SAN CLEMENTE The San Clemente Ocean Festival, a beloved local institution for four decades, is taking flak on Facebook over sponsorship money it accepts from the Transportation Corridor Agency.
Growing numbers of San Clemente residents fear that the TCA, which is studying South Orange County mobility options, will try to carve a toll road through town, now that the option of a toll road behind San Clemente to San Onofre near Trestles Beach is off the table.
The study is examining tollway and non-tollway options, but because the TCA builds toll roads and has resources, most public attention has focused on three 241 extension routes being looked at – two that would slice through San Clemente to I-5 and one that would cut through San Juan Capistrano to I-5.
San Clemente’s City Council declared its opposition in September to any route through San Clemente. San Juan Capistrano’s City Council is scheduled Tuesday, May 2, to consider sending TCA a letter opposing any route through San Juan.
A string of posts began appearing on the San Clemente Ocean Festival’s Facebook page on Thursday, April 27, calling on the festival’s organizers to dismiss the TCA as one of the summer event’s primary sponsors.
Some posters said that even though they love the event, they won’t attend this summer’s festival July 15-16 if the TCA sponsorship stays.
“Return their money and tell them their sponsorship is not welcome here!” said a post by San Clemente resident Paige Foreman.
Foreman, contacted Friday, said “it’s unfortunate because it’s a great event, but if they are going to continue to accept money, a message has to be sent. People are riled up.”
Peggy Vance, executive director of the ocean festival, released a statement Friday afternoon, April 28, in response. It said that the festival is a nonprofit volunteer organization that doesn’t take a position on any sponsors or organizations that participate.
“As we enter our 41st year, we thank the many local companies that have sponsored and supported us through the years,” Vance wrote. “We encourage all sponsors that participate at the event to help us provide a fun, safe environment for everyone to enjoy, while promoting their business or products.”
There has been mounting opposition to the TCA in San Clemente since the agency settled lawsuits with environmental groups in November, agreeing to no longer try to run the 241 behind San Clemente to connect with I-5 at Basilone Road, near Trestles Beach, an embattled proposal that went back decades.
Elimination of that option came just weeks after a TCA public forum in San Clemente had laid out more than a dozen mobility options, including the one being negotiated for settlement.
Elimination of that tollway option raised eyebrows in San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano about potential 241 extensions to I-5 at Avenida Pico in San Clemente and to I-5 somewhere around San Juan Creek Road in San Juan Capistrano. Since then, the TCA added a possible 241 route to I-5 near Avenida Vaquero in San Clemente.
San Clemente Mayor Kathy Ward responded by asking the TCA to study connecting the 241 with I-5 and the 73 Toll Road near Avery Parkway, an option that previously had been shown on the mobility map only as a possible arterial connection. The TCA now is including that in the study.
Other options include new arterial roads, greater train frequency, widening of existing arterial roads, bikeway improvements, mobility hubs and more road widenings along I-5 between the El Toro Y and the San Diego County line. The study’s results could be taken up by the TCA in June.
Meanwhile, Vance wrote that the San Clemente Ocean Festival tries to present the best show it can every summer and puts proceeds from T-shirt sales, registration fees and sponsorships back into the community.
“We hope you’ll join us, regardless of your feelings about any one sponsor, on July 15th and 16th, to enjoy another AMAZING weekend of fun in the sun, celebrating our beaches, lifeguards and community!” Vance wrote.
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