For whom the Toll Roads – part 2

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 Youthful activists Lauren Brooks and Danielle Regimbal support the California Coastal Commission’s decision not to allow the Transportation Corridor Agency to build a toll road through San Onofre State Park.

See the whole slideshow HERE 

Del Mar, California

On the morning of September 22nd, silence lay draped across our camp like a hand-knitted Afghan. Across the salty canal, approaching dog-walkers sent large squawking birds airborne before them.

“Look!” I said, pointing a finger at the southern horizon, where three colorful hot-air balloons took flight one-by-one. The sun shone early-morning bright on them as they rose impossibly high.

But just as I poured strong coffee into a ‘French Press’, an ominous sound of hollow metal ground away the silence behind us. It was the sound of large metal doors being forced open, skreeching for want of oil. I stepped into a cold shower and thought no more of it.

Through a din of cascading water, I heard the sound of barking- not of the few dogs whose company we enjoy, but of many barking dogs, raising a canine cacaphony before the strike of 7:00a.m. I stepped from the shower to see some ten canine units and 30 other sheriffs squad cars being barkingly hustled into the Del Mar Fairgrounds ‘Exhibition Building’, where, mercifully, most were to remain. 

Covering the Toll Road meeting with an ESM press pass, it was a photo of these units I wanted most, but in the end, was afraid to take. And there they stayed until it was all over, hiding in a secret building such a vulgar display of resistance from the sandy-haired children here to defend San Onofre State Park and, suprisingly, the California Coastal Commission.  

Obrien Hall

I must have been a sight, hobbling in on a cane due to a torn something-or-other in my knee. Too many trips up and down the hill to fill my Finch feeder back in Morro Bay and a few too many pounds. And though I had worn a dark suit with a conservative red tie, I had traded in the flag lapel pin for a State Flag of California, for this was truly a fight between the Federales and the Republic.

After paving and filling everything they could on the first pass through, the developers -with balls of steel- were here to take our State Park! 

“…And so I ask you today”, jerk after orange-shirted jerk would say, ..”to overrule the California Coastal Commission and let us build this (privately owned toll) road through San Onofre State Park”.

“Boooo!” came the response from a thousand green-shirts across the aisle, thumbs pointed down at the thought of it.

The Villians

As the speakers droned on plagued (on purpose, I am certain) with horrible acoustics reminiscent of a night spent in jail, three cold clay figurines sat at a table up front, horrified themselves, I’m also certain, at the Kangaroo Court over which they had been fated to preside.

Like a juggernaut, throngs of heavily muscled orange-shirted construction contractors bellowed pro-development slogans in scary unison. I was sure it was 1939 Germany. They raised their hands in perfect synchronicity, hoping to rape the natural world with brute force to make a payment on a second car.

Perhaps the only thing more revolting were their many heavily made-up young girls smarming around at the beck and call of the Transportation Corridor Agency. They represented the very worst of a ‘me’ generation whose time, hopefully, will be short-lived. 

I walked up to one and said, “So beautiful…and yet so deadly!”

“What do you mean?”, she asked.

“Such a pretty little girl”, I said- “why do you want to kill the world?”

She was whisked quickly away by an older woman who had long ago sold her soul.

Not far away, the opposite extreme; several gorgeous models from ‘Reef’ Clothing were making their own appearance to save the park, and their beauty shone from within.

I went forward to photograph the man from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). NOAA was in charge of the meeting because they serve under the auspices of the Department of Commerce.

“No!” he cried aloud. “I don’t want any pictures!” he said, running out of the frame.

‘CLICK!’

The Heroes

Suit, tie, glasses, briefcase, yellow media pass, a camera and a cane, I hobbled up to the second row to get off my knee and onto a chair, and there sat a sight for sore eyes.

Sitting side-by-side were the heroes and heroines the kids were looking for- Susan Jordan, who was instrumental in stopping the dangerous LNG terminal in Long Beach, Treasurer and former Attorney General of California Bill Lockyer who had authored a bill to stop such a Toll Road, and Senator Christine Keyhoe, whose environmental ethic and integrity are so important to San Diego.

As they arose, one after another to address the panel, their words were partly drowned out by the thunderous roar from a large adoring crowd; a thousand emerald shirts swaying, the cavernous room called O’brien Hall shaking and the bad guys quaking!

The Scene Outside

Under brightly hued tents outside the hall, free shirts, buttons and lunch were available if you signed petitions to stop the Toll Road. I signed as many as I could, blabbed leftist propaganda into about 20 microphones and finally caught up with Friends of the Foothills organizer Robin Everett sitting on the ground chomping an apple. I thanked her for her fantastic work and hobbled back to the Skacciabong.

Toll Roads, epilogue…

This is a story whose ending is yet to be written, but it is not a new story by any means. It is a classic battle between good and evil, dark and light, greed and simplicity. Thanks to the amount of young, fresh creative caring people, the dragon may not in the end be slain; but rather, nurtured, rehabilitated, and released into its natural environment.

For EarthSourceMedia

joey racano

For more in-depth articles on the environmental news from the Land, the Sea and the Air go to EarthSourceMedia.org

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