San Onofre State Beach protection now enshrined in state law
Wrapping up our long battle to save the park, state law now prohibits all road construction through San Onofre State Beach and adjacent lands.
San Onofre State Beach is California’s fifth most popular state park receiving more than 2 million visitors each year. The park includes the world famous “Trestles” surf spot immortalized in the Beach Boys’ “Surfin’ USA.” The park and other parts of the San Mateo Creek watershed shelters 11 endangered species, including arroyo toad, California gnatcatcher, least Bell’s vireo, tidewater goby, and southern steelhead trout. This watershed is the only coastal watershed south of Ventura which is undammed.
After a decade-long campaign against a toll road planned to bisect the park, the Save San Onofre Coalition reached a settlement agreement with the Transportation Corridor Agency to place its transportation projects outside of the key resource areas. A related agreement brought CalTrans into the same paradigm. The highlight of the campaign was a dramatic Coastal Commission hearing – the largest in its history – in which the Commission voted against the highway.
This year, in the midst of a legal attack on our settlement agreement, Assembly Member Tasha Boerner Horvath, representing northern San Diego County, stepped forward. The Coalition worked with her to pass AB 1426, which not only places the existing protections into state law but in addition prohibits any agency – including local agencies not bound by the settlement agreement – from constructing a road through San Onofre State Beach or the nearby Richard and Donna O’Neil Conservancy.
With the Governor’s signature on AB 1426, the area’s unique wildlife, recreation, and sacred Native American sites now have the strongest possible protection.