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Metro Rail 'On Track,' Bradley Says; Plans for New Zoning Laws Told

June 08, 1985|VICTOR MERINA | Times Staff Writer

Although the fate of Los Angeles' $3.4-billion Metro Rail remains uncertain, Mayor Tom Bradley on Friday released a proposed land-use plan aimed at controlling development along the subway route. And he insisted that the mass transit system is still "on track."

The Transit Corridor Specific Plan and a draft environmental impact report suggest imposing new zoning ordinances for neighborhoods around proposed subway stations as a way to restrict commercial development along the 18.6-mile route.

"These are reports which I think will give the public in Los Angeles an opportunity to see how we plan to preserve the neighborhoods around the proposed stops for Metro Rail," Bradley said during a City Hall news conference.

But even as Bradley outlined the proposals, he sparred with reporters who questioned him about whether the downtown Los Angeles-to-San Fernando Valley subway will ever be built.

Funds Not Released

The Reagan Administration has tried to eliminate funding for the project and has refused to release $129 million that Congress has already authorized to begin construction of the subway's first four miles.

The Administration last Monday attempted to shift that $129 million--along with funds for new rail projects in other cities--into existing transit projects elsewhere in the country. But its request was quickly rejected by the House appropriations subcommittee on transportation.

Bradley applauded the subcommittee's action and told reporters Friday that it was part of the reason he was optimistic that Metro Rail would be built.

When a reporter suggested that the mayor was "grasping at straws," a testy Bradley shot back: "Aren't you grasping at straws to suggest that there is something negative in the actions of the Congress? . . . We are fully confident that we are going to get that approval."

Action Not Binding

But Ralph L. Stanley, head of the Urban Mass Transportation Administration, said Friday in a telephone interview from Washington that his agency is not legally bound to abide by the congressional action and could still withhold the funds for Metro Rail.

"I'm in a Catch-22 situation," Stanley told The Times. "Even if we agree they can have the $129 million, they're still short of funds to build an operable segment (the first four miles). . . . There is just not enough money."

Nikolas Patsaouras, president of the Southern California Rapid Transit District, claimed that the Reagan Administration is trying to scuttle the project. "We are proceeding like a clock," he said. "The project is going ahead."

The 400-page environmental impact report for the Metro Rail corridor and the specific plan had been eagerly awaited by residents and businesses along the route. Work began on them in 1981.

Standards Recommended

Calvin Hamilton, the city's planning director, said the reports suggest measures to deal with such problems as traffic congestion and building density. They also recommend standards for reducing commercial developments both within the Metro Rail corridor and in nearby neighborhoods.

Some neighborhood organizations, such as the Beverly-Wilshire Homes Assn., near a proposed subway stop in the Beverly-Fairfax area, had voiced concerns that the presence of Metro Rail could lead to displaced tenants, exorbitant real estate values, crime and traffic congestion.

The reports now go to the city Planning Commission, which plans to hold public hearings in August before sending its recommendations to the City Council in December.

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