Victory! San Onofre Saved Permanently From Road Construction

California State Parks Foundation

After a hard-fought campaign by NRDC and our Save San Onofre coalition partners that has spanned almost two decades, Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill (AB) 1426 by Assembly Member Tasha Boerner Horvath, which ensures no road infrastructure can be built that severely damages San Onofre State Beach.

Enactment of AB 1426 is a huge victory for preservation of our state’s coastal resources, upholds the state’s interest in protecting San Onofre State Beach, one of California’s most popular state parks, and respects the intent of legal agreements signed by state agencies and conservation groups to protect the park. In 2016, our coalition’s groups joined the Attorney General, the Native American Heritage Commission, and the State Park and Recreation Commission in settling litigation with the Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency. That settlement was later recognized in additional agreements with the California Department of Transportation and California Natural Resources Agency—agreements that followed the rejection of a proposed toll road through the park by the Coastal Commission and the U.S. Department of Commerce because of the damage the road would have caused to the state park and other important natural resources.

This is a monumental victory on so many levels. The bill protects habitat for the eleven endangered and threatened species that call San Onofre home. It ensures that no road will threaten the popular San Mateo Campground, which provides essential low-cost accommodations along the coast. The bill protects lands considered sacred to the Acjachemen/Juaneño people, including the ancestral village of Panhe. And it ensures long-term protection for the 5th most popular state park in the system, which receives more than 2.4 million visitors every year.

The bipartisan bill was widely supported by not only environmental groups like NRDC, but also business leaders like the Orange County Business Council as well as labor leaders like the state and local Building and Construction Trades unions. We are grateful for and indebted to our incredible coalition partners, our elected leaders, and the hundreds of thousands of activists and change-makers who rallied to this cause over the years and made this victory possible.

The Save San Onofre Coalition is made up of the following 12 California and national environmental organizations: Audubon California, California Coastal Protection Network, California State Parks Foundation, Defenders of Wildlife, Endangered Habitats League, Laguna Greenbelt, Inc., NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), Orange County Coastkeeper, Sea and Sage Audubon Society, Sierra Club, Surfrider Foundation and WiLDCOAST/COASTALVAjE.

About the Authors

Damon Nagami

Senior Attorney, Lands Division, Nature Program

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