Bauer: Radioactive Sharks and Other Problems

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San Clemente has two fights on its hands. The sleepy little “Spanish Village by the Sea” has been in the national news lately about shark attacks, but nuclear waste stored at San Onofre and the re-emergence of a toll road plan threatening to split the town in half are the real problems in the community.

Both issues are too crazy to even contemplate. Not one of the eight million people living within 50 miles of San Onofre think nuclear waste storage just 100 feet from the beach is a good idea. And yet all we can hope for is that California and the Federal government can stop fighting long enough to do what’s right for the residents.

Which brings us to the toll road. The TCA has tried to force this road through several times. The current design they’re pushing would literally split San Clemente in half, killing it. And for what? The TCA’s own estimates show traffic improving between 2% to 8%.

In other words, hundreds of millions of our tax dollars will be spent on a toll road we have to pay to use, and hundreds of millions of dollars will be lost in home values and a damaged tax base, all for a toll road that doesn’t work. Didn’t California just get a huge tax increase on gas and registration? Isn’t a toll road just a glorified use tax?

And yet some neighboring cities are buying into the idea. Why? Mainly because they see the TCA as a shark, and if the blood in the water is San Clemente’s, then there’s a good chance their own town won’t be targeted. Residents themselves are starting to see that, and reach out to form their own alliances against the Toll Roads.

This has been going on for far too many years to fully explain the politics, but the bottom line is that the TCA has the most debt of any toll road company in America, and therefore the riders pay (by far) the highest tolls. Riders can pay as much as $21 for a one-way trip from South OC to Riverside! The TCA’s plan is to grow or die, as they’ve had to restructure their debt twice, and recent law suit losses have left them scrambling for a new roads and new tolls.

The TCA has been quietly scheming to put this road in place, grabbing parcels of land like a game of “Go Fish”, hoping to swap their cards for a winning hand that takes them all the way down to San Diego. There they could start fresh, this time in another county. They’ve also had help from politicians such as Lisa Bartlett, who still sits on the board at the TCA even after she had her authority to write contracts stripped from her in 2014. One wonders who else is colluding with the TCA.

The town of San Clemente is now 95% built out. The town started by Ole Hanson almost 90 years ago will be completely built out 100 years after its birth. Or the town will be dead, and home values will plunge. The air quality that doesn’t meet air standards now will get worse, while the toll road will be placed next to our children’s schools. Road noise, pollution and street lights will replace the sounds of dozens of birds species that migrate through our town each year.

It’s not well known that Ole Hanson and President Teddy Roosevelt were good friends. They shared a love of the outdoors, and appreciated the natural world around them. Roosevelt understood the importance of open space and helped expand Yosemite and put it under the administration of the National Park Service in 1916. That was just ten years before San Clemente was created. Our town has worked since then to keep at least 50% of the land for open space, to keep our tallest ridgelines free of homes, and even to develop areas for our local animals to migrate from the hills to the ocean. And our ocean…we love it. We love living here, and will fight against anything to keep our Spanish Village by the sea.

Cord Bauer, co-founder of San Clemente Cares 

Opinions expressed in editorials belong to the authors and not Voice of OC.

Voice of OC is interested in hearing different perspectives and voices. If you want to weigh in on this issue or others please contact Voice of OC Involvement Editor Theresa Sears at TSears@voiceofoc.org

 

  • tob2_happy_2

    I think what troubles me most is utter lack of realistic thoughtful traffic alleviation planning and lack of public input. It is beyond troubling that these routes were not selected because they would relieve traffic and there was real data and traffic studies behind them.

    From what we can ascertain based on the limited information the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) has produced several proposals for extending the Route 241 toll road southward to join I-5. One thing the TCA have not done (or at least shared with the public) is to demonstrate the need for such an extension. This is putting the cart before the horse. The proof of need required. For our San Clemente routes there is no way this would even relive traffic – all it does is destroy our City and home values and schools? Who would do that and why?

    1. Knowledge of current traffic flows with additional information about the origin and destination of this traffic

    2. Assumptions about how these traffic flows will change in the future, based on expected residential, commercial and industrial real estate development

    3. Assumptions about changes in future work (such as work at home) and personal lifestyles and their impact on future traffic

    4. Assumptions about changes in technology that will permit higher throughput of people getting from point A to point B (more on that later)

    5. Methodology as to how these assumptions will enable prediction of future traffic flows

    6. Quantification of future traffic. It appears from one of their websites (getmovingoc.com) that all they have done is to contract with a consultant to carry out an “analysis of mobility concerns in South Orange County”. This is not traffic planning.

  • Karen

    South Pasadena has kept the 710 out of its town forever – or about the same as my life. Legal types should refer to their lawsuits. No Toll Road THROUGH San Clemente.

  • Christine Wessel

    The plans for the cities Bob cites included these freeways before the developments were built. The proposed paths of the extension through SC will require houses to be demolished. On one of the proposed routes, I noticed two homes that will be targeted for demolition where the owners are currently remodeling, upgrading and building additions… spending their money to improve these homes when they may very well be subject to eminent domain, which means they probably won’t get the value of that investment out of the price they get out of that process. One of the proposed paths goes right behind my neighborhood, right up against my friend’s backyard. If we had any inkling that there would be a freeway built that close, we never would have purchased here. I just spent tens of thousands of dollars doing work on my own home to upgrade my outdoor space so that I can enjoy peaceful, quiet time in my backyard. Now, that quiet will be marred by freeway noise.
    Much of the open space that exists in SC is home to wild animals (bobcats, coyotes, raccoons, deer, etc. and precious hiking trails. The proposed freeway will ruin it.
    People in RSM, FR, and the other areas Bob cites either knew when they bought that a freeways was going in, or it was already there, or it was built far away from the existing homes (Newport Beach? When the 73 was built, there were virtually no homes near it. Since being built, however, a lot of the open space has been developed, creating MORE traffic.) We’re talking here about destroying homes to build a freeway. About putting an onramp over a high school. About fundamentally altering the city. It’s not the same thing.
    Also, this extension really won’t do anything for SC but make our already existing traffic mess on I-5 worse. SC residents won’t use the toll road… I know hardly anyone who goes to FR, RSM or anywhere else off the 241, and any time savings people in SC who do go to FR, RSM, etc. might get from a toll road is certainly not worth the price. I drive to Newport Beach and Costa Mesa on occasion, and the airport. Last time I did go north during moderate traffic, Waze told me the Toll Road vs. 5 to 405 routes were EQUAL in time. Even in heavy traffic, the toll road isn’t that much faster to justify the cost.

    If a new highway to San Diego is so important, connect the 241 to the 15. If the residents of RMV need to get to I-5 north, they can use Ortega, Crown Valley, Oso, etc., or connect 241 to 73 and create an exit to I-5.

    SC should not bear the burden of the RMV developers’ poor planning.

  • Kathy Ward

    The 241 was built where there was no development. Rancho Santa Margarita wouldn’t exist without the 241. The 261 and 133 were also built in non-developed areas and then the city built around it. In fact, Irvine has been able to build much larger because of the areas the toll road opened up for development. The 73 only goes through the top half of Aliso Viejo, but skirts the borders of Laguna Niguel, Laguna Hills , Irvine and Newport Beach. So Mr. Brock’s comments that the toll roads go THROUGH these cities is not correct. What Toll Road goes through Anaheim and Orange? It is obvious Mr. Brock doesn’t know anything about the toll roads past his narrow-minded opinion of nimbyism. That is a statement you make when you have nothing else.

    There is no proof that property values go up with a toll road. It has only been noted that development increases with a toll road.

    San Clemente is essentially built out. Our city was incorporated in 1928 and there is no area left for large development.

    • Karen

      He’s an idiot. Probably talking about the Express Lanes on the 91 – a freeway built in the 1960’s & 70’s.

  • Bob Brock

    The San Clemente Snowflakes are out in force today! NIMBYism at its finest. Toll Roads currently go through Anaheim, Orange, Irvine, Lake Forest, RSM, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Laguna Hills, Newport Beach, etc., etc. and those cities have hardly been “destroyed”… in fact, the businesses in Portola Hills, Foothill Ranch and RSM are booming primarily because the 241 offers a way for customers, employees and residents to get there quickly and easily. And the last time I checked, the property values in those areas are still pretty high. San Clemente, get over yourself already.

    • Eva O’Ke

      Put it where it belongs behind San Clemente, not by parks, schools, senior centers taking millions of dollars of property values for ocean view homes that will become freeway view homes. The TCA settled with Surfrider and now San Clemente could be destroyed. The TCA has always gone by open space, not through neighborhoods and potentially seizing homes and businesses.

    • Eva O’Ke

      The 241 was built where there was no development. Rancho Santa Margarita wouldn’t exist without the 241. That city had no freeway to it. The 261 and 133 were also built in non-developed areas and then the city built around it. In fact, Irvine has been able to build much larger because of the areas the toll road opened up for development. The 73 only goes through the top half of Aliso Viejo, but skirts the borders of Laguna Niguel, Laguna Hills , Irvine and Newport Beach. So Mr. Brock’s comments that the toll roads go THROUGH these cities is not correct. What Toll Road goes through Anaheim and Orange? It is obvious Mr. Brock doesn’t know anything about the toll roads past his narrow-minded opinion of nimbyism. That is a statement you make when you have nothing else.

    • dan barba

      OK Bob well we are not here to call people names but if ya wanna be a kook we will call you a kook…
      and plowing down a town and adding a highway next to a high school is ILLEGAL we will use that in force the 5 is all ready too close to the many children that attend schools locally..

    • Laura Smith

      You Bob Brock made a similar comment in the Register about us not wanting the toll road ruining our beautiful town so I will make the same comment back to you. The toll roads do not run right through RSM and Mission Viejo and the other cities that are happy about them. The toll roads run on the outskirts of these cities;BIG diffierence. I hope even you would agree if you were possibly threatened with one running right by your own child’s school sports park or even your own backyard. By they way you call us San Clemente snowflakes, what’s a bunch of snowflakes that gather together in full force? A blizzard!

    • Karen

      What Toll Road runs through Anaheim & Orange? If you are counting the 91, it was built in the 1960’s & 70’s – tolls were added later to an existing freeway. Orange County’s population was about 1million people and most of the land was undeveloped when the 91 was built. One other thing, I guess the residents of cities of South Pasadena and Alhambra are snowflakes too – but they sure don’t have a freeway running through their town.

    • Kathykingsfan

      Bob, perhaps you should do some research prior to opening your mouth on social media. Aliso Viejo was still being built when the 73 came through. It was incorporated into the master plan. Same with RSM and Foothill Ranch. There is no “toll road” in Orange or Anaheim. The 241 over to Riverside skirts the outside of Orange. It does not cut into the heart of a historic city.
      Wanting to preserve home values, a culture, and protect the health of a community is not “nambyism”. You obviously don’t live here, nor do you live in the general vicinity. Not sure what financial connection you have to the TCA, but you obviously have something to gain with comments like this!

    • Andy Root

      Really Bob? way to compare apples and oranges! those toll roads were build on undeveloped land! I believe the TCA requiring “eminent domain” to claim land for the 241 WILL DESTROY HOMES! Lets see how you would feel if the TCA was threatening your neighborhood, schools and home. You should get over yourself!

    • NotMyTollRoadSouthOC

      Bob Brock let me Ram a big toll road right behind your house and within 500 ft of your kids school and then lets hear you talk. Maybe you should Get over YOURSELF. Why don’t you go talk to some of those homeowners and families in that area before you open your mouth again. #onetownonevoice #notoleranceforidiots #notmytollroad