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Civility Breaks Out at Metro Eagle Rock BRT Meeting

12:51 PM PDT on August 8, 2019

Small group discussion at Metro’s Eagle Rock BRT open house. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Last night Metro hosted an open house meeting on the planned North Hollywood to Pasadena Bus Rapid Transit project. The meeting took place at Samuelson Pavilion on the campus of Occidental College in Eagle Rock. The last time Metro hosted an Eagle Rock BRT meeting, disruptive nimbys shouted down project supporters and Metro staff.

Last night's meeting was pretty civil.

Metro's planned NoHo-Pasadena BRT route
Metro's planned NoHo-Pasadena BRT route

Metro’s North Hollywood to Pasadena Transit Corridor project is a planned ~18-mile BRT anticipated to run mostly on streets in four cities – Burbank, Glendale, Pasadena, and Los Angeles – with a short portion on the 134 Freeway. The project has $267 million in voter-approved Measure M funding. Many BRT features are under consideration, though Eagle Rock nimbys are fighting against a potential nine miles of dedicated bus-only lanes.

The earlier Eagle Rock BRT meeting featured speakers giving testimony in front of the entire gathering. This led to grandstanding, and plenty of anti-BRT folks muttering, booing, and hissing when Metro staff and BRT supporters were speaking.

Last night's Eagle Rock BRT meeting
Last night's Eagle Rock BRT meeting

For last night's meeting Metro changed the format to be an open house, with no public speaking to the crowd assembled. Participants were invited to discuss the project with Metro representatives, to collect stickers by checking in at various stations, and to provide input via written cards or comments spoken to a court recorder.

Small group discussion station at last night's meeting
Small group discussion station at last night's meeting

Metro emailed out and posted meeting conduct rules stressing respectful behavior. These included:

    • Respect the format of the meeting and allow everyone an opportunity to speak with project planners and Metro staff
    • Listen respectfully, allow others to speak and do not interrupt them
    • Treat fellow community members, agency representatives, Metro staff, and others with respect both during and after the meeting

There were nearly a dozen uniformed Metro law enforcement officers at the entrance to the meeting as well as inside the rooms.

Metro CEO Phil Washington and board members Hilda Solis and Ara Najarian were in attendance. Early on, Metro Community Relations Director Jody Litvak made brief opening remarks. Several people in the crowd shouted hostility when Litvak announced that the project would make things better for bus riders. The crowd was not disruptive during brief remarks by Solis, Najarian, and State Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo. Solis emphasized her commitment to listening to the public's concerns. She announced an additional Eagle Rock meeting that does not appear to have been scheduled yet.

Anti-BRT folks had threatened BRT supporters in advance of the meeting.

On Facebook, anti-BRT voices accused Eagle Rock resident and Equitable Eagle Rock co-founder Felicia Garcia of living in Lincoln Heights, a lower-income predominantly Latino and Asian neighborhood about four miles south of Eagle Rock. Eagle Rock is whiter (though racially mixed) and higher income than Lincoln Heights. The posts stated that they would try to get Garcia's address and email if she shows up at a meeting.

At Tuesday night's Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council meeting, Eagle Rock homeowner and BRT advocate Michael MacDonald received a notice that an anti-BRT person would be sending letters to the FBI, U.S. Attorney, journalists, Metro board, and others, requesting a "full blown investigation" of Metro staff, ERNC members, McDonald [sic], and others - regarding conflict of interest, untrue statements, and "more additional [sic] topics." (SBLA will bring readers "more additional" information about the letter and investigation if and when they surface.)

Threat notice recieved by Michael MacDonald - via Twitter
Threat notice received by Michael MacDonald - via Twitter

On Tuesday, the ERNC approved two motions that push for BRT to best serve the Eagle Rock community.

At the front entrance to last night's meeting, two anti-BRT persons were handing out a glossy new Keep L.A. Moving four-page anti-BRT brochure. The brochure is full of misleading, alarmist Keep L.A. Moving propaganda about Playa Del Rey, and claims that road diets make streets less safe, and that BRT will bankrupt businesses, worsen climate change, and restrict disaster evacuations.

It was difficult to gauge any overall tenor of the 200+ attendees, who appeared to be older and whiter than Eagle Rock itself. A few wore "No Metro" t-shirts and some carried anti-BRT signs reading "Keep median green! Save our trees!"

Sign at last night's Eagle Rock BRT meeting
Sign at last night's Eagle Rock BRT meeting

Numerous attendees repeated spurious Keep L.A. Moving talking points. An elderly Eagle Rock resident expressed concern that BRT would remove all left turns on Colorado and said she was worried that she would no longer be able to turn left onto the 134 Freeway on-ramp. In small group discussions, Metro staff did a good job dispelling these bogus Keep L.A. Moving claims.

As he showed off the collection of stickered cards showing attendees had visited many or all stations, Metro spokesperson Brian Haas described the night as a big success.

Metro's Brian Haas shows off stickered participation cards
Metro's Brian Haas shows off stickered participation cards

The deadline for submitting NoHo-Pasadena BRT scoping comments is August 15. See Metro project website for how to submit comments.

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