On Tuesday night an estimated 2,000 people gathered at the All Nations Church in Lake View Terrace to discuss the three proposed high-speed rail routes from Palmdale to Burbank though the Angeles National Forest.
Construction of the high-speed rail train actually began on Jan. 2 this year in Fresno with officials, including Gov. Jerry Brown, signing a rail instead of cutting a ribbon.
The issue facing the five communities focused on at the meeting was what would the high-speed rail, from construction to usage, mean to the Angeles National Forest. The routes would directly affect the communities of Shadow Hills, Lake View Terrace, Sunland-Tujunga, La Tuna Canyon and Kagel Canyon.
“It was electric inside that [church], “ said Dave DePinto, the president of the Shadow Hills Property Owners Association and a member of the “working group” that is part of S.A.F.E. (Save Angeles Forest for Everyone). “People applauded [some] of the speakers. They were hungry to express themselves. “
DePinto added many of the residents had felt they were not treated well at past meetings that were organized by the High Speed Rail Authority.
“They would have booths with information but there was no presentation and they would not let the elected officials [of the area] speak,” he said.
Tuesday night included presentations and offered time for many invested in the outcome of the proposed route to speak.
Experts included a woman who spoke on water and natural springs, and a veterinarian who discussed horses and their flight instinct when there is construction. There was also a lawyer who spoke about legal options and a realtor addressing property values.
There were also two videos that showed what life was like in the area.
“At the end of one of the videos there was a standing ovation,” DePinto said.
California Rangers, a non-profit youth equestrian organization, represented the youth.
There were five members of the High Speed Rail Authority that were also given a time to speak to the pubic.
Valerie Martinez told the audience this was the talk before “we get things engineered.” This meeting was to gather public input.
The large attendance may have been due, in part, to letters that the HSR sent to all residents along the proposed routes.
The HSR personnel have been finding routes for the HSR and prequalifying them for an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). For workers to get access to private property, they must have permission from the property owner. They need access to conduct environmental tests including soil samples and well water.
“There is a check list of [test areas] that are on the letters,” DePinto said.
The letters, DePinto feels, may have brought a reality level to many of the residents who, prior to the letters, had thought it would never happen in the area.
DePinto said those in attendance could be placed into three categories: The first were those who have been actively following the high-speed rail proposed routes and were against them, the second were those who had some knowledge of the routes proposed but just hadn’t been active in meetings and may have been on the fence about it and the third were those who were just discovering the proposals and were not for or against it when they entered the meeting.
By the end of the meeting, DePinto said, it was obvious that almost all were against the proposals.
Robbyn Battles, president of the Crescenta Valley Town Council and Harry Leon, vice president, were at the meeting.
“It is important to support and understand what other [nearby] communities are going through,” Battles said. “As a council, we need to support our neighbors. It may not directly affect us but ultimately it will.”
The S.A.F.E. group members will be at the CVTC February meeting. Battles said although the rail is not set to run through La Crescenta it was important to be at the meeting to listen to the routes proposed.
For information on S.A.F.E. visit the website, at www.dontrailroad.us.