Regional efforts to oppose the proposed expansion of the 710 freeway took their latest turn earlier this week as members of the South Pasadena City Council urged residents in Pasadena as well as neighboring community officials to write legislators pressing them to support a state assembly bill aimed at allowing South Pasadena to regain veto power over freeways built within its jurisdiction.
Assembly Bill 353 is scheduled to go before the California Assembly Committee Monday—which promises to be an important milestone in the long-running battle between proponents and opponents of a toll tunnel meant to connect the 710 freeway to the 210 freeway and formally known as the State Route 710 tunnel or the 710 North Extension.
“This is important for all those concerned about the tunnel and freeway and for those who want to make sure it doesn't come through their community," South Pasadena Mayor Mike Ten told Patch on Wednesday, hours before the .
The cities of La Cañada Flintridge, South Pasadena, Los Angeles, Pasadena and Alhambra currently “don't have a right to say no, they need to know that there is a bill coming on Monday," the mayor said, adding that he wrote to Senator Kevin de Leon and South Pasadena state representative and Assemblymember Anthony Portantino on April 14 asking both to co-author the bill as it repeals Section 100.4 of the Streets and Highways Code.
Last December, the voted unanimously against the proposed 710 toll tunnel, which would stretch some four miles from Mt. Washington to Glassell Park and, as the ERNC described it in its resolution, "decimate neighborhoods beyond recognition, dislocate many of our citizenry and disrupt life for those remaining for more than a decade."
More recently, on April 5, residents of La Cañada and surrounding communities from the San Gabriel Valley attended a that Metro Los Angeles is required to hold in its latest effort to earn a valid Environmental Impact Statement for the SR-710 project. Community members urged Metro at the meeting to consider alternatives to expanding the 710 freeway.
Pat Anderson, a LCF resident and president of the La Cañada Flintridge Chamber of Commerce, pointed out that the city already has 10 schools within 500 feet of the 210 Freeway.
"This is a very dangerous zone for the breathing capacities of our children,'' she said during the meeting, for the public record. In addition to Anderson, La Cañada City Council members Don Voss and Laura Olhasso objected to the 710 expansion and tunnel, citing adverse health conditions and traffic congestion. All comments were recorded.
While South Pasadena's Mayor Ten opposes the 710 freeway, he is undecided about the tunnel. "I've always been against the freeway—I fought it when I was in high school, and I'm fighting it again today," he said. The concept of the tunnel is promising, but all that will come out in scoping," he added, referring to the extensive studies that MTA and Caltrans have been undertaking along the route of the proposed tunnel.
For his part, Ten is encouraging elected representatives to show support for Bill 353—but he said it hasn’t been easy to secure their involvement.
"I've been calling, but I'm not getting any help—no responses from councilmen in other places,” he told South Pasadena Patch earlier this week. “This is a bill we worked hard to get up there—if it doesn't get passed on Monday, then the bill is dead.” He added: “It's the last time in this decade that anyone will consider removing this exclusion."
Early November, the South Pas City Council voted stating its opposition to "any proposal, surface or subsurface to extend the SR 710 freeway." Opponents of the freeway cite disruption and environmental issues, while supporters believe it could help free traffic in certain areas of the city.
- LCF Patch Editor Donna Evans contributed to this report.