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COMMENTARY : Councilman Says District Shouldn't Be a Dumping Ground for Projects

February 13, 1992|MIKE HERNANDEZ | Mike Hernandez, who still lives a block from the Cypress Park elementary school he attended, represents the 1st Council District, including Glassell Park and Cypress Park, on the Los Angeles City Council. and

We residents of the First Council District are being victimized by illogical decision making by the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission in our discussions over the future of Taylor Yard.

LACTC chose Taylor Yard as the site of its maintenance facility for the light-rail and commuter-rail lines. In an area with high density, limited open space and, already, a dumping ground for public sector equipment and maintenance facilities, LACTC identified this area without even conducting an environmental impact report.

Shortly after taking office in August, I met with Neil Peterson, the commission's executive director. After several meetings, I threatened to take LACTC to court over its unresponsiveness to the residents of the Cypress Park and Glassell Park communities.

We succeeded in winning these concessions:

* Create jobs for local young people; the creation of the youth TOPS program.

* Build a pedestrian bridge connecting the communities of Cypress Park and Elysian Valley.

* Create a fund to promote arts in the district by taking 1% of the cost of building the transit system.

* Build a series of stations so the transit system can serve our communities.

But, because our research indicates there are many other options available, we are still trying to persuade LACTC to relocate its light-rail maintenance yard. Relocating the facility would allow us to proceed on our ambitious vision for the area.

It is no secret I would like to rezone Taylor Yard to light commercial and light manufacturing, which also allows for residential and recreational development opportunities. This rezoning also would require the land to be completely cleaned of toxic contaminants. A variety of businesses, such as Smith's Food King and Price Club, have approached us for consideration, each bringing several hundred jobs to the area.

I am always reminding my colleagues about the differences between haves and have-nots. I also must remind my colleagues that the public sector is my district's worst slumlord. The inner city and, specifically Council District One, has the right to a decent standard of living.

How long can we be viewed as the dumping ground for projects other areas would never even tolerate? No one would consider running a commuter-rail car maintenance facility in Woodland Hills; yet many think nothing of putting it in our back yard.

The time has come to just say, "No."

When other communities selectively pick and choose their development projects, they earn monies set aside by the developer to build parks and other cultural amenities.

When the public sector places their facilities in our district, we get nothing. Moreover, these public properties take up precious space and hinder our ability to attract quality projects that can generate significant dollars for our neighborhoods.

We now want our piece of the pie!

Accordingly, we are looking at using Lawry's California Center as an anchor for revitalizing the San Fernando Corridor. While I have been committed to keeping the restaurants and gardens open to the public, I also want prospective buyers to consider mixed-used plans that would bring retail, commercial and affordable housing. I also would encourage new owners to bring some form of the arts, perhaps allocating space to the California Latino Museum.

This area could become a regional hub. Imagine an area where the light-rail system comes into Lawry's, connecting Dodger Stadium, Chinatown and, perhaps, the Latino Museum. By hopping on a shuttle, in minutes, you could find yourself in Heritage Square or the Southwest Museum or any number of new parks and open space.

These are difficult times and we can be sure of one thing: Our community will not get its fair share without a struggle. I will fight for our district; but as things come down to the wire, I will need you to join me in voicing our concerns and demanding what is right and just.

LACTC has the ability to modify its plans in the best interests of our community. They know it and I know it.

This is our home. This is where we live and raise our children. We have no choice but to do the right thing.

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