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Differing Ideas for El Morro Beach Site

November 03, 2002

Re "El Morro Should Go Public," Oct. 20:

The Times characterizes the El Morro Village petition challenging the certification of the environmental impact report as self-serving and without merit. On the contrary, existing state law requires -- and the public deserves -- a comprehensive plan for Crystal Cove State Park. This is precisely what our petition seeks: a comprehensive plan. Thus far, the state Parks Department has irresponsibly moved forward with piecemeal environmental planning.

You will recall that not long ago, the department had a plan for the Crystal Cove cottages. The department wanted a high-end resort that the public soundly rejected. Now it is working on a new plan -- one that appropriately emphasizes preservation and public access.

El Morro's petition challenges this second attempt at planning Crystal Cove State Park. The area in question, where approximately 300 families reside, represents about 1% of the total park area. As stipulated in the California Environmental Quality Act, piecemeal planning is illegal.

El Morro Village can, and will, raise fire safety, public safety and affordable housing as issues to consider in the future; but for now, our focus is to force the state to comply with existing state law. Where is the comprehensive plan for Crystal Cove State Park? That is the question raised in El Morro Village's petition.

It is unfortunate The Times either failed to understand this fundamental issue or, worse, discounted its legal significance when it wrote its remarkably flawed and biased editorial.

Jeanette Miller

Chair, El Morro Village

Community Assn.


My family and I have been camping most of our lives, with the last 20 years enjoyed primarily up and down the Pacific Coast. We've observed fellow campers to be courteous, responsible and appreciative of the natural resources of parks and campgrounds.

Public campgrounds along the California Coast are few and far between. All have attributes; some have memorable drawbacks. A noisy railroad, for example, runs along bluff-top campsites near Carlsbad. Oil can spoil Santa Barbara camping. And the campgrounds in Rockport -- well, they're "at the end of nowhere!" As lovely as they all are, none compares to the beauty of El Morro at Crystal Cove State Park -- an area that has long been the "private playground" of trailer park renters. No wonder these residents have been reluctant to give up the location and have recently filed a lawsuit against the state to attempt to stay.

Majestic ocean views, gorgeous sunsets, marine wildlife viewing, coastal hiking and birding trails, and wonderful swimming beaches grace the El Morro Canyon area. Unfortunately, the general public and overnight campers have been largely excluded from enjoying these attributes. As a former 16-year Laguna Beach resident, I hope California will change that, and soon.

Sharen Heath

Whidbey Island, WA

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