From left, Councilwoman Marina Khubesrian, County Supervisor Michael Antonovich and Mayor Richard Schneider listen to City Manager Sergio Gonzalez speak about how much money is needed to expand the South Pasadena Community Center. City Council members shared concerns and made requests of Antonovich on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013, at the Arroyo Seco Golf Course in South Pasadena. ZEN VUONG — PASADENA STAR-NEWS
By Zen Vuong, Pasadena Star-News
Posted: 09/25/13, 9:47 PM PDT|
SOUTH PASADENA — At a special meeting Wednesday, City Council members talked to Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich about unfunded local and regional projects totaling nearly $828 million.
The City Council discussed building a South Pasadena Community Center, expanding the Arroyo Seco Bike Path and Trail to Montecito Heights in Los Angeles, improving 110 Freeway offramps and onramps at Fair Oaks Ave., and constructing a Gold Line extension to Claremont.
“I know everything we’ve been talking about has a steep price point, but our residents need some help,” Councilman Philip Putnam said.
It’s been three years since City Council members shared their concerns with Antonovich at a special meeting. Antonovich has served the county’s Fifth Supervisorial District — all or parts of San Gabriel, Pomona, San Fernando, Santa Clarita and Antelope Valleys — for 33 years. He is also chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and serves on other boards and committees.
Antonovich agreed with City Council members on some issues, including Phase 2B of the Gold Line Foothill Extension project, which would stretch rail tracks from Azusa to Claremont.
“That’s what I’ve been advocating for years now,” Antonovich said. “We’re about $800 million short for Azusa to Claremont. It makes no sense for the people of the San Gabriel Valley to go to the 60, 105 — all these freeways just to go to LAX. We are the only metropolis in the U.S. that doesn’t have rail access to our airports. We have a fourth-world airport.”
A future Measure J proposition will help fund the rail project and could be put on the ballot as soon as June 2014, he said.
Yet Mayor Richard Schneider had a speedier solution in mind.
“The city of South Pasadena has always supported the Gold Line extension. We’re about $800 million short. May I suggest to you that you could take the $700-plus million for the (710) tunnel and put it into the Gold Line?”
City Manager Sergio Gonzalez echoed Schneider’s sentiments.
“Don’t waste time (with the I-710 Environmental Impact Report). Don’t waste money,” Gonzalez said. “Just build the Gold Line and make everyone happy.”
Cities such as Alhambra, Monterey Park and San Gabriel have traditionally supported closing the 710 gap and have embraced the underground tunnel option, which now might include a toll if it is chosen.
The City Council also discussed the bottleneck effect at the northbound 110 Freeway’s Fair Oaks Avenue exit. Schneider suggested widening the offramp to four lanes and allowing more green light time to reduce congestion. For the southbound onramp, he said two left-turn lanes often block traffic, especially during rush hour. So, South Pasadena should build a hook ramp to eliminate the need for a left turn, he said.
The problem, Schneider said, is the $16 million project is short $6 million. While Metro is obligated to match 75 percent of South Pasadena’s $10 million in federal funds, the funds might be taken away next year because the two parties haven’t been able to agree, Gonzalez said.
Schneider chimed in.
“Caltrans is very stubborn,” he said. “It’s not letting us split the project. The offramp is a $3 to $4 million project. They’re just being stubborn.”