In numerous meetings over the past several months, San Marino residents and city staff have been working to build consensus on the viability of traffic projects related to $32 million in tax funding from Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) that was reserved for the city in December 2018. The funds are meant to address traffic impact due to Metro’s decision to not construct the 710 tunnel project. The project aimed to link the 710 and 210 freeways via a proposed tunnel that would have run from Alhambra to Pasadena.
Currently being considered in San Marino are five projects with the funding: Huntington Drive intersection work ($12 million), Huntington Drive signal synchronization ($7 million), work in front of school sites on Huntington Drive ($6 million), work along Sierra Madre Boulevard ($4 million) and San Gabriel Boulevard signal synchronization ($3 million).
In previous meetings with residents, the Public Safety Commission and city staff have taken in their feedback on concerns with traffic on local streets, losing on-street parking along Huntington Drive and pedestrian safety.
“We have taken to heart the public’s concerns and believe we can resolve them without resorting to eliminating parking, increasing speeds or endangering kids,” said City Manager Dr. Marcella Marlowe in a news release from the city this week.
Some residents have expressed concern about the possible effects of the proposals. Citizens For San Marino, a group of residents interested in maintaining the quality of life in the city and promoting neighborhood safety, will be holding a town hall meeting on Monday, April 29 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in Hill-Harbison House at 1841 Alhambra Road in San Marino to discuss the issues and hear from both residents and city officials in a Q&A format. The group formed after a spate of burglaries in 2017, according to resident and group member Dr. Ghassan Roumani. After gathering residents and encouraging them to take simple actions on their own properties like leaving a car in the driveway and installing alarms, Roumani said the burglary rate decreased dramatically.
“I thought if we work with police and form a residents group or citizens group, we can increase the awareness of the neighbors and maybe we can help,” Roumani told The Tribune.
Roumani hopes to inspire a similar level of awareness and unity with approaching the 710 project funding. Fellow resident Dr. Raymond Quan has presented his data findings on Metro’s environmental impact report for the project at city meetings in regards to the Metro traffic reports. He also served as a member of the No 710 Action Committee and has been a close follower of the 710 Coalition.
“We must look this gift horse in the mouth,” said Quan.
Roumani said that the percentages that Metro has shared in regards to traffic congestion predictions with the projects and without the projects don’t hold up.
“Every surface street is going to be affected with the pollution, which is huge,” said Roumani. “The quality of life is going to be affected everywhere in the city, so we’re asking residents to come to the meeting to discuss it more.”
In the State Route 710 Study by Metro titled Alternative Analysis Report published in December 2012, Metro outlined several alternatives to the 710 tunnel, one of which included Huntington Drive. In a flyer for the town hall meeting April 29, the group shared concerns that “if Huntington Drive is chosen as the alternate road to the 710 extension, it will dramatically increase traffic on San Marino streets by a whopping 64 percent on some of our residential streets. The traffic speed on Huntington Drive will also increase by 16 percent, to about 55 mph. These changes will have serious adverse environmental and safety consequences, irreversibly compromising the quality of life of our residents.”
“All my neighbors here on the same street think it’s crazy because they looked at the numbers and 64 percent increase in traffic, you can’t afford it,” said Roumani. “It’s just not acceptable.”
The town hall meeting is slated to be attended by Mayor Dr. Steven Huang, members of the City Council, Chief of Police John Incontro and Parks and Public Works Director Michael Throne. Residents will also be answering questions, including Quan, Roumani and longtime traffic safety advocate Stephanie Johnson, who founded the Los Robles Neighborhood Association and worked with Metro to have their major bus line from Long Beach to Altadena rerouted from Los Robles Avenue to Fair Oaks Avenue.
Roumani expressed a sense of hope that residents and city officials will come together and find a solution that will protect and maintain the city’s quality of life.
“South Pasadena, Pasadena and El Sereno—they all stood there fast and fought against it and they won and we should do the same,” expressed Roumani on the Metro 710 funding. “We owe it to San Marino.”