Backers and skeptics of the idea of building a light-rail transit line through Garden Grove have agreed to meet to debate the issue, which may figure prominently in November's City Council election.
Local historian Dennis Witcher and businessman Bruce Broadwater, both supporters of reserving the former Pacific Electric right of way for future use as an urban transit corridor, have accepted a debate challenge issued by Mayor W.E. (Walt) Donovan and Councilman Raymond T. Littrell. The date of the debate is yet to be set.
The officials will debate what development, if any, should be allowed on the vacant right of way. Rail supporters claim that most kinds of development would block a transit system from coming to Garden Grove. City officials say that the projects being studied, mostly parking lots and one-story buildings, could be moved or demolished if a system is ever built.
The former Pacific Electric right of way, which cuts diagonally through the city from northwest to southeast, has been identified by the Orange County Transportation Commission as a potential route for an intercity transit system similar to the Long Beach-Los Angeles light-rail line scheduled to open in July.
"We'll accept the challenge gladly," said Witcher, chairman of the Garden Grove Citizens Rail Committee, a group that has vowed to oppose all anti-light-rail incumbents in the fall election.
Two council seats, those held by Littrell and Robert F. Dinsen, and the mayor's position will be up for grabs in November.