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Myths That Hurt Light Rail

June 24, 1988

Steven Silver's letter of May 27 illustrates two myths frequently employed by rail transit naysayers.

Silver raises the specter of benefit assessment districts to strike fear in the hearts of homeowners adjacent to the proposed routes. Neighboring homeowners will not be taxed for light rail. Proposition A empowered the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission with the task of building light-rail transit. Under California law, the commission lacks authority to create benefit assessment districts to tax anyone, much less residential property owners. In this region, only the Southern California Rapid Transit District has the legal authority to create benefit assessment districts for rail transit and, specifically, for Metro Rail, not light rail. The RTD has exercised its authority by specifically excluding residential properties (including apartment houses) from being taxed.

Myth No. 2 is that light rail is supported only by Warner Center business interests and not by Valley residents. Just the opposite is true. Every poll conducted thus far, including those by the Daily News, county Supervisor Mike Antonovich, Assemblywoman Marian W. La Follette (R-Northridge) and City Councilwoman Joy Picus, shows overwhelming support from residents, ranging from a low of 69% approval to a high of 83%. In contrast, Warner Center's most visible developer, Robert Voit, does not support light rail.

We need positive, constructive and doable solutions to our traffic problems. Building freeways or double-decking old ones is pie-in-the-sky thinking that we cannot afford, either from the environmental standpoint or the financial one.

Proposition A provides us with the money to build a well-planned rail transit system that should solve--and not create--problems for our residential communities.

ROGER L. STANARD

Woodland Hills

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