Citing "horrible" on the part of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), Los Angeles City on Tuesday urged the council to support a resolution opposing all currently proposed plans to extend the 710 Freeway through Northeast Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley.
The council heard the message sent by Huizar—as well as the dozens of Highland Park, El Sereno and South Pasadena residents who attended Tuesday's meeting—and unanimously supported the resolution.
Introduced by Huizar on August 17, the anti-710 motion originally only opposed five of the six above and below ground routes Metro is currently considering. Those include, a tunnel that would be built below the neighborhood. Another proposed tunnel, F-2, would be built below the neighborhoods of Glassell Park and Mount Washington.
On Monday, Huizar expanded his motion in a tunnel that would run parrallel to Huntington Drive below South Pasadena and El Sereno—an option he had yet to take a stand on.
"What's different about resolution today is that we added F7. Originally we had proposed to oppose the illogical routes that made no sense, but we had been told anecdotally that the tunnel route may actually help El Sereno, the community that had been most impacted, since right now the 710 ends at Valley Boulevard and a lot of that traffic goes onto small streets. Soto and Huntington are used as alternatives right now, so you do have added traffic. They are impacted there," Huizar said. "As we heard about horrible outreach that Metro did. I started to have some doubts about whether we could get that appropriate information as to whether the tunnel was the right thing to do."
Huizar said that Tuesday's resolution was meant to place the burden on Metro and Caltrans to prove that a tunnel below El Sereno would be beneficial to commuters and residents.
Doug Failing, Executive Director of Highway Projects for Metro, has lauded Metro's outreach efforts, noting the numerous community meetings held in local communities regarding the 710 in the last year-and-a-half.
Janet Dodson, of the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council, said Huizar's decision to add route F-7 to the resolution was a "big deal."
"We didn't expect it, and he did it," Dodson said. "We were trying to figure out why he hadn't taken a stance against the F-7, and there was no good reason. He did the right thing."
President Michael Larsen told Eagle Rock Patch that he's "proud of Huizar's bold opposition" to the 710 freeway's extension. The Councilmember's decision seems to be based on what the people want, Larsen said, adding that Huizar's stance is a major boost to the anti-710 movement and a feather in the Councilmember's political cap.
. Metro will consider the staff recommendation on 9 a.m. Wednesday, August 29 at the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority in the Board Room.
Metro has been considering the proposed routes while they prepare to commence a lengthy environmental impact study, which would allow them to build the project. In the past, the agencies' efforts to extend the SR-710 by surface route have been thwarted by the Federal Highway Administration, which has prompted Metro and Caltrans to consider several above and underground options in this latest round.
Metro and Caltrans say the 710 extension would alleviate traffic in neighborhoods, and point to voters' passage of Measure R in 2008, which authorized $40 Billion in funds for traffic projects in L.A. County, as proof of broader support for their efforts.
A strong contingent of 710 opponents attended Tuesday's meeting to criticize Metro's efforts and to urge the city council to stand with the cities of South Pasadana, Glendale and La Cañada in officially opposing the 710 extension.
"This massive, polluting, overpriced, five-mile toll tunnel filled with trucks will not reduce congestion or pollution and it will not bring jobs to Los Angeles," Dodson said during the public comment period.
Richard Schneider, of the South Pasadena City Council, said his city's fight against the 710 had long been a "lonely battle," and urged the Los Angeles City Council to join the effort.
"It's been a lonely fight over the decades, but times are changing. We now have allies in the city of Glendale and the city of La Cañada and many communities of Los Angeles," Schneider said. "We've always had it in El Sereno, but now we have it in Highland Park, Garvanza, Glassell Park, Eagle Rock and Mount Washington. We hope in the near future we will have the official support of the Citty of Los Angeles, as well."