Zoe Kersteen-Tucker
Moss Beach, CA 94038

6 February, 1996 Dear Editor:

It is always interesting to examine different points of view on debated issues and on rights that are taken for granted. An example is Mr. and Mrs. Sabie's letter (Peninsula Voice, February 2, 1996) decrying the effort of Devil's Slide tunnel supporters to advance a county-wide ballot initiative.

Initiatives are such an integral part of the democratic process that, editorializing on the "Devil's Slide Challenge" not long ago, the Chronicle concluded: "...the ballot box is probably the best way to finally determine whether a bypass or a tunnel is the most acceptable alternative". The Sabies argue that "initiatives represent 'popular' opinions" and are in conflict with "a 'proper' decision" which comes from "an elected representative government with an established system of protections". But as shown by the testimony of Caltrans' workers involved in the Bypass project, that is not what transpires.

David Mayfield and Tillie Blackwell, both former workers at the Environmental Analysis Branch of Caltrans' District 4, testified under oath that their reports on the impact of the bypass were purposely altered in ways that lessened the negative impacts of the bypass. This same "established system of protections" which The Sabies appear to trust, nevertheless allowed Caltrans to manipulate information in an effort to obtain approval of a deficient project--the Devil's Slide bypass.

The Sabies go on to say that "We never elected the tunnel proponents," apparently unaware that last November their neighbors elected tunnel supporters for ALL the vacant seats in the Midcoast Community and Half Moon Bay City Councils.

The Sabies accuse tunnel supporters of "manipulating public opinion with distorted information." That "distorted information" is Caltrans' own studies affirming the feasibility and appropriateness of a tunnel. Those were the conclusions of the chief of the Division of Structures of Caltrans, James E. Roberts, who concluded that "if the purpose of this project is to bypass the Slide and not to increase the current highway capacity, then Alternative No. 1 [ 2-lane, 46-foot-wide, 4450-foot-long tunnel] should be selected." [Memorandum to R.P. Weaver, Deputy Director of Transportation Engineering of Caltrans, dated July 6, 1993.]

The Sabies say that tunnel supporters are not accountable because until a year ago many of them supported the Marine Disposal Alternative (MDA) as the best solution. They don't take into account that Caltrans refused to disclose information on tunnel studies until April 7, 1995, and that the creation of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in 1994, extending from Big Sur to San Mateo County, killed the MDA by forbidding the dumping of materials or the construction of structures in the ocean.

The Sabies complain that only the "able-bodied have access" to McNee Ranch State Park. They ignore that Park volunteers organized the first wheelchair crossing of Montara Mountain last year, and are committed to making the old County Road accessible to people with disabilities. Construction of the bypass which would cut the old road in several places, would render this project impossible.

The Sabies contend that "the bypass would give everyone equal access [to McNee Ranch State Park]." The equal access they refer to is a parking lot at the proposed vista point. The remaining "access" will be through the windows of speeding cars. And again, they forget that to accommodate the bypass, the Department of Parks and Recreation had to abandon plans for two campgrounds. Campers, therefore, will not get the "equal access" promised when the land was purchased to create a park if the bypass is constructed.

Finally, The Sabies address safety. They brush off the danger of fog on the proposed bypass and assert that the current road is "unsafe and inadequate". To prove their point The Sabies invite the public to "drive behind a recreation vehicle, a nursery, fishery or redwood tree truck that is either moving slowly or broken down in the lane in front of you". Certainly this can be inconvenient, but not much different than having the same experience elsewhere on a scenic two-lane road. Sadly for the Sabies, we must occasionally sacrifice convenience for the sake of preserving a national resource -- our coast.

The public has indeed been misinformed¬misinformed and manipulated by the very "system of protections" in place, and by those, like the Sabies, that fear "popular opinions." The Devil's Slide Tunnel Initiative is helping to inform ¬not deceive¬ the people of San Mateo County. It empowers voters with their constitutional right to make decisions about the future of their beautiful coast. And it will set an example of how the efforts of the citizenry can correct the wrongdoing of inefficient and careless bureaucracies.

Zoe Kersteen-Tucker
Moss Beach

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