2 San Clemente lawsuits challenge efforts to extend 241 Toll Road – Orange County Register

SAN CLEMENTE — The city of San Clemente and a homeowners’ association are suing to try to keep an extension of the 241 Toll Road from slicing through established communities in South Orange County.

Lawsuits filed Friday, July 28, assert that the Transportation Corridor Agency entered into a November lawsuit settlement that made land-use decisions without proper environmental review or opportunity for public comment.

In what was described as a protective agreement, the TCA agreed to never fund or build a toll road within a defined area south of San Clemente near Trestles Beach.

In return, environmental groups that had sued the TCA  during a “Save Trestles” battle over a long-planned route to connect the 241 to I-5 at Basilone Road agreed not to oppose any alternative route outside of the avoidance area.

The TCA, maintaining that a 241 connection to I-5 is vital to relieve the congested freeway, now is looking at potential routes cutting through designated open space in south Orange County to merge with I-5 in San Clemente or San Juan Capistrano.

Lawsuits filed by The Reserve Maintenance Corporation – representing a community of 419 San Clemente homes – and by the city ask Orange County Superior Court to invalidate the settlement and protective agreement in the absence of proper public and environmental review.

The Reserve argues that “the TCA unilaterally rescinded over 30 years of planning and public process in favor of a ‘back room’ deal; a deal which was both outside the scope of the TCA’s authority and in blatant violation of California’s open-meeting laws.”

The settlement’s creation of an avoidance area south of San Clemente “virtually guarantees that the TCA will now seek to cram the toll road directly through the only places remaining available, i.e., the preserved open space, mitigation land and trails located in the established communities of San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano and/or Rancho Mission Viejo,” the lawsuit says.

Development and open areas within those three communities were designed and approved with reliance on state, county and local planning documents that showed the state-designated route for the 241 going behind San Clemente to merge with I-5 at Basilone Road, the lawsuits say.

Any 241 route connecting to I-5 in San Clemente “does not, and cannot, conform to the route description of SR-241 as set forth in Streets and Highways Code section 541,” the city’s lawsuit says. “The Legislature…

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