Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn appointed three people Wednesday to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board, selecting one Riordan administration holdover and two newcomers to serve on the 13-member panel.
The mayor selected Los Angeles City Councilman and current MTA board member Hal Bernson, UCLA graduate student and bus rider Allison Yoh and Broadway Federal Bank President Paul Hudson, who runs the oldest African American-owned bank in the Western United States, according to Hahn's office.
The appointees face an immediate test today with a vote scheduled on the draft environmental impact report for a proposed east-west rapid busway in the San Fernando Valley that would run from the Universal City Red Line subway station to Warner Center in Woodland Hills.
Critics say the $285-million, 14-mile line will drive down property values while increasing noise, pollution and accidents. Some want the MTA to deploy rapid buses throughout the Valley instead of building the busway.
Hahn, who said during his campaign that a "transportation corridor along Chandler Boulevard is simply the wrong project" echoed that position Wednesday morning on a radio call-in show.
"I know you can never make everyone happy," he said during an hourlong appearance on the KFWB-AM (980) program "Ask the Mayor."
For the amount of money being spent, he said, "I'd like to know how many more riders will be accommodated."
He added: "I'm going to tell [the MTA] I know they spent a lot of time and money, but I am not convinced this is the best way to spend a quarter-billion dollars."
MTA officials said the agency has spent at least $12 million since 1983 on more than a dozen studies of Valley transit projects, including reports on subways, monorails, light rail and the busway.
The MTA paid $100 million for the busway's right of way.
An additional $245 million in state money earmarked for the busway could be lost if the project dies, officials say.
"The decision needs to be made at this meeting, and any delay puts the project at risk," said county Supervisor and MTA board member Zev Yaroslavsky.
Hahn also announced five appointments Wednesday to the Fire Commission, nominating a mix of homeowners, lawyers and former law enforcement officials. His commission appointees must be confirmed by the City Council within 45 days. They are:
* Corina Alarcon, founder of a transitional home for battered women in the Valley and former wife of state Sen. Richard Alarcon.
* Roland L. Coleman Jr., an attorney and president of the Los Angeles County Bar Assn.
* Thomas J. Curry, a former Fire Department assistant chief who worked for the city for 31 years.
* Louise Frankel, president of two Mountaingate neighborhood organizations who has served on many city and county boards.
* Jay H. Grodin, an attorney and former sheriff's deputy.