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Commission Leaves Choice of Routes to Elected Officials : Decision to Halt Light-Rail Study Reaffirmed

December 03, 1987|JAMES QUINN | Times Staff Writer

Despite pleas from business leaders and one city councilman, the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission on Wednesday stood by its surprise decision of two weeks ago to let elected officials decide on a San Fernando Valley light-rail route.

Have One Year

City, state and federal officials representing the Valley will have about one year to determine what trolley route, if any, they favor, commissioners said.

If no consensus is reached by late 1988, money that might have gone to a Valley light-rail line probably will go elsewhere, county officials said, and the Valley will have to wait 10 more years for another chance.

In the face of mounting opposition to all five routes under consideration, the 11-member commission voted Nov. 18 to suspend work on a $1.6-million environmental study that was to provide the basis for the selection of the final route.

In a letter read to the commission by an aide Wednesday, Los Angeles City Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky, who represents a portion of the southeast Valley, called the commission decision "simply a cop-out."

He urged commission members to "not abdicate your responsibility" to select a route.

Guy McCreary, who represents several business groups, termed the Nov. 18 vote a "sad day for Valley transportation and a glad day for gridlock."

In halting the study, the commission caved in to a vocal minority, said Bonny Matheson, executive director of the Valley Industry and Commerce Assn.

Ending the study "stops the process whereby intelligent and practical decisions could have been made," she said.

Advisory Panel Sought

But the commission also was urged to stand firm by several groups organized solely to fight specific light-rail routes and by seven established homeowner groups that joined the opposition shortly before the Nov. 18 vote.

Several opposition leaders urged the commission to form an advisory committee that would be empowered to study not only light rail, but also freeway and bus-system improvements and heavy rail, such as a subway.

But commissioners said they thought it best to leave the agenda up to elected officials. They will shortly send the officials a letter inviting them to tackle the issue of Valley transit. Most of the light-rail opposition in the past year has focused on a proposed route that follows Chandler Boulevard and Oxnard Street east of the San Diego Freeway and then follows Victory Boulevard west to Warner Center and a second route that largely follows Victory across the Valley.

Also under study as possible trolley routes were the Ventura Freeway, the Los Angeles River and the Southern Pacific railroad main line.

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