A recent proposal to study cutting a high-speed rail corridor through the Angeles National Forest is drawing fire from San Fernando Valley communities near the preserve's southwest boundary.
Calling Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich's idea vague and ill-conceived, groups that represent thousands of residents want the California High-Speed Rail Authority to disregard the suggestion.
The opposition is primarily coming from Sunland, Sun Valley, Lake View Terrace, Shadow Hills, La Tuna Canyon and Tujunga — areas that might be disrupted by a forest alignment depending on where it would go. Some residents contend the proposal is already threatening property values and pending real estate sales.
"Antonovich has not communicated with us or returned our calls," said attorney Bill Eick, who sits on the board of the Shadow Hills Property Owners Assn. "Basically, he has thrown us under the train."
Tony Bell, a spokesman for Antonovich, called the criticism a positive development that will foster further discussion about the route's feasibility.
"We want to make sure there aren't additional impacts in any one of our communities," Bell said, adding that the supervisor wants to hear from all interested parties.
Antonovich recommended that a swath on the west side of the forest be studied for potential routes, but he did not include specific alignments.
The rail authority has agreed to consider — at least preliminarily — the supervisor's proposal for the Palmdale-Burbank leg as well as two separate alignments along the Antelope Valley Freeway that planners have studied for years.
The California 14 routes would pass through Acton, Agua Dulce, the Sand Canyon area and Santa Clarita, all of which are in Antonovich's district. Residents of those communities also fear that high-speed trains would degrade the surroundings and devalue their property.
In addition, there have been concerns in nearby Sylmar, Pacoima and the city of San Fernando that the routes, which head south from Santa Clarita to Burbank, could dissect their neighborhoods.
Antonovich contends that the forest route might be cheaper to build and would avoid the risk of harming his constituents from Acton to Santa Clarita.
Critics in the east San Fernando Valley say that although some of their communities are also in the supervisor's district, they have not received the same consideration from him.
"Antonovich is only trying to relieve pressure from his constituents in Acton, Agua Dulce and Santa Clarita without concern for us and without adequate study," said David DePinto, who is also on the board of the Shadow Hills Property Owners Assn.
Another group, the Foothill Trails District Neighborhood Council, which represents the Los Angeles communities of Shadow Hills, Lake View Terrace and La Tuna Canyon, voted earlier this month to oppose any forest alignment.
Caught in the middle is Los Angeles City Councilman Felipe Fuentes, who represents areas with opposing views on the potential bullet train routes between Palmdale and Burbank.
Fuentes, who says he does not prefer any particular corridor, will urge high-speed rail officials to keep the trains in tunnels as much as possible and to reduce the potential effects on homes, businesses, recreation facilities and other kinds of transportation.
The councilman, community organizations and others are now submitting comments and opinions about the Palmdale-Burbank routes to the high-speed rail authority. If there is enough support for Antonovich's proposal, the authority could select it for more in-depth study.
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