Flabbergasted by what they said is an unexpected reversal in plans to develop a light-rail transit system in Glendale, City Council members on Tuesday vowed to redouble their lobbying efforts as the final round nears for allocating regional transportation funds.
The sharp reaction followed the release late last week of a staff report by the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission recommending that Glendale be given very little priority for involvement in a proposed 30-year plan for rail transit development.
The report contradicts recent indications by the county commission that Glendale was gaining favor for a light-rail route because of the city's commitment to develop a transportation center and integrated transit system.
"Our optimism was dashed when we got the staff recommendation," City Manager David Ramsay told the council Tuesday. "This means we don't know when they will get it done."
The report recommends preferred routes in the Los Angeles area that should be built with $140 billion in local, state and federal transit money over the next 30 to 40 years. It classifies a proposed light-rail route along San Fernando Road in Glendale as a "project requiring additional funds" beyond the priority allocation--the second lowest category. It also ranks an east-west line linking Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena in the lowest priority category.
Council members said they will use all of the political clout that they can muster to change Glendale's rating in the eyes of the county commission.
"We are not going to lie down and let them draw the lines where they want to," Councilman Larry Zarian said.
"What they understand is political pressure and we are going to exert it."
The council unanimously adopted a sharply worded resolution expressing "grave concern" over the omission of the Glendale lines. Copies of the resolution will be transmitted to the 11 members of the commission.
The council also called for unified support from officials of Pasadena, Burbank, the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Commission and the Tri-City Transportation Coalition in pushing for priority funding.
"We are going to go and lobby them because we feel very strongly that we have done absolutely everything that we were supposed to do," Mayor Ginger Bremberg said Tuesday. "We have been buying property and buying the right of way and they drop us down. Suddenly, we're back to a 40-year wait. We're upset."
Commission officials, however, said the plan is only preliminary. Further discussions are scheduled Wednesday at a joint meeting between the commission and directors of the Southern California Rapid Transit District and at an open commission hearing on June 26.
"Nothing is written in concrete," said Steve Gleason, a commission manager of capital planning and programming. He said the recommended plan "gives us a starting point. Now we can start looking at the alternatives." Gleason said he anticipates heavy campaigning from many areas seeking better ratings. "I think we can expect some real heavy discussion and lobbying and perhaps some horse-trading," Gleason said. "That's healthy."
Judy Schwartze, a commission government and public affairs liaison for the San Fernando Valley, said commission officials, including Executive Director Neil Peterson, will meet next week with Glendale council members. "We still feel there is time to discuss this," she said. "We like to think that the process is not yet completed, that there are still some possible trade-offs."
However, she said Glendale was rated lower after the commission staff studied congestion patterns countywide. "Looking at the county as a whole, Glendale just fell lower," Schwartze said. "We don't want to close anybody out, but we have to look at the funding."
Glendale in 1989 allocated $3.5 million of the city's share of Proposition A transportation funds to purchase the historic Southern Pacific Railroad Depot at 400 W. Cerritos Ave. The city's preliminary master plan calls for spending up to $18 million in local, state and federal funds to develop the station as a transportation hub. That money would be separate from the county commission's proposed budget.
The hub would tie in rail commuter services to outlying areas such as the Santa Clarita Valley and Moorpark, local shuttle buses, van pools and park-and-ride facilities with a light-rail system between Glendale and Los Angeles, officials said. The cost of extending the 3.5-mile light-rail route into Glendale is not included in the estimated cost of the transportation hub development.