Van Nuys Business Owners Stand Against Metro Expansion

A 9.2 mile East Fernando Valley Transit Project, slated to break ground in 2021, may have been thrown off track. Business owners along a stretch of Van Nuys Boulevard have banded together to decry the project, which could force approximately 180 businesses to relocate. The outcry has been heard by locals as well as the neighborhood's City Council member, Nurya Martinez. The councilwoman released a statement indicating her desire for the community to be taken seriously going forward. She acknowledged that the small businesses located within Metro's Option A site are "committed to economic development" and are job creators.

Martinez' comment is seen by some members of the community as a positive sign that their concerns are being heard. Members of the Van Nuys Neighborhood Council and the Panorama City Neighborhood Council explained that Martinez' comment reveals the influence that organized business owners can have on local politics.

Metro's Option A plan would encompass a region of Van Nuys Boulevard, an area that would be used to link the Metro Orange Line to the Sylmar/San Fernando Valley Metrolink Station. The site would also house a maintenance yard and storage. Option A's area is now home to auto shops, janitorial services and supplies and an art studio. Business owners are circulating online petitions and making those outside the immediate area aware of the situation.

Some businesses have been in the area for several decades. One entrepreneur credits his success on his store's location, between the 101 and Freeway 405. Other business owners acknowledge that they will potentially lose their customers if they move away from the area. It is unclear whether or not Metro's transit project and the current community can coexist. Metro has proposed a bus service, light rail or a streetcar. The option that stands to have the greatest negative impact on the community is light rail. This option would require a maintenance yard and storage facilities that would use the land that is currently occupied by businesses.

Public meetings were held earlier this year, when business owners first expressed their concerns. The final decision is expected to be reached by the spring. In the meantime, businesses in the area are painting murals on their buildings to inform the public about their resistance to Option A.


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