By T. A. Hendrickson
The Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council has retracted two letters it sent in August regarding Metro’s proposal for a bus rapid transit route on Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock. The proposed route is one segment of an 18-mile BRT line from North Hollywood to Pasadena (NoHo-Pas).
One of the letters, dated August 7, detailed the criteria for safety, parking, small business protections and other features that the ERNC said Metro should consider in its study of a BRT route on Colorado Boulevard. The letter was addressed to Scott Hartwell, the project manager for the No-Pas BRT, and submitted to Metro during the official period for public comment on the project.
The other letter, also dated August 7, was addressed to L.A. County Supervisor and Metro Board Member Hilda Solis. The letter asked Solis to instruct Metro to study a 134 Freeway route for the BRT in Eagle Rock in addition to Metro’s preferred route along Colorado Boulevard.
The retractions, dated November 27, tersely state that the August 7 letters are “hereby retracted.” Both letters were signed by ERNC President Jesse Saucedo.
When the Boulevard Sentinel emailed Saucedo to ask why he retracted the letters, Saucedo replied by email that the letters were retracted “based on the language in the Charter.” Saucedo did not respond to a follow-up question from the Sentinel asking for a plain-English explanation of why the letters were retracted.
Spokespersons for Metro and Solis said that the retractions will have no effect on Metro. A Metro spokesperson said that the retracted ERNC letter to Hartwell had been removed from Metro’s compilation of public comments on the BRT, but that similar issues raised by other commenters remain part of the public record. A spokesperson for Solis said that “Metro will continue studying both the 134 and Colorado alternatives irrespective of the retraction letter.”
Still, the retractions are yet another dent in the credibility of the ERNC to deal transparently on the BRT issue.
The first dent dates to 2016. Back then – more than two years before there was any broad public notice about the BRT project – the ERNC and the Eagle Rock Chamber of Commerce sent identical letters to Metro strongly in favor of a BRT route on Colorado Boulevard.
The letters were generated after a meeting on the Metro BRT coordinated by the office of Councilmember Jose Huizar. An email from Huizar’s office about the meeting, dated WHAT, shows that HOW MANY selected members of the community were invited to attend, including two ERNC members and one chamber of commerce member.
Last summer, as controversy flared in Eagle Rock over the BRT route, the chamber retracted its 2016 letter, saying it was coordinated and sent without permission by former Huizar staffers.
The ERNC, for its part, still stands behind the 2016 letter. Last summer, when the Sentinel asked Saucedo if the letter’s endorsement of a Colorado Boulevard route was still the position of the ERNC, Saucedo replied, “the position stands.”
Yet, neither Saucedo nor Huizar’s office responded to questions from the Sentinel about who actually wrote the 2016 letter, leaving the impression that no one wants to clarify the shadowy origins of Metro’s focus on Colorado Boulevard.
And now, the ERNC doesn’t want to say why it had to retract its more recent letters on the BRT. The lack of transparency around the politics of the BRT do not inspire confidence in the neighborhood council’s handling of the Metro issue.
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T.A. Hendrickson, a native of Eagle Rock, is the editor of the Boulevard Sentinel and a former member of the Editorial Board of the New York Times.