San Diego: Screw Trestles

San Diego has no business in San Diego County. At least, that's what their City Council seems to think.

In our Best "Best of OC" Issue yet, Dave Wielenga eloquently described one of the major problems with the Save Trestles campaign: apathy. Surfers and the surf industry pay lip service to their beloved "Yosemite of Surfing," but at the end of the day they're more interested in hitting the beach than working to change public policy. It's no wonder that policy-makers have a tendency to marginalize the beach bums. For a perfect example, look at San Diego.

On September 26 the San Diego City Council voted 4-3 against a resolution to oppose the Foothill-South (241) toll road extension. The proposed road would bisect the inland portion of San Onofre State Beach, the coastal border between San Diego and Orange counties. The state park, one of the most visited in California, lies entirely within San Diego County.

The resolution the Council shot down was put forth by Councilwoman Donna Frye, who once ran a surf shop with surfing-legend hubbie Skip Frye. It concerned Trestles, which road opponents argue is at risk. Engineering studies acknowledge the toll road will affect sediment flow in the San Mateo Creek—in other words, it'll mess with the sand that feeds the sandbars that maintain Trestle's world-class surf break. Road supporters argue that the effects will be insignificant, and that the sandbars don't really need the sand anyway.

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The four councilmen who opposed the resolution are Jim Madaffer, Kevin Faulconer, Tony Young and Ben Hueso.

Faulconer's opposition to opposing the toll roads is unsurprising; before becoming a San Diego City Councilman he worked as a Vice President for Porter-Novelli. This is the same PR firm that the Transportation Corridors Agencies—builders of the toll roads—hired in August (to the tune of $125,000) to try and convince the state that paving a state park is the best idea since the Iraq War. In 2001 Steve Danon ran against Frye in the City Council's district 6 race and lost. His next position? Faulconer's old job as Vice-President of Porter-Novelli's San Diego office.

Meanwhile, back in the present: to explain his vote, Councilman Hueso went so far as to express his "concern about trying to police the rest of the state." Interesting—because much of the rest of the state is willing to get involved in what is clearly a statewide issue (like building roads through state parks) focusing on a statewide resource (like Trestles).


Los Angeles, San Francisco (city and county), Oceanside, Del Mar, Aliso Viejo, Laguna Beach, Imperial Beach, Santa Monica, Santa Cruz (city and county), Malibu and Berkeley

In fact, Berkeley passed a resolution opposing the toll toad the very same day San Diego failed to. Councilman Madaffer tried to justify his vote by saying, "The smart move for the city of San Diego is to stay out of other people's business." If a toll road through northern San Diego County isn't San Diego's business, whose business is it? Everyone else's, it seems.

We journalists make a living by reporting what interests our readers; in other words, by telling them their business. San Diego City Council's recent decision seemed newsworthy to the San Diego Union-Tribune, OC Register, Santa Maria Times, Contra Costa Times, San Jose Mercury News, Monterey County Herald, San Luis Obispo Tribune, Transworld Surf Business News and the Global Surf Report. In TV-Land the story hit both NBC and Fox News' San Diego affiliates as well as San Diego's own 10News, whose website initially claimed that the city council had voted against the toll road, not the resolution opposing it.

Can't say I blame 10News; if I was a copy-editor and I read in a story that San Diego was failing to oppose the 241 toll road extension, I'd think it was a mistake also.

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