SHERMAN OAKS : Group Seeks Support for Trolley Proposal

Sherman Oaks homeowners and business leaders have joined in a letter-writing campaign to muster support for their bid to bring an old-fashioned trolley to traffic-choked Ventura Boulevard.

The campaign, launched last week, is aimed at persuading the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to provide $1.5 million for a $2.2-million plan to bring gas-powered minibuses resembling the old-fashioned vehicles into service on the boulevard. The remaining $700,000 would be paid by fees charged businesses for traffic improvements under the Ventura Boulevard Specific Plan.

According to the proposal, four trolleys would shuttle passengers from centrally located parking lots to restaurants and shops along the strip. Running from Firmament Avenue in the west to Fulton Avenue in the east, the trolleys would stop at or near all of Sherman Oaks' major business attractions.

Michael Tanner, San Fernando Valley project manager for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said it is doubtful that the project will receive funding because the authority's discretionary funds for 1994 are already accounted for, but a change of policy could make some funds available.

"I think it's a good project," Tanner said. "If they lobby the project and talk to the right people . . . who knows?"

Those behind the campaign say they are hopeful that their efforts will pay off. "We've got the whole community working to gain support for this project," said Jeff Brain, president of the Sherman Oaks Chamber of Commerce.

The MTA is expected to decide on funding for projects for 1994 by the end of June, Tanner said.

If the MTA elects not to fund the trolley, Brain said he has already consulted a private bus company and is considering funding the project by forming an assessment district among local businesses.

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