Highway From Hell. The Effort To Save Trestles.

PLEASE NOTE: The update A VICTORY FOR TRESTLES link is below at the end of this piece.

“Tricky Dick” may have been many things. But Richard Nixon wasn’t without fine taste in choosing this site for his “Western White House” during his years as U.S. President. His house was a top this bluff which provides a fine view of the beach and surfing spot known as Trestles.

It is called Trestles because of the train track and trestles that ride along the coastline through here. This is part of some 3,000 acres that comprise San Onofre State Park. In addition to the beach area the park includes the San Mateo Creek and San Mateo Campgrounds–all designated as a State Park in 1971 by Governor Ronald Reagan.

The trestles at Trestles. The San Mateo Creek is one of the few relatively unobstructed streams remaining on the west coast.

The lack of serious stream obstruction allows mother nature to replenish the beach area with renewed silt and sand. Most areas along the coast that have lost flowing streams to the ocean (because of development) now have eroding beaches. Trestles boasts an abundant broad beach.

A tree as driftwood. Another material critical to the nature of this beach are the large round river rocks that tumble downstream during significant storms. These rocks form the foundation of reefs along Trestles that make this one of the premier surfing locations on the planet. The consistent waves at Trestles are characterized by their sloping wide faces giving a surfer ample room to “carve it up.”

Trestles isn’t a beach you drive up to or easily reach. It is about a mile walk or so–depending on which stretch of State Park Beach you prefer. The scenery and environment along the way is extraordinary.

But now this beautiful and rare State Park is in danger. “Powers that be” want to transform parkland into a new freeway called “The Toll Road.” Because of worsening traffic jams on over crowded Interstate 5, the plan is to do what they’ve always done in California, build more freeway. In the photo above you see Interstate 5, the upper bridge structure. The bridge below used to be U.S. 101. Back in the days of U.S. 101 everyone complained about how bad the traffic was. So Interstate 5 was built. It was supposed to be the solution to all the traffic problems. “The solution was short lived. There are stretches of Interstate 5 that have been expanded numerous times since its completion back in the 1960’s. Yet no matter how many lanes are added and added again, we end up in the same old problem. Too much traffic. Now the transportation and traffic planners are at it again. The idea is for San Onofre State park to be sacrificed at the altar for the all mighty automobile gods. And since this freeway, a toll road, is a private enterprise–a private development–someone is going to make a lot of money from this wholesale decimation of this gorgeous natural preserve. One wise comment I heard “They”re trying to solve a 21st Century problem with a 1960’s solution.”

These concrete monstrosities have a severe impact on the land, the vegetation and the animals. The native coastal chaparral becomes significantly disturbed by the huge shadow and lack of sunshine these structures impose. The problem developers and planners refuse to look at is that no matter how many freeways we build it will never be enough. “If you keep doing the same old thing, you’ll keep getting the same old results.”

Here is a view of the parkland that will be lost. The dirt path here will give way to earth movers, backhoes, and tractors. Then the landscape will be scarred and then blighted with looming bands of concrete and steel. Once we lose so much of this State Park, which State Park or Natural Wonder will be next? Why must we be fighting the battles all over again that such people as Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir had to wage? As long as there is greed and shortsighted policy, the struggle will always persist. Arnold Schwarzenegger likes this project and is pushing for it.

The Surfrider Foundation, among many other groups, has fought this project long and hard. Here is the sidewalk demonstration I attended on Saturday, February 2 in San Clemente.

The demonstration is working up to a more comprehensive show of force at a California Coastal Commission meeting to be held in Del Mar on February 6th. A decision on the issue may well be forthcoming from this meeting. Surfrider Foundation and The Sierra Club, among others, are planning and seeking a large turnout of members and friends for this meeting.

At least a hundred residents and members were there. All ages, men, women, boys and girls.

Two leg demonstrators, four leg demonstrators. In this case, 3 leg demonstrator.

Three legs are not a handicap for “Lucky.” He moves about just as if he had 4 legs.

Lots of horn honking in support of the demonstration that day.

Save Trestles Demonstration_35

Join me for the California Coastal Commission meeting on Wednesday February 6th, 9 A.M. at the Del Mar Fairgrounds—at Wyland Hall 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd. Del Mar, CA 92014 – Just off the I-5 in Del Mar at Via de la Valle exit. This is the most important hearing in regards to the future Trestles and San Onofre State Park, as the Commission will hear the application for the Foothill South Toll Road.

For Further info


My other pictures of Saturday’s rally in San Clemente: http://homepage.mac.com/danielsoderberg/SaveTrestles/PhotoAlbum51.html

UPDATE: (click below)

A Victory For Trestles

I am Dan Soderberg, award winning documentary film maker and phototgrapher specializing in architecture, historic preservation and nature.
  • Bill


    You need to send this to Surfline.
    I read something on their site but your blog is much better.
    Surfline had a piece on this potential disaster. Another “concrete jungle” it seems.
    Enough is enough! They have already ruined North County, San Diego and Point Dume.
    I have many fond memories surfing there in the 80’s and cannot believe they are thinking of such a project.

  • Denise Ransom

    Congratulations on your victory! I have an odd request. The 13th picture on your blog is of my sister (Rachelle) and her 3 legged dog (Shelby). Would you be kind enough to email me the original photo? It is an awesome picture and we don’t think Shelby is going to be around much longer. I would love to get it framed for her.

    Thanks so much!

    Denise Ransom

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