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Light Rail in the Valley

December 22, 1987

The subject of light rail has received a good deal of attention in the media recently. Homeowners have been charged with stopping light rail, the implication being that this will kill rapid transit and create horrendous traffic jams. The fact is that homeowner associations vigorously support environmentally sound rapid transit that goes where it is needed.

Rapid transit should not foster more growth and development in the Valley. A prerequisite to obtaining homeowners' support is a commitment to stop runaway growth. Most homeowners objected to the five routes that were proposed because they would have sent trains through many backyards.

The recent success of homeowners in forcing a re-evaluation of light rail should make several things abundantly clear. First, homeowners are well-organized and a potent force to be reckoned with. Second, they want a voice in their own destiny. It is not appropriate for any agency to bring a take-it-or-leave-it package to a community. Any project, including light rail, must emerge from a consensus.

It is time to put an end to the pejorative use of the phrase "not in my backyard." No one should have to accept a trash dump, an airport, a rail line, a pipeline or a LANCER in their backyard unless it is done voluntarily. We must put an end to the tyranny of the majority and begin to look at the rights of the individual, who pays a disproportionate personal price for a civic project.

Homeowners are now mapping out an acceptable strategy for rapid transit for the Valley. Any individual or association that would like to bring rapid transit to their community should make their wishes known.

But please be respectful of others. It is very easy to sacrifice someone else's home and environment. It is perhaps a bit more difficult to sacrifice one's own neighborhood to the community good. It will be interesting to see how many offers we get.



Silver is president of Homeowners of Encino .

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