After a lengthy impassioned deliberation, the San Marino City Council voted on Wednesday, July 10 to reject three proposals that were included in a five-project overture on the table for the 710 North project with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro). The projects, totaling $32 million from Measure R sales tax funding, were meant for alternative traffic solutions after the 710 tunnel connecting the 210 and 10 Freeways was abandoned.
It was a full council chamber at City Hall with many of the residents being familiar faces from prior community meetings, where they appeared time and time again to voice their concerns and alternative ideas. Many residents expressed a sense of unease that Metro did not have the city’s well-being at heart with the proposals.
The currently presented projects considered in San Marino are 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).
Out of the five presented projects considered in San Marino, the council narrowly voted to reject Huntington Drive signal synchronization and San Gabriel Boulevard signal synchronization. In prior meetings, residents expressed concerns that synchronization would mean a higher amount of cars would flow through the roadways and safety would be compromised, particularly around schools.
Before the final vote, Vice Mayor Gretchen Shepherd Romey said she viewed Metro as having a goal to move more cars through the city and expressed a sense of pushback that Metro 710 was a “north-south issue” and Huntington Drive should not be involved.
“Our goals of San Marino or a City Council or a community are never going to be in line with the goals of Metro 710,” said Shepherd Romey. “They are different. Fundamentally they want to move traffic because they didn’t build the tunnel. Period. Full stop.”
Council member Steve Talt was also in strong favor of declining the synchronization as he felt there was “no benefit to that in the long run when balanced against the risk.”
“I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater,” said Talt. “I don’t want to say no to everything. I want to say heck no to synchronization and let’s just see how bad the bathwater gets on the rest of them and then make a decision at that time.”
For the remaining projects, the City Council was undecided and requested additional clarity from city staff. In that spirit, a special study session will be held at the Barth Community Room of the Crowell Public Library on Friday, July 26, at 8:30 a.m. to further discuss them and decide on a direction to take.
In addition, the council declined accepting any funding for intersection work along Huntington Drive at San Gabriel Boulevard, Oak Knoll Drive and San Marino Avenue. According to Michael Throne, director of Parks and Public Works, $4 million was set aside for these improvements from Metro.
In a 2-2 deadlock vote with Council Member Susan Jakubowski absent, the council left the decision on the Huntington Drive intersection at Atlantic Boulevard and Garfield Avenue up for future deliberation.