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N. Hollywood Foes of Trolley Route Force Delay in Vote

January 24, 1987|JAMES QUINN | Times Staff Writer

Vocal opponents of a light-rail line through North Hollywood residential sections swamped a hearing on Friday, forcing postponement of a vote on which routes to continue studying.

Instead, the Rapid Transit Committee of the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission decided to meet again Feb. 2 to select which of seven proposed east-west routes across the San Fernando Valley should be retained.

The commission staff recommended last week that three routes--Victory Boulevard, the Southern Pacific railroad mainline and the Southern Pacific freight line--be kept under consideration and that four other routes be dropped.

Most of those in the audience, who overflowed a small hearing room in downtown Los Angeles, opposed a route that largely follows the railroad's little-used freight line from North Hollywood to Woodland Hills.

They argued that running trolleys through their North Hollywood neighborhoods would create severe noise and vibrations in nearby homes and would further congest already crowded streets.

Because many in the crowd could not get into the hearing room, committee members decided to hold the next meeting in the auditorium of Birmingham High School in Van Nuys. The session will begin at 7:30 p.m.

Public Invited to Speak

The committee also decided that the public will be permitted to speak before a vote is taken.

Results of the committee's vote will be forwarded to the full commission, which is using sales tax receipts to build a countywide light-rail system.

The commission is tentatively scheduled to decide Feb. 11 which routes to include in a yearlong environmental study.

The commission will not select a final route until the study is completed.

In November, the staff ended more than three years of route study by recommending the North Hollywood-to-Woodland Hills freight line.

The line begins at the proposed Metro Rail subway station at Chandler and Lankershim boulevards in North Hollywood, then goes west on the railroad right of way on Chandler.

At Ethel Avenue, the line heads northwest to Oxnard Street. At the San Diego Freeway, it jogs north to Victory, then largely follows Victory west to Woodland Hills.

But the staff report set off a storm of opposition from homeowners and Orthodox Jews, who have congregations and activity centers along the route.

In response, the commission directed the staff to suggest and evaluate alternative routes.

Opponents Dismayed

To the dismay of North Hollywood opponents, however, commissioners refused to drop the Chandler-Victory freight line route from further consideration.

Besides retaining the freight route in its recommendations, the staff in its latest report suggested a variation of that route in which the Chandler part would be eliminated, with the trains instead running on Oxnard between the Hollywood Freeway and Ethel Avenue.

The refusal to drop the freight line was attacked at Friday's session.

Robert Silver, representing the Eastern Sector Transit Coalition, which has organized much of the opposition to the freight line, said the staff's continued support for the route "shows that an independent outside consultant should be hired to study these routes."

But Guy McCreary of Fair Alignment Is Right, a committee of trolley proponents, urged retention of the freight line.

He said the Southern Pacific mainline, which is being pushed by coalition members as an alternative to the freight line, is "isolated from population centers of the Valley and should be dropped."

The mainline runs along the southern border of Burbank Airport, then traverses the Valley diagonally to Chatsworth. Only 14% of the route passes through residential areas, as opposed to 48% of the freight line and 45% of the Victory route.

The Victory route has drawn little opposition or support.

Routes that the staff has recommended dropping run along Sherman Way, the Ventura Freeway, Ventura Boulevard and the Los Angeles River Flood Control Channel.

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