“But wait, I thought we Saved Trestles and San Onofre State Park?!”
We get this incredulous question often. And you’re right, we did… We thought. For over 15 years, the Save San Onofre Coalition (SSOC) has been fighting to prevent roadway construction through San Onofre State Park, the Donna O’Neill Land Conservancy, and the San Mateo Watershed. We repeatedly defeated the Transportation Corridor Agencies’ (TCA) attempts to build through the park at regional, state, and federal hearings, and as a result they finally agreed to stop trying to build through the park. In 2016, we settled our 10 year-old lawsuit against them, and as part of the settlement, they committed to a Protective Agreement which prohibits them from building in the open spaces we were fighting to preserve.
“So the park is protected then?”
Yes, it is. But the San Clemente City Council sued both SSOC and the TCA in 2017 in an attempt to invalidate the Protective Agreement which protects the park. Under the premise of keeping TCA from building in the City of San Clemente, the City Council sued to un-protect the park. The irony about this is that the lawsuit, if successful, wouldn’t do anything to prohibit construction of a TCA project through San Clemente. It would only destroy the protections in place for the park that so many San Clemente residents, and activists from all over the world, fought so hard for so long to secure.
This spring, the City Council published an arterial and mobility study that found that there would be virtually no traffic benefit achieved by building a road through the park. Lawsuits are very costly to litigate, and lawsuits filed by cities are paid for by taxpayers. It surely seems that the taxpayers’ money could be spent on something better than litigating a lawsuit that would only un-protect San Onofre, opening it back up to consideration for highway construction. It wouldn’t even achieve the stated goal for which the City Council filed the suit. Clearly, it’s time for the San Clemente City Council to drop, or at least suspend this lawsuit which puts San Onofre back in peril without even achieving its purported goal of preventing road construction in San Clemente.