On Tuesday at LA City Council Chamber before a sea of NO 710 red shirts, the spike likely will finally be driven into the money-sucking heart of a freeway nobody wants.
It has taken more than 50 years of community efforts and every time it appears dead, a new 710 Gap proposal comes to life just as it has once again in recent months.
What was different this time, why the extension from Alhambra to Pasadena, will finally be buried once and for all is the amazing efforts of ordinary people from the affluent San Rafael neighborhood and the guardians of Old Pasadena’s values to the historic Latino community of Garvanza in LA as well as Highland Park and El Sereno among other neighborhoods to the south.
Armed with research that exposed what this is all about — moving hundreds of trucks spewing exhaust fumes from the ports to the north and northwest, not relieving congestion for the residents and businesses in the region — community leaders along the 710 corridor pulled together, flexed their muscles in public meetings and rallies and showed just how weak and cynical the power structure.
All they want is people’s money to redistribute it to consultants, contractors, labor unions even if they destroy the quality of hundreds of thousands of people’s lives. Their greed has no respect for people, their money or the environment.
So in the face of a firestorm of negative publicity, MTA staff killed seven of the most obnoxious proposals for the 710 off the table and left one freeway extension plan — F-7 the staggeringly costly 4.5 mile tunnel from the 10 to the 210, the longest tunnel in America.
On Monday, an LA City Council committee unanimously added opposition to even that proposal to five other freeway plans already in its motion of condemnation.
The action sets the stage for the issue to be taken up at Tuesday’s full Council meeting he public’s money and they will take find out just how badly the downtown political machine wants another 30 years of taxes that would be mortgaged at a steep discount to and used now to make today’s crop of second-rate politicians look good and stay in office.
Getting the issue to the Council floor wasn’t easy.
The Pasadena City Council which called a special meeting, put the MTA on the carpet and let an overflow crowd of 500 tear apart the 710 plans before voting unanimously to oppose them.
The LA City Council reluctantly put a resolution of opposition on the calendar last Friday because Northeast LA (and now downtown) Councilman Jose Huizar feared his constituents were mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.
But his superiors in high places ordered him to pull the resolution and send it back to the Transportation Committee that had waived it to allow them time to try to massage the message and to deny the dozens of community activists who had trekked to City Hall to be heard about what a horrorshow the 710 would mean to their community and the whole Arroyo Seco.
To Huizar’s credit or more likely the power structure’s realization that pushing the 710 extension could bring down Measure J, the sales tax extension to 2069, the committee added to its list of undesirables plan F-7, the only one the MTA ever took seriously. All the rest were nothing but distractions.
What the power structure wants is a toll road tunnel that will get cars off of other freeways to make room for the trucks from the ports or to speed the trucks to the 210 to go north or west to the 215 and regions far away. But they will not jeopardize tens of billions of dollars for the subway-to-the-sea and the skyscraper developments it will bring just to destroy the environment along the 710 corridor for the benefit of truckers.
Their miscalculation is these communities have gotten organized and know what they want.
In the techno-parlance of the MTA, they want “multi-modal” solutions to traffic congestion — rapid buses, jitneys, bike paths, anything that doesn’t poison the air and gets people from where they are to where they want to go.
It’s called a public transit SYSTEM — something the MTA still doesn’t understand.