Dear Chairman Richard:
On behalf of the united communities in the northeast San Fernando Valley, which includes several hundred thousand residents, I’m writing to again convey that your Agency’s follow-up on numerous public and elected official requests is inadequate and disappointing. Despite your public statements about increased transparency and your use of the term “harrassment” to describe our many, many efforts to get responses from your staff on numerous matters, as impacted stakeholders engaged in the Authority’s outreach program, we will not be ignored or marginalized.
We call for the Authority to be accountable and responsive to our concerns and issues. The most important of those issues remains the continued inclusion of infeasible above ground segments such as above-ground E2, in ongoing environmental studies.
Given the Authority’s Business Plan decision to focus on northern California and the rushed manner in which the latest SAA Report was issued, but not vetted through public outreach, there is much unfinished business that cannot be simply swept under the carpet, ignored or described as part of the process.
Thus, we will repeat several requests that remain unanswered, non-responded to, inappropriately managed, or lacking in detail that relate to residents throughout the Burbank to Palmdale Project Section. Your prompt response to these requests to us and to our elected officials is warranted.
Cessation of Community Outreach in Palmdale to Burbank Project Section – there has been no community outreach or community meetings by CHSRA in over a year. In particular, there was no community outreach prior to or after the most recent SAA Report which is a departure from past CHSRA communications practices. This, despite assurances from CHSRA staff and consultants that community meetings would be held in November/December of 2015 and then shortly after the first of the year.
We call for resumption of such meetings as soon as possible as public input is being stifled by the Authority and environmental studies are off-track and wasting valuable time and financial resources.
Meeting/Tour with CHSRA Board Member – for many months we asked you and staff for assistance in identifying a board member for us to communicate with to replace the time/interest/experience provided by Katherine Perez-Estolano prior to her resignation from your Board in summer 2015 to run for State Senate District 25. For many months, neither the Governor’s Office or the Authority resolved this matter. Finally, at your April 12 Board meeting in Anaheim, I spoke directly with new Board Member Lorraine Paskett, of neighboring La Canada Flintridge, who agreed to meet and tour our area. Per her request, I immediately followed up with Michelle Boehm who acknowledged my communication. Now, two months later, there’s been no action or response from CHSRA.
We call for the meeting/tour with Ms. Paskett to be scheduled ASAP.
Withdrawal of Mineta Equine Study and Redo of Equine Study – this study has been well-documented as an abject failure and affront to equestrian communities throughout the Burbank to Palmdale Project Section. In addition, the clear conflicts of interest involving at least five CHSRA employees, board members or contractors serving on the Mineta Transportation Institute Board of Trustees render the study meaningless and irrelevant. This study was requested by Assemblymember Patty Lopez. CHSRA owes the Member and our communities a fair, impartial and expert study developed transparently and in collaboration with our local community.
We call for the open, collaborative process recommended by SAFE for all upfront studies to be re-started as soon as possible, that the Mineta study be withdrawn, and that appropriate professional experts be engaged for this equine study.
Completion of Upfront Water Resource and Seismic Studies – again, per both community request and that of elected officials, CHSRA started, but did not complete the hydrology study referenced in the June 2015 letter from Supervisors Antonovich and Kuehl, and Councilman Fuentes. And, CHSRA literally allowed the promised seismic study to slip through the cracks with no record of that work either being scoped, begun or completed. Those studies were the subject of a motion by former Board member Perez-Estolano and unanimously approved by your Board at its June 2015 meeting. How can you possibly expect our communities and elected officials to trust and work with CHSRA when its execution is so deficient?
We call for the hydrology study to be re-scoped with input from the community and for the seismic study to be initiated and completed in the same manner.
Response to SAFE Correspondence and Testimony Related to the New Business Plan and New SAA Report – we submitted several detailed reports/comment letters to the Authority earlier this year during the public comment process for the new business plan and at your April board meeting that have received no response and/or discussion via the community outreach process.
We call for resumption of large and small group meetings with CHSRA staff and consultants to review the important input provided re: the revised Business Plan and new SAA Report. In particular, we call for the Authority to address and to discuss publicly the inconsistent application of rationales leading to elimination of E3 and retention of E2, as well as retention of the E2 route which physically divides the communities of Lake View Terrace and Shadow Hills.
We are approaching the two-year anniversary of the ill-conceived introduction of the “yellow banana” and, sadly, our communities are far worse off from the treatment received from your agency over the past two years. That our own tax dollars are being used and wasted, and the intent of Prop 1A being so maligned and subverted, to despoil and threaten our communities is economic and environmental injustice on its own.
While the Authority acted properly to remove the above ground elements of various routes impacting communities such as Santa Clarita, San Fernando, Sylmar and Pacoima, hundreds of thousands of residents still face the unwarranted threat of above ground studies, construction and operations for nearly 13 years as operations are not proposed for this area until 2029 at the earliest. This must be addressed by the Authority immediately to put an end to the actual and psychological damage being inflicted in our communities. We again call on the Authority to respond affirmatively to the unanimous calls of our communities and our elected officials for removal of the above ground elements mentioned above.
We are ready to work with whichever staff or consultants you direct to follow through on these long-ignored matters. Thank you.
President, Shadow Hills Property Owners Assn.
Member, SAFE Coalition (www.dontrailroad.us)