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Thursday, Sep 21, 2023

Firms Shouldn’t Be Pushed Around Along Orange Line

By ROBERTO BARRAGAN With the Orange Line finally back on track, small businesses along its route will finally see some movement and, hopefully, the end to the disruption they have all faced for the past three months. Not so for Jacobi Building Materials and Green Scene, businesses near the corner of Canoga Avenue and Vanowen Street. These businesses still operate under the threat of a forced relocation by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for the purposes of constructing a parking lot, a quarter mile away from the last Orange Line station. So while businesses and their associations across the Valley have supported the completion of the Orange Line, the MTA seeks to add two more businesses, employing more than 72 residents, to the more than 100 Valley businesses that MTA has relocated or forced out of business in the last 2 years. It is time for a dialogue between local business organizations, elected officials and the MTA regarding both a program to mitigate business loss and to develop a positive and friendly policy regarding businesses along this Canoga Ave. corridor. Jacobi Building Materials and Green Scene are typical businesses along Canoga Ave. from Victory to Lassen. Building supplies, landscape materials, home and office furniture and auto repair all fit well in this area alongside light industrial and small office uses. Residents throughout the West Valley can come here to satisfy a myriad of home and commercial needs. And what’s most important, many of the employees along this corridor earn better than average wages certainly better than those paid by the big box retail and fast food establishments along Victory Boulevard. It’s not good enough to say that sacrifices must be made for area transportation needs. There must be a dialogue and integration of business needs into the transportation priorities. That dialogue and certainly the integration do not exist at this time. Such a dialogue would probably result in the discovery of a strong and vibrant section of businesses along Canoga Ave. One that has thrived in wake of abandoned railroad tracks, uncertain transportation planning and affordable rents. But with a certainty that Canoga Ave. will not be a transportation corridor for at least 10 years, the City of Los Angeles should move forward with support and development of a Canoga Ave business corridor, and maybe even a corresponding BID. As the largest economic development organization in the San Fernando Valley, VEDC opposes the relocation of any business, including Jacobi Building Materials and Green Scene, along Canoga Ave. by MTA and encourages a commitment by MTA to local businesses through leases. We also ask that the city develop a long term plan to support the retention of local businesses along this stretch of road. Jobs continue to be our priority and the loss of good businesses and the jobs that they provide is a tragedy that the City of Los Angeles cannot continue to sit by idly and watch. Roberto Barragan is president of the Valley Economic Development Center.

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