After reading Ms. Geller’s letter to the editor, I felt compelled to respond on behalf of the Surfrider Foundation.
First and foremost, the Surfrider Foundation’s mission is focused on the protection and enjoyment of the world’s ocean, waves and beaches through a powerful activist network. There isn’t a better example of the commitment to our mission than the 15-year battle to save San Onofre State Beach and the San Mateo Watershed from a toll road.
We were proud to join forces with 11 other environmental organizations in the Save San Onofre Coalition to stop a toll road through San Onofre State Beach, one of California’s most popular state parks. We wouldn’t have achieved victory were it not for the strong support of thousands of San Clemente, Laguna Beach and other South Orange County residents. We know support to protect San Onofre State Beach for current and future generations remains incredibly strong throughout the community.
Now, to address some of the points specifically raised in Ms. Geller’s letter.
First, the city of San Clemente filed a lawsuit to unprotect the park, Native American cultural sites, and some of Southern California’s last pristine wetlands we fought so hard to protect. Unprotecting the park is not a “solution” that benefits San Clemente residents or anyone who enjoys the park.
Second, the Save San Onofre Coalition reached a historic settlement agreement with the TCA because we consistently defeated the agency at multiple federal, state and regional regulatory hearings. Earlier, I highlighted the Surfrider Foundation’s mission for a reason—we were then and remain today focused on protecting any and all threats to San Onofre State Beach.
Third, the settlement agreement reached with the TCA does not state where a road can go, or even whether a road would be built. It only says where a road cannot go—through the state park. The Surfrider Foundation takes no position on whether a road is needed or what route that the TCA may propose in the future, as long as the route does not encroach on San Onofre State Beach or other protected areas.
Finally, we welcome Ms. Geller’s passionate plea for local residents and public officials to engage on this issue. We know San Clemente residents strongly support continued protections of San Onofre State Beach. We appreciate and need the broader community’s support to preserve this treasure.
Chad Nelsen, Laguna Beach, CEO Surfrider Foundation