February 9, 2008
Patricia C. Bates
Vice Chair, Board of Supervisors
County of Orange
333 West Santa Ana Boulevard
Santa Ana, CA  92701
RE: Time for More Sustainable Transportation Options 
Dear Supervisor Bates:
I am writing in response to your recent communique regarding the denial of the Coastal Consistency Certification for 241 Toll Road Extension. 
The mission of the Coastal Commission is to uphold the California Coastal Act, which was passed to protect endangered species, wetlands, archaeological sites, public access, and recreational resources.  In essence, the Commission did not consider the merits of building a new road for a few foothill communities worth destroying a popular campground, polluting a world class surfbreak, paving over the Native American sacred site of Panhe, and obliterating a wilderness conservancy protecting one of the last undeveloped watersheds in Southern California.  By siting the Foothill South through San Onofre State Beach and the Donna O'Neill Land Conservancy, and not providing ample mitigation for the planned destruction of up to 50 acres of Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area, the proposal was deemed clearly illegal.  
With regards to "quality of life," that is not a scientific issue but more decided on balancing the positives with the negatives.  A significant majority of us consider the enjoyment of our public parkland and wilderness as integral to our quality of life.  I think that was illustrated by the 3,000 people who turned out to tell the Commission to "Save Trestles." 
Wild Heritage Planners has maintained throughout that the provision of transportation improvements could be compatible with protecting our coast and foothills.  We have proposed a number of solutions, not only Fixing the 5 First, but extending key arterials, including Avenida La Pata which would serve as the perfect alternative to I-5 for local access and emergencies.  In addition, the TCA-OCTA should start considering the provision of a direct access highway to the approved Rancho Mission Viejo from either Avery Parkway or the 73 Toll Road.  Unfortunately, the BOS in 2004 approved the project without a viable transportation plan, and the single-purpose agency that is TCA did not serve the public interest by telling local municipalities that their road proposal (illegal and unachievable) would solve all the local and regional access challenges. 
"Pulling onesself up by the bootstraps" might sound proactive, but I submit that these toll roads are a failed financial model masquerading as a transportation solution.  The upside-down bonds of SR 73 proves my point, and if we opened the toll gates, we might see usage of the corridor increase by a factor of three -- a small increase in the amount of funds allocated for Measure M could have jump-started this buyout.  State and Federal financing of transportation infrastructure has been the engine of our economy since President Eisenhower established the interstate system.  And more important is the provision of sustainable public transit that would protect us from a future of spiraling gas prices and disastrous climate change.  By hitching our mobility future on "privately" financed roads supporting a landscape of sprawl, we continue our addiction to an unsustainable way of life; as well, funds from Sacramento and Washington have gone to less-populated regions and less vital improvements.  Another Measure M case in point: by passing it without providing any funding for optimizing the I-5 through San Clemente, we ensured a future bottleneck on our lifeline between San Diego and Los Angeles.  And by decreasing the percentage of that funding that would go to public transit, we continue with no alternatives to riding solo in our polluting and expensive automobiles at 10 mph.
The denial of the Foothill-South opens up significant opportunities for the County of Orange to take a more discriminating and forward-thinking look at what kind of region we want to be in the coming decades.  We welcome further discussions of this sort as stakeholders in the South Orange County Major Investment Study.
Jack Eidt
Director of Planning
Wild Heritage Planners
November 19, 2007

Patrick Kruer, Chair
California Coastal Commission
45 Fremont Street Suite 2000
San Francisco, CA 94105-2219

RE: Opposition to the Foothill SR 241 Toll Road Extension

Dear Chairman Kruer:

Wild Heritage Planners, an organization based in South Orange County dedicated to Smart Growth and sustainable solutions to urban development in Southern California, questions the expenditure of over $1 billion in scarce transportation funds to extend the Foothill SR 241 Toll Road south to San Diego County at Trestles Beach. The "Save Trestles" movement is dedicated to improving regional and local mobility, while preserving our coastal wilderness for generations to come. We urge that next February you deny the Transportation Corridor Agencies proposal to extend the 241 through San Onofre State Beach and the Donna O'Neill Land Conservancy. Following is our alternative transportation vision and a response to TCA's assertions regarding environmental and park consequences of building a six-lane road through our last undeveloped foothills of the San Mateo Watershed.

Smart Vision: Optimize Interstate-5 - Double-Tracked Rail - Extend Local Arterials - Beltway Link SR 241 to SR73
OCTA's and TCA's own studies show that extending the 241 South of Ortega Highway will not relieve the gridlock forecast for Interstate 5 come 2030. And because of non-compete agreements, no agency can widen the freeway through San Clemente without first paying off the TCA. Considering that the I-5 is a major regional lifeline between San Diego and LA, this bottleneck must be addressed. The TCA plan is to force a detour to Yorba Linda on the way to Los Angeles for over $10 each way -- an expensive waste of time that most cannot afford. Funds should be assembled to widen the I-5 through to the San Diego County Line with a community sensitive design and diamond-shaped off-ramps first, before we spend the money on new infrastructure and face the back-ups on our existing roads.

Double tracking of the LOSSAN Rail Corridor should follow the I-5 optimization, and all cities in the region should institute a trolley system to connect neighborhoods with Metrolink-Amtrak-COASTER Stations. Once established corridors are optimized, the TCA can consider extending an inland road south to Camp Pendleton. In the meantime, Antonio Parkway-Avenida La Pata should be extended all the way to Avenida Pico to provide an alternative for foothill communities and emergencies.

Residents of the 14,000 new homes in Rancho Mission Viejo as well as inland communities will need to get to work in North OC employment centers. OCTA and the TCA should extend the 241 south through the Ranch and west to the I-5 and the 73 Toll Road, completing the toll road system in a generally circular beltway. This should be funded and constructed before more homes are built, and tunneled under neighborhoods in North San Juan.

Parks and Open Space are for Everyone, Forever.
San Onofre State Beach, our fifth most popular State Park located in San Diego County, would be significantly affected by paving a four-mile-long roadway footprint spanning 320 acres of parkland. To assert that the San Mateo Campground is expendable would deprive 100,000 visitors annually of an affordable weekend retreat for all income levels in a canyon just a short hike to the beach. Both President Nixon and then Governor Reagan acknowledged that upon lease termination, it would be deeded to the State. The lease was negotiated in 1971, ten years prior to the toll road proposal, that provided for easements or right-of-way that would not unreasonably interfere with park improvements. The State Park Commission has indicated that the campground would be abandoned if they built the road through. This would set a dangerous precedent in the State where 100 other parks are currently under development threat.

Our Last Wild Coastal Foothills -- The San Mateo Watershed.
The San Mateo Watershed, which includes Cristianitos Creek that the 241 South would follow towards the Pacific, is the last undeveloped, unchannelized watershed in 600-square-miles of Southern California coastline, home to steelhead trout, arroyo chub, arroyo toad, and the unarmored three-spine stickleback. Earlier this year, the mainstream environmental organization, American Rivers, declared San Mateo Creek to be the second most "Endangered Waterway" in the United States, specifically because of the proposed toll road. At the mouth of the creek is Trestles, its gold standard beach and creek delta. Why is Trestles healthy? There is nothing upstream to create the toxic havoc that afflicts the entire South Coast -- the last wild watershed left between Ventura and Baja. Even the TCA's own engineers admit that construction of the road would require enormous changes in the surrounding land, and to the creek itself, forever altering the natural water flow and sediment of the creek. Such changes cannot help but affect wildlife and plants in the area, as well as the world-class surf at Trestles and the quality of the park in general.

In order to protect this resource, Wild Heritage Planners fought assiduously to preserve the south foothills of Rancho Mission Viejo (about 17,000 acres worth) when we drew up the Smart Growth Compromise Land Use Plan that the County eventually approved. Please consider the alternative transportation vision outlined here that would provide for local and regional traffic for commuters and emergencies, as well as protect the Donna O'Neill Land Conservancy, our State Park, and coastal resources for all to enjoy.

Thanks for your consideration.


Jack Eidt
Director of Planning
Wild Heritage Planners