There are just some things in life we can always count on. Death. Taxes. Another season of "Cops" on Fox. Thousands more poor souls being told that they have no talent on "American Idol" on Fox. Now for me, the one thing in life I can ALWAYS seem to count on these days is complete and utter garbage from Red County/OC Blog on the proposed 241 Extension to Trestles.
So what nonsense is being spun to death at OC Blogland today? Theodore Judah is claiming that some new screed from the San Diego Business Journal is evidence that the evil "eco-extremists" are stonewalling traffic relief for San Diego. Huh?!
Follow me down below as I take out my handy dandy facts once more to debunk the right-wing spin on the toll road to Trestles...
(Cross-posted at The Liberal OC and Calitics)
So why is the San Diego Business Journal screaming? Apparently because the "eco-extremists" are making it difficult for them to make that ever-so-important commute from the golf course at Rancho Santa Fe to the yacht in Newport:
Eco-extremists have blocked the forward progress of the toll road at each and every twist and turn of the approval process. They’ve spent a decade keeping the route from becoming a reality.
The issue is an important one … because it pits the self-appointed guardians of the ecology against the rest of us, who are trying to muddle through.
Uh-huh. So what is pitting the "self-appointed guardians of the ecology" against the wise wizards of capitalism and captains of industry?
They argue that construction and placement of the highway so close to the ocean could disrupt wave patterns by changing the underlying contours of the beaches, and hence, ruin the surfing along a long stretch of the beach. [...]
There’s no proof of this, of course. Just speculation.
The latest obstruction comes attached to a defense authorization bill now before Congress that would force the Transportation Corridor Agencies, sponsor of the road, to submit its blueprints before the California Coastal Commission, among other state regulators, for OKs.
Oh, no! The Davis Amendment is what's stopping progress on the 241 Extension?! Wait a minute! So state law is what's impeding the 241 Extension?
Let's remember what the Davis Amendment is all about. All the House Armed Services Committee voted to approve was an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill that requires TCA to comply with state law in extending the 241 Toll Road. That's all. As my fabulous Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez explains:
What concerns me is that the SR241 be constructed with the same care and attention as [...] other projects. As the law stands now, it permits the "recipient of the easement to construct, operate and maintain [the highway], notwithstanding any provision of state law to the contrary." If the Davis amendment is adopted it means that the impact on the environment will be fully reviewed, and labor will be paid according to prevailing wage law.
I have been told that those involved with the construction of SR241 have observed every state law that applies. If that is the case, then the Davis amendment will have no effect. There is a concern that future state laws will prevent construction of the road for one reason or the other. I share that concern. I remain vigilant so that Orange County can determine which roads are built in our community. Our democratic process will lead to the best solution.
So what's so bad about our democratic process? What's so terrible about obeying the law? Oh wait, is it possibly because TCA knows that their proposed extension violates state law?
I guess they're still afraid of Section 30231 of Article 5 of the Coastal Act...
The biological productivity and the quality of coastal waters, streams, wetlands, estuaries, and lakes appropriate to maintain optimum populations of marine organisms and for the protection of human health shall be maintained and, where feasible, restored through, among other means, minimizing adverse effects of waste water discharges and entrainment, controlling runoff, preventing depletion of ground water supplies and substantial interference with surface water flow, encouraging waste water reclamation, maintaining natural vegetation buffer areas that protect riparian habitats, and minimizing alteration of natural streams.
... And I can see why. ELEVEN THREATENED OR ENDANGERED SPECIES WOULD LOSE THEIR HABITAT FOREVER IF THE TOLL ROAD IS BUILT THROUGH SAN ONOFRE STATE BEACH. San Mateo Creek has been named as one of the nation's most imperiled waterways thanks to the threat of a toll road to run alongside it. This is pristine coastal wilderness that would be destroyed forever if the toll road were to be placed in San Onofre. That's why it's illegal under the Coastal Act.
So why would TCA want to violate state law to build a toll road to Trestles? I don't know. I just know that TCA is attempting to evade the law by pressuring Congressional Republicans to kill the Davis Amendment that would simply require them to obey state law.
OK, then. Why is state law so important? Why should TCA be forced to comply with state environmental law, and find another location to extend the 241 Toll Road? Let's see. Trestles is one of the last best surf spots in California. San Mateo Creek (the watershed that empties into Trestles) is the last unspoiled waterway in California.
Oh, so the environment doesn't really matter here. Well, how about this? EXTENDING THE 241 TO TRESTLES WOULD DO ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO EASE CONGESTION IN SOUTH ORANGE COUNTY. That's right. I-5 would still be congested, and people will still be stuck in grueling traffic.
So why even go there? We know there are better options available. We know we need a comprehensive solution to congestion, just as OCTA suggested earlier this year. Let's expand Metrolink commuter rail service in South Orange County, and let's add more express bus lines to connect commuters to Metrolink. Let's make our communities throughout Orange County "smart communities" that easily connect to reliable commuter rail lines. And yes, in the mean time, let's extend the 241 to the 5 and the 73 in Laguna Niguel. This alignment would actually connect the 241 to the business centers in Irvine, South Coast Metro, and beyond where people actually need to go.
So enough of the crazy nonsense of OC Blog and the San Diego Business Journal. The 241 can be extended without destroying our natural resources, and without violating state law. Traffic congestion can be relieved in a comprehensive manner that doesn't rely upon more and more roads that hurt us in the long term. We need common sense, which is why our tax dollars need not be wasted on any more of this Toll Road to Trestles Boondoggle.