I am not surprised by the decision of the San Diego City Council to reject the resolution before them this afternoon to oppose the Trestles Toll Road. Until recently, San Diego just ignored the proposal by the Transportation Corridor Agency (TCA) of Orange County to build a toll road in San Diego County.

Now it’s official. The city of San Diego likes the toll road and wants the TCA to destroy Trestles. The Council and Mayor Sanders have finally proved that San Diego is the lamest big city in California.

Dude – we suck!

This typical San Diego county display of political lethargy and animosity towards our coast has been compounded by the fact that the San Diego media, especially the U-T, SD Reader, and voiceofsandiego.org, have barely covered the toll road story. That is odd, since Trestles, the famed surf break – the Yosemite of Surfing – sits on top of the surfing food chain of San Diego County and is a favorite camping and recreation destination for thousands of San Diego County families.

Luckily, The Orange County Weekly’s Alex Brant-Zawadzki has done an excellent and feisty job of covering corruption of the TCA and the contradictions of the toll road project. Last April, Alex had this to say about the fact that a good portion of the toll road will be built in San Diego,

The Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) hopes to extend the Foothill-South (241) toll road from Oso Parkway in Rancho Santa Margarita to the 5 freeway at a point across the county line. Fully a third of that proposed extension falls within San Diego County, but that county’s officials have had “little to no involvement” in the project, according to Troy Anderson, spokesman for the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG). Why? Simple: San Diego pols didn’t believe toll-road officials would really bulldoze the extension through the Donna O’Neill Land Conservancy and San Onofre State Beach. But we’re crazy like that in Orange County. And now San Diegans are growing restless.

…”We really haven’t had any part in the process,” says Bill Horn, a San Diego County supervisor whose district includes San Onofre State Beach. “There’ve been no public hearings, no notifications; at least District 5 hasn’t. If it’s gone through SANDAG, I haven’t seen it.” Horn and other San Diegans worry that the toll road will exacerbate San Diego’s already-hellish traffic by dumping more of Orange County’s southbound traffic onto the 5 freeway. “It’s already a problem for us,” says Horn.

Can you imagine what would happen if SANDAG proposed building a coastal toll road to the west of PCH through Newport and Huntington Beach? We’d have armies of Hurley and Roxy Girl clad dudes and dudettes rioting and stomping their retro Vans in downtown San Diego to the tune of the Circle Jerks’ “Wild in the Streets” on their iPods.

I know that Windansea, Blacks and Swamis are great waves, but there is nothing in the county that provides the diversity of the waves of Trestles and San Onofre Beach State Park – from the lefts at Cottons, the perfect point surf of Lowers, down to the soft longboard peaks at Old Mans and the solitary surf at Trails. And every one of those breaks sits inside San Diego County.

Since the TCA has been unable to control or manage the mega-grassroots campaign waged against the toll road in the O.C., the agency hired PR giant Porter Novelli to help convince San Diego officials and SANDAG that building a toll road through San Diego County while ignoring the input of San Diego County residents is a good thing. Again, according to the OC Weekly’s Brant-Zawadzki.

In the past 10 years, Porter Novelli has managed to scrape together more than $50 million in government contracts; it isn’t a cheap date. In light of this, the TCA has opened its heart and wallet, offering to pay Porter Novelli up to $125,000. Hourly compensation will range from $70 for interns to $400 for their Sacramento-based senior consultant. Imagine if a Porter Novelli intern worked for eight hours a day, five days a week. The firm could charge the TCA $2,800 a week. For an intern.

And as I said in a letter to the OC Weekly last month,

here’s a suggested headline for the next TCA press release that won’t cost the public a dime and win our hearts and minds at the same time: “TCA Cans Toll Road: Agency Admits Scam Project Would Destroy One of California’s Most Beloved State Parks.”


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