By Aaron Wang, Amanda Lee and Isabel Ebiner
The city of San Dimas’ alternative parking lot proposal for the future Foothill Gold Line station is drawing concerns from local residents.
City Manager Chris Constantin presented details of the proposed changes during a town hall meeting on June 24. He said the plan would increase the capacity of the city-owned Park & Ride near San Dimas Avenue and Railway Street from 170 parking spaces to as many as 275.
But the plan is also stoking concerns from residents, who say that traffic safety is already a major concern in the area. Several residents in the surrounding areas said increased traffic and congestion would make their streets less safe and more difficult to access.
During public comment, one speaker mentioned a recent incident where a child was struck by a car.
“Part of the problem that’s happening now — and we don’t even have the Gold Line yet — is traffic coming down Commercial,” said one woman, who identified herself as a resident who lives on West Commercial Street. “We had a little child hit just last week by a car flying down Commercial.”
San Dimas resident Aaron Hartney said he was skeptical because the city has long known about local safety concerns related to car traffic and management of the existing parking lot.
“The residents on the local streets around the current Park & Ride have actually made written complaints to the city already about its management of that parking lot and mitigation measures to prevent excessive traffic, excessive speeding traffic, especially around our small children,” Hartney said. “Those complaints have seen no results.”
Santos Luna, a resident who lives on Railway Street, echoed Hartney’s concerns, saying he does not feel comfortable letting his kids play in front of his house so close to the Park & Ride.
“I don’t want them to get hit by a car with people taking the corner fast. It’s just not the right place to have so much traffic. It’s a small street,” Luna said in an interview after the town hall meeting.
Luna does not think the Gold Line parking should be located adjacent to a residential neighborhood. If the Park & Ride is converted, however, Luna would prefer for Railway Street to be turned into a cul-de-sac, which he acknowledged would only push more traffic to other residential streets.
San Dimas is one of four cities in the San Gabriel Valley that are part of the Foothill Gold Line extension. The Gold Line is scheduled to make its way through San Dimas by 2025, creating a new San Dimas Gold Line Station.
To build a parking lot for San Dimas Gold Line riders, the Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority, which oversees Foothill Gold Line construction, has proposed to create a 286-space parking lot on city-owned property off of South Walnut Avenue.
City officials have proposed a new plan, in part because the Construction Authority’s plan would force them to relocate a municipal lot that is currently being used by the city’s Public Works Department. At the town hall, Constantin estimated that the relocation could cost more than $23 million and said that taxpayers would be affected by the extra costs.
“I think it’s unconscionable to go to taxpayers and say, ‘You’re going to pay a $20 million bill,’” Constantin said.
City officials also oppose the Construction Authority’s plan because they would have to forfeit city-owned property to make way for the construction. Through the eminent domain process, government entities working on public projects have the right to take public and private land through mutual or compulsory purchase agreements. Residents and business owners in the area could also be affected.
“People could lose homes or businesses,” said Robert Olander, a San Dimas resident and public safety commissioner.
To address safety concerns related to the city’s Park & Ride parking lot proposal, Public Works Director Shari Garwick said the city could add speed humps to control traffic speed.
In response to concerns that the Park & Ride lot expansion would lead to unwanted congestion in the area, Garwick suggested that time parking restrictions and permit parking requirements for local residents would help.
“If you’re a resident, it would give preferential parking to you,” she said.
In addition to converting the Park & Ride lot, the city’s plan would add parking spaces just south of Rhoads Park across the train tracks (see map above), which would also serve the Pioneer Square development, totaling 310 Gold Line-designated parking spaces.
Constantin said San Dimas City Council would discuss the proposed plan at a later date before it is finalized. Ultimately, however, the final decision about how to proceed with the Foothill Gold Line parking plan falls to the Gold Line Construction Authority and LA Metro.
Correction: The Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority oversees the construction of the Foothill Gold Line extension, not LA Metro, as noted in the original version of this article.
Disclaimer: Isabel Ebiner is managing editor for the San Dimas Community Post and daughter-in-law of City Councilmember John Ebiner. Isabel co-wrote this story.