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Council Asks 2nd Look at Trolley Route on Chandler

November 20, 1986|RICHARD SIMON | Times Staff Writer

In the face of protest by residents, the Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday asked the county Transportation Commission to take a second look at alternatives to Chandler Boulevard as a trolley route through North Hollywood.

The council unanimously passed a resolution calling for further studies at the request of Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky, who met with residents in Van Nuys on Tuesday night. About 250 people, many of them homeowners near Chandler Boulevard in North Hollywood, spoke out against a proposal to build a trolley line through their neighborhood.

The commission staff proposed building a trolley line on existing railroad tracks along various thoroughfares from Warner Center in Woodland Hills to North Hollywood, and possibly onto Universal City, as a substitute for the San Fernando Valley stretch of Metro Rail.

The staff last week recommended Chandler as the route through North Hollywood east of Fulton Avenue. Chandler, unlike the alternatives in that area of North Hollywood--Burbank and Victory boulevards--already has railroad tracks, the staff said. The proposed route west of Fulton Avenue would be along existing railroad tracks near Victory Boulevard and has generated no controversy.

Up to Commission

The 11-member Transportation Commission will make the decision about the route. The City Council, along with Mayor Tom Bradley, appoints three members to the commission and can be influential. The rest are appointed by the county supervisors and representatives of the smaller cities in the county.

The commission's rapid transit committee will act Friday on the staff recommendation. The recommendation will come before the full commission Nov. 26.

Rick Richmond, the commission's executive director, said the staff has looked at "all of the alternatives" to using Chandler as the trolley route "and they all have substantial problems."

But Yaroslavsky said Wednesday that the commission has not fully considered the environmental impact of using Chandler. He said the staff analysis of the alternatives "dealt exclusively with cost, operational feasibility and engineering questions."

Using Chandler "presents considerable environmental difficulties. . . .," Yaroslavsky said.

'Alternates Proposed'

"Alternatives have been proposed which might not create the same problems but which have been rejected by the commission staff on non-environmental grounds," he added. With the council's recent redistricting, Yaroslavsky now represents a large portion of the communities through which Chandler runs.

During Tuesday's meeting, homeowners near Chandler complained about the possibility that trolleys would cause noise, traffic congestion, vibration, danger to their children and "visual blight" from overhead wires powering trolley cars. They recommended that the commission consider routing the trolley through an industrial area, possibly along Sherman Way.

'I'm very much in favor of rapid transit," said Elyse Wagner, a North Hollywood resident who lives near Chandler. "But I'm not in favor of putting it next to my bedroom."

"The only thing that can be said for using Chandler Boulevard is that it is cheap," said Steven Frank, representing Adat Ari El, a North Hollywood synagogue near the proposed route. "It is cheap if it doesn't run by your home."

Also opposing the Chandler route was state Sen. Alan Robbins (D-Van Nuys). In a letter read by an aide, Robbins said the commission staff "seems to have selected the wrong route . . . as seen by the substantial community opposition. Other alternatives, slightly to the north, could better serve Valley College, the Van Nuys Civic Center and other locations. . . . "

Chamber Supporter

One of the few to speak in support of the Chandler route was Jerry Hays, president of the United Chambers of Commerce of the San Fernando Valley, who said even more people would be opposed if the route were somewhere else.

"The fact that remains is we all want rapid transit but we want it somewhere else," he said, drawing boos from the audience.

In a related development Tuesday, the council Tuesday voted to spend $54,000 to study an extension of the cross-Valley trolley to Chatsworth.

The vote followed a heated exchange. Councilmen Ernani Bernardi cast the only vote against the study requested by Councilman Hal Bernson, whose district includes Chatsworth. Bernardi said he believes a trolley would be too disruptive to automobile traffic.

"Do you think that, by putting a streetcar on those narrow two-lane streets in the Valley, you're going to expedite the movement of traffic?" he asked.

Bernson contended that the trolley plan would not affect auto traffic. "This is a separated system," he said. "It is not on any city streets."

Chatsworth Routing Described

In Chatsworth, Bernson said, the likely route for the trolley would be along existing railroad tracks, from Warner Center north on Canoga Avenue to Plummer Street, where it would end.

The Valley trolley proposal is competing for financing this year with proposed trolley lines from downtown Los Angeles to Pasadena and in the South Bay. Construction funds would come from the commission's share of a half-cent sales tax increase approved by Los Angeles County voters in 1980 to pay for transit projects.

The Tuesday meeting to gather residents' opinions, held at Van Nuys Junior High School, was the first of what Braude has proposed be quarterly gatherings of the Valley members of the Los Angeles City Council to discuss Valley issues. Besides Braude and Yaroslavsky, Bernson and Councilman John Ferraro were at the meeting.

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