Don't worry about the Transportation Corridor Agencies getting their lawsuits moved to federal court. Federal regulations may be less stringent than any state restrictions, but it's not all bad news. Today the State Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 5 met to discuss, among other matters, a staff resolution suggesting they oppose the Foothill-South toll road. After hearing arguments from both sides, Chairman Pedro Nava (D-Santa Barbara) made himself my all time American Idol.
"It just seems to be this is the wrong direction to take," Nava began.
1) He discussed how TCA's non-compete clause handcuffs CalTrans from performing necessary improvements in order to maximize tollroad profitability
2) He cited the unavailability of affordable spots for the working-class family to enjoy near the coast
3) He doubted the alternatives to a road through a state park had been adequately explored
4) He noted that none of the other 273 state parks were similarly endangered
"I'm going to side with Governor Ronald Reagan on this issue," said Nava, a reference to a quote cited earlier by Brittany McKee of Friends of the Foothills, taken from the founding of San Onofre State Beach by President Nixon and Governor Reagan in 1971:
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"I firmly believe one of the greatest legacies we can leave to future generations is the heritage of our land, but unless we can preserve and protect the unspoiled areas which God has given us, we will have nothing to leave them. This expanse of acreage, San Onofre Bluffs State Beach, now has its future guaranteed as an official state park."
-Gov. Ronald Reagan, San Onofre State Beach Dedication Ceremony
Nava closed his remarks with, "it's the wrong idea, it's the wrong choice, it's the wrong time." Assemblywoman Lois Volk (D-Vacaville) was delighted to make the recommendation to the board, which was quickly seconded.
What's it mean? The Subcommittee ordered $450,000 of its budget to go to a University of California-run independent analysis of alternatives to Foothill-South. They've also included variants on prohibitions on the road through the park that would be included in trailer language in the FY 06/07 budget. Whether those 'variants on prohibitions' make it through to the budget's final draft is another matter, but for the time being...
...things are looking up.