Not in our backyard

The Sacramento City Council will focus on a faraway beach that offers premier surf breaks, a Juaneno Indian village and the Pacific pocket mouse at a meeting on November 14. At issue is a proposed toll road through the San Onofre State Beach in San Diego County.

Council member Lauren Hammond brought the issue home because one spoiled state sanctuary paves the way for another. “If you can do it in one place,” she said, “they’ll turn around and do it somewhere else.”

The new road would extend State Route 241 south to Interstate 5 near San Clemente to ease traffic woes. Lisa Telles, a spokesperson for the Transportation Corridor Agency—a joint-powers agency comprised of local governments in Orange County—said the road alignment spares homes and businesses and is the least environmentally damaging solution.

But a number of protection groups and the California attorney general don’t buy it.

Court documents filed by the attorney general said the road would bisect the state park, disrupt San Mateo Creek, hinder access to Trestles Beach and wipe out an endangered-species habitat. The attorney general and the coalition took the fight to San Diego Superior Court in March, filing separate lawsuits that allege violations of the California Environmental Quality Act.

“It’s not appropriate for one local entity to say, ‘We’re going to take this for our own use,’ “ said Traci Verardo, director of legislation and policy for the California State Parks Foundation.

The Sacramento City Council doesn’t have the power to trump Orange County governments, but will decide whether or not to join one county and 12 other cities voicing their opposition against the road at Tuesday’s meeting.

“Even if this is not an immediate backyard issue for Sacramentans,” Verardo said, “I think the city council will agree that it has statewide implications, and it’s an issue worth weighing in on. State parks are funded and protected for all Californians.”