Smack in the middle of the urban madness of coastal Southern California and at the northern edge of San Diego County, is a protected area, Trestles, that provides the surfing, hiking, biking, fishing and birder hordes of our state a little chance to soak up the sun, catch perfect waves, cast a few lines, and watch a little wildlife. Today, the San Diego City Council has the opportunity to help preserve the cobblestone point waves, watershed and wildlife of Trestles by voting to oppose a crazy toll road scheme that would destroy one of San Diego County’s most important protected areas.

Trestles, arguably one of California’s best surf spots (or series of spots), is home to the Boost Mobile Pro, the only mainland USA stop on the WCT pro surfing tour. Trestles is part of the 2028 acre San Onofre Beach State Park that includes miles of undeveloped beaches, biking trails, coastal marshes filled with birds and riparian corridor, and the famed San-O (San Onofre) that together with Malibu, Palos Verdes and Killer Dana, are California’s contributions to the evolution of global surf culture.

Unfortunately, the Transportation Corridor Agency (TCA), based in The O.C. has decided that Trestles and San Onofre Beach State Park don’t really matter in the great scheme of things. The agency has decided to obliterate one of California’s most heavily used state parks by building a toll road through it. As described by the Surfrider Foundation (whose Matt McClain has carried out brilliant punk rock campaign to stop the toll road project) involves building

…an extension to the existing 241 Toll Road. The proposed Foothill Transportation Corridor South (FTC-South) is a sixteen-mile long toll road highway that would connect the current terminus of the 241 Toll Road to Interstate 5. The TCA is proposing six alignments for this project; four of which run directly through and along San Mateo Creek. If constructed, not only would this project directly threaten the world class surf break at and around Trestles (including Uppers, Lowers, Middles, Church and Cottons), the project would also result in the obliteration of Southern California’s last remaining pristine coastal watershed and substantially degrade habitat that is critical for the survival of at least seven endangered species, including the Southern Steelhead trout.

Thankfully a large coalition of organizations including Surfrider, NRDC, Sierra Club, Endangered Habitat League and WiLDCOAST have waged a campaign to convince cities up and down the coast that the toll road is a bad idea. Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oceanside, and Imperial Beach have already passed their own Save Trestles resolutions.

Last year more than 1,200 people attended a public hearing with the California State Parks Commission at the San Clemente Community Center to voice their opposition to the proposed toll road project. It was one the most impressive feats of grassroots environmental organizing I have ever witnessed (the credit goes to the Sierra Club and Surfrider for organizing the event).

I hope the San Diego City Council will do the right thing and approve the anti-toll road resolution. This is important. Because as’s Rob Davis recently pointed out, state parks in San Diego County are becoming focal points for construction projects. SDG&E’s Sunrise Power Link threatens Anza Borrego State Park and Duncan Hunter’s Triple Border Fence Project will bisect Border Field State Park. With the Toll Road, we have the perfect trifecta of natural area destruction.

Ultimately, it will be up to Governor Schwarzenegger to decide whether or not the State of California will permit a private toll road company to destroy our state’s natural heritage.

As the father of two young surfers who are counting the days until our October family camping and surf trip to San Mateo State Park for a weekend of point surf at Trestles, I hope that the San Diego City Council helps convince Arnold to do the right thing and kill the Toll Road.


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