City officials have decided for now to pursue building a 433-space park-and-ride lot along the Antelope Valley Freeway despite angry protests from foothills residents who overlook the location from one of the region’s priciest neighborhoods.
In a concession, the City Council voted 5 to 0 Wednesday to have city officials report next month on possible alternate sites, but also to continue design work at the same time on the original location. That Caltrans-owned, four-acre parcel is on the south side of Avenue S in the city just west of the freeway.
The outcome did not satisfy residents of the unincorporated Ana Verde hills area nearby, mostly professionals who own $300,000-plus custom homes on large lots. They had demanded that the city abandon the site that would serve commuters. And the dispute sparked a stinging public outburst by a prominent resident.
In angry remarks to the council, engineer Richard Rudman of the Ana Verde Homeowners Assn. bemoaned that Palmdale had become a city of “ticky tacky” houses in crowded neighborhoods with graffiti-covered walls, flood control “pits,” and gas stations and liquor stores “on every corner.”
Rudman and other residents fear the lot will devalue their homes, spoil their hillside views because of night lighting and attract potential crime to the relatively isolated area.
Rudman’s remarks raised the eyebrows of some council members, with Mayor Jim Ledford saying not everyone lives in nice hillside houses. Councilman David Myers said Ana Verde residents would be treated just like people who own $100,000 houses.
Most of the Ana Verde houses are more than one-third of a mile away from the proposed lot on higher ground and separated by the California Aqueduct, said Doug Dykhouse, Palmdale’s deputy public works director. Dykhouse said he did not believe the lot would be in conflict with the neighborhood.
But Ana Verde residents received support from council members Myers and Teri Jones, who said they had been “asleep at the wheel” originally in not considering all the potential impacts of the project. They successfully pressed the council to open the search for other sites.