By Dana DOWSE
On Wednesday night the Save Angeles Forest For Everyone (S.A.F.E.) Coalition held a protest outside the California High Speed Rail Authority’s (CHSRA) meeting at the Lake View Terrace Library. In particular, protestors were concerned with a proposed Palmdale to Burbank route (Route E2) that would run, often above ground, through the Angeles National Forest and surrounding communities.
Dave DePinto, the president of the Shadow Hills Property Owners Assn., enthusiastically opened the meeting sharing the protestors’ discontent over how CHSRA has rescheduled the meeting many times over the past several months, often for holidays and even during the Sand Fire, making it difficult for concerned residents to attend. He described the operation in one word as “unethical.” DePinto also shared that the S.A.F.E. Coalition recently got all five county supervisors to support its position against above ground routes.
Cile Borman, a board member of the Lakeview Terrace Improvement Assn., spoke about the uneven application of environmental laws. Routes through other communities were removed due to environmental concerns that also exist along the proposed E2 route. Other routes were rejected for reasons such as there being too much “overhead burden” (having to dig too far deeply under a mountain) and because there were not enough existing transportation corridors along the route – issues that also exist for the Angeles National Forest route.
Gina Cruz, a civil engineer, shared concerns over how the rail would affect water in the Big Tujunga Wash, a major source of clean water for the community. She also expressed concerns over how the rail would affect endangered species in the wash like the Santa Ana suckerfish. Finally, she highlighted the truck traffic and the resulting consequences for air quality that would occur during construction of the rail tunnels.
Construction of the high-speed rail began on Jan. 2, 2015 in Fresno but is not expected to begin in Southern California for several years. Protestors argued that this leaves plenty of time for CHSRA to explore alternative routes.
The S.A.F.E. Coalition includes communities of Shadow Hills, Lakeview Terrace, Kagel Canyon, Sunland-Tujunga, La Tuna Canyon and Sun Valley.
For more information on S.A.F.E. visit the website at www.dontrailroad.us.