Over the past few weeks, this blog has been engaged in enlightening the community about a potentially lethal plan, proposed by Metro, to construct a light rail service yard over the graveyard of 33 acres of businesses radiating NE from Oxnard and Kester.
“Option A” would bulldoze four blocks of small, family run companies, employing over a thousand people, demolishing 58 buildings and as many as 186 companies. This walkable, affordable, diverse area would become a vast zone of silence, blocks from Van Nuys Boulevard, and diminish hopes for a revival of Van Nuys which light rail could bring.
I met a group of fascinating entrepreneurs who build fine cabinetry, record music, restore vintage Vespas, repair racing boats; and service, sell and refurbish antique Ford Mustangs. I toured impressive shops and interviewed artisans who make exquisite glass and fine decorative metals forged with advanced machinery and human hands.
These people are overwhelmingly locals, they own or rent homes nearby, many chose to live here to be close to work. And they are first or second generation immigrants from Mexico, Armenia, Lebanon, Germany, and Norway as well as Reseda, North Hollywood and Lake Balboa. They are all struggling to make a living, but many are doing very well, and some own their buildings. Others rent space, but pay reasonable prices and would be finished if they were forced out.
All along I wondered why their elected representative, Councilwoman Nury Martinez, was not acknowledging their plight.
Now it seems she has heard the cries from people who are in fear of seeing their livelihoods decimated.
Jim Dantona, Chief of Staff for Ms. Martinez, sent me an email today. Attached was an official letter from the Councilwoman’s office to Metro in which she lays out why she opposes “Option A” and thinks “Option B” is a better choice.
Written in political diplomatic politesse, it acknowledges that the most negative impacts will fall on the “Option A” neighborhood. The word “impact” is used often, to describe the ruins of businesses…..just as our federal government concocted the phrase “collateral damage” to describe non-combatants killed in war.
“Option B”, near the existing Metrolink train tracks and Van Nuys Boulevard, is a far more sensible place to construct an additional train yard. New train yards fit best next to old train tracks.Metro will not make an official decision until January 2018. But for now, Councilwoman Nury is no longer silent. She has voiced, in print, her opinion that Option A should not happen.