The Road to Nowhere

We thought we killed it. But like a zombie, the Trestles toll road is back

| posted on October 19, 2011

Proponents of the toll road are pushing for pavement once again near Trestles. Photo: Lowe-White

If you thought it was time to turn your “Save Trestles” t-shirt into a dishrag, think again. In a meeting last Thursday, the TCA voted to move forward with the initial phases of developing a four-mile stretch of the 241 toll road extension.

The decision comes after years of failing to gain permission to construct the entire sixteen-mile road, which would extend the 241 from it’s current end-point through San Onofre State Park or Camp Pendleton—connecting with highway 5 near Trestles. Each of those proposals were firmly denied.

Now the TCA wants to take on the project in segments—extending the 241 Toll Road four miles from Oso Parkway down to the Ortega highway or thereabouts.

The planning phases of construction, fundraising, and assessing the environmental impacts are now underway. There is some concern over the impact on endangered species, wetlands, and downstream run-off. But according to the president of the California State Parks Foundation, Elizabeth Goldstein, “What we’re most concerned about is the pressure it puts to go the rest of the way through the State Park or Camp Pendleton.”

In its meeting agenda, the TCA explains its new strategy of “constructing the project in segments.” This plan appears to violate environmental laws. As Goldstein points out, “There are laws against segmenting projects in ways that hide environmental impacts.”

Some view the current proposal as an attempt to build less controversial pieces of the road as a way of weakening opposition to the project’s completion. Mark Rauscher, the coastal preservation manager at the Surfrider Foundation states, “The Coastal Commission shut them down. The Bush administration shut them down. And now they’re thinking, ‘Let’s just build a little bit. Maybe the politics will change later and we can ram it through the rest of the way then.’”

It isn’t clear how the four-mile extension would help alleviate traffic, which has been one of the project’s main initiatives from the beginning. As it stands, the current proposal may worsen congestion in the area. Rauscher believes, “The whole point of this project [the four-mile segment] is to access land where they want to build a bunch of new houses.”

The extension potentially serves as a major arterial road to new development in the surrounding area, where developers already have permission to construct thousands of new homes— but no major road for access. Rauscher frames the central problem with this idea: “How are you going to reduce traffic if you’re putting in new development and adding more people? It’s adds an increase in traffic to a problem that we already have.”

The added congestion brought on by new development from the extension may help substantiate the TCA’s campaign to build the road through San Onofre State Park. Goldstein feels that the TCA should focus its efforts on environmentally responsible solutions to “alleviate traffic today, not years down the road.”

To stay informed on the latest surrounding this issue log onto, for updates.

  • MIk

    If the previous Save Trestles movement was successful, it will be more successful now, because of greater ability to mobilize people virally, and also because people are angry. These funds should be used for more pressing issues. Such as maintaining existing highways. The era of unlimited highway expansion is over. There’s no money. Don’t be disheartened. These projects are the offspring of a few greedy special interest groups, and their links to paid off government officials. We can stop them easier now. File massive lawsuits, whatever it takes.

  • zeno malan

    All in the name of union jobs and retirement benefits.

    When is the ‘Left’ going to learn?

    That’s a dumb question. “Hey! comin’ down!”

  • Tony

    I’m i Europe, but someone please tell me how i can help! Those greedy developers dont care about the few beautiful spots left on the planet. They just wanna build some mansions on top of it and rake in the cash. Greedy Bastids!

  • dan

    for a state that is bankrupt, aren’t there other places to spend the time and money? but please please save trestles, the rest of the surfing population really doesn’t want the crowd to leave and come to other breaks.

  • CharlieB

    If you wanna find the real “bad guys”, you may want to start looking at the ones who have a ton of money invested into that real estate the road is meant for. No construction firm will go out of their way to invest time and effort into such a bid unless they have assurances from some deep pockets. Whoever owns that real estate is who you should target. If they were taken care of the first time around, this wouldn’t be a problem. Those are the guys who at this very moment, are networking to make sure your opinion doesn’t matter.

  • Eric Lawson

    I have never surfed Trestles, and have never spent significant time in California, and this still chafes my ass. We as stewards of the environment and of our lifestyle need to realize that the fight to protect what we love is never over. Having studied constitutional law, I can tell you that this is not a new tactic employed by “the man.” This sort of “if the door isn’t open, sneak in through a window” approach has been going on for as long as our country has been in existence.

    Hooray for the author and for all of you posting on this article for putting this information out there. Share it on your social networks and tell everyone you can what is going down. “Progress” and I use that word sarcastically can and should be stopped.

  • Kimo

    Really Zeno? It’s the left that wants to develop the coastline? I guess that was meant to be a joke but the joke will be on Trestles if the GOP has their way and does away with the EPA and other environmental watchdogs as they promise they will do if they gain control of both houses.

  • bkh2o

    Unfortunately, it sounds like some of the politicians involved in the decision making process also have vested interests in the development aspect, which means they will be pushing for this to go through, however long it takes. A little at a time means they’re hoping we get used to it and get tired of fighting. Don’t! They could care less about easing traffic, that’s never what it’s been about, it’s purely a business trying to make a buck however they can. I wonder if there’s a single surfer who works for the TCA and what they think of all this.

  • John

    Let’s Save Trestles and stop this toll road! I have never been there, but have been to several other parks in California and throughout this country – they are one of the best features of America and should be saved at all costs.

    The usual culprits are here – real estate developers and the politicians whose pockets are being lined. However, there’s another one – massive immigration (both legal and illegal) to California. How about we limit immigration into the state so the demand for new housing starts to drop? This is a real issue that needs to be addressed – the more people that come here, the greater opportunity for those without scruples to trash our environment, tear down our parks,and put up new housing developments. I’m a die-hard liberal but I know these two issues are exclusive – can’t save the land if you leave the border open.

  • Felipe Bascope

    I have an idea – let’s occupy their toll roads – i’m confident there are a few thousand southland unemployed folks that have some spare time on their hands!

  • BOB

    Its NOT time for some of the most deprived and unemployed hooligans to put on the V mask and start burning down the businesses and mansions in COTO and SURROUNDING areas. Its NOT time for that.

  • stu


  • dd

    Occupy the realtors, politicians, and the land they want to rape. Bypass roads are the main culprit in development.

  • Smelly Slater

    Save Naples!

  • Eesha Williams

    Thank you Surfer magazine for covering environmental news. People power can stop this kind of misguided “development.”

  • Big Nil

    Building a toll road there really makes no sense at all. Some idiots got beef with the dudes on point down there. I don’t think that project will ever come through. If it is a real estate issue…come on I am sure Trestles people would be more than willing to collaborate on something really cool and would benefit everyone. Something ocean minded putting in artificial reef comb the floor make the break super super super tight. break fools off set up like a huge huge huge compound there for neks and yos freaking out

  • Elizabeth Shoemaker

    I grew up “wasting” my youth surfing Trestles and these days I wish I had more time to do just that. My kids spent many hours experiencing some of the same things that I did and I am hoping that my grandkids can too!! There are some things that ARE sacred and Trestles is one of those in our house and in our heart!! Whatever it takes SAVE TRESTLES!!

  • Whamo

    These guys are tenacious, but the surfers will prevail. Surfers rule.

  • NewportBigDogg

    I hope that my prediction is wrong and that we all are able to enjoy for generations to come the euphoric feeling that I and many of my friends have been able to share for a fraction of a lifetimes experience. I can only speak for myself, but Im sure that many will agree that when the every day stress gets you thinking crazy thoughts like, “Is it all worth it ?”; I have a place in my mind that I have stored the emergency memories that answer the question in a positive note every time. I must admit that on a perfect day or days at Trestles when everything is perfect , and I mean it could be a little windy or not perfect conditions, however just as healing for my soul because of the whole routine that is required in order to get in the water and enjoy what God put there for just that reason.
    The reality is that the fate of trestles’ untouched beauty lay in a small group of people that have not experienced the soul saving feeling that we all are trying to preserve. The only reason that the construction of the toll road still exist
    is that there is a lot and i mean a lot of money behind the beast that will stop only for a brief moment in order to find its new path of pockets that must be filled
    and I am sure they are deep. That is not a factor when you are talking of a project that is in the billion dollar range. I fear that the trestles life span has run out of time, and we will be lucky and I mean lucky if our children’s, children are able to experience that feeling. That feeling that I am speaking of when I think of what it is when surfing trestles and how I wouldn’t trade them for all the tea in China . I wish that those people that have the power to destroy would instead save and preserve that little sliver of sanity so that generations to come could enjoy .

  • Amish

    Once again, Greed, the root of all evil trying to destroy a California Dream! Shame on them and all their ilk.

  • banno

    I hate this, in every country in the world this happens more and more, nature VS money is an epedemic. Just go to indo and have a look at the river in the wet season or for that matter the beach!!!!!!!! it makes me sick. Soon trestles will have plastic bags full of pooo and chip packets spewering your lineup, then who can you thank? arnie, Obama, the whole lot dont give a f^&k and just care about the bottom line. What you need is a water sanctuary petition- we have just successfully done the same here in Western Australia. Put it oline and watch the numbers grow! we got 40 000 against Offshore Mining in the south West. Screw those greedy CEO fu%ks!!! all they want is more cash to die with, they will trample your precious in the process

  • Steve Fuchs

    Let’s be clear. It’s time for action again! must continue. Let’s all make sure we stay connected via Facebook, Twitter, Email, and Texting. Send this story to 5 friends asking them to do the same. We need to remind and prepare our global community to take another stand. Trestles is a religion, as eloquently stated above. Greed will NOT rob us from practicing our faith in escapism, environmentalism, and the counter corporation movements. We should ALL be gearing up to occupy the media with another round of support for Trestles and the freedom to enjoy undeveloped beauty while preserving a site of extreme cultural importance. Confirm you are connected via social media, check these sites often, and tell your friends and family now. Let’s grow this opposition now!

  • Tonty

    Please help save Raglan as well – click this link and sign the petition for no deep sea oil drilling.

  • joao barretto


  • Franklor

    Know Your Enemy
    If you want to find out who the folks are that represent the pro-toll road agenda, just follow the money trail. As mentioned previously in these messages, the developers and land owners are ground zero. They are followed by the construction companies who see jobs, of course, but also profits – large profits. Find out who these companies are and let them know how you feel – in a calm and intelligent way.

    Stop the Toll Road by Taking the High Road.
    Do not make the fine people who respect our environment out to be stupid goons with violent, abusive or vandalous actions. Every approach to confront and oppose this effort should take the high road, with class and dignity. Any behavior that can be turned against us to make us look like low class dirt bags will be used against us. They would like nothing better than to have us appear un-American, anti job, pro hippy, criminal and undesirable… don’t give them that weapon. Use intelligence and class to present your opposition to your elected officials and to the public at large.

    Understand Your Enemy
    They want to make a living and provide jobs. There is nothing wrong with that. They are most likely your neighbors – maybe even family. We just need to let them know that this is not the place or the way to do it, and that we will stand in their way to save what is left of our fragile and diminishing California Coast. THAT ONCE OUR ENVIRONMENT IS GONE IT CANNOT BE BROUGHT BACK! That we will no longer sacrifice our future – or our children’s future – to short-sighted corporate profits. Those days are over here.

    A United Front
    The California Coastal Commission, the Surfrider Foundation and all other involved NGO’s must pool their efforts and provide a cohesive road map for our battle to preserve this land we hold so dear. If we are not a unified front we will have to work harder, longer and less effectively to prevent this action. The pro-toll road folks will try to divide us and belittle us. Stay together, stay on point and stay strong. Our message must be clear, intelligent and consistent. I ask the anti-toll road NGO’s for CLEAR GUIDENCE AND A PLAN for the average person, as well as the anti-toll road-minded businesses to effectively participate in stopping this action.

    Voice Your Concerns to the Proper Ears
    Let your elected officials now your stance and vote accordingly. Let any pro-toll road businesses know that you will not use them in your purchasing or business partnerships. Bumper stickers, t-shirts, signs in your yard and place of business are good, but a voters voice is the strongest leverage we have against this unacceptable action. If your elected officials aren’t acting the way you want, vote them out. Expose them to the masses via newspaper/publication opinion columns, blogs or whatever means are available… but do your homework, be truthful and accurate with class and intelligence.

    Be clear, be classy, be consistent and be intelligent.
    Stop this toll-road!

  • Kevin Rhoades

    Do you people really think that the road goes through the ocean at trestles??? It has zero effect on the break,on the crowds, stop stirring up all of this negativity and research the project. Save trestles is a lie. Do some research before you comment on the impacts. The same people who are yelling the loudest will be cruising on the toll road and loving it when it’s complete.

  • Youshoulda Beenhereyesterday

    Let’s face it, OC is a wall to wall body jamb from Camp Pendleton to Seal Beach. The reason why there is pressure for toll roads is so that you can get to work faster and spend more time with your family in the evening. Face the simple fact, If you live in South Orange County you are the enemy….. especially if you moved here after 1980 or was not BORN HERE. You contributed to the destruction of one of the US of A’s greatest surf zones by plunking your toxic production board into the water. There is one thing left to save the area… UNOCCUPY OC!!! If you call yourself a true ENVIRONMENTALIST, leave the area and move far away. I am not an environmentalist, but am a capitalist loving, CALIFORNIA BORN surfer and will remain and report to you on the progress of UNOCCUPY OC.

  • Bill Jamison

    The truth is the “Save Trestles” movement was never about saving Trestles because Trestles was never threatened by the toll road. This article finally admits the real reason for trying to prevent the toll road from being built: preventing homes from being constructed along the route.

    It’s time to stop pretending this is about Trestles.

  • Franklor

    So, you see, here they come.
    The counter voices. They see jobs. That and a more direct route south, or north, or… Short-sighted thinkers.
    So they toss out conspiricy theories lke “it’s not about the waves” etc. They will begine to divide us bit by bit. To start the infighting, the splintetring of the group.
    Stay together, stay strong, stay on point.
    And, for the record, it is not just about trestles, it’s about the mass rape of what is left of our state.
    If the developers want jobs, start with rebuilding our blighted inner cities. Make those places beautiful. Put those people to work. The undeveloped hills and coastal areas don’t need your touch. They’re already beautiful.