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Save Trestles: Here we go again

September 18, 2008 |  8:59 pm

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Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water at Trestles, along come the bureaucrats with plans to tear up San Onofre State Beach and erect a toll road.

Again.

The California Coastal Commission in February rejected the Transportation Corridor Agencies’ proposed 16-mile extension of the 241 toll road, which would have diced through the San Clemente-area park and its watershed, and placed a gargantuan artificial monstrosity amid a pristine setting.

But the U.S. Department of Commerce has scheduled a hearing Monday in Del Mar to appeal that decision, and it feels like February once again — and just as cold.

A united opposition led by the Surfrider Foundation and other admirable groups stands by claims the project — whose solution to any traffic problem is questionable at best — might ruin one of the world’s premier waves and will spoil the aesthetics of the park and alter a watershed that includes a creek that supports endangered steelhead trout.

But proponents will be better equipped this time. For example, the toll road agency has funded a study that finds the new thoroughfare would adequately protect water quality.

Uh huh.

Lower Trestles, one of several breaks on the remote stretch of coast north of Camp Pendleton, plays host to the only Assn. of Surfing Professionals World Tour contest on the U.S. mainland.

This portion of coast is unspoiled, save for the train track. The proposed Foothill Transportation Corridor South would spoil the Trestles experience, which includes a long walk on a dirt road to what seems a bygone era, seemingly a hundred miles from any freeway.

What’s worse is that it’d set a dangerous precedent. State parks should be off-limits. Sacrifice one and you jeopardize others. They offer great escapes and need to be protected as such.

I recently covered the Boost Mobile Pro at Lower Trestles. The world’s top surfers were competing. I asked eight-time world champion Kelly Slater what he thought of the project, and he replied: "I think it's an unfortunate direction in trends that continue to destroy natural habitat that otherwise doesn't need to be disrupted.  It's based on money and business as opposed to necessity and common sense in my opinion."

Score this man a perfect 10 for that answer.

Below is a short video of Slater and others in action at Lower Trestles.

Anyway, here’s hoping that common sense prevails — again. The meeting, for those wishing to attend, will be from 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday in O’Brien Hall at the Del Mar Fairgrounds
, 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd.

There also will be a public rally at 9 a.m. Sunday at San Elijo Avenue and Chesterfield Drive in Cardiff-by-the-Sea. Bring your board. There's a modest swell.

—Pete Thomas

Caption: Kelly Slater, getting tubed en route to a triumph at the Boost Mobile Pro, is among the wave-riding opponents to the proposed 241 toll road extension that might jeopardize this perfect wave.

Credit: ASP Rowland / Covered Images

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