ACCORDING TO LIZ - Do the good folks at the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) think that the people of Eagle Rock are blithering idiots or did they outright lie in reply to a legal request?
On May 9th, in connection with Metro’s attempt to ram an impractical Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)/road diet project through the heart of Eagle Rock along Colorado Boulevard – one lane for BRT buses only with everything else in the single other lane, the Save Eagle Rock Community sent a Public Records Act (PRA) request to Metro, copying a number of elected officials.
For the uninitiated, pursuant to California Government Code 6253, any member of the public may request a public record which is defined as “any writing containing information relating to the conduct of the public’s business prepared, owned, used or retained by any state or local agency regardless of physical form or characteristics.”
There are exemptions for records containing personal identifying information including medical data as well as records protected by an attorney-client privilege or proprietary information, and where the public interest in withholding the records clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosing them.
Agencies have 10 calendar days to make a determination in response to a PRA request which may, in certain circumstances, be extended by written notice by an additional 14 calendar days. Many delay longer to avoid being held responsible for what these records reveal.
On July 13th, over nine weeks after the request, Metro replied – stating that a search did not yield any records, a patently false response – unless the department has chosen to advise neither affected businesses nor the public of meetings to address drastic changes to a thriving Eagle Rock neighborhood. Perhaps to avoid being held accountable?
Which is probable cause, in and of itself, to replace the department completely.
What is known, is that Metro did not count or respond to any of the 600 residents signing the petition against the BRT-only lanes on Colorado submitted Robert Velasquez in 2019, or the 2,000-odd signatories of a petition submitted to Metro the same year with copies hand-delivered to Hilda Solis’ office in March of 2021, or the 1,534 names petitioning that the BRT drive in the normal mixed-flow lanes, submitted to Metro and the entire Metro Board last October.
Nor did Metro e-mail any of these signers who were clearly concerned stakeholders living along or adjacent to the proposed project any notification of the BRT Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) would receive final approval at the Metro Board meeting on April 28, 2022.
Tito Corona, Metro’s Communications Manager, has also confirmed that none of their names were added to the Metro database – a shocking act of disrespect in a democracy that should require the firing of all concerned.
Nor did Metro contact the Eagle Rock Chamber of Commerce or any of the businesses that, as documented in an internal MTA memo, they spoke with last November who voiced objections to the center running BRT-only lanes and removal of parking – elements front and center in Metro’s approved plan.
However, both Metro and the office of Hilda Solis claim tremendous community support for the gutting of the Colorado Boulevard corridor through Eagle Rock citing the petition from the Beautiful Boulevard group. This despite the fact that very few of the 1,200 names on that petition had Eagle Rock zip codes.
Note that the release of the FEIR on March 22, 2022 was the FIRST time businesses and residents along the affected area could see the real design. And even then, it took a lot of digging through a confusing, shall we say deliberately obfuscating, document to get to the meat.
And if it’s such a wonderful plan, why make such an effort to keep its truths from people’s eyes?
And why didn’t Kevin De León and Hilda Solis who clearly knew about the Metro meeting since they there to speak in support of the plan so “shocked” at subsequent citizen outrage?
Prior to March 22nd there were only vague plans – the 1-Lane design, the 2- Lane design, the center-running, the side-running, the F1, the Refined F1, the 134 Freeway option, and various permutations of each.
From then until Metro’s FEIR approval meeting on April 28th – a little over five weeks – was all the time Eagle Rock residents and businesses had to comprehend the impact of this design, to rally those that would be affected, and to submit comments.
There were no meetings to educate business owners, no meetings to solicit community input, no outreach by any of the Metro Board or any elected community leaders to listen to concerns or comments or discuss compromises.
There was also no presentation of the actual F1 1-Lane design version from Metro, not even on Zoom.
This approved Refined F1 1-Lane option:
- Creates single-lane gridlock for the mile east of Eagle Rock Boulevard for all east-west commuters as well as residents
- Traps the four local bus routes – 180, 81, 251 and Dash - in that single-lane gridlock further confounding the problem
- Removes parking and provides no delivery access or customer drop-off zones for existing enterprises which may force many of them to close, that would gut a tree-lined district of restaurants and small businesses, many kid and family-oriented
- Blocks the fire station including access to their fuel service for all LAFD vehicles in the northeast
- Creates an obstacle course for fire trucks and ambulances, illegally violating Fire Codes that exist for people’s safety
- Generates dangerous conditions for all pedestrians, but especially the disabled, and passengers being dropped into bike lanes at every stop for local buses
- Moves what parking spots remain into the street to create "parking protected bike lanes" that are not ADA-compliant and are downright dangerous for disabled, elderly and families trying to get out of parked cars
- Blocks off 17 left turns onto residential streets and schools
- Removes the al fresco dining patios from restaurants that generate income, add to the small-town ambience, and allow patrons with ongoing Covid concerns to dine in more safety (Eagle Rock has a significant population of seniors and a higher than average incidence of respiratory issues due to particulate matter from the adjacent Glendale-operated Scholl Canyon dump)
This is not a feasible plan and not in the interest of a majority of stakeholders.
Every Angeleno needs to rise up in protest against this travesty, this failure of true neighborhood engagement in the interest of a partisan and, dare one say it, a “woke” few.
Your street may be next.
(Liz Amsden is a contributor to CityWatch and an activist from Northeast Los Angeles with opinions on much of what goes on in our lives. She has written extensively on the City's budget and services as well as her many other interests and passions. In her real life she works on budgets for film and television where fiction can rarely be as strange as the truth of living in today's world.)