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Businesses Concerned About Proposed Light Rail Facility

VAN NUYS (CBSLA) — Most people would be happy to hear about a Metro light rail line coming to their community. But not everyone in a San Fernando Valley city is smiling about it.

"It's a disaster," said Izzie Chlomovitz, who co-founded I&E Cabinets. It's inside a 10,000 square foot building in Van Nuys and if a proposal for a new light rail comes through he will be forced to move.

"I've got 40 employees, heavy machinery. It will be hard to relocate. You build this business and then Metro makes a decision and you're screwed," said Chlomovitz.

The problem is a light rail storage and maintence yard that may end up between Raymer and Keswick in Van Nuys. Many businesses would be affected like Ed Pink Racing Engines, who've been here for more than 50 years.

"It will wreck us. It's not easy to find property at a good price," said Ed Pink Racing Engines President Frank Honsowetz.

The controversy comes as Metro outlines a new rail line project that would connect the Orange Line in Van Nuys with San Fernando. It would run along Van Nuys Boulevard and San Fernando Road, eventually connecting with a future rail project in the Sepulveda Pass.

Kenn Phillips is with the Valley Economic Alliance.

"$1.3 billion worth of infrastructure. All new light rail. Citizenry and businesses will greatly benefit when it's completely built, but the businesses that are here that would be displaced would be 34 businesses, 750 employees," said Phillips.

He says he presented another location that would not displace anyone but LA Metro says it isn't viable.

But Dave Sotero of LA Metro says after eight years of research, this is the best option.

"It's not adjacent to residential properties. It's close to the alignment and it takes as few parcels as absolutely possible," said Sotero.

The latest project has many supporters, excited about converting much of the Valley from buses to light rail, but for Cholomitz and others, they're not sure if their businesses can survive being forced to relocate.

"All of a sudden someone comes and stabs you in the back and takes the business away," said Cholomitz.

Metro does offer relocation services and says they do pay fair market value for any properties affected.

If everything is approved on the rail line it should be completed in 2027.

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