O’Keefe: San Clemente Residents are Fighting the Toll Road, Again

Ole Hanson, founder of San Clemente.

San Clemente is a surfer’s paradise and the dream of founder Ole Hanson. While it prepares for its 90th anniversary, the citizens of San Clemente have been rocked by a plan to put a toll road through the center of their town. Ole Hanson built the town to take advantage of the world-class beaches, beautiful views, and open spaces. Now it may have a highway that goes through established neighborhoods, parks and schools. The town with “The Greatest Climate on Earth” may soon have more pollution than anywhere in Orange County, if the toll road plans are approved.

The Transportation Corridor Agency (TCA), a joint powers authority of cities (north of San Clemente), Supervisor Bartlett are pushing these plans through. The citizens of San Clemente don’t get to vote on these absurd plans either. The TCA wants to ram a TOLL ROAD through planned open space. Most of the open space is land that developers gave the city as mitigation for their development. “Mitigation” means that developers can build, but need to allow for open space requirements, migratory passages for animals, and to develop the land according to the pre-set rules of the community. Essentially, the TCA believes that they can “mitigate the mitigation land” and everyone will go their merry way.

San Clemente residents are fighting back. In a few short weeks people have mobilized creating decals, yard signs, T-shirts, posters, fundraisers and more. Thousands have signed the petition on change.org. Even HOAs have quickly passed resolutions against the Toll Roads.

This latest iteration of the Toll Road is the worst to date. The “Pico” route (alignment #14) that seems to be the TCA’s favorite, would go by six schools. The Toll Road could be situated less than 500 feet of San Juan Hills, San Clemente High and Marblehead Elementary, violating SB -532 rules, but who cares because it’s only kids, right? According to councilmember Chris Hamm, the Toll Road would fly over San Clemente High’s baseball field.

This Toll Road would also be on top of our newly-built, multi-million dollar sports park, creating health and safety concerns to anyone who uses the park. Nothing says “healthy” like playing soccer while inhaling diesel fumes.

The TCA recently lost a huge settlement while pushing for the “Green Alignment”, a toll road around the outside of San Clemente. The same legal issues that the environmental groups called out such as the endangered gnat catcher, endangered trout and the watershed are present in these new proposed routes. We’re dealing with the same issues with the new proposed alignments, but now people are also in danger as well.

The people of San Clemente voted loud and clear through Measure V that they cherish open space. The city itself has fought the TCA three times and will continue to fight until they chose a sensible route South County that the residents approve, or until the TCA is dismantled.   The TCA will tell you that they have engaged the public. I beg to differ. Their public forum was nothing more of a charade, separating people into factions so they could fight each other, having routes on the map that they knew they were not possible (like the Green Alignment), and apparently having input from only 10 people from the business community from which to draw these absurd routes.

The TCA has also not said if minority groups and disenfranchised groups participated in the process. How about the parents of the children attending San Clemente or San Juan Hills High School? How about the many families that are going to have their ocean view homes turn into disgusting freeway-view homes? Or the many seniors that live in San Clemente that are going to lose significant equity during their retirement years? If this issue was truly about improving traffic flow, shouldn’t the Toll Roads drop their toll prices? Wouldn’t deeply discounted weekend rates help the flow of traffic?

(Lt to rt) Stacy Tran, Eva O’Keefe, Doug Applegate – congressional candidate, Rick Williams, Marissa Williams

Republican politicians in Orange County are taking a big gamble with this Toll Road. By siding with the Toll Roads over the residents, a road that would take hundreds of millions in home values will potentially go through the middle of a highly Republican area. These people voted for Donald J Trump 59% to 41%, rejected Prop 57 by over 50% and gave Darrell Issa the narrow margin he needed to win.

Raad Ghantous -local radio personality and Doug Applegate, congressional candidate

Democrat Doug Applegate has already seized the opportunity by meeting with constituents, and posed for photos with NO TOLL ROAD THROUGH SAN CLEMENTE. With 38,000 votes and an 85% voter participation in the last election, Republican politicians should be paying more attention to San Clemente voters and their needs.



Eva O’Keefe, 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

  • What should really be the focus of this publication is the crisis of character of its contributors. Highly dishonest, unethical people.

  • Pingback: San Clemente Voices Opposition to Toll Road - Friends of Harbors, Beaches and Parks()

  • Bruce Walberg

    Nothing is more ridiculous than the argument used by the city that they don’t want it running through our city! The I5 runs right through the middle of the city and some of the cars and trucks that sit in traffic right in the middle of town could be rerouted around the city by going through the back country and miss us all together. But I don’t want to point out how silly that statement is…. Finish the damn road already and get concessions from the TCA and have it built the best way possible. This road will be built and we have a chance to do it right if we can get out of our own way! Politicians need not apply. You got us in this situation, you’ve done enough!

  • Raad Ghantous

    Jonathan we have already told you are nauseum all of this morning on Facebook that we in San Clemente don’t want the toll and it’s not welcome in the Spanish Village. If you like it so much support having it run through San Juan Capistrano where you live. Hey more benefit for you and San Juan Capistrano. Why a person who doesn’t even live in San Clemente would be working so hard this week on social media to defend the toll road and TCA and completely belittle and try and diminish and down play what people who live in San Clemente are feeling, saying and sending as a message is very confusing. I wonder what would make you spend so much energy and time on this issue of a toll road through San Clemente when you don’t even live here…. hmmm

  • Jonathan Volzke

    Yes, elected officials sometimes have to do things that constituents disagree with – that is leadership. IF not, we’d all just gather and yell “yay” or “nay” to decide every issue. Ever read “Profiles in Courage?” If leaders of the past had listened to the outraged masses, there’d be no Talega and all of the homes in San Clemente would be white stucco with red tile roofs. Tony Forster (yes, Forster Ranch, etc.) used to joke that his family had acted like everyone now, the population of South County would still be about 100.

    • tob2_happy_2

      Seriously our elected officials need to get their brains checked and if they want to do good things for mobility then use traffic engineers and actual data instead of 10 people as sounding boards for the TCA to propose routes that will destroy all of Orange County. Leadership is something currently missing as well as critical thinking – we dislike the lack of leadership and thought going on so much we believe it is time for the fiscally irresponsible nightmare needs to be dissolved. Additionally given your position as the Public Affairs Manager for the Water District it is clear that you are just trying to add legitimacy to the TCA – each of you patting each others back all day long – this only works for people not awake – I call out your utter BS. The Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) have 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 requires
      1. Knowledge of current traffic flows with additional information about the origin and destination of this traffic
      2. Assumptions about how these traffic f…lows 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. Quantificationoffuturetraffic.
      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.https://www.change.org/p/jerry-brown-governor-brown-dissolve-the-tca-toll-roads?recruiter=5717294&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=share_for_starters_page&utm_term=des-lg-share_petition-no_msg Seems to me if you are thinking this is such a good idea we will be keeping an eye out on your