Los Angeles County transportation planners Wednesday moved closer to substituting a trolley line for Metro Rail between central North Hollywood and Universal City, setting up a confrontation with state Sen. Alan Robbins (D-Van Nuys).
The staff of the county Transportation Commission recommended expanding the environmental impact report on a proposed Warner Center-to-North Hollywood trolley to include an extension down Vineland Avenue to Universal City. The staff, however, left unclear how or when it proposes to deal with a state law requiring the start of subway construction in the San Fernando Valley next year.
Robbins, who authored the law, has said he is unalterably opposed to any effort to amend or repeal it, and he has expressed confidence in his ability to block any such move. He also has vowed to force the Southern California Rapid Transit District, which is building the subway, to obey the law.
Rick Richmond, the commission's executive director, said in an interview Wednesday that he is not at this time advocating substitution of the trolley for Metro Rail. But he issued a strong statement in support of the project, short of making a formal recommendation.
Tells of Available Funds
Based on the funds now available for transit projects countywide through the year 2000, the commission could finance the trolley or Metro Rail in the Valley, but not both, he said in a report to the commission.
He also cited the potential costs to the commission of proceeding with Metro Rail construction in the Valley without a commitment by the federal government to provide half the funds for the project.
The commission will decide whether to build the trolley in place of Metro Rail after completion of the environmental impact report, Richmond said. The report is not expected to be ready for several months, he said.
In a related development Wednesday, the commission staff formally endorsed Chandler Boulevard as the North Hollywood route for the proposed trolley.
In a report to the commission, the staff acknowledged that its recommendation is likely to draw strong opposition from Chandler Boulevard homeowners concerned about noise. But the staff favored Chandler because it has railroad tracks, while the alternatives, Burbank and Victory boulevards, do not.
The staff recommended that the environmental impact report for the trolley, besides covering an extension on its eastern end down Vineland Avenue to Universal City, examine an elevated extension at its western terminus down Owensmouth Avenue west to Oxnard Street.
To Come Before Committee
The staff recommendations will come before the commission's rapid transit committee Nov. 21 and before the full commission Nov. 26.
Also Wednesday, City Councilman Marvin Braude called a public meeting for Tuesday to discuss the trolley line in the Valley.
Quarterly Meetings Proposed
The meeting will be at 7 p.m. in the Van Nuys Junior High School auditorium, 5435 Vesper Ave. It is the first of what Braude has proposed become quarterly meetings held by Valley council members to discuss Valley issues.
Money is now available for one rail line, and the Valley project is competing with two other routes for funds from a half-cent sales tax increase approved by Los Angeles County voters in 1980 to finance transit projects. The rivals are a proposed South Bay line and a route from downtown Los Angeles to Pasadena.