San Diego City Council riding the fence on toll road issue

| 9/27/2006

The Foothills Toll Road, a proposed extension of California State Route 241 to take congestion away from Interstate 5, would bisect San Onofre State Beach at the southern tip of Orange County.

The proposal has environmental groups up in arms and the state attorney general pursuing litigation to stop it.

On Tuesday, toll road opponents packed San Diego City Hall to ask the City Council to pass a resolution to oppose the project. Councils in Los Angeles and San Francisco have already approved similar resolutions, even though they have no jurisdiction in the matter.

But the San Diego City Council failed to pass such a resolution, choosing instead to stay out of the fight.

“The smart move for the city of San Diego is to stay out of other people’s business,” Councilman Jim Madaffer said during the meeting, quoted by the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The council voted 4-3 to deny the environmentalists’ request for the resolution.

Among the environmental groups opposing the 16.9-mile Foothills Toll Road proposal is the Surfriders Foundation.

“This is not just environmentalism, it’s a way of life,” Surfrider Executive Director Jim Moriarty told the council about the area known as Trestles.

“Trestles is a natural wonder. It’s been compared to Yosemite,” Moriarty said.

The San Diego City Council has no jurisdiction in the matter. The city is 30 miles away and in another county than the proposed toll road.

The Orange County Transportation Authority has chosen the preferred route for the toll road, but the Coastal Commission has not yet approved the plan.