In a decision at odds with agency policy, Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials agreed Thursday to rename two rail stations in honor of sitting board members who will be leaving office later this year.
The terminus of the Red Line subway will become the North Hollywood/Zev Yaroslavsky station, and a stop on the Gold Line will become the East Los Angeles Civic Center/Gloria Molina station. Both of the Los Angeles County supervisors have served on the Metro board since it was formed in 1993.
A Metro policy adopted in 2003 doesn't permit public facilities to be named for people. In rare cases, the policy says, the Metro board can honor deceased figures who "demonstrated a unique and extraordinary degree of service to public transportation in Los Angeles County."
The name changes were included in a group of routine agenda items approved without public discussion Thursday by the Metro board during a downtown Los Angeles meeting. Yaroslavsky and Molina were present during the vote.
The board probably will change its facility-naming policy in January, when members receive a full report on the renaming of the stations, including the cost, Metro spokesman Marc Littman said.
"The board has the right to amend the policy," Littman said. "We are honoring two longtime board members who’ve been active in the transportation space for decades."
Some government ethics experts say the decision could raise eyebrows. It's wiser for public agencies to wait until an elected official has left office, then use the "Mt. Rushmore test," weighing whether his or her work has stood the test of time, said Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School.
"Even if this is done with good intentions, it makes sense to wait for them to cycle off the board," Levinson said.
Board member Ara Najarian, a Glendale city council member, proposed the name changes at a Metro committee meeting last month. He said at the time that the North Hollywood/Zev Yaroslavsky station will serve as a "tribute to a dedicated public servant."
The name changes are a "wonderful way to commemorate their years on the board," Metro board member Jackie Dupont-Walker said during the same meeting. She added that she hoped Yaroslavsky and Molina's full names would be used, "so future generations will remember the contribution of these two people."
A Metro station in the unincorporated area of Willowbrook is named for civil rights activist Rosa Parks, who died in 2005. Earlier this year, the board renamed three stations, including one for Ethel Bradley, the wife of former Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley. She died in 2008.
Changing signage at those stations would cost between $5,000 and $8,100 each, Metro staff members estimated at the time. The estimate didn't include system-wide updates to maps and brochures, which were to be slowly replaced over several years as new rail lines began service.
Elsewhere, the main gate of the Hollywood Bowl is named for Yaroslavsky, as is a county building currently under construction in the San Fernando Valley and a park in the Santa Monica Mountains. Molina has her name on a community center in Walnut Park.
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