Valley on Track Coalition

From the San Fernando Valley Business Journal

By Mark Madler Friday, August 1, 2014

A coalition formed to bring light rail projects to the San Fernando Valley has added a significant number of members, the Valley Industry and Commerce Association announced this week.

Joining the Valley on Track coalition formed by VICA are L.A. City Councilmembers Mitch Englander, Tom LaBonge and Nury Martinez; Assemblyman Matt Dababneh, D-Woodland Hills; Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles; and Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian, D-Van Nuys. Institutional members joining were the North Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Greater San Fernando Valley Chamber of Commerce.

L.A. City Councilman Bob Blumenfield and Assemblymember Raul Bocanegra, D-Pacoima, were the only listed supporters when VICA first announced the coalition in June.

“The high speed and ridership potential of light rail, and low cost compared to heavy rail, makes it the best option for the desperately traffic-burdened Valley,” said VICA Chairman Coby King, in a statement.

The group is lobbying for three light rail projects in the Valley: converting the Orange Line busway into a railway and developing two wholly new routes – an East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor north-south from Sylmar to Van Nuys and a Sepulveda Pass Corridor that would link the Valley to the Westside via a tunnel under the Santa Monica Mountains.

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Light Rail Can Now be Built in the San Fernando Valley

Thanks to a state senator representing the San Fernando Valley decades ago there was a law passed by the legislature that banned light rail on Chandler Boulevard. It was a politically motivated action. The community in North Hollywood was concerned about the safety of light rail. The senator did what his constituents wanted.

Happily that community changed its views and there was no argument about safety this year. The law was repealed yesterday with Governor Brown’s signature.

While the Orange Line Busway is now running at capacity there is no money currently allocated by Los Angeles Metro to replace the system with light rail. The bridges built for the Orange Line Bus were built to withstand the weight of a light rail system. The cost would be for laying track and buying the cars.

Chambers of Commerce, city council members, and public demand could change the priorities.

Orange Line Bus Stop

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Fallbrook Shopping Center Sold for $210 Million

West-Hills-shopping-center

Not appearing in the general press the report of the sale of the Fallbrook Mall appeared on a web site titled http://www.postperiodical.com/.

If accurate the mall has been acquired by the Retail Opportunity Investments Corp  (a San Diego real estate investment trust) from  General Growth Properties (real estate investment trust).  General Growth also owns the Northridge Fashion Center and is reportedly the largest mall owner in the United States.

Fallbrook Shopping Center is one of the largest big-box retail centers in the San Fernando Valley.  General Growth Properties filed for bankruptcy in April 2009. The sale of the Fallbrook facility may be an effort to raise needed cash to subsidize the troubled retail environment. After all Fallbrook has many successful stores including Wal-Mart and Kohl’s.

Interestingly the areal view includes the Pride Center south of Victory Boulevard.  That property includes the now vacated Albertson’s grocery store. That space should be an opportunity for some company.

 

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Valley Light Rail Bill Moves Forward

From the San Fernando Valley Business Journal

By Mark Madler Thursday, June 12, 2014

A California Senate committee has passed a bill lifting a ban on light rail construction along portions of the Orange Line busway operated by the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The bill, AB 577, sponsored by Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian, D-Van Nuys, passed the Transportation and Housing Committee on Tuesday. It previously passed the Assembly and now moves to the Senate’s consent calendar.

If signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, the bill would repeal 1991 legislation that banned light rail in the Valley and limited transit projects to a subway or a dedicated bus way. Metro could then consider light rail along a 3.5 mile section of the Orange Line between North Hollywood and Hazeltine Avenue in Van Nuys.

Stuart Waldman, the Valley Industry & Commerce Association, a Sherman Oaks business advocacy group, said passage of the bill is an important first step in getting the San Fernando Valley a transportation system comparable with the rest of Los Angeles.

“The road to light rail transit may well be long, but now it’s not impossible,” said Waldman, in a prepared statement.

What is interesting about this is that our state senator is on that Senate committee.  I had an argument with her office person who told me that this bill would not be heard until after the July 4 recess.  I told her that is the reason Fran Pavley won’t be getting my vote.  Perhaps Mrs. Pavley received calls from others in the Valley

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What’s Wrong with Los Angeles?

The answer is simple. Our elected officials take no chances. Their primary objective is re-election. The majority of electorate doesn’t care who holds office as long as it is a Democrat. Thus the city and county continue down the same beaten path.

The mayor started his administration with a bang by discharging department heads that did not meet his performance expectations. He talked tough about standing up to the labor unions. Now when the rubber meets the road he has failed to take the steps address the real issues facing this city. The Los Angeles 2020 Commission, which was commissioned by the city council, has received no public attention at all. That commission recommended 13 actions needed by the city. The proposals have been referred to a committee. You can bet that we will never hear about their ideas again.

Reducing the gross receipts business tax for some groups by 2016 is too late and too little. Re-organization of city government means reducing bureaucracy. The rising numbers of poor and the declining middle class says this is city is following a path set by Detroit. Eric Garcetti is foremost a politician. I am betting he sees himself running for governor after Jerry Brown leaves office.

I have always wondered why the Orange Line Busway was built in the San Fernando Valley rather than the light rail that is being extended throughout Los Angeles County. The answer came at a townhall event held by the new State Assemblyman, Matt Debabneh.

In Debabneh’s commentary about improving public transportation he said former Assemblyman Alan Robbins had a law passed banning the construction of any above-ground rail transit project from North Hollywood to Hazeltine Avenue in Van Nuys. Robbins’ motivation was the area’s large Orthodox Jewish community who were particularly vocal in its opposition, primarily due to concerns about the safety of rail crossings for pedestrians during the Sabbath. They had no safety concerns for the rest of the week.
Now finally the Assembly Transportation Committee unanimously approved a repeal a 20-year-old bill that banned the construction of light rail in the Valley, which resulted in the Orange Line bus system being built. The bill (AB 577) was passed in the full assembly 73 to 7.

The proposed repeal is now has now been referred to Standing Committee on Transportation and Housing. A member of that committee is Fran Pavely who represents the West San Fernando Valley. Her office says she has no control over setting priorities in the committee. That is the chairman’s job. She has no voice?

Then there is the 47 acre Rocketdyne property in Canoga Park. Now that it has been vacated what will its next use be? This is a property that employed thousands of engineers and technicians in well paid jobs. State Assemblyman, Matt Debabneh said he had no problem with another retail and hotel development offering low paid jobs.

So where is the middle class? Consider Santa Clarita, Simi Valley, Agoura, and Thousand Oaks. Those are areas that have decent schools, paved streets, and low crime.

That is the reason Los Angeles is destined to become the next Detroit. It won’t happen next year. Visit this area in ten years and you will notice a further decline.

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CNN: How Los Angeles may look in the future

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Los Angeles Public Transportation

Move LA’s mission is to build a broad constituency that will advocate for the development of a comprehensive, diverse, robust, clean, and financially sound public transportation system for Los Angeles County and champion strategies to accelerate its implementation.

In the West San Fernando Valley we now have the Orange Line Busway on its own roadway.  Using an abandoned rail line the busway heads south from Chatsworth to Warner Center and heads east along that right of way to th heart of North Hollywood.  Walk across Lankershm Boulevard and enter the Red Line subway tunnel.  From that point its a fast ride to Hollywood and a total 2o minutes to Downtown Los Angeles.  A round trip fare is $5.00.  That rate beats the price of parking and you saved on wear and tear as well as the cost of gas.

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