At a September 22, 2008 public hearing, thousands of citizens showed broad opposition to running the Foothill toll road through San Onofre State Beach. EHL and other groups also sued the US Fish and Wildlife Service over its permitting of the route.

The toll road is a product of an Orange County agency, though its impacts would largely be felt in San Diego County. It represents the philosophy that protected areas – like the Donna O’Neill Land Conservancy east of San Clemente and park lands like San Onofre – are simply fodder for ill-conceived highway projects.

Earlier this year, the California Coastal Commission denied certification to the toll road under Coastal Zone Management Act, which it administers. The toll road agency appealed the decision to the federal Dept of Commerce, which held the spirited hearing. EHL testified about alternatives to the toll road, and many EHL activists sent letters to Commerce. A decision is due in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, EHL and its partners in the Save San Onofre Coalition filed suit against the US Fish and Wildlife Service for granting approvals to the toll road agency to “take” endangered species including the Pacific pocket mouse, arroyo toad, southern steelhead trout, tidewater goby, and California gnatcatcher. The FWS used inadequate surveys and ignored its own analysis of the severe impacts. We are represented by the law firm of Meyer, Glitzenstein & Crystal. Litigation under CEQA against the project is also pending.