Pasadena Council to discuss forming 710 Freeway task force
|June 3, 2014 - Pasadena Councilman Terry Tornek calls for a citizens committee on the Long Beach Freeway, citing the success of the Devil's Gate Sediment Working Group regarding Hahamongna Watershed Park.|
Cars getting on South710 freeway from Valley Boulevard in Alhambra Friday, October 7, 2011. A bill sponsored by Assemblyman Gil Cedilo, D-Los Angeles, was signed in to law this week, giving the South Pasadena City Council back it's authority to control a possible extension of the 710 Freeway. (SGVN/Staff Photo by Walt Mancini/SXCity)
PASADENA>> The City Council Monday agreed to discuss at a future meeting strategies to ensure that the 710 freeway north extension project does not negatively impact the city.
Councilman Terry Tornek asked Mayor Bill Bogaard to put the item on a future agenda, suggesting that the city create a special task force to look into the various suggested alternatives for the project. He noted the success of the citizen group the city created to do an outside study of the Devil’s Gate Dam sediment removal project. The group, made up of local citizens and experts, studied the impacts of the proposed sediment removal in the treasured Hahamongna Watershed Park and generated a “Pasadena alternative” that would minimize impacts on the city’s natural resources and residents.
“It occurred to me that in the context of the 710 freeway discussion that we really could use that as a model,” Tornek said. “It seems to me we could potentially replicate the model for Devil’s gate to develop a Pasadena preferred alternative that would be vastly superior to alternatives under review.”
Tornek has already declared his intention to run for mayor in 2015.
The 710 north extension, which would connect the freeway stubs in Alhambra and Pasadena, has been a controversial debate among the cities in the Los Angeles region for decades. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is in the midst of an environmental study on five new alternatives to close the freeway gap: “no build,” transportation management options, light rail, bus and a freeway tunnel.
Councilman Victor Gordo agreed the discussion would be valuable, but suggested the city also work with the already established five-city coalition created to fight alternatives that might be detrimental. The council voted to join South Pasadena, La Canada Flintridge, Glendale and Sierra Madre in the “5-Cities Alliance,” agreeing to chip in $50,000, last December.
Gordo also suggested Pasadena include the city of Los Angeles in the discussion and possible study. The Los Angeles City Council voted in August 2012 to oppose the tunnel option for the freeway extension.
“If we set up process like Hahamongna we may end up with an output that might be viewed as Pasadena-specific. I would suggest a more regional approach, working with our neighbors and the city of Los Angeles and other communities, that really looks at this issue for what it is, a regional issue,” Gordo said. “We stand a better chance of gaining credibility if we have a discussion that involves the region.”
Councilman Steve Madison has long been a strong voice against the 710 tunnel option, and brought the issue to vote at the council level without success. The council has declined to pass a motion condemning the tunnel option because many council members have argued that the city’s 2001 voter-approved Measure A, in which residents voted to support the freeway extension, prohibits them from voting against the project.
Madison did not comment during the short council discussion Monday. The council was prohibited from discussing the issue at length because the item was not on the official agenda.
Metro recently announced that the release of the draft EIR, which was scheduled to come out this spring, has been delayed until February 2015.
However, Pasadena council members agreed that the city should take action now.
“I’m interested,” Bogaard said. “It gives us an opportunity to get started with this sooner rather than later.”
City Manager Michael Beck said he plans to bring the item back for discussion in about a month.
Pasadena isn’t the only city getting ahead of the game in the 710 battle. The city of Alhambra and others who support the freeway extension have joined to form the 710 Coalition, which held a pro-710 banner dedication ceremony in Alhambra Tuesday. The city, in conjunction with the coalition, plans to host its second “710 Day” street festival and rally on July 10.
For more information on the 710 study, visit www.metro.net/projects/sr-710-conversations.
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