Thousands of State Park Supporters Turn Out At Commerce Hearing

Photo by Damon Nagami

Californians made their voices heard loud and clear in support of the state park at San Onofre at a public hearing before the U.S. Department of Commerce in Del Mar, California.

The Los Angeles Times reported that over 6,000 people attended Monday's hearing, at which Commerce heard testimony about the massive and destructive toll road that is set to run through the popular state park. Supporters of the park vastly outnumbered those supporting the toll road, simply confirming the results of a recent poll finding that Orange County residents overwhelmingly oppose the road and support the California Coastal Commission's February decision to protect the park.

The day started with a rousing rally headlined by several elected officials who support San Onofre, including Santa Monica City Councilmember and former State Park and Recreation Commissioner Bobby Shriver, State Senator Christine Kehoe, and State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, just to name a few.

Photo by Damon Nagami

Then the hearing began.  The convention hall was soon packed with hordes of concerned citizens - including environmentalists, surfers, beachgoers, and parks enthusiasts - most in favor of saving San Onofre.

Advocates for the road comprised a much smaller group, but they cheered and booed enthusiastically and stood out in the crowd in their bright orange T-shirts. At the afternoon break, parks supporters gladly left the sweltering convention hall and rallied outside in the cool coastal breeze.

Soon it was back to the hearing. Despite the burdensome restrictions imposed by Commerce, which I wrote about on Monday, the eventual turnout was huge - a testament to how much Californians care about this special park.

After a long day, organizers held a brief post-hearing rally to thank everyone for taking a day off of work to show their support for our state parks.

Photo by Damon Nagami

Commerce will make its decision in the next few months. For us, the decision is clear. The law is on our side. The facts are on our side.  And this unprecedented outpouring of passionate support by thousands of concerned Californians simply confirms the obvious. Commerce has no choice but to uphold the California Coastal Commission's decision to block construction of this toll road and save San Onofre.