Diverse allies working together persuaded the California Coastal Commission in February and the United States Department of Commerce on December 18, 2008, to save the sacred Native American Acjachemen site of Panhe and San Onofre State Beach and stop the toll road there.
“Our hearts are filled with gratitude today. I am grateful for the support of UCPP members and our allies. This victory would not have been possible without the collaborative efforts of our tribal community members, Tribal Nations, and our allies such as the Native American Heritage Commission, The City Project, the Sierra Club, California State Parks Foundation and others,” said Rebecca Robles, UCPP co-founder and co-director.
Angela Mooney D’Arcy, co-director for UCPP said, “Today is a significant day for Panhe, the Ancestors, the Acjachemen people, San Onofre, and the millions of people who enjoy this state park and camp ground every year. However, this process is not over. On behalf of the United Coalition to Protect Panhe, we call upon the TCA to suspend all litigation and federal lobbying activities and instead focus its resources on studying reasonable alternatives to the toll road.”
Louis Robles, Jr., Acjachemen tribal member, said of the decision, “The voices of our Ancestors have been heard. This is an incredible victory for Panhe and for Indigenous peoples everywhere.”
Robert Garcia, Executive Director and Counsel of The City Project, said, “It is an honor to work with the Acjachemen people. We would like to thank Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, California Attorney General Jerry Brown and his staff including John Saurenman and Antonette Cordero, and the diverse allies who made this victory possible.”
Read the December 19, 2008, Los Angeles Times Editorial here.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Anson Franklin
Dec. 18, 2008
Department of Commerce Rules on Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency Consistency Appeal
The Department of Commerce today upheld the California Coastal Commission’s objection to a proposal to construct a 16-mile toll road connecting California state Route 241 to Interstate 5 in southern Orange and northern San Diego counties.
The commission objected to the proposed project under the federal Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) on the grounds that the toll road was not consistent with the state’s coastal zone management program. Under the CZMA, federal agencies may not issue any permits required for a project if a state has objected, unless the Department of Commerce, on appeal, overrides the objection.
The Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency (TCA) appealed the commission’s objection to the Department of Commerce in February, triggering an administrative review process that involved written briefs and arguments by the parties, input from interested federal agencies, tens of thousands of written comments from the public, and a 10-hour public hearing in San Diego County.
Under the CZMA, the department may override an objection only if no reasonable alternative to the project exists and the proposal is consistent with the objectives of the CZMA, or if the project is necessary in the interest of national security. The department determined that there is at least one reasonable alternative to the project. The department also found that the project is not necessary in the interest of national security.
TCA may pursue another route for its proposed toll road that the commission determines is consistent with California’s coastal zone management program, and TCA is not limited to the alternative proposal described in the department’s decision.
Since the enactment of the CZMA in 1972, the department has acted on 43 appeals, upholding 29 objections by state agencies and overriding 14.
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