By Gisele Brandt | Head Editor
October 11, 2020
Residents of San Clemente: you can finally take off your bumper stickers, because Trestles is saved! On October 1, 2020, state law AB 1426 was enacted, permanently prohibiting the construction of any major thoroughfare in San Onofre State Park.
“Everyone in San Clemente has been at war with the government for 15 years over the toll road and saving Trestles, so it’s nice to hear that that is finally over,” senior Clark Hill said.
The Save San Onofre Coalition (SSOC) was formed in 2005 after the infamous six lane toll road that would cut through San Onofre State Park was proposed. The road would have gone over southern California’s last undeveloped watershed and sacred indigenous sites. Since the effort to save Trestles began, the entire community has been working together to ensure its success.
In 2008, the SSOC won its first major victory when 3,500 community activists attended a Coastal Commission hearing to protest the construction of the toll road, and the development was blocked. After this initial success, the campaign to block the toll road’s construction had several ups and downs as developers attempted to find loopholes and other legal routes towards approval, but local support for the movement never waivered.
In the end, none of their attempts were successful, and the passage of AB 1426 by the state legislature and Governor Gavin Newsom codified the protection of San Onofre State Park permanently.
“Trestles is very important to the community,” Hill said. “It’s probably the most famous beach in San Clemente, it has possibly the best waves in the region, and there is a major surf contest held there every year that brings tons of people to our town.”
This was one of the major arguments used to support AB 1426, as the state legislature found that over two million people visit San Onofre every year, contributing six million dollars to the coastal economy.
The second argument was its intrinsic value to the community. San Onofre State Beach is home to the last undeveloped watershed in southern California and one of the best surf breaks in our area, providing a beautiful landscape, miles of trails, and plenty of water-based activities for tourists and the locals to enjoy.
“I go to Trestles every day on my runs and I love it because it is so beautiful,” senior Emerson Litchfield said. “The wildlife is so unique to this area, there is nowhere else like it!”
When juxtaposed to other nearby state beaches, like Doheny, it becomes clear that Trestles and the greater San Onofre State Beach area are rare, invaluable spots for our community to experience native wildlife and undeveloped coastal access.
The fight to save Trestles is finally over, and it is an excellent example of grassroots activism. The success of the SSOC can empower local residents to fight for community improvements in the future.