On the 4th of July you went to a BBQ, maybe the beach, had a few domestic brews and blew some things up. American stuff, right? Sure. But, good 'ol fashioned US-of-A patriotism was built on democracy, not {{{M}}}-{{{80}}}'s. And considering it's rather autocratic for a public hearing to be cancelled due to too much interest from the public itself — which is just what the United States Department of Commerce did to the hearing scheduled for July 25th regarding the proposed 241 Toll Road extension — your patriotism requires further action.

The Bren Center at UC Irvine, where the hearing was going to be held, only holds 5,430 people and an estimated 10,000 people were expected to attend, most of which were thought to be opponents of the Toll Road. Considering this, it is understandable that the Bren Center should be ruled out, but the fact that no new date has been set for a meeting at a venue capable of containing so many people is quite troubling. Simply, it is all getting a little frustrating for community organizers and activists.

"The sheer fact that thousands of people are motivated again to come to a public hearing means that the Federal Government should be scrambling to reschedule it," said Stefanie Sekich, an activist for the Surfrider Foundation and head of the Save Trestles Campaign.

"This is not a decision that should be made behind closed doors," Sekich said, "even if the Toll Road developers prefer it that way … it's letting the public down and smiting democracy."

Hearings are held specifically so that decision makers can hear arguments from both sides — a very democratic thing to do — but Toll Road supporters are the only ones that benefit if the amount and enthusiasm of the opposition is kept out of sight.

Although it seems like a setback that the hearing was cancelled, really it can be looked at as a small victory, says Sekich. It shows just how many people care about Trestles and the surrounding area. In the meantime, you can continue to exercise your patriotism by writing a letter to the Secretary of Commerce to voice your concerns about the future of Trestles and the surrounding natural environment of the San Mateo Creek watershed. It's easy; go to www.SaveTrestles.org/blog for an email you can cut and paste, or just use it as a template.

Some of the more creative protesters at the last hearing in Del Mar.