Wednesday, February 6th 2008 — After an arduous day of testimony the California Coastal Commission voted Wednesday evening 8 to 2 against the TCA and against the building of the state route 241 toll road extension. Surfers, The Surfrider Foundation, and lovers of the Trestles surfing resource scored a major victory. For the Surfrider Foundation in particular, this decision validates the many years of hard work given to the ‘Save Trestles’ campaign by salt-of-the-earth volunteers and roll-your-sleeves-up staffers.
Commissioner Clark’s vote based partly on his belief that the Toll Road was simply meant to accommodate high-end housing developments slated for the inland corridor of the proposed toll road.
“We are ecstatic that the Coastal Commission held up their own staffs recommendation, the spirit of the Coastal Act and the will of the people,” said Matt Mclain, Surfrider Foundation Marketing Director. “We have won a major battle and we will continue to aggressively and vigilantly protect the Trestles wave resource and the Trestles experience. We loudly applaud the Coastal Commission’s decision. Bravo!”
A series of heated shouting matches kicked off the 9am meeting. “Build the Road! Build the Road! Build the road!” yelled hundreds of paid members of the Local Labor Union 652. “Save Trestles! Save Trestles! Save Trestles!” countered the ‘Save Trestles’ volunteers including surfing legends Mickey Munoz and Shaun Tomson.
But once the long meeting got underway things settled down. However a native American tribe took their allotted time at the speaking podium to sing a traditional song that had some of the standing room only crowd cheering. The native American representative implored the Coastal Commission to uphold the coastal act and not allow for a toll road through their traditional and sacred grounds.
Perhaps the most damning testimony came from Ralph Faust, the recently retired 20-year counsel for this very Commission, and a man who the commissioners know well and respect. Faust acting on behalf of the California State Parks Foundation said, “after reviewing the TCA project thoroughly, I can find no legal or factual basis to approve this project; in fact, denial of this project is the most effective application of the California’s Coastal Protection Act (CPA).” And then, Faust, referring to the TCA strategy of seeking a ‘balance provisions’ within the CPA stated rather abruptly, “I can’t say this more clearly, offers of money can’t buy compliance with the Coastal Act. Compliance isn’t for sale.”
Upwards of 5000 people were in attendance at the meeting, which took place at the Wyland Exhibit Hall at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. By 11am it was standing room only, and the crowd spilled outside into a makeshift ‘Save Trestles’ party zone.
Many lawyers, traffic engineers, civic leaders, concerned surfers, and citizens of all walks of life had their say at the podium. Graphs were viewed, bullet points examined, maps deciphered, but after a long day and night, in the end it came down to the vote of the California Coastal Commission. And it was not close.
Commissioner Larry Clark, a councilman from Palos Verdes, called the project “fatally flawed.” Clark’s vote based partly on his belief that the Toll Road was simply meant to accommodate high-end housing developments slated for the inland corridor of the proposed toll road at the expense of less wealthy park visitors and campers.
Commissioner Sara Wan of Malibu minced no words. “This project drives a stake through the heart of the Coastal Act,” said Wan of Malibu. “I do not accept that there are no alternatives.”
Although the Coastal Commission vote was a major blow, the war is probably not over. The TCA has a number of options at its disposal and they have already moved towards the appeal process, and lawsuits on both sides will no-doubt be drawn up.
Check back with Surfermag.com for continued updates in the ‘Save Trestles’ battle.