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By the people

July 14 2008 | Jim's Blog,
by Jim

We recently heard that the July 25th Trestles meeting was cancelled. I'm not sure the actual reason will ever be known, but from what I understand it revolves around the point that a lot of people were expected at this event.

Before the February California Coastal Commission meeting, record attendance was around 500 people... 3,500 showed up for that meeting in Del Mar. It was a galvanizing event. If you were there, you were affected at a very deep level. You saw something that you don't see everyday. More than one person, including me, took their kids out of school to see the proceedings as they exemplified our system of government. They showed two opposing parties stating their case. One side, a commercial venture, trying to stack the deck with a few dozen paid laborers (who left once their daily wage ran out) and the other side made up of literally thousands of moms, dads, kids, beach enthusiasts, indigenous people, surfers, lawyers, bankers, etc.

I'll summarize what we saw. It was "democracy."

The area in question, a state park where a proposed toll road has been proposed to run down the center, has piqued numerous people's interest over the years. The president of the United States weighed in on Trestles when the park was established. President Nixon got the larger, democratic point across with his statement as he proposed the establishment of the California State Park (which is now San Onofre)

"We must leave a legacy that goes beyond good housing, vital industries, and strong defense. We must also provide an endowment of parklands and recreational areas that will enrich [citizens'] leisure opportunities and make the beauties of the earth and sea more accessible to them."

The then California governor Reagan waxed on as well
"I firmly believe one of the greatest legacies we can leave to future generations is the heritage of our land. This expanse of acreage, San Onofre Bluffs State Beach, now has it's future guaranteed as an official state park."

This campaign, one that we've been at for over a decade, is important. It's a regional issue with state-wide ramifications. It's also a federal issue as it intersects with numerous federal agencies and military institutions. But in the end this issue is about the people.

At the last meeting hundreds of people spoke out against a proposed toll road through an existing state park. Hundreds more ceded their time to keep the meeting to one day. It was as clear as day that something beyond 90% of the people at the last hearing thought this was an awful idea. The grassroots nature of what attracted 3,500 people there must have had some influence on the California Coastal Commission's landslide 8 - 2 vote against this idea. In fact at the hearing it was pointed out that this proposed commercial venture failed every single possible category of the California Coastal Commission code.

What we saw at the Del Mar meeting was a grassroots wave of challenge to the idea of a toll road through a state park.

When I heard that the next meeting was cancelled I have to say that I wasn't surprised. This is an issue that has captured many people. It has captured tens of thousands of people. In an era of disappearing open spaces and rampant over-commercialization... this is one of those times and one of those campaigns that has become an onramp for thousands of people to plug in. This isn't about some tiny group of surfers this is about entire communities crying foul, this is about people calling overzealous commercial projects out and pointing out their messages for what they are... lies.

This is about people understanding that they do have a voice and that the word "activism" is a word that means "engaged populous."

This fight, is to save Trestles, the fight to preserve our state parks, the fight to not allow a toll road to pave over indigenous people's sacred burial sites, the fight to value the last clean watershed in Southern California.

This fight... is your fight.

It is all of our fight.

No small detail, such as a change of venue due to expected crowds, will decrease the intensity of what is at stake here. In fact it will do the opposite and underscore how much this issue is an issue about... the people.

Stay tuned for updates on this multi-decade fight. Go here for details.
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