Saturday, April 28, 2007

Will Democrats Be Speeding to Trestles on the 241?

For quite some time, all of us in Orange County have wondered what the state Democratic Party would do regarding the huge controversy over extending the 241 Toll Road to Trestles. Well, yesterday we finally received an answer. The party would try to reach a compromise between the labor groups supporting the 241 extension to Trestles and the environmental groups opposing this. However in the end, Democratic State Central Committee members may very well vote tomorrow to protect San Onofre State Park and Trestles beach from the reach of TCA and a possible 241 extension.

So what happened yesterday in the Resolutions Committee? And how may this affect the ultimate battle over Trestles? Well, follow me down below for more on what happened inside the convention center yesterday...

Just as everyone was ready for a epic battle over the future of San Onofre State Park, Resolutions Committee member John Hanna (who also happens to be from Orange County) offered a compromise resolution. It was not quite what the environmentalists wanted, and not exactly what the labor groups wanted. After some early confusion, the epic battle resumed.

Environmentalists first cheered when Hanna made this statement: "We must stand firm. We can't support any highway, or toll way, to be built through a state park." However, they stopped cheering when Hanna began to describe the mitigation options open in his compromise resolution that he as offering in lieu of the original resolution opposing any extension of the 241 into San Onofre. Basically, Hanna's measure leaves open the possibility that environmentalists and labor can work with TCA, which would then work with the federal Department of Defense, the Navy, and Congress on a possible land swap deal that would give environmentalists comparable open space to protect, and labor the Foothill-South 241 extension that they want done. However if no agreement can be reached, then Hanna's measure closes any possibility of a toll road that would rip through San Onofre.

In the end, environmentalists were ready to support Hanna's resolution. And so was the Resolutions Committee, as they passed this resolution on a 16-7 vote. Even as a couple of labor people rose to decry this measure as infringing on the "good public policy" that was being made by TCA and Orange County politicians, their cries could not stop the Resolutions Committee from making the first step toward sending this resolution toward a full vote by the Democratic State Central Committee. At today's Resolution Committee meeting, the committee members must approve the measure one more time, and place it on the agenda of ten resolutions to be voted upon at the floor by the full central committee tomorrow.

After the vote, environmental activists seemed pleased with the outcome. Nancy Mooney, of the Coalition to Save San Onofre, told me that this resolution that passed yesterday was not quite what they were hoping for, but they are ultimately happy that something passed. Speaking about possible mitigation options and a land swap, she said, "We don't believe it's possible to mitigate." But still, she called it a victory. "Under that condition, we consider it a victory. We believe it's good for us."

But will today's Resolutions Committee vote be good for Save San Onofre? And if the Resolutions Committee passes the measure onto the full central committee, will all the Democratic delegates agree to this measure? Stay tuned for more as all sides look inside the San Diego Convention Center to catch a glimpse of the future of Trestles.

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