TOLL ROAD TRIALS: Public Forum Demystifies Toll Road Hearing Cancellation

With the much-anticipated public hearing for the Toll Road being cancelled last week, Surfrider Foundation and the Sierra Club held a meeting last night at the San Clemente Community Center. The meeting attracted many of its supporters and community activists who asked questions concerning the cancellation of the public hearing and what it means for the progress of their efforts.

Check out archival shots of Lowers, widely regarded as Southern California’s best wave.

The venue was filled with “Save Trestles” signs, volunteer sign-up sheets, and a brand new Factory surfboard overflowing with community signatures. The whole vibe was optimistic and hopeful.

In February, after the California Coastal Commission rejected the proposed 241-toll road as being environmentally unacceptable, the Transportation Corridor Association (TCA) appealed the decision. The public hearing in front of the Secretary of Commerce was supposed to be held tonight at the Bren Center at UC Irvine University but was cancelled due to the amount of public interest. Over ten thousand people were expected to show up, which is almost twice as much as the venue can hold.

Jericho Poppler, a legendary women's surf champ, exclaimed, “I think we should still go to the Bren Center anyway! It's all positive.” She went on to discuss the character and strength of the community. When discussing the hearing’s cancellation, she said, “It just shows how much these people care about Trestles and everything it stands for.”

The big discussion last night at the Community Center focused on the rescheduling of the hearing. Many wonder if the meeting will be closed to the public considering the mammoth amount of attention it has received. The Secretary of Commerce is not obligated to grant a public hearing to allow both sides to voice their opinion; however, Surfrider and its members are optimistic and believe they will reschedule soon once they find an appropriate venue that can accommodate their large crowd.

Although there is no confirmed venue yet, the Del Mar Fairgrounds in San Diego is the main buzz for the new venue. The Fairgrounds' Exhibit Hall is available September 8-9th and can handle the amount people as well as provide the level of security required for a public hearing.

The speaker of the night, Mark Massara, a surfer and attorney, stressed the importance to all supporters to continue sending letters and emails to the Department of Commerce. This will aid in keeping their voice heard!