Whittier Councilmember Fernando Dutra Appointed to Metro Board
This morning, the countywide City Selection Committee unanimously ratified Fernando Dutra’s appointment to the Metro board. Dutra is an elected Whittier City Councilmember, who has championed the Eastside L (Gold) Line extension which is planned take the line to a Whittier terminus. He was appointed to represent the Southeast Long Beach Sector (generally known as the Gateway Cities) on the Metro board for a term through January 1, 2025. Dutra replaces outgoing Metro boardmember Robert Garcia, the mayor of Long Beach.
Last month, in an interview with Streetsblog, Dutra cited the Eastside L Line and West Santa Ana Branch rail projects as among his priorities.
Our [Gateway Cities] region has not received its fair share of funding for light rail and for mass transportation… Unless we start providing this region with some amenities – like light rail, and like great shopping, and like a great blend of housing… then our talent pool is going to be drained. It’s all going to go to other regions. So it’s important that our region receives the appropriate amount of funding, so that we can retain our talent, and continue to do well.
Also, by doing that, what we will automatically do is it will focus on our communities with the highest needs. Because these two alignments go through some of the communities with the highest needs in all of Southern California.
I will fight like heck to make sure that we are on the map when it comes to these two lines [the Eastside L Line and the West Santa Ana Branch]. Both of them are important and both of them should have an opportunity to be developed.
Dutra’s approval process has been somewhat rocky, due to concerns expressed by representatives of the Southeast Cities. Cudahy Vice Mayor Liz Alcantar stated that the “vastly underfunded and under-resourced… SELA cities have some of the highest ridership in the County but no representation on the Board.”
Dutra initially won a contested Gateway Cities selection on January 6, then failed to muster the votes for countywide approval on January 25. He was unanimously re-approved by Gateway Cities on February 18, leading to today’s second round approval.