Surfers, Sierra Clubbers Celebrate
Surfers and environmental groups in Orange County, California, have been fighting a proposed toll road through a world-renowned surf break (Trestles) for several years now, and last week, after a 12-hour hearing at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, the state Coastal Commission voted 8-2 against a road. The proposed Foothill-South Toll Road would have cut through the heart of San Onofre State Beach located near San Clemente, destroying nearly 60 percent of the park, affecting a popular campground, pristine watershed, as well as the surf beach.
More than 3,000 people turned out at the hearing, many wearing "Save the Park" t-shirts and carrying signs and painted surfboards -- the largest turnout ever for a Coastal Commission hearing.
This was not only a big win for the Sierra Club's Friend of the Foothills project, but a testament to creative tactics and exceptional organizing by Brittany McKee, Mark Massara, Robin Everett, Rebecca Robles, Deborah Fry, Shannon Raj, Elizabeth Lambe, and others.
Here are just a few highlights of the campaign
- In 2005, three dozen surfers presented a surfboard to Governor Schwarzenegger signed by a thousand activists expressing their opposition to the toll road. (See photo here.)
- In January, activists set up 161 tents in front of the capitol in Sacramento -- to represent the 161 campsites that would be harmed by the Foothill South Toll Road. (See photo below.)
- Native America activist Rebecca Robles, a member of the Achejeman tribe and a leader of the Sacred Sites Task Force of the Sierra Club, led about 85 people on an outing to the campground where she pointed out where the proposed road would harm her ancestral village.
- On the morning of the hearing, Brittany McKee and Robin Everett organized two buses going to the hearing from San Clemente. (That's Robin above, holding the surfboard over her head.) Many participants signed decorative surfboards that were later presented to the commissioners by Mark Massara, Sierra Club Coastal Director, who testified on behalf of the Club.