At Packed Eagle Rock Meeting, Public Comment Split While BRT Foes Harrassed BRT Supporters
5:15 PM PDT on July 15, 2019
Last Saturday Metro hosted a community input meeting on its planned North Hollywood to Pasadena Bus Rapid Transit project. The northeast L.A. City community of Eagle Rock has emerged as ground zero of a conflict between supporters urging "BRT for Equity," and critics claiming BRT will "devastate" businesses and "severely increase traffic."
Metro’s North Hollywood to Pasadena Transit Corridor project has $267 million in Measure M funding. The ~18-mile BRT line is planned to run mostly on streets in four cities - Burbank, Glendale, Pasadena, and Los Angeles - as well as partially on the 134 Freeway. There are many BRT features under consideration, though the most contentious aspect of the project is up to nine miles of dedicated peak period bus-only lanes.
Metro is in the middle of a series of five meetings soliciting public comments on the scope of the BRT project's draft Environmental Impact Report. At last week's meetings, a majority of public comments were supportive of BRT. Meetings continue tonight and the day after tomorrow:
- Burbank: Tonight Monday 7/15, 6-8 p.m. at Buena Vista Branch Library, 300 N. Buena Vista Street
- Glendale: Wednesday 7/17, 5:30–7:30 p.m. at Glendale Downtown Central Library, 222 E. Harvard Street
Public comment was split more-or-less evenly between BRT proponents and opponents.
The anti-BRT crowd continues to misleading state that they want "#BetterBRT" on the 134 Freeway instead of on Colorado Boulevard where it would serve the core of the Eagle Rock community.
Longtime Eagle Rock community activist and TERA (The Eagle Rock Association) co-founder Kathleen Aberman testified "We don't want to ride the buses. They're dirty. They're not safe, and they're dangerous." Other anti-BRT speakers threatened to take Metro to court to block the project.
Current TERA president Greg Merideth, in a June 2019 e-newsletter, staked out a nuanced position in support of BRT. Merideth stated:
Now is not the time to raise pitchforks, but instead to raise ideas... TERA has every intention of actively engaging Metro, participating in the EIR process, submitting thorough comments at every stage, engaging our elected officials and leveraging our highly engaged residents, stakeholders, and businesses to ensure that Metro does right by Eagle Rock.
We find Metro’s goals of increasing transit access, improving regional mobility, reducing transportation costs, and easing commutes as not only worthy but necessary. ...we will support increased transit access on Colorado Boulevard but only in a manner that works for our unique neighborhood.
Supporters spoke in favor of Colorado Boulevard BRT on grounds of mobility justice, environmental justice, sustainability, and convenient transit.
Bike the Vote L.A. founder and Eagle Rock homeowner Michael MacDonald's public comment included reading a 2016 letter from the Eagle Rock Chamber of Commerce that refuted false claims by Eagle Rock 411 that Metro had not consulted the local chamber.
Chamber of Commerce president Michael Noguiera has been a big part of the recent ER411 campaign against BRT, including hanging a Chamber-logo anti-BRT banner across Colorado Boulevard. ER411 claims that Metro did not reach out to the Eagle Rock Chamber, but in 2016, Noguiera signed the Chamber's letter to Metro stating "I would like to express my strong support for an alignment that runs down Colorado Boulevard through Eagle Rock."
BRT supporters reported being boo-ed, aggressively shouted at, confronted angrily, harassed, and even having overheard an ethnic slur directed at a person of color commenting in favor of the project. BRT for Equity leader Felicia Garcia called the meeting's environment "toxic" and "exhausting." She questioned "How many [people] came by meeting [and] left when they saw signs waved in faces [and] aggressive shouting?" In a post-meeting letter to Metro, MacDonald also cited the meeting's toxic atmosphere and urged Metro to make its meetings "safe and welcoming."
Though it would be understandable that folks would want to sit out these toxic meetings, for BRT to succeed, supporters should attend the remaining two meetings - tonight and Wednesday. Reportedly, County Supervisor Hilda Solis is working with Metro to schedule two additional Eagle Rock meetings.
The deadline for this round of public comment is due by July 31. BRT for Equity is encouraging BRT supporters to sign and share its online petition. The public can submit EIR scoping comments via email to nohopasbrt(at)metro.net and can express opinions to area Metro boardmembers:
- County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl – sheila(at)bos.lacounty.gov
- County Supervisor Hilda Solis – firstdistrict(at)bos.lacounty.gov
- County Supervisor Kathryn Barger – Kathryn(at)bos.lacounty.gov
- L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti – mayor.helpdesk(at)lacity.org
- L.A. City Councilmember Paul Krekorian – councilmember.Krekorian(at)lacity.org
- Glendale Mayor Ara Najarian – anajarian(at)glendaleca.gov
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