Editorial – Our View: Gold Line wins expensive fight, Pasadena Star-News

This editorial appeared in the Wednesday, February 22, 2012 edition of the Pasadena Star-News.

Our View: Gold Line wins expensive fight

SO 4.5 acres of land in a light-industrial section of Monrovia is suddenly worth $24 million?

We’ve seen no surer sign than that – the lousy old economic downturn must surely be over. Dow 13,000? That’s chump change compared with commercial acreage in the central San Gabriel Valley city going at the sweet rate of $5.3 million an acre.

In any case, that’s the king’s ransom the Gold Line Construction Authority will now pay in order to finally secure the land for an all-important maintenance facility. It was only by securing it that work could continue on the light-rail line’s happy progress eastward from the Sierra Madre Villa station in Pasadena through Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte and on to Azusa and Glendora.

And, someday, to Claremont and to Ontario and its airport, an extension that makes all the transit sense in the world, a commuter rail line that will be carrying our children and grandchildren through their lives.

Meanwhile, here in the present, well, what an example of our tax dollars at work.

According to the property owner’s attorney, of course, it was a matter of principle, and nothing more: “It wasn’t about him getting money. It was drawing attention to what he thought was misconduct by the Gold Line.”

Sure. That’s just what we said to ourselves the last time we made $24 million. First and foremost, it was the principle of the thing.

During the tussle over the land, which now will be used for cleaning and maintaining light-rail cars from all over Metro’s growing Los Angeles County network, the attorney and the owner filed four separate lawsuits, including a bizarre attempt, based on an odd technicality in state law, to say that it was unethical for elected public officials to also serve on the Gold Line Authority board. Right – we don’t want citizen volunteers such as Duarte Mayor John Fasana, with decades of experience from the Metro board, serving our light rail needs. It’s such a… conflict, rewarding political expertise. Better to hire highly paid transit bureaucrats for the job, right?

We’re glad the messy lawsuits are over and that the Gold Line extension, paid for by our sales-tax surcharges from Los Angeles County’s Measure R, can continue. We understand the issues of unfair “taking” of private property by government under eminent domain. This was never such a case.

But at last the progress can continue without legal worries. We understand that for most San Gabriel Valley commuters, the Gold Line at this point is mainly the creator of night-time construction delays for traffic along the 210 Freeway. But soon enough that construction will pay off – and commuters won’t have to be stuck in that 210 gridlock when they can choose to leave their cars at home. All aboard!

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