March 11, 1999

Press release

re:  Save Crystal Cove protests soil testing for luxury resort development

Civic and non-profit groups in the region of Crystal Cove State Park lined PCH this morning to protest the violation of archaeological sites within the Park's Historic District by Ekotek, one of four "Preservation Partners", State Parks-designated concessionaires.  Roy Robertson (Ekotek) is apparently proceeding under a "proposed" contract predicated on the future amendment of an existing General Plan for Crystal Cove State Park.  The contract is inconsistent with the current Plan and therefore contrary to the consistency requirement of the Public Resources Code for concessions.

"We are outraged that a 'potential concessionaire' would presume approval of the General Plan Amendment prior to public hearings.  What makes the Crystal Cove Preservation Partners so sure that validation of this "sweetheart contract" is a foregone conclusion and sure enough that they can begin operations necessary for their 60 year "boutique resort"?  Public outrage at the secrecy of State Parks surrounding this proposed contract and the total lack of public input in what is clearly a major change in State Parks plans is mild in comparison with the incredulity in response to this callous disregard of a 4000 year old midden in a Historic District of a State Park.  The Parks Department, which is entrusted with the protection of such resources, does not appear to be minding the store.

Crystal Cove Historic District is within the first recognized archaeological site in Orange County, California, known as Cal-Ora #1.  The archaeological potential of each cottage location in the District was evaluated by Parks planners in producing the 1992 "Development and Public Use Plan".  A simple perusal of this Parks document allows anyone interested a map of of areas to avoid.  In addition, the widening of PCH by Irvine Co. contractors yielded evidence of the ancient archaeological site mentioned by Paul Chace in the recent L. A. Times article by Deborah Schoch.

There is no excuse for this resort partner to start soil testing without first having surveys and test pits by professionals to preserve these resources against destruction by 24 " borings and backhoe trenching.  Without time and funds for a Temporary Restraining Order we are protesting the actions in the only way available to us.  People need to know the public is in danger of losing this rare oceanfront Park, its Historic Disctrict, and its myriad resources.

What's next?  The dolphin birthing area offshore?  The pristine tidepools nearby?  The oft painted cottages transformed into boutique theme park phonies?

by Jeannette Merrilees

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