A local chapter of the Surfrider Foundation is launching a campaign to stop a military housing development proposed near Trestles Beach, one of the nation's most famous surfing beaches.
The group is circulating petitions seeking signatures of residents opposed to the U.S. Marine Corps' plan to build 128 homes for Camp Pendleton officers and their families on a 32-acre bluff at San Mateo Point.
Opponents are asking Camp Pendleton officials to locate the housing development closer to the military base.
Development of the proposed site would contribute to the destruction of one of the last pristine headlands in Southern California, create traffic and sewage runoff problems, and burden lifeguard and sanitation facilities on the beach, opponents say.
"It's really a David versus Goliath situation," resident Randy Saint John said. "All we can do is try a grass-roots movement and hope that we have an impact."
But Marine Corps officials said that the coastal site, because of its flat terrain, is one of the few places on the base where housing can be built.
"Our primary reason for building there is that we're critically short of family housing, more so on the north side [of the base] than anywhere," said Larry Rannals, Camp Pendleton's community planning and liaison officer. The base, he said, is 1,000 housing units short of what it needs.
Camp Pendleton is compiling an environmental impact statement that it will submit to state and local agencies, including the California Coastal Commission and the San Clemente City Council, in early November. Because none of those agencies have jurisdiction over the military base, however, the report will go to them as "a courtesy," Rannals said.
"If they have some good recommendations about how to make this a better project, we'll certainly take them into account," he said.
Construction on the housing development is to begin by next spring, Rannals said.