Panel Selects 5 Trolley Routes for 1-Year Study

Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles County Transportation Commission voted Wednesday to keep alive five proposed east-west San Fernando Valley light-rail routes, including a North Hollywood route that has drawn widespread opposition.

To the dismay of most of the 200 persons present, commissioners voted 7 to 4 to continue studying the proposed route that largely follows Chandler and Victory boulevards between North Hollywood and Warner Center.

Other routes approved for further study follow the Southern Pacific railroad mainline, Victory Boulevard, the Los Angeles River flood-control channel and the Ventura Freeway.

Commissioners thus eliminated only two routes from contention for the trolley line, unanimously voting to halt consideration of Ventura Boulevard and Sherman Way.

The long-awaited balloting, conducted amid shouts and boos at the Department of Water and Power headquarters in Los Angeles, was over which routes to include in a yearlong environmental study.

Process Began 4 Years Ago

Commissioners, who began route study in the Valley four years ago, say it will provide a factual basis for final selection of a route.

Opponents of the Chandler-Victory route, buoyed by their ability to turn out nearly 700 protesters at a hearing Feb. 2 in Van Nuys, had expected that commissioners would kill the route.

"We're extremely disappointed and surprised," said Robert H. Silver, co-founder of the Eastern Sector Transit Coalition, formed by 17 homeowner and religious groups. "These commissioners are not listening to us when we say we will never allow these trains in our neighborhoods."

Several commissioners who voted to include Chandler-Victory in the study expressed doubt, because of the opposition, that it will be selected.

The commission staff favors the Chandler-Victory route, contending that it would be the least expensive and disruptive to traffic because it would follow an existing Southern Pacific freight line.

Staff engineers say that, with modern equipment and noise walls, residents would experience little discomfort.

But protesters, whose numbers have mushroomed in the last three months, argue that the three-car trolleys would introduce noise, vibrations and traffic congestion to their neighborhoods, which include a large Orthodox Jewish community.

The Valley light-rail line is to be connected with the Metro Rail subway at Universal City or in North Hollywood to provide service to downtown Los Angeles.

The commission, created by the Legislature, is building a countywide network of trolley lines with money from the extra half-cent sales tax approved by Los Angeles County voters in 1980.

Edelman Leads Opposition

Among commissioners, opposition to the Chandler-Victory route was led by county Supervisor Ed Edelman, whose district includes a large part of the Chandler community. The route would "disrupt a residential community built up over many years," he said.

But the majority appeared to be swayed by Mayor Tom Bradley, the commission chairman, who said that, because of the favorable staff reports, Chandler-Victroy should be included in the study.

By dropping the line now, he said, the commission would create a "legal defect that would certainly bring a lawsuit from people along any other route that is chosen."

In response, Edelman urged commissioners to "follow that faulty logic" and vote to keep alive the two routes that had yet to come up for votes--the Los Angeles River and Ventura Freeway.

2 Routes Too Disruptive

Both were subsequently included in the study by 9-2 votes that left unclear how much actual support the routes had. Staff engineers say that both routes would be expensive to build and disruptive to many businesses and residents.

Commissioners were unanimous in voting to include in the study Victory Boulevard and the Southern Pacific mainline, which crosses the Valley diagonally from Burbank Airport to Chatsworth.

Victory has drawn scattered opposition in recent months from affected West Valley residents, whereas the mainline, which is largely confined to industrial areas, has been praised by several elected officials and homeowner leaders.

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