Toll Road Sound-Byte Wars

Governor Arnold Schwarnzenegger thinks the TCA's 241 (Foothill-South) toll road extension (which would bisect San Onofre State Beach, impact an Indian burial ground, mess with Trestles and possibly bring about Apocalypse) is about as tasty as steroids or a married woman's breast. The TCA (or Transportation Corridor Agencies) promise to atone for dicking with the environment by donating $100 Million as mitigation (which basically means damages) to California State Parks, not just for San Onofre but also to spruce up coastal sage scrub and the cottage program at Crystal Cove Beach.

In his support of the 241, Governor Schwarzenneger is wrong, according to three interested parties:

1) Bill Lockyer, State Treasurer and former Attorney General 2) Elizabeth Goldstein, President of the California State Parks Foundation; 3) Laura Davick, Founder of the Crystal Cove Alliance.

As Attorney General, Lockyer filed a lawsuit against the toll road on behalf of the Native American Heritage Council; in his words, the road would "destroy unique environmental resources and sacred religious and ceremonial sites in San Onofre State Beach." Goldstein is "astonished" at the Governor's stance and does not believe the site could be avoided. "The sacred site is too big; the archaeological district is literally underneath the proposed roadbed." Meanwhile, Davick is "far from tempted" to take the toll road agency's money for Crystal Cove if it means that San Onofre would get paved.

Davick discussed this plan with the Daily Pilot last October; Schwarzenneger wrote his letter of support this month; Lockyer wrote the Coastal Commission in response to the governor's; the Weekly interviewed Goldstein this week.

The sound-byte war goes a little something like this:

SCHWARZENNEGER: “It is my understanding that the TCA has proposed a contribution of $100 million to mitigate impacts to the campgrounds and to provide additional camping and other important improvements not only at San Onofre State Beach, but also at San Clemente State Park and at Crystal Cove State Park."

GOLDSTEIN: "It doesn’t change whether or not this project is in legal compliance; the things they’ve proposed in this mitigation package do not deal with the impacts of this road on this park. There is no way that this toll road can be made to enhance San Onofre. The impacts that the toll road would have are unmitigatable and profound."

LOCKYER: "The TCA cannot, as it proposes, make the project consistent with the [California Coastal Zone] Act by writing a check to fund unspecified mitigation measures.The additional actions suggested by the Governor, while positive, would do nothing to prevent the project from running afoul of the Act. And none of these steps would prevent the loss of a jewel of our state park system."

SCHWARZENNEGER: "This outside funding could not come at a better time for the state park system. In fact, it may provide the best means of keeping San Onofre Beach and other parks fully staffed and open for visitors."

LOCKYER: "The toll road would decimate a natural resource that has been treasured by Californians for 37 years. Since its creation in 1971 by Governor Ronald Reagan, [San Onofre State Beach] has been a haven for local residents, a prime recreation spot for visitors and tourists, and a worldwide attraction for the professional surfing community."

DAVICK: "As far as we’re concerned, any kind of plan that’s going to compromise a state park is not something we [the Crystal Cove Alliance] are going to be part of, nor do we support."

GOLDSTEIN: "According to State Parks, as you know, two years ago they believed they needed to abandon 60% of the park if the road was built."

So the Governor supports a plan to pave a park, then pay State Parks money which the people who protect those parks aren't even interested in. Could this be the epitome of adding insult to injury?

The TCA often falsely describes the 241 extension as a balance between progress and conservation. In his letter to the Coastal Commission, Lockyer also spoke of balance; “balance between the competing demands of providing an infrastructure that meets the needs of a growing California and protecting the natural resources we cherish." He concludes that the 241 extension does not balance these interests. “On the contrary, it paves over one interest to satisfy the other.”


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