Toll road: Hundreds want to speak; less than fourth may have chance

Hundreds of people want to give public testimony at today’s federal hearing in Del Mar on the controversial Foothill Toll Road extension from eastern Orange County to San Onofre.

But less than a fourth of the more than 650 people who submitted written requests to speak at O’Brien Hall at the Del Mar Fairgrounds starting at 10:30 a.m. are likely to be called up, according to a chronological list of scheduled speakers released by the agency that convened the hearing.

The estimate of 154 people who are scheduled to speak is qualified by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

“This line denotes how far NOAA staff estimates we will get in the time allotted,’' according to a statement. “However, NOAA will strive to accommodate the maximum number of speakers possible given time constraints.’'

Given the high level of public interest in the hearing, procedures have been slightly modified, according to NOAA.

Elected officials received first priority, followed by tribes and organizations, and then individuals, according to NOAA. The order of speakers within those three groups was randomly selected, according to NOAA.

Elected officials and individuals representing tribes and organizations will each receive up to four minutes to testify, and individuals will be limited to three minutes apiece, according to NOAA.

According to NOAA’s list, the first 134 people who will get to speak represent local governments, public agencies, tribes and organizations.

Hence, according to NOAA’s estimates, 20 individuals representing themselves will get a chance to speak.

The remaining 403 people on NOAA’s list may not get to submit oral testimony, according to NOAA’s estimates.

NOAA’s preparations may stem from the raucous California Coastal Commission meeting last February at the same location - a mural-painted, hangar-sized auditorium with tiered bleachers in the Del Mar fairgrounds.

Some participants described it as a circus, with unruly demonstrations, catcalls, sign-blocking competition, and shouting matches breaking out among the 3,500 participants inside a vast, high-ceilinged hall.


list of NOAA’s speakers