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Growth and Gridlock

June 14, 2003

On June 7 you ran a Voices piece, "Transportation of Tomorrow Exists Today." On June 8 you ran "Valley's Silver Bullet Hits Mark," featuring Gerald A. Silver ("the most public face of opposition to freeway expansion"), and "O.C. Doesn't Want to Leave the Suburbs."

The latter two articles are why the first article doesn't stand a chance. Today, Silver and his ilk are heroes to a small but vocal number of Valley residents, and the citizens of Irvine are patting themselves on the back for voting to delete their portion of the 11.4-mile light-rail system. My question is, what are these same people going to be saying in 20 years when they are stuck in total gridlock in their neighborhoods?

For 33 years I have been told that increased traffic capacity brings development. The result is that almost every attempt to increase traffic capacity has been killed by the "Silver bullets" in Los Angeles -- while development has continued. The second argument is that additional lanes become clogged almost as soon as they are completed.

What really happens is that cars move off of secondary streets onto the major roadway. Also, it takes so long from the thought to the opening of the new lane that the congestion is already there by the time it is built -- and without the added lane, conditions would be even worse. The defeat of the 101 Freeway expansion plan was a major loss to the people of the San Fernando Valley and all of Los Angeles. Ten years from now when you're stuck in gridlock, think back to 2003 and know it's just going to get worse, and you can thank the NIMBYs and the elected officials.

Harold L. Katz

Los Angeles


What kind of person is proud of twice forcing businesses into bankruptcy? Even if one is opposed to a developer's proposal, it is unconscionable, in my view, to deliberately undertake actions that force a developer to ruin. To gloat about it afterward is unforgivable. Granted, there was a part of the Ventura Freeway corridor proposal that would upset any homeowner bordering the freeway, and I will not restate the usual rhetoric of "you knew the freeway was there when you moved in."

It is obvious that further research needs to be done to reduce congestion on the 101 Freeway, including future options on the Chandler Boulevard corridor beyond the forthcoming busway for the Metro Rapid. But Silver needs to tone down his bullying tactics before a revised proposal is considered. One wonders how the majority of Encino residents feel about his "representing" their interests. I know I would not be pleased.

Kymberleigh Richards

President, Southern California Transit Advocates, Van Nuys


The Times proclaimed Valley resident Silver a hero for single-handedly obstructing projects important to the entire community, including the desperately needed 101 Freeway expansion and the construction of senior housing. It was easy for The Times to profile one NIMBY -- one man whose life is dedicated to obstructing progress -- rather than investigate the real impact of his "hobby." Silver's hobby is neither harmless nor victimless.

The article quoted one cogent comment: "[Silver] is stuck in about 1959." Unfortunately, all the rest of us must deal with 21st century realities. Silver has single-handedly condemned hundreds of thousands of Valley residents to continued traffic congestion for years to come. Let's see some profiles on those whose commutes, and whose lives, Silver has impacted with his activism.

George Jerome


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