June 17, 2016 - From the June, 2016 issue

Are San Fernando Valley Stakeholders Aligned With L.A. County Metro’s R2 Transit Investment Priorities?

For nearly four decades, Richard Close, president of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association, has been a well-recognized civic advocate for the San Fernando Valley. He is especially respected for his successful advocacy of the Ventura Boulevard Specific Plan adopted by the City of LA in the '90s, and his collaboration with then-Congressmember Howard Berman to add a lane on the 405 Freeway through the Sepulveda Pass, completed in 2014. TPR’s interview with Close is a followup to our recent interview of State Senator Robert Hertzberg, in which the latter expressed his view that LA Metro’s Expenditure Plan fails to align with the Valley present and future transit investment civic expectations and needs.

UPDATE: The Metro Board voted June 23 to send its expenditure plan to the November ballot.


Richard Close

"The Metro plan looks good on paper. It’s missing one critical element, though: a transit system to California State University-Northridge (CSUN). Of even more concern, thouh, is the lack of legal guarantees in the plan. The plan is built on trust, and unfortunately, I do not think Valley residents trust Metro to follow through." -Richard Close

Metro’s expenditure plan and sales tax, now commonly referred to as Measure R2, are scheduled to be considered by the Metro Board June 23. If approved, the plancoupled with an evergreen provision that obviates the need for Metro to ever come back to the voterswould then be on the November ballot. Serious concerns are being raised by reputable leadership that the San Fernando Valley is not receiving its fair share of the proposed funding resulting from passage of new sales tax. As one of the Valley’s most recognized and tenured leaders, what are your thoughts on Metro’s Draft Expenditure Plan?

The people of the San Fernando Valley realize that they have not received a fair share of the money that has been raised through the original Measure R sales tax increase for rapid transit. Of the 88 rail stations in the County, the Valley only has 2. In the prior ballot measure, we were promised a number of light-rail lines, and those never were built. Therefore, Valley residents are very skeptical of the newly proposed Metro plan.

That said, the Metro plan looks good on paper. It’s missing one critical element, though: a transit system to California State University, Northridge (CSUN).

Of even more concern, though, is the lack of legal guarantees in the plan. The plan is built on trust, and unfortunately, I do not think Valley residents trust Metro to follow through.

In the original Measure R, they raised our sales taxes but we received very little. Now, they want to raise the sales tax to 9.5% with “commitments”, not legal requirements.

I want to see the Measure pass. But without legal guarantees, Valley residents will not vote for the measure in November and it will not get the 2/3 vote needed to increase the sales tax.

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You've been in the room at times when reaching consensus was necessary. What does Metro need to do to entice  San Fernando Valley voters to support, by a supermajority, the proposed sales tax?

Before the Metro Board vote next Thursday, it is necessary to change the plan so that what is promised on paper is legally binding. Secondly, they have to put more programs and funding into the San Fernando Valley because we have not received our fair share for the last twenty years. For example, where are people to park to use the transit lines. In the Valley, we need adequate parking to encourage more use of the system.

It is time for the Valley to get their fair share of rapid transit projects and take part in the transformation that is occurring in other places in the county.

Who are the Valley stakeholders, and whom should Valley residents turn to for guidance on this issue? Who, essentially, is looking out for the Valley?

The transportation leaders for the Valley are Senator Robert Hertzberg, former Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, and former Assemblyman Richard Katz. These are the community leaders that are working to protect the Valley. Without two-thirds Valley support in November, the Metro plan is dead. 

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© 2020 The Planning Report | David Abel, Publisher, ABL, Inc.