As a former Lariat reporter, a Saddleback grad and member of the Saddleback College Alumni Board, I’m more than a little disappointed by the “Trestles Hearing Draws High Attendance” article (Sept. 30) about the Foothill-South Toll Road project. I found the article to be extremely biased and ill-informed, which is a shame for your readers.
Your article’s small inaccuracies – such as misspelling Transportation Corridor Agencies and the spokesperson’s name – are forgivable.
Your larger inaccuracies, however, are not.
The hearing conducted on Sept. 22 was not a “Trestles Hearing,” it was a Costal Zone Management Act hearing, which was offered as an opportunity to correct a process that has been packed with distortion and misinformation provided by project opponents, such as the Surfrider Foundation.
Surfrider Mark Rauscher was wrong when he said that San Clemente City Councilmember Jim Dahl and County Supervisor Pat Bates are “out of touch with constituents” and “not living up to the expectations of the voters,” respectively.
Had your reporter truly done his research, he would have learned that two recent polls conducted by independent firm Strata Research, surveyed 1,020 registered voters in Northern San Diego County and 757 registered voters in South Orange County and proved that Foothill-South supporters outnumber opponents by about a two-to-one margin.
The people of San Clemente support the need for the completion of the 241 Toll Road given that the project’s alternative — the widening of I-5 — would cost Californians an estimated $2.4 billion and wipe out some 1,200 homes and businesses, many in the heart of San Clemente.
I was at the hearing in Del Mar and heard with my own ears at least five Foothill-South supporters speak during the community feedback portion of the hearing, not the two that Surfrider claims. Also, of the 118 elected officials, tribe leaders and organization representatives who spoke, more than half were in favor of the project.
The truth is that the completion of the 241 Toll Road is a critically needed route for the state’s economy, the public’s mobility and safety and the quality of life that we all enjoy in Southern California.
For all of those with “Save Trestles” and “Arnold Don’t Surf” stickers on your notebooks and cars, I urge you to get educated. The Foothill-South Toll Road will end half a mile from the beach on the east side of I-5 and was designed to protect beaches, with no impact to surf and invisible from the trail to Trestles. Furthermore, the Toll Road will not change the waves at Trestles, which are created by large cobbles that are carried south through the watershed during heavy rains.
Unfortunately, many of the well-funded activist groups who oppose this project have conducted widespread misinformation campaigns in an effort to garner opposition to this traffic relief project. They’ve obviously claimed The Lariat as a victim, but hopefully you will make it right for your publication and your readers by publishing the facts and offering unbiased news as news, instead of opinion pieces as news.