Editorial: SanBAG needs to back Gold Line with vote – Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Daily Bulletin

The following Editorial appeared in the Pasadena Star-News, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, and Inland Valley Daily Bulletin on April 18, 2014.

Editorial: SanBAG needs to back Gold Line with vote – Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Daily Bulletin

April 18, 2014

Given the long history of obstructionism, obfuscation and downright opposition from Los Angeles City Hall to the voter-approved extension of the Gold Line light rail east to San Bernardino County, the plan’s allies have to stick together.

Mostly, they do. Anyone along the foothills of the San Gabriels from Pasadena east can see what a crucial transit link the completion of the rail line will be. Anyone in Southern California who has followed the folly that incredibly has prevented light rail reaching the most obvious terminus of all, Los Angeles International Airport, can see that this opportunity to bring such a convenient transit system to Ontario International is an opportunity that is not to be missed, and one that could in fact be key to the economic revitalization of that airport.

Given the need for Gold Line allies to work together, how on Earth could the key Inland Empire planning agency take a position adamantly at odds with unity?

But that’s just what SanBAG, the San Bernardino Associated Governments board, did last week by declaring its opposition to Assembly Bill 2574, authored by Assemblyman Freddie Rodriguez, D-Chino, which would extend the Gold Line Construction Authority’s jurisdiction from Montclair to Ontario, allowing it to continue the planning work required for the project.

Rather than looking at the big, regional picture, the board bases its opposition on local control issues that threaten its constituents’ ability to get around without braving the daily gridlock of the 210 Freeway. Where’s the civic responsibility in that?

And its members absurdly claim that it’s unclear if building light rail to the Ontario airport is even a good idea in the first place, and claims that more study is needed on the issue. We haven’t met a soul, locally, who agrees.

“SANBAG is deeply concerned that this bill is premature as results from the present Ontario Airport access study are not anticipated until later in 2014,” the board writes. “The study is analyzing more than 30 alternatives for connections to LA/Ontario International Airport and an extension of the Gold Line is but one of these options.”

Oh, yeah? What are the others? Horses and buggies? Flying cars? A practical option that ties into the rail transit system currently being built throughout Southern California is hanging in the balance here, and SanBAG is crazily giving ammunition to the many Westside forces who would happily grab our light rail funding for themselves.

The Gold Line Phase 2 Joint Powers Authority board reports that SanBAG’s vote shows a clear misunderstanding of A.B. 2574’s intent:  “Their staff report stated that AB2574 ‘threatens the viability of SANBAG’s Measure I by requiring uncontrolled expenditures on a project, with no authority over a project operated in our county.’ However, language in the statute clearly states that the project cannot be built or operated without SANBAG’s agreement and approval. Their staff report ignored this important language.”

We think SanBAG should take another look at that language, and then take another vote on this vital issue. The time for Gold Line unity is now.

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