Wednesday, December 8, 2004

Reyes Is Named to MTA Board
He joins two other council colleagues, all mayoral appointees, on the transit panel.
By Caitlin Liu - Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn has appointed Councilman Ed Reyes to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board, filling a seat that had been vacant for more than two months.

"Ed shares my goal of providing efficient, affordable and effective mass transit to the residents of Los Angeles," Hahn said in a statement. "He understands that no big city can truly offer economic opportunity to its residents without also providing a great public transportation network."

Reyes joins Hahn's other appointees, council members Tom LaBonge and Martin Ludlow, on the 13-member board in charge of one of the largest public transit systems in the nation. The $2.9-billion agency also oversees planning and funding for other transportation projects in Los Angeles County, including freeway widening and sound walls.

As priorities, Reyes cited the promotion of "smart growth" and high-density, mixed-use housing developments near rail stations. The councilman said he wants to "make people think twice about getting into their car."

Reyes, who represents East Los Angeles, was the chairman of the former Pasadena Gold Line (light rail) Construction Authority. He chairs the L.A. planning and land-use committee and holds a master's degree in architecture and urban planning from UCLA.

In addition to serving on the board, the Los Angeles mayor has the power to appoint three members of the MTA panel. Transit advocates praised Reyes' selection but questioned why it took Hahn so long to replace Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa, a rival to Hahn in the mayoral race, who resigned from the MTA board in September.

"The mayor is unconscious about transportation. He's been asleep at the wheel," said Bart Reed, executive director of the Transit Coalition, a nonprofit riders' advocacy group. "The delay … left a gap in the representation of the city on the board."

Dana Gabbard, spokesman for Southern California Transit Advocates, said his group liked Reyes' qualifications but had hoped the mayor would appoint a community member rather than another politician. "He's playing politics with MTA board appointments," Gabbard said. "It seems he uses this to build constituencies and alliances."

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