The much-maligned Aliso Creek rest stop on Interstate 5 gained a reprieve Thursday after Assemblyman Robert C. Frazee (R-Carlsbad) agreed to put his bill to close the rest stop on hold in response to a recent crime crackdown by the California Highway Patrol.
The Assembly had voted overwhelmingly May 13 to approve Frazee's bill to close the rest stop, situated 5 miles north of Oceanside. Frazee said he wanted it closed because of complaints that it had become a magnet for crime and a gathering place for illegal aliens hoping to slip past the San Onofre border checkpoint a few miles north.
The bill was due to come up for review by the Senate Transportation Committee next week, but Frazee announced Thursday that he was not going to move the bill until at least January because of stepped-up enforcement by the CHP and the California Department of Transportation.
The CHP said it had ticketed or arrested nearly 450 violators in the 25 days since the crackdown began.
"Increased enforcement began on May 17, and CHP officers, working extended shifts, are devoting at least eight hours each day toward patrolling both the north- and southbound rest areas," said Capt. Ron Phulps, commander of the CHP's Oceanside office.
Enforcement has ranged from drunk-driving arrests to citations for open con tainers of alcohol, wrong-way driving and illegal parking, Phulps said. A suspected car thief was arrested, 14 vehicles were towed, and more than 120 verbal and written warnings were issued.
"I think we're making some progress in cleaning up Aliso Creek," Phulps said, "but our efforts will need to be long-term. Long enough for the message to spread that the rest area is just that and not a carnival atmosphere where anything goes."
Phulps said his officers are also taking action against vendors who do not have the proper permit credentials issued by Caltrans.
Caltrans is revising its vendor regulations and, until it is finished, officers won't
enforce vendor operation rules, he said. Melinda Morrin, a spokeswoman for Frazee, said the legislator "is very excited about the enforcement and the attention being paid to the rest stop because he was very concerned it was an unsafe place to be."
Frazee plans to keep the bill alive, Morrin said, but he is not going to move the bill to the Senate Transportation Committee, at least until January, to give the CHP and Caltrans a full eight months to implement their program.