The Donna O'Neill Land Conservancy lies in the path of the controversial Foothill-South toll road extension. Yet they've been strangely silent on the issue, especially when compared to the environmental and surfing groups fighting desperately to protect the even-more-endangered San Onofre State Beach. Which means that if the toll road fight was World War II, the Conservancy would surely be Switzerland.
To understand how the Conservancy became so hushed, look no further than 1990, when it was set up as mitigation for Rancho Mission Viejo's Talega development outside San Clemente. In other words, although developers were allowed to pave over a certain amount of wilderness, they promised to set aside a large portion of land to be protected—that is, until a time when the Rancho could make canyonloads of cash from road-induced development. Now, the Rancho is a major toll road supporter. And the Conservancy? Well, its offices operate out of RMV headquarters. Any public opposition to the road would be like egging your landlord's car and then leaving your business card.
Still, the Conservancy is doing what little it can. Case in point: Saturday's Nature Benefit Concert in Laguna. For a small donation, guests can listen to the folk-rock of Alec Marken & Deep Stirrings; the socio-political electronic punk of Intro5pect (signed to A-F Records); the "jazzified, funkified punk rock" of Taming Ingrid (a Scandinavian Flogging Molly sans whips, I hope); and an 11-year-old virtuosa named Jazzlyn, whose precocious talents are sure to inspire bitter envy among all.
Help save the Donna O'Neill Land Conservancy at the Neighborhood Congregational Church, Bridge Hall, 340 St. Ann's Dr., Laguna Beach, (949) 370-0523; www.theconservancy.org. Sat., 7-10 p.m. $10; ages 13-17, $5; children 12 and under, $2.