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Deukmejian Vetoes Funds for Transit Projects

Times Staff Writer

Gov. George Deukmejian late Friday vetoed a controversial bill that would have set aside up to $20 million a year for San Fernando Valley mass-transit projects.

“I am concerned that this measure would interfere with a voter-approved local ordinance that gives the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission sole authority to set priorities for county transportation improvements funded by local revenues,” the governor said shortly after rejecting the bill.

“This bill serves to split the county into geographic factions contending over transportation funds, rather than bringing the parties together to develop a countywide consensus,” he said.

The bill was supported by Valley legislators but strongly opposed by representatives of other parts of Los Angeles County.

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The controversy was generated by a provision that would have required the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission each year to place 15% of its rail budget into a fund to build a Valley rail line.

The bill’s author, state Sen. Alan Robbins (D-Van Nuys), said the governor’s veto was “a step backward in dealing with transportation problems in the San Fernando Valley.” He vowed to introduce a compromise version of the bill next year.

Robbins, an opponent of placing light-rail lines in residential neighborhoods, said the Valley fund would have deterred “the commission from threatening to take their money elsewhere unless we accept an objectionable route.”

The commission, building a countywide network of rail lines using the extra half-cent sales tax county voters approved in 1980, fought the bill as an improper restraint on its mandate to designate rail routes, choose technology and assign construction priorities.

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The commission, which has been studying various Valley rail plans since 1983, this week authorized a yearlong environmental study of two light-rail routes plus an alternative plan to extend the Metro Rail subway westward across the Valley.

Light-rail routes under study are along the Ventura Freeway from Universal City to Warner Center and along a little-used freight line that parallels Chandler Boulevard, Oxnard Street, Victory Boulevard and Topham Street from North Hollywood to Warner Center.

It is expected that a cross-Valley subway would follow either of the two light-rail routes or a combination of them.

Called Token Amount

Several commissioners called the Valley fund “no more than a token,” noting that Valley rail proposals would cost from $700 million to $2.2 billion, far more than the $200 million the fund would accumulate by the end of the century.

Another provision of the bill would have earmarked interest from the Valley transit fund to subsidize commuter rail lines proposed for the Valley.

Commuter lines on existing rail lines are under study from Oxnard to Los Angeles and from Saugus to Los Angeles.

In addition, the bill would have repealed a state law prohibiting the sale of more than $100 million in bonds to build Metro Rail.

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