Ninety minutes into a showdown meeting Monday night over the controversial 710 Freeway extension proposals through Pasadena, Councilman Gene Masuda popped the question on everyone’s mind.
“How much weight are you going to give to the consideration of neighborhoods?” he asked the high-priced staff and even higher-priced consultants working the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. “These are people from our district in West Pasadena and they want an answer to that. How much weight will you give their input?”
“Speak up,” someone yelled.
“Zero,” shouted another.
“The answer says it all,” said another to the laughter of the crowd at the special City Council meeting held at the Pasadena Convention Center.
Finally, as the seconds kept ticking away, Michelle Smith, project manager for the 710 project, stammered, “No, I, I’m only pausing because I am looking for a number . . . or a clearly minimized environmental impact . . . so I would say it would be weighted with some of the traffic factors, as well as, is it fundable . . . ”
“The reason why I ask this is because it’s not just West Pasadena,” Masuda responded. “I represent East Pasadena . . . we are a city with many neighborhoods and all the districts have wonderful neighborhoods and I wouldn’t want this to happen to mine.”
It was a moment of in truth in the first battle in the renewed 50-year war over a freeway nobody along the route from Alhambra to the Foothill (210)/ Ventura (134) freeway interchange seems to want: Pasadena was united and spoke with one voice.
With a crowd some 500 exuberant, impassioned and informed people overflowing a large meeting room at the Convention Center — people who live on the proposed 710 corridor through Pasadena, South Pasadena and the Los Angeles neighborhoods of El Sereno, Highland Park and Garavanza — Pasadena stood tall and proud.
The City Council unanimously opposed freeway routes that would turn Avenue 64 into a highway, taking out stately trees and beautiful homes, tunneling through the Arroyo Seco until it surfaced in West Pasadena at the 134 Freeway — taking out dozens of homes — or an option that would cut through the heart of Old Pasadena.