The best-laid plans of Joe Catron and Drivers for Highway Safety quickly went awry Tuesday morning--a day the group had planned to spend in loud and organized protest against the new car-pool lanes on the Costa Mesa Freeway.
First, the small Irvine park that was chosen as the site for their 11:30 a.m. rally proved too muddy. So the group moved on, eventually assembling in the back parking lot of the Registry Hotel.
But moments after Catron parked his big white Cadillac near the hotel's trash dumpsters, hotel manager John Mavros appeared.
Although Catron said he had OKd his rally with the hotel management, Mavros contended he had not heard about the gathering. He was concerned, he said, that his high-class hostelry was to be used as a forum for hundreds of angry commuters.
He had little cause to worry. Forty minutes after the rally was scheduled to begin, only 18 people had arrived: one county transportation worker, two protesters, two hotel employees, four protest organizers and nine news media representatives.
And finally, it was too cold to stay and complain about the problems of safety and congestion that Catron contends the car-pool lanes have wrought.
"I tell you, I'm not going to stay very long, even though my blood boils over this issue," said Pauline Doane, a shivering Costa Mesa resident who rankles as she drives the 55--alone. "I helped pay for that freeway. I'm retired, and I can't be in a car pool. And I dislike very much a few people making decisions for everyone and acting like we're arbitrarily not wanting to drive in car pools."