Merchants in North Hollywood deserve money the Los Angeles City Council wants to set aside to compensate for lost business caused by Red Line subway construction. The council voted unanimously earlier this month to develop a plan that would help shopkeepers cope financially with a series of street closures that left stores along Lankershim Boulevard virtually inaccessible.
Metro Rail construction promises big rewards when the North Hollywood and Universal City stations open in 2000. But merchants who have endured years of dust, noise and street closures deserve to share in those rewards. Some shop owners complained that a series of closures along Lankershim hurt their sales and nearly put them out of business.
City Councilmen Richard Alarcon and Joel Wachs correctly argued that the losses should be covered by transit money. It’s not fair to expect a few shopkeepers to bear a public burden. So the council agreed to carve as much as $2 million from money already earmarked for Metropolitan Transportation Authority projects. The money would be used to compensate merchants and to fund economic development programs for the neighborhoods.
The MTA should agree to the plan. Its projects will be a boon to neighborhoods they serve, but only if the neighborhoods survive.