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Van Nuys Station Added to Transit Study


Following a heated debate between San Fernando Valley and South Los Angeles lawmakers, the Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to include the Van Nuys Metrolink station in a $1.6-million study on transit planning and economic development.

The study, funded by a Metropolitan Transportation Authority grant, was originally designed to focus on the planned development of businesses around eight proposed bus and rail transit stations in Hollywood, the Eastside and South Los Angeles.

But after a lengthy squabble between Valley and South Los Angeles lawmakers, the council voted unanimously to add the Van Nuys station to the study.

The 18-month study will target low-income communities and create "economic development strategies for promoting transit centers as alternative employment and community activity centers," according to a city report.

When the study is completed, city planners can use it to decide how best to encourage and manage development around each station. The Van Nuys station is adjacent to the vacant General Motors assembly plant and several other economically troubled businesses.

But the station on Van Nuys Boulevard was included only after Valley council members objected to being left out of the grant, saying the Valley also has transit centers within low-income neighborhoods.

"The entire city needs to be included in this," said Councilman Hal Bernson, whose district includes the Chatsworth Metrolink station. He suggested that all five Valley Metrolink stations be included in the study, not just Van Nuys.

Councilman Mike Hernandez, whose district includes Pico-Union and Westlake, countered that the MTA grant was designed to correct deficiencies in the city's planning efforts, which he contends have given little attention to inner-city communities.

"You had an earthquake on Jan. 17 and now you know what it's like to have needs," he said, nearly shouting at Bernson across the council room.

Bernson later withdrew his motion to include the five Valley stations, saying he would wait for an expected second round of funding.

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