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Posts from the "Ara Najarian" Category

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It’s Official: Metro Will Have Ara Najarian to Kick Around for Awhile

The long process of reconfirming Ara Najarian to the Metro Board of Directors has come to an end with the Glendale City Councilman still standing. Flying in the face of tradition, a group of cities that support the 710 Big Dig Project, allegedly at the direction of Supervisor Mike Antonovich, attempted to squash Najarian’s nomination from the North County cities he represents.

One of these men will be serving on the Metro Board of Directors in July. Image:The Source

At a December meeting of the City Selection Committee, fellow Board Member and Duarte City Council Member John Fasana and Alhambra Mayor Barbara Messina managed to get Najarian’s nomination rejected. Every L.A. County City, excepting Los Angeles, votes in the City Selection Committee with weighted votes. Cities such as Culver City and cities in the South Bay rejected a nomination from the North County in December. Last night, the opposition to Najarian vanished. His nomination passed  by a weighted vote of 3,160,000 to 290,999.

“I’m very happy that I’ve been confirmed to take my seat on the MTA Board,” said Najarian. “L.A. is moving in the right direction in terms of transit, subway and light rail. I look forward to working with my fellow directors and community leaders to continue to make L.A. a good place to live, work and travel.”

Najarian is currently a member of the Metro Board of Directors and chaired the board in 2009. He was also a member of the Metrolink Board of Directors until he was removed by Antonovich last year.

After his rejection in December, a heated campaign that included the No on 710 Coalition, Congressman Adam Schiff, and Najarian himself ensued. Eventually, the Los Angeles Times’ Jim Newton weighed in on the Najarian nomination and pointed the finger at County Supervisor Antonovich for the confusion. With the wind at his back, North County cities met to re-consider the nomination and refused to nominate anyone else for the position except Najarian.

Read more…

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Congressman Weighs in on Metro Board Nomination: Keep Najarian

In the odd drama over whether or not Glendale City Councilman Ara Najarian will be reappointed to the Metro Board of Directors, there are a lot of conspiracy theories.

Congressman Adam Schiff. Photo: Tim Berger/La Canada Online

Some, including the Councilman, believe that Supervisor Mike Antonovich is using Alhambra Mayor Barbara Messina and Duarte City Council Member John Fasana to wage a proxy war against Najarian. Antonovich, a political heavyweight who used his current position as Chair of the Metro Board of Directors to replace Najarian with Mark Ridley-Thomas on the Metrolink Board of Directors, is believed to be stung by Najarian’s vote to place Measure J on the fall ballot and incensed over his effective opposition to the I-710 Big Dig project.

If this theory is true, then Najarian’s chances for renomination have brightened as an even bigger fish is now backing his bid to return to the Metro Board. Congressman Adam Schiff , in a widely copied letter, wrote to the League of California Cities to forcefully back Najarian and reject any notion that his position against The Dig should disqualify him from serving on the Board. His letter is  available exclusively online here at Streetsblog.

After defending both his record as a Board Member and his position on the Big Dig, Schiff argues that a vote against Najarian is a vote for parochial interests over that of the whole county.

The Metro Board is well served by members with a diverse set of views, so that the County has the benefit of a cross-fertilization of ideas and from the scrutiny from a Board that is not a rubber stamp from any particular point of view. Although Ara has served our region extremely well, he has not served in a parochial way; nor should individual voting members of the League of California Cities act parochially in attempting to reject his nomination. Read more…

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Najarian Effort to Retain Metro Board Seat about to Commence

(Update: It turns out that unless the Najarian nomination is rejected by a majority in a weighted vote by the City Selection Committee, that no action is required by North County Cities earlier today. While the Committee didn’t confirm his nomination, it didn’t reject it either. This wasn’t announced until today at the meeting, with everyone involved somewhat confused as to what the rules are. As Najarian put it in an interview with Streetsblog, “It’s no surprise people are confused. This has never happened before.”

In the meantime, Najarian continues to serve as a member of the Metro Board of Directors unless the North County cities and the City Selection Committee agree to a different representative.- DN, 11:32 A.M.)

This morning the North County/San Fernando Valley Sector-MTA of the Los Angeles County City Selection Committee will be meeting in the Council Chambers of the city of San Fernando. The sole item for discussion on the agenda is for the Sector to recommend a nominee for their seat on the L.A. Metro Board of Directors for a four-year term ending January 1, 2017. This is the latest episode in the soap opera like drama surrounding the attempt by proponents of the I-710 Big Dig project to keep vocal opponent Ara Najarian from continuing to serve on the Metro Board. The proponents make no bones it his use of his seat on the Board as a bully pulpit to preach his opposition that drove them to try and prevent Najarian’s re-appointment.

Najarian is no hater of freeway projects. Just ones that his constituents despise. Photo: Caltrans

Najarian previously received the nod of the Sector last October only to have project proponents actively prevent Najarian from receiving enough weighed votes to be confirmed when the full Committee met in December. Note that at the same meeting Mayor DuBois of Lakewood easily had her appointment to continue on the Metro Board ratified, which signifies what an unusual move this is being taken against Najarian.

Only 52 of the 88 cities in Los Angeles county were present at the December meeting. This matters because the votes are weighed by population (i.e. larger cities have more votes). Najarian received a total weighted vote of 236, short of the required 250 weighted votes for ratification.

If as I expect the Sector votes to re-confirm its nomination of Najarian the next step is for the full Committee to meet sometime in the near future and consider the matter. And one can bet Najarian and his allies will be working to make sure enough supporters attend to finally get him past the opposition. The Committee is made up of the Mayors of all the various cities in the county, although they can designate a proxy from among any of their city council members to attend and vote in their stead. Read more…

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Najarian Metro Board Seat in Danger Over Opposition to 710 Big Dig

(The original version of the story stated that the League of Cities selects the Metro Board Members. Dana Gabbard points out it is actually The City Selection Committee. The CSC is not a subsidiary of the League of California Cities, Los Angeles Division. Its authority is Sections 50270 through 50281 of the Government Code, and it is administered by Los Angeles County.)

Metro Board Member Ara Najarian’s seat at the table of the Metro Board of Directors is in danger because of his staunch opposition to the I-710 Big Dig project that would tunnel under San Gabriel Valley cities to connect the I-710 and I-210.

Najarian is no hater of freeway projects. Just ones that his constituents despise. Photo: Caltrans

Najarian, a Glendale City Council Member, serves on the Board as a representative of 12 “North County” cities including Glendale, Burbank, La Canada, San Fernando, Malibu, Calabasas, Agoura Hills, Hidden Hills, Santa Clarita, Lancaster, and Palmdale. While these cities still support Najarian’s re-nomination as a Board Member, the Board Members are officially selected by The City Selection Committee (CSC). A CSC committee rejected his nomination, last week, with members specifically citing his opposition to a project that is nationally ridiculed by environmentalists and abhorred by the communities it would negatively impact.

“As a resident of one of the North County Cities, La Canada, that unanimously supported Ara as its representative on the Metro Board, I and many others are outraged that our cities’ selection for this position is being undermined,” writes Jan SooHoo, a leading member of the No 710 Coalition.

Spearheading the effort to oust Najarian is Alhambra Mayor Barbara Messina and Duarte City Council Member, and Metro Board Member John Fasana. Alhambra is not one of the cities that Najarian represents. Neither is Duarte.  For their parts, Fasana and Messina make no bones that it is Najarian’s spirited opposition to the tunnel that brings out their opposition. From the Pasadena Star-News: Read more…

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Shakeup at Metrolink Board: Najarian Out. Ridley-Thomas In?

Antonovich, Palmdale's Mayor, Metro CEO Art Leahy and Najarian pose with a check. Photo: The Source

One of the powers of the Chair of the Metro Board of Directors, is the right to appoint three members to the Board of the Southern California Regional Rail Authority, commonly known as Metrolink.  Supervisor Mike Antonovich, who took over as Metro Board Chair on July 1, wasted no time in exercising that power, replacing Glendale City Councilman Ara Najarian with Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

The move has surprised and baffled local rail watchers, not the least of which is Najarian.  The Glendale City Councilman responded to the switch with shock, pleading with the Supervisor to change his mind through a formal letter and later criticizing the decision at a meeting of the Glendale City Council.

“If you’re wondering how many miles of Metrolink rail is in Supervisor Ridley-Thomas’ district, that number is zero,” Najarian testified.

Najarian served on the Metrolink Board for six years and was one of two practicing lawyers on the Board during a time of legal crisis.  He was appointed by the following Metro Board Chairs: Supervisor Gloria Molina, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Santa Monica Mayor Pam O’Connor, Villaraigosa (again), Supervisor Knabe and Villaraigosa (a third time.)  He also served as Metro Board Chair in the 2009-2010 fiscal year, where he automatically sat on the Metrolink Board.

Staff for both Antonovich and Ridley-Thomas defended the decision.

A spokesman for the Metro Board Chair told Streetsblog that Antonovich was most interested in filling his appointments to the Metrolink Board with people who share his vision for regional rail.  The spokesman outlined a vision where one could take rail to every major airport in the area and where a regional rail network didn’t just connect the major population centers in and near the City of Los Angeles, but the entire county.  According to the spokesman, Antonovich was simply more comfortable with Ridley-Thomas than with Najarian. Read more…

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Name the SR-710 Extension Moves to the Final Page, But How Much Will It Cost?

Final Round: Let's Rename the 710 Gap Project

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Last week’s poll asking you to vote on what name L.A. Streetsblog will use to describe the 710 Extension Project was easily Streetsblog’s most popular poll to date, with 252 total votes.  Two project names got sixty votes each to move on to this final poll.  One week from today, either Art Dean’s “Golden Freight Freeway” or Joanne Nuckols’ “SR-710, L.A.’s Big Dig” will become the official name that Streetsblog uses to describe the project from here on out.

The 710 Extension has been a hot topic this week.  Yesterday at the Metro Board Meeting, staff presented an estimate on how much the project would cost if the agency decides to move forward with a tunnel alternative.  The cost?  $2.81 billion.

That number is less than 20% of the cost of the infamous “Big Dig,” despite the Dig actually being a smaller project by length.  Not surprisingly, Glendale Mayor and Metro Board Member Ara Najarian took exception.  In a spirited back and forth with Board Chair Don Knabe, Najarian questioned the ethics of senior Metro Staff Art Leahy and Richard Moliere for signing the document.

The methodology for coming up with the $2.81 billion number was somewhat convoluted.  Read more…

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Najarian on 710: Before We Pay for EIR, Let’s Know the Cost

This isn't the first time Board Member Najarian has tried to hold up the 710 Tunnel Project.  This photo is from a ##http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/05/glendale-hopes-to-derail-710-freeway-tunnel-proposal.html##LA_Now article## on an attempt from last May.

This isn't the first time Board Member Najarian has tried to hold up the 710 Tunnel Project. This photo is from a LA_Now article on an attempt from last May.

For a full sized copy of the route map, click ##http://no710.com/map.html##here##

For a full sized copy of the route map, click here

Now that the full agenda for this week’s meeting of the Metro Board Meeting is finally online, we can focus on issues beyond the Wilshire Bus Only Lanes.

Another highlight of the meeting is an attempt by Glendale Mayor and Metro Board Member Ara Najarian to slow down the momentum that the I-710 Tunnel Project has had since the passage of Measure R. The proposed “gap closure” of the 710 and the 210 freeways would cost somewhere between $1 billion and $11.4 billion depending what estimate you believe.

Najarian’s ask, that the Board require a cost estimate for the tunnel before tens of millions of dollars are spent on environmental studies, is reasonable; but may not get a sympathetic hearing from the Board.  Even the “No on 710″ coalition understands that so far, only L.A. City Councilman Jose Huizar has supported the resolution in public.  That means they need at least five more votes to have a majority on the thirteen person Board.

Giving more momentum to the opponents of the tunnel was a new ranking of infrastructure projects that listed the I-710 expansion project as one of the most wasteful in the country.  “Green Scissors” ranking pulled no punches while calling for the road to be removed from the national network so no federal dollars are wasted on the tunnel.

Federal taxpayers should not be asked to pay for a project with a flawed EIS, nationwide opposition and a $10 billion shortfall in the local transportation funding agency. At $311 million per mile, this project is more expensive per mile than most urban freeways and the Los Angeles subway system.

The “No on 710″ coalition is also sending letters to Board Members asking for support for Najarian’s motion, and they have different letters for different Board Members.  For example, Mayor Villaraigosa will be reminded that: Read more…

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Former Metro Board Chair: How Much Will 710 Tunnel Cost?

Maybe Ara Najarian has been reading the news about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie canceling the ARC Rail Tunnel Project because of concerns about cost over runs.

Najarian, the Glendale Mayor and Member of the Metro Board, tells the Glendale News-Press that he will ask the Metro Board of Directors to order a cost analysis to build an underground tunnel connecting the 710 Freeway, which now ends in Alhambra, to the Pasadena Freeway.  Usually, a cost analysis is part of the environmental studies, but given the potentially huge cost of the project, and the wildly different estimates given for the project over the years (see chart below); Najarian is arguing that Metro should have some hard fiscal figures before committing to spending nearly $60 million on an environmental study.

While Najarian announced the motion to the press and hinted at it on the “No 710 Freeway Tunnel” Facebook Page, the motion does not appear on the Metro Board Schedule for this month.  Given that the schedule is so packed that they moved the start of the meeting to 9:00 A.M. from 9:30 A.M., it’s possible that a hearing for the motion will be delayed until next month.

Chart Provided by "No 710"

Chart Provided by "No 710 Freeway Tunnel"

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The Problem(s) with Westlake MacArthur Park

Last week, Metro Chair Ara Najarian penned a piece for The Source announcing that bicycle parking is coming to the Westlake/MacArthur Park T.O.D. at some point in the future.  It's not everyday that the Metro Board Chair responds to something written on Streetsblog (although Stephen Box and I are debating which one of us he actually responded to); so Streetsblog owes a response.

First, The Source, had previously understated Streetsblog's position on the MacArthur Park Development.  In their April 15 transportation headlines, it summarizes the complaints with Westlake/MacArthur Park by only mentioning one complaint: the total lack of bike parking.

The lack of bicycle parking is one issue, but Streetsblog also raised red flags about the large amount of car parking and the lack of promotion of the sites eight bus stops surrounding the development in favor of the train station.

Najarian's piece did little to debunk the non-bicycle related concerns.  Even though it spends a lot of time on the bike parking issue, it still doesn't do much to clear up that picture.  Najarian writes:

Contrary to some blog reports, the fact is that bicycle parking will be included in this development and implemented in a manner that is most convenient and accessible to our bicycle customers.

That's great!  It would have been nice if Metro had put that in any of their press releases on the development, but nobody's perfect.  I guess we'll just pat Metro on the back and go our separate ways. But...

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Want to Add 30,000 Cars to the I-210? Then Dig the 710 Tunnel

A traffic analysis published by the City of Glendale projects that the "completion" of the I-710  by building a tunnel under South Pasadena would cause an increase of 30,000 vehicles daily on the I-210 north of SR-134.  The report was included as part of a packet to Glendale City Council Members with a resolution affirming the town's traditional opposition to the project.  In one of the non-surprises of the year, the Council, which includes Metro Board Chair Ara Najarian, voted to oppose the project.

So, how does the state propose to deal with all of these new vehicles, less than 10% of which would be trucks?  The report quotes the Draft Traffic Study for the plan that stating:

"Consider additional capacity on 1-210 between SR-134 and SR-2, if the Missing Link is constructed, to preserve the operation conditions on this freeway segment. Construction of the fifth lane in each direction may he considered."

If widening of the I-210 is going to be needed after the completion of the tunnel, Caltrans shouldn't study the environmental impacts of the two road projects separately but together.  If the 710 Tunnel is going to necessitate the I-210 widening we shouldn't treat them as separate studies.  If the studies are done separately, we're going to hear from Caltrans officials about all of the increased traffic "requiring" a widening of the I-210 and this second project would end up being a foregone conclusion.  Thus, the sprawling wheel of highway capacity enhancements would continue to turn.

Glendale joins the towns of La Cañada Flintridge in opposing the project.