City Councilman Ara Najarian was recently elected to two key transportation positions for Los Angeles County ahead of long term plans to improve transit south of the Ventura (134) Freeway.
On January 5th, Najarian was re-elected to represent the North County/San Fernando Valley sector on the Metro Transportation Authority board for the next four years, provided he maintains his elected seat on the Glendale City Council. He was also elected as the second vice-chair of Metrolink the week prior. “I’m very happy to be re-elected to the MTA position,” Najarian said. “I’ve served for 10 years on the board and it’s a very critical time for transportation in LA Country with many large projects being constructed, and I look forward to playing a productive role as a board member.”
The North County/San Fernando Valley sector position is determined by members of the L.A County City Selection Committee — comprised of the mayor or a delegate of each city in the county. It meets every four years or in the case of a vacancy.
12 Cities All Voted for Najarian
All 12 cities in the North sector, which includes Glendale and Burbank, voted unanimously for Najarian. Delegates from the San Gabriel Valley and a handful of South Bay cities cast eight “no” votes.
“A lot of them told me that it wasn’t personal,” Najarian said. “[The "no" vote was] not reflecting my work on the board, just a rage against the machine.”
Najarian is referring to cities that may have voted based on his opposition to the potential construction of a tunnel connecting the Long Beach (710) Freeway to the Foothill (210) Freeway and his support of Measure M, which raised the L.A Country sales by half a penny.
Rosemead City Councilwoman Margaret Clark, who cast the Rosemead vote as a delegate, rejected Najarian for what she perceived as a “bias” against the 710 Freeway gap closure.
“It’s our residents that are suffering the pollution and the time that’s spent not have the closure,” Clark said. “We’ve watched him for several years, and he’s voting his bias instead of what we believe is best for the communities involved.”
La Canada Flintridge Mayor Jonathan Curtis, whose city voted to approve Najarian as a Metro representative, said at a City Council meeting on that Najarian’s advocacy against the 710 tunnel was the reason the city supported him.
Najarian’s positions have also attracted controversy in the past from former county Supervisor and MTA Chairman, Michael Antonovich, who removed Najarian from the Metrolink board and attempted to block the councilman form a position on the MTA Board in 2012. Those actions, Najarian said, were in response to his support for Measure J, a failed half-cent sales tax extension, and his continued stance against he 710 Freeway tunnel. Antonovich has previously denied Najarian’s claims.
Looking ahead, Najarian said he’s focused on plans that would make the area south of the 134 Freeway more transit oriented, including construction of the Metro Bus Rapid Transit route that would connect Pasadena and North Hollywood, with a path through Glendale and Burbank. “That’s No. 1, that’s the most achievable because we have funding set aside for it,” Najarian said. “The second one, which we don’t have the full funding for, is the increased rail service between Los Angeles Union Station and [Hollywood] Burbank Airport.”