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San Clemente’s Continued Litigation Over Concluded Project Forces Transportation Corridor Agencies to Amend Budget

IRVINE, Calif. - July 13, 2020

The Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency (F/ETCA) Board of Directors has approved a budget amendment in the amount of $600,000 for the ongoing defense of a lawsuit brought in 2017 by the City of San Clemente and the Reserve Maintenance Corporation against Caltrans, the People of the State of California, Native American Heritage Commission, California State Park and Recreation Commission and six environmental groups regarding the potential study of traffic solutions which didn’t formally begin until 2019, two years after the lawsuit was filed.

The study formally concluded on March 12, 2020, with the recommended advancement of Alternative 22, which calls for an untolled extension of Los Patrones Parkway by the County of Orange. With that action on March 12, the F/ETCA officially concluded the study to look at extending the 241 Toll Road south. 

In April, after the court rejected the San Clemente and Reserve Maintenance Corporation’s motions for judgment and summary adjudication, the formal conclusion of the study and community support for Alternative 22, the F/ETCA proposed an equitable settlement to bring the lawsuit to a close.

At their June meeting, the Boards of Directors for the San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency (SJHTCA) and F/ETCA approved a drastically reduced budget in a fiscally conservative move that protects the Agencies’ financial strength as the Agencies and the global community deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

On the same day the Boards approved the budget, San Clemente and the Reserve Maintenance Corporation signaled that they would not settle their lawsuits and would instead continue to pursue legal action at the expense of City and State taxpayers. 

“Public agencies should not be suing one another, especially prior to any formal environmental process which has not been completed. We are wasting taxpayer resources which is never prudent policy,” said F/ETCA Chairwoman and Irvine Mayor Christina Shea.

“While I would hope San Clemente remembers its strong support for Alternative 22 and reconsiders dropping the lawsuit, I think we have to give our attorneys the resources needed to defend the Agency. I remain hopeful that we can put all this in the past and start moving forward together. These dollars could be put to better use supporting projects or paying debt,” said SJHTCA Chairwoman and Mission Viejo Mayor Pro Tem Trish Kelley.

The lawsuits are now expected to continue into 2021.

The Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) are two joint powers authorities formed by the California legislature in 1986 to plan, finance, construct and operate Orange County’s public toll road system comprised of the 73, 133, 241 and 261 Toll Roads.