Help the Forest: Email Comments to Supervisors and Attend the Meeting Wednesday!

Forest friends:

It’s rare that we reach out to you two weeks in a row, but we need your help to protect the Cleveland National Forest!

The County Board of Supervisors will meet THIS Wednesday, June 25, to set guidelines which will determine the fate of the forest.

Last week, we contacted you with information about the Forest Conservation Initiative (FC), which was overwhelmingly approved by voters in 1992 to establish 20 uninterrupted years of forest protection. It was widely supported by the public, local governments, and high profile individuals, and has fulfilled its purpose of protecting the health and stability of the forest.

However, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors will meet THIS Wednesday, June 25, 9:00 a.m., at the County Administration Center, 1600 Pacific Highway, Room 310, San Diego, CA to consider plans to replace these longstanding protections, and we need your help.

The FCI is the first item for discussion. Click HERE for a PDF of the agenda and HERE for the Staff Report.

The Cleveland National Forest Foundation has strongly urged the San Diego County Planning Commission, and now the Board of Supervisors, to consider the environmental and legal concerns of removing FCI protections. There is an excellent piece posted at Voice of San Diego today by renowned climate change expert Dr. Michael Soulé, also urging the County to re-adopt the FCI. Please share this piece and the opportunity to help with your friends!

If you would like to help, please plan to come speak at Wednesday’s meeting!

Letters of support for the Forest Conservation Initiative can also be sent via email to the Supervisors and Board Clerk.

Feel free to use this draft language, and adapt it to discuss why preserving the Cleveland National Forest is important to you:

Dear Supervisors:

San Diego proudly protected its forest by a resounding vote of the people when it passed the Forest Conservation Initiative in 1992. Land within the Cleveland National Forest should remain protected.

Since the FCI was adopted, the San Diego region has experienced the impacts of devastating wildfires, and we are only now beginning to understand the impacts of climate change to our local water supply and fire conditions.

If the forest is not protected by a re-adoption of the protections as they were implemented by the Forest Conservation Initiative, San Diego’s growing population WILL sprawl into newly developed lands within the forest boundary. The increased fire danger, diminishing water supply, and impacts to habitat will endanger human life and wildlife. This is unacceptable.

I urge you to direct staff to include all the protections initially embodied in the Forest Conservation Initiative as the EIR preferred alternative.


Emails can be directed to the following addresses:;;;;;

Please send your emails as soon as possible for consideration by the Board, and feel free to copy me on your comments at for CNFF’s records.

Feel free to email this to friends. You can also share this link via email, Twitter, or Facebook.

For the future,
Duncan McFetridge
Cleveland National Forest Foundation
Po Box 779
Descanso, California 91916

CNFF logo


The Cleveland National Forest needs your help!

Dear CNFF friends:

Many of you have been faithful supporters of the Cleveland National Forest Foundation since the early 1990’s, when San Diego County residents overwhelmingly voted to protect the Cleveland National Forest by establishing the Forest Conservation Initiative (FCI) in 1993.

The 20 year FCI preservation plan sunset in December 2013. The county, misinterpreting the sunset clause, has been working to determine the appropriate zoning within the Cleveland National Forest since that time. We at CNFF strongly urge the County Supervisors to continue to uphold the will of the voters by readopting the FCI and  protect property within the boundary of the CNF from subdivisions . Any new development should occur WITHIN, and NOT outside country town boundaries where forest values begin.

The rivers, reservoirs and streams fed by our Forest are vital to our region and immensely important in age of climate change and drought.  Unnecessary development within these fragile wild lands would endanger water quality, compromise habitat, and increase regional fire vulnerability.

UT San Diego published an Op Ed by La Mesa Councilman Art Madrid and CNFF Director Duncan McFetridge last year discussing the history and necessity of continued Forest Conservation Initiative protections last May, entitled: “Cleveland National forest needs protection.”

The County Board of Supervisors will discuss options for preserving or developing sensitive forest lands on Wednesday, June 25. The agenda and times will likely be posted by this Friday, June 20.

We at the Cleveland National Forest Foundation need your help to keep the forest wild and free!

Ways you can help:

  • Attend the Wednesday, June 25 meeting and give public comment in support of extending the protections in the Forest Conservation Initiative
  • Email the County Board of Supervisors and County Clerk
  • As always, make a tax-deductible donation to continue the work of CNFF.

We hope to see you on June 25, and please feel free to email us with any questions.

Cleveland National Forest Foundation
Po Box 779
Descanso, California 91916



December 5, 2013

Severn Williams, 510-336-9566


Cleveland National Forest Foundation Challenges Massive Freeway Widening Project That Would Cause Severe Climate Change Impacts

San Diego – The Cleveland National Forest Foundation (CNFF) filed a lawsuit against the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) yesterday in San Diego Superior Court. The case aims to prevent the expansion of the I-5 freeway along coastal San DiegoCounty. The lawsuit alleges that CalTrans did not comply with state environmental law when it approved the Interstate 5 North Coast Corridor Project and asks the court to delay any construction activities until it has an opportunity to evaluate CNFF’s concerns about the project.

“CalTrans is stuck in a 1950s mentality, where building more and bigger freeways is seen as the solution to congestion,” said Jack Shu, president of CNFF. “Studies and our own experience in Southern California have proven that widening freeways only accomplishes one thing: enticing more single-occupancy vehicles onto the road. If CalTrans really wants to reduce congestion through High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes, all it needs is some signs and paint. The infrastructure costs and long-term public health and public safety impacts associated with this project far outweigh the short-term benefits it might provide.”

The I-5 North Coast Corridor Project would add four “managed lanes” to a 27-mile stretch of Interstate 5 north of San Diego up through Del Mar, SolanaBeach, Encinitas, Carlsbad, and Oceanside. While these lanes would be accessible to carpools and busses, they would also be used by single-occupant vehicles for a fee.

CalTrans projects that, with the expansion, the number of vehicles on the freeway will rise by approximately 50% from current levels, resulting in 140,000 more vehicles per day on some sections of the freeway. Along with increased traffic, the freeway expansion will increase air pollution in the region, which already gets a failing grade from the American Lung Association. The massive expansion will also trigger a surge in greenhouse gas emissions, in direct conflict with state laws calling for aggressive emissions reductions, and stimulate sprawl development, threatening the region’s open space and wilderness areas.

The lawsuit alleges that CalTrans, as lead agency, did not adequately analyze and mitigate for these impacts in the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) approved for the project. More than 5,000 comment letters by groups ranging from community and environmental groups to the California Coastal Commission and the U.S. Department of the Interior raised concerns about the project, yet the FEIR did little to address these issues.  Equally troubling, CalTrans did not release the FEIR to the public until after it had approved the project. “Given the level of controversy around this project, CNFF has serious concerns with CalTrans’ failure to allow public participation with respect to this vital document,” Shu stated.

“We are asking the court to stop CalTrans from rushing ahead with this damaging project, whose financial and environmental costs far outweigh any projected benefits,” commented Rachel Hooper, attorney with Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger, LLP, who represents CNFF in the case. “CalTrans based its decision to allow the freeway expansion on a flawed environmental document, one that improperly downplayed the project’s actual impacts.  If the true extent of environmental harm had been disclosed, there might well have been an entirely different outcome.”

Community opposition to the freeway widening has been strong since the project was first proposed in 2004. In addition to the air quality and climate change-inducing impacts emphasized in this lawsuit, concerns over loss of scenic vistas (the project includes plans to erect sound walls along the expanded corridor that would block ocean views), economic impacts due to increased traffic and lost regional tourism-related revenue, and investment in car-oriented transportation at the expense of public transit have been cited by project detractors as significant impacts that must be mitigated.

“The bottom line is that the cost of expanding the I-5 is much greater than the wasted public dollars that would be invested in the construction project itself,” added Shu. “The degraded air quality from the project’s increased traffic will generate enormous health care costs as a result of increased cancer and asthma rates. The project will continue to lock us into an auto dependent economy with substantial amounts of capital leaving our region.  Families will have to devote more of their budgets than necessary on transportation costs. It’s a bad deal for San Diegans, and it sets us on the wrong course for generations to come.”

To arrange interviews with Mr. Shu or Ms. Hooper, contact Severn Williams at 510-336-9566 or

The complaint is available here.

The Cleveland National Forest Foundation is a nonprofit group dedicated to preserving the plants, animals and other natural resources of Southern California mountains by protecting the land and water they need to survive. For more information, see: and

Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP is a law firm specializing in land use, natural resource, environmental, and governmental law. Since 1980, the firm has provided public agencies and community groups with the highest quality legal representation, offering an array of litigation, counseling and planning services. For more information, see:



March 13, 2013

Contact: Sara Kent,, 760-942-8505 x111

Participants will walk, bike and then rally for better roadway designs

***UPDATE***  Mayor Bob Filner will only be available for interviews at the Vibrant San Diego event between 10 and 10:30 am in the parking lot at University Avenue and 32nd Street, where the one-mile community walk will begin. All other speakers will be available in the parking lot at University Avenue and Mississippi Street where the rally will be held shortly after 11 am.

WHAT: Vibrant San Diego is a community walk and rally on March 16 to support designing roadways and rail systems for everyone.

WHO: Mayor Bob Filner, transportation and environmental justice advocates, climate activists and health organizations and the general public will participate.

WHEN: The one-mile walk starts at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 16
The rally is expected to begin around 11:15 a.m.

WHERE: Walk begins at University Avenue and 32nd Street.
The rally will be at University Avenue and Mississippi Street in the Albertsons parking lot.

WHY: Participants recognize that a “complete streets” approach to planning San Diego’s infrastructure will boost the local economy, provide mobility options for all residents and ensure safe and reliable access for walkers, bicyclists, wheelchair users and public transportation users.

The event will send a united message to our regional transportation agency, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), to design our roadways and rail systems to improve access for all users.

The Cleveland National Forest Foundation (CNFF) has engaged with SANDAG staff and representatives for more than a decade advocating for a prioritization of a regional transit system as vital to environmental sustainability, social equity, and economic progress.

“Even if you do not use bicycle or rail, the community benefits to having integrated infrastructure are broad,” explains Jack Shu, President of the Cleveland National Forest Foundation. “Walkable, vibrant city-centers help businesses thrive, and help families safely and conveniently move between schools, workplaces, and shopping resources. Transit is a major component to protecting our natural resources as our population increases.”

CNFF and other groups are asking for public support of the 50-10 Plan, to prioritize build-out of fifty years’ worth of SANDAG’s light rail and active transportation in the first ten years of implementation. For more information on this plan, please visit

Mike Bullock, Transportation Committee Chair of the San Diego Chapter of the Sierra Club, supports CNFF’s vision. “The Chapter recognizes that the 50-10 Plan’s transit-first approach is the key ingredient of climate stabilization support. We salute the CNFF’s leadership.”

Georgette Gomez of Environmental Health Coalition agrees. “Families with fewer economic means, including aging members of our society and children, often suffer the greatest health impacts from the emissions near roads-dense areas of San Diego. Offloading our roads and providing clean means of moving people and our economy is optimal.”

In addition, this is an opportunity for city planners to reduce our carbon footprint. Active in, Angela Deegan advocates for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. “More active transportation and public transit means fewer GHG emissions and less vulnerability to wildfires and coastal flooding for your average San Diegan.”

Also represented at the community walk is Bike San Diego. It is actively engaged with local San Diego governments to implement better bicycle infrastructure, and Sam Ollinger, executive director and board president, said San Diego needs to design better roadways with bicyclists in mind. “Our environment is largely human-engineered. It has been designed around the automobile to the exclusion of other transportation mode choices. San Diegans – and future generations of San Diegans – deserve better.”

Vibrant San Diego is also endorsed by Sierra Club Conservation Committee, ATU Local 1309 (Bus Drivers Union), and Citizens Coordinate for Century 3.


CLEVELAND NATIONAL FOREST FOUNDATION: Founded in 1994, CNFF has engaged in preserving continuity within the Cleveland National Forest, and has been involved in San Diego County transportation and land use planning. CNFF activists believe that to protect precious natural resources in the Cleveland National Forest and similar pristine areas, the creation of livable, thriving urban areas is necessary.;

ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH COALITION: Founded in 1980, Environmental Health Coalition (EHC) builds grassroots campaigns to confront the unjust consequences of toxic pollution, discriminatory land use, and unsustainable energy policies. Visit us online at

SANDIEGO350.ORG: An all-volunteer San Diego County organization, is concerned about climate change and its very real effects on our livelihoods, well-being, and the future for our children. Volunteers work to increase awareness of climate change and advocate for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

BIKE SAN DIEGO: Bike San Diego seeks to establish San Diego as a world-class bicycling city by promoting everyday riding. Advocates promote world-class bicycling infrastructure that contributes toward an aesthetic, livable urban environment.

SAN DIEGO CHAPTER OF THE SIERRA CLUB: The Sierra Club is the nation’s oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization founded by John Muir in 1892. The San Diego Chapter of the Sierra Club was founded in 1948, covering San Diego and Imperial counties, and strives to preserve the special nature of San Diego through education, activism, and advocacy.

Holiday Greetings from Cleveland National Forest Foundation!


Season’s Greetings, CNFF supporter!

Cleveland National Forest Foundation has been in the trenches protecting the back country against sprawl development, advocating for responsible land use planning and transit development since 1994. Our small but effective organization has had an eventful year, and we have donors, volunteers and friends like you to thank for our successes!

Regarding our landmark lawsuit against SANDAG, on December 3rd, San Diego Superior Court Judge Taylor ruled in favor of CNFF, fellow plaintiffs and Attorney General Kamala Harris. This ruling states that SANDAG did not follow the law when it approved its $257 billion dollar regional transportation plan last year. SANDAG will most likely appeal Judge Taylor’s decision and we will continue our legal battle while the entire State waits for the ultimate outcome of this case.

Our efforts will ideally result in greater investment in transit infrastructure, better air quality, more livable neighborhoods and stronger economies in our cities. We want to make improvements rather than add to the negative impacts “traditional” planning has on our urban communities.  With your help we have the opportunity to make San Diego a national example in moving away from an auto-centric culture.

We are extremely optimistic that San Diego’s new Mayor, Bob Filner, will take the lead in promoting transit investments. However, chances are he will meet strong opposition from those who have controlled SANDAG for so long. Our advocacy work must expand if we are to make a significant shift towards implementing transit. CNFF has the history and credibility to influence responsible people, organizations and leaders. With your financial support, we will continue to serve as a strong and tireless advocate for sustainable transit and the protection of our forest.

Tax-deductible donations can be submitted via our PayPal account, and via the “Donate” button at or You can also mail it to CNFF, P.O. Box 779, Descanso, CA 91719.

Thank you for your support, and may you have a very joyful holiday season!


Jack Shu
Cleveland National Forest Foundation

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RELEASE: Judge Rules SANDAG’s Transportation Plan Violated California Law

For Immediate Release   
December 4, 2012


Severn Williams, (510) 336-9566

Kathryn Phillips, (916) 893-8494
Sierra Club California

Kevin Bundy, (415) 436-9682 x 313
Center for Biological Diversity

Jack Shu, (619) 708-2050
Cleveland National Forest Foundation

Cory J. Briggs, (619) 221-9280
CREED-21, Affordable Housing Coalition of San Diego County

Rachel Hooper, (415) 552-7272
Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP

Judge Rules SANDAG’s Transportation Plan Violated California Law

Ruling Emphasizes SANDAG’s Failure to Adequately Address Climate Pollution in 2050 Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy

SAN DIEGO – Superior Court Judge Timothy Taylor ruled yesterday that the San Diego Association of Governments violated state law by failing to fully account for, and take steps to reduce, climate pollution in its environmental review of the region’s long-term transportation plan.

SANDAG’s 2050 Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy will increase climate-disrupting greenhouse gas emissions from development and transportation through mid-century, at precisely the time the best science — reflected in a landmark executive order signed by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger — shows dramatic reductions are necessary to avoid dangerous climate disruption. The Associated Press reported yesterday that greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise rapidly around the world and that such increases will likely lead to an even greater increase of global temperatures than previously predicted.

“The court is setting an important example here for regional planning agencies throughout California,” said Kathryn Phillips, director of Sierra Club California. “We cannot wait another 40 years to adopt sensible transportation and land-use policies. Thanks to California laws requiring public agencies to be open about their plans, we were able to hold SANDAG accountable for its faulty planning practices.”

“Climate change is here, it’s dangerous, and we can’t keep ignoring the warning signs,” said Kevin Bundy, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “We also need our elected leaders to be honest with us about choices that affect our future. This ruling means that SANDAG can no longer just hide the ball and pass the buck when it comes to climate pollution.”

Judge Taylor ruled that SANDAG broke the law by ignoring Gov. Schwarzenegger’s executive order and failing to use its considerable authority to reduce the region’s contribution to dangerous climate disruption through the transportation plan. He noted that much of San Diego County is in a low-lying area that is likely to be affected by sea-level rise. He also said SANDAG’s approach of “kick[ing] the can down the road” and leaving compliance with state law to local jurisdictions charged with approving specific projects is not permissible.

“Today’s ruling will create a brighter future for San Diego,” said Jack Shu, president of the Cleveland National Forest Foundation.


The ruling comes in response to a lawsuit brought by Cleveland National Forest Foundation, the Center for Biological Diversity and Sierra Club under the California Environmental Quality Act. California Attorney General Kamala Harris intervened in support of the lawsuit on behalf of the people of the state of California. A companion case challenging the transportation plan was filed by CREED-21 and Affordable Housing Coalition of San Diego County. The lawsuit centered on a number of serious concerns about the SANDAG Plan, which invests heavily in freeways at the expense of public transit. Rather than promoting “smart” growth, the plan will lead to sprawl development, increasing climate disrupting pollution and other significant air pollution throughout the region.

SANDAG approved its $200 billion plan in October 2011. The Regional Transportation Plan was a planning update that is required every four years. The Sustainable Communities Strategy, on the other hand, was the first SCS in the state to be adopted since the passage of S.B. 375, a new state law intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions — and combat climate disruption — through smarter land-use and transportation planning. As Judge Taylor’s ruling indicates, SANDAG’s failure to address the severe impacts of its long-term transportation plan on global climate change subverted the overarching purpose of S.B. 375.

The adopted transportation plan front-loads the expansion and extension of freeways, thus inducing sprawl and reinforcing the region’s dependence on expensive, car-oriented transportation. Petitioners demonstrated that the SANDAG Plan’s heavy reliance on automobile transportation will lead to a regional per capita increase in greenhouse gas emissions that directly conflicts with state guidelines.

SANDAG must now conduct new environmental review for its 2050 plan to ensure it adequately addresses the risk of climate change. It is likely that the more rigorous environmental review will lead to a revised plan that does a better job of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as required by state law.

About the Petitioners

The Cleveland National Forest Foundation is made up of private citizens who believe that action must be taken to protect the remaining undeveloped lands in the forest and that sound regional planning to build sustainable, quality urban communities is fundamental to saving the integrity of our wilderness areas.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 450,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Sierra Club California represents the Club’s 13 local chapters and 160,000 statewide members and advocates to protect California’s natural resources and to improve the health and safety of Californians.

CREED-21 works to ensure open, accountable, responsive government in order to protect the San Diego region’s environment.

Affordable Housing Coalition of San Diego County advocates on behalf of the public to preserve the supply of affordable housing in San Diego County, ensure that residents have access to affordable public transportation and other services, and to ensure informed government decision-making on policies and activities that increase the demand for affordable housing in the region.

Shute, Mihaly and Weinberger LLP, whose attorneys are lead petitioners’ counsel in the case, specializes in government, land use, natural resource and environmental law. Since 1980, the firm has provided representation to public agencies and community groups throughout California.


The Problem with BRT

The Cleveland National Forest Foundation, which (together with the Center for Biological Diversity) sued SANDAG over its 2050 Regional Transportation Plan in November 2011 and has since been joined in the litigation by Sierra Club and the Attorney General Harris, agrees that Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in downtown San Diego is a poor use of resources.

CNFF previously submitted this comment letter to CCDC regarding the Downtown San Diego Mobility Strategy, discussing the then-effective 2007 version of SANDAG’s Regional Transportation Plan.

Specific to BRT in the downtown corridor, CNFF states:

“These types of BRT-related investments and improvements are completely inappropriate within downtown San Diego, especially when considering that there are almost no examples of cities where BRT was able to provide an intensive transit service in a large town. On the contrary, there are many examples of downtown transit systems that have attempted to use high-capacity BRT, and moved to rail (specifically light rail transit or LRT). One example is in Ottawa, Canada, which at one point was the poster child for busways, and is now switching to LRT. In Edinburgh, Scotland, the government is building their new LRT system on a failed and abandoned guided busway grade. Most staggering of all is the city of Portland, which created a long range plan in the 1970’s that called for a complete bus system. Portland now has one of the most famous and utilized LRT systems, within which buses play a supporting role to the rail lines.

The major significance of the Mobility Strategy is that it definitively states that business-as-usual (i.e. our current auto-based system) will not be able to provide adequate mobility needs for Downtown San Diego. The BRT system planned within the current RTP (the 2030 RTP) calls for extensive freeway expansion projects to create all purpose lanes, and also to add Managed Lanes for BRT. Adding capacity to freeways would constitute a complete business-as-usual scenario, and will only further support the auto-based transportation system that has been a proven failure for San Diego. In order to make a holistic change from sprawl to infill development, and to make urban areas like Downtown San Diego function, we must move away from highway infrastructure and immediately invest in rail transit. Furthermore, the BRT system called for within the 2030 RTP would cost the San Diego region billions of dollars. Given our region’s current economic shortfalls, we simply cannot afford to make infrastructure investment mistakes that will need to be corrected in the future.”

Read the letter for further discussion of transportation planning downtown San Diego.