By Dakota Smith, December 21, 2014
San Fernando Valley transit goals for the region include bus
improvements and a light rail system along the Orange Line that connects
to Bob Hope Airport and the San Gabriel Valley, according to Los
Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian.
Helping Los Angeles shed its image as a car-dependent city, new rail
lines are being built across the region at an unprecedented clip.
South L.A.’s Crenshaw Boulevard, construction crews are adding a light
rail line. In Mid-Wilshire, prep work is underway on a subway to
Westwood. And the Expo Line’s final phase, expected to open in 2016,
will allow beachgoers to travel from downtown to Santa Monica.
projects and others represent L.A.’s biggest transit expansion in
decades. They follow passage of 2008’s Measure R, when Los Angeles
County voters agreed to fund transportation projects and highway
upgrades via a half-cent sales tax.
But as the region’s transit network grows, some say the San Fernando Valley is being left out.
Valley clearly has been shortchanged by Measure R,” said Los Angeles
City Councilman Paul Krekorian, who represents parts of the Valley and
serves on the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s
Narrowly approved by voters, Measure R launched a flurry
of construction projects and helped raise federal dollars to pay for new
rail lines. The sales tax is expected to raise about $38 billion over
With the exception of a new Orange Line busway extension, which
opened in 2012, no major Measure R projects have broken ground in the
Valley. Instead, studies are being conducted on a rail or bus line along
Van Nuys Boulevard. A new Sepulveda Pass transit line is in the early
As Measure R funds expand transit options in
other parts of the city, Valley leaders say they are growing
Renee Berlin, Metro’s managing executive
officer of transit corridor planning, said the agency considers
population, employment centers and travel routes when prioritizing bus
and rail projects. Financing also plays a major role, she said.
“We’re a county agency,” Berlin said. “We don’t look at what one area has. ... We look at it from a countywide perspective.”
complaints from the Valley come at a sensitive time. Metro is
considering a 2016 ballot measure that would ask voters to fund more
transit projects. In the next two months, officials are expected to
begin finalizing a list of possible countywide projects for the ballot
measure, which some are calling Measure R2.
The new measure comes after voters rejected a 2012 proposal to extend Measure R by 30 years.
Some Metro board members are threatening to withhold support for R2 unless Valley projects are prioritized in the measure.
Valley received 13 percent of the city of Los Angeles’ total Measure R
project funds, despite the fact that the region makes up 39 percent of
the city, said Michael Cano, transportation deputy for Los Angeles
County Supervisor Michael Antonovich.
The supervisor, also a Metro board member, opposed Measure R in 2008 and campaigned against it.
to Krekorian, of the 80 commuter Metro rail stations in Los Angeles
County, just two are located in the Valley. The councilman listed a
number of transit goals for the region, including bus improvements and a
light rail system along the Orange Line that connects to Bob Hope
Airport and the San Gabriel Valley.
Metro’s Berlin argues that longstanding legislation hampered rail
upgrades along the Orange Line. Until it was repealed this year, a
state law forbade converting the route into light rail. The law was
requested by local neighborhoods.
Also putting pressure on Metro
is Valley on Track, a coalition of business and neighborhood groups that
formed earlier this year.
“We just want to get what the rest of
the county is getting,” said Stuart Waldman, head of the Valley Industry
and Commerce Association, which founded Valley on Track.
The coalition wants Metro to find funding for Valley-based
Measure R projects, including a new Van Nuys Boulevard line. The group
also contends that project’s environmental analysis process is taking
too long. Metro’s Berlin disputed that, saying an environmental review
typically takes 18-24 months.
The Valley isn’t alone in raising complaints about Measure R.
advocates from the San Gabriel Valley to the South Bay have also stated
that their communities were overlooked in the planning process.