Gallery: Council hosts 710 Forum to take a formal position on proposed routes at Pasadena Convention Center
PASADENA - City Council members grilled Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials about the proposed routes for the 710 Freeway extension Monday in front of hundreds of vocal residents brandishing "No on 710" signs at the Pasadena Convention Center on Monday.
At the meeting, the council considered a resolution taking a stand against three proposed freeway routes that council and community members say would harm historic Pasadena neighborhoods, specifically San Rafael.
"These alternatives would be like dropping a nuclear bomb on southwest Pasadena," Councilman Steve Madison said.
Madison, who abstained from voting last week on a bill from state Sen. Carol Liu to sell Caltrans homes along the route, made the motion to take a position on the freeway alternatives.
Metro has released a set of 12 possible alternatives to fill the freeway "gap" from Alhambra to Pasadena as part of its three-year environmental- impact report. It is set to determine a final set of alternatives in October, Metro officials said.
Many have accused the council of shying away from the issue and

 

"hiding behind" Measure A, which was approved by voters in 2001 and supports "completing the 710 Freeway extension between the I-210 and the I-10 Freeways." However, council members agreed Monday that the routes it chose to oppose did not fall under Measure A restrictions. Many council members echoed concerns raised by the public Monday and at previous meetings, criticizing Metro's outreach efforts and the list of possible alternative routes, including the possible influence of truck and freight traffic in Metro's considerations.
Councilman Victor Gordo cited the recent 210 Freeway extension project's effects on congestion and asked Metro representatives how they had considered that in the alternatives.
"If someone were trying to fail more miserably, they couldn't have done it with these alternatives," Gordo said.
Speakers on Monday also reiterated criticism of Metro's outreach process, saying they didn't know about it until recently.
"All Metro did was draw lines on pieces of paper that meant nothing," said San Rafael resident John Shaffer. "This is not just a line on a piece of paper, this is a freeway running through people's homes, next to San Rafael Park and next to San Rafael School."
Metro's 710 project manager, Michelle Smith, said she was "surprised" at the response to Metro's outreach efforts and said she plans to "retool" the outreach efforts in the remaining years of the study.
"Frankly, I'm looking to partner with the neighborhood associations we did not include originally from this path forward," Smith said.
Throughout the night, Smith was yelled at and shouted down by audience members frustrated with the process and an hour-long glitch brought on by technical difficulties.
Metro representatives could scarcely get through a sentence or a PowerPoint slide without a reaction from the crowd, from boos to cheers to shouts of discontent.
The proposed routes considered by the council are a tunnel connecting the 10 Freeway to the 134 Freeway and a surface route that would widen Avenue 64, both of which cut through the San Rafael neighborhood. Staff also suggested that the council oppose a third proposed highway route along Huntington Drive, Fair Oaks Avenue and Pasadena Avenue connecting the 10 and 210 freeways.
Several members of the council expressed sympathy for residents who came out Monday night.
"We are a city with many neighborhoods, and I wouldn't want this to happen to mine," said Councilman Gene Masuda, who represents a district the encompasses much of East Pasadena.
lauren.gold@sgvn.com