Foothill communities meet in Lake View Terrace to rally against bullet train

Residents against the East Corridor listen on as California High Speed Rail Authority Outreach Manager Valerie Martinez addresses community members.  Martinez was the last to speak at the meeting after business owners, real estate brokers, neighborhood children, and politicians.

Residents against the East Corridor listen on as California High Speed Rail Authority Outreach Manager Valerie Martinez addresses community members. Martinez was the last to speak at the meeting after business owners, real estate brokers, neighborhood children, and politicians.

It was standing room only at All Nations Church in Lake View Terrace as residents from this and surrounding areas, including Pacoima, met to rally against the high-speed train that has been proposed to pass through the northeast San Fernando Valley.

Approximately 2,000 people showed up to the meeting organized by Save Angeles Forest for Everyone (S.A.F.E.), a community organization started to prevent the San Francisco to Los Angeles bullet train from affecting the foothill communities.  The meeting started with a lot of excitement, resembling a rally.  After prayer, the pledge of allegiance, and the singing of “God Bless of America”,  a short video showed the current state of the San Gabriel Mountains’ foothills, with peaceful scenery, hiking and horse-riding trails, and wildlife contrasting to the images of loud trains and artist renderings of how the bullet train would alter the scenery.  The audience booed at the sight of the development and roared with applause at the images of the current state of their community.

“I don’t want to ride my horse under the rail, I don’t want to ride my horse over the rail, around the rail, near the rail,” said Dale Gibson, president of the Los Angeles Equine Advisory Committee and who owns a horse boarding ranch in the area.

As well as concern for their horses, community members expressed consternation about the noise and traffic the construction will bring to the quiet ranch community, the impact on the area’s drinking water, and the future of the Wildlife Waystation, an animal refuge and rehabilitation center located in these foothills.

As the meeting passed 2 hours, people began to leave.  Many stayed until the end hoping to hear questions submitted on comment cards answered.

As the meeting passed two hours, people began to leave. Many stayed until the end hoping to hear questions submitted on comment cards answered.

A few of the speakers at the meeting stated their preference for the original proposed route that would cut and divide Pacoima, although the moderator for the evening, president of Shadow Hills Property Owners Association Dave DePinto, said the meeting was not meant to deflect the controversial train onto neighboring communities.

“We have a firm position here, and it’s not to simply cast away high speed rail from our community and have it be dumped in another community, that’s not what we are about.  We are about high speed rail doing right,” he said.

In August 2014 the East Corridor was proposed for the Burbank to Palmdale trajectory with possible routes running through the foothills and into tunnels under the San Gabriel Mountains. The original proposed route, known as the SB 14 corridor, would run along the current train tracks parallel to Interstate 5 and Highway 14.  Most residents near both corridors that are aware of the project have expressed concern about the impact on their communities and have complained they have not been presented with enough information.  The California High Speed Rail Authority continues to say nothing has been determined yet and more studies and surveys are needed to determine which is the best route with the least impact on communities.

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