy manager, was "elated that the board soundly rejected the TCA's application--they clearly understood the severe the implications of building the first 5 miles of the road. It is reassuring that this water board is living up to their mission statement of implementing plans that will best protect the region's waterways."

Just as they did when the 20-mile version was before the California Coastal Commission and fact-finders from a division of the Bush Administration's Commerce Department, which would both go on to reject the TCA plan in '08, scores of people spoke out in a standing room only board meeting room Wednesday.

Environmental activists (and their paid lawyers) contend segmenting is illegal under state and federal law.

"This section of the road would have set the stage to reinvigorate their push to extend all the way to Trestles and San Onofre State Beach," Mark Rauscher, Surfrider Foundation's coastal preservation manager, says in a statement. "Hopefully the TCA will finally get the picture that their plans are neither appropriate for our coastal watersheds nor in the interests of the region or state."

Lisa Telles, the TCA spokeswoman, licked the agencies' wounds when speaking with the San Diego Union-Tribune, saying, "We expected to get the permit approved. We were confident that the project was comprehensive and addressed all the water quality issues."

But the stars just aren't aligning for the TCA as California Attorney General Kamala Harris filed suit last month to block the toll road, agreeing illegal segmenting is afoot and calling the Tesoro Extension a "proverbial 'road to nowhere.'"

Email: mcoker@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!


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4 comments
Mitchell_Young
Mitchell_Young topcommenter

Okay, so, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the amnesty bill being debated will add 10 million people to the US, over and above the 10 million we'd get from current immigration law and *not* including amnestied illegals, over the next ten years.

California has about 1/4 of the immigration population, so we could expect 2.5 million *more* people than the 2.5 million we'd already be getting. That's almost another OC.

So, my question to 'environmentalists' and 'save trestles' types is -- where will this people live? And where are the roads to get them from home to work and school going to be built? Are the 3 families per single family dwelling (a la Santa Ana ) going to be 4 families per single family dwelling? Will there be more 'development' in the 909 and 951? And if so, how will people get to their jobs without roads -- cause surely a lot of them will have to commute.

LarryS22
LarryS22

Hope that the surfers not living right next to Trestles enjoy sitting in traffic in south OC.  Because they're going to be doing that for many years to come now that they've "defeated" the toll road.  I guess the locals have succeded once again in keeping their private beach all to themselves.  That's really what this is all about.

JGlanton
JGlanton topcommenter

@LarryS22  Yep. It's the rule. NIMBYism cloaked as environmentalism is the most effective way to stop progress. And keep a dumbass toll road stopped in the middle of nowhere so it takes at least 20-30 minutes of traffic to get to the 5.

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