They sounded the usual alarms: It will lower property values. The trains will be loud and dangerous. They object to the city accepting money from the transportation authority to contribute to a preliminary study of the project. They demand the City Council put the issue up for discussion at the next council meeting. They want an oversight committee of homeowners because they feel shut out of the process.
We applaud these residents for getting involved in the issue and asking some tough questions. We encourage them to keep doing so. But they may not want to go into full-panic mode just yet.
First of all, they are not being shut out of the process. There they all were, 100 strong, at the City Council meeting demanding to be heard, so this project is not exactly a secret. And they have every right to keep returning to City Hall and pushing the City Council for more answers. Believe us when we say that nothing will get a politician's attention faster than a pile of petitions.
We also wonder if a light-rail connection through Huntington Beach would necessarily lower everyone's property values. Surely if you lived right next to the tracks it might hurt your home's value, but wouldn't some neighborhoods flourish from the tourism and extra foot traffic? We don't know. But that's what a study is for. To get those answers.
Finally, consider this: It sounds like the transportation authority's new chairwoman, Orange Mayor Carolyn V. Cavecche, is not exactly as sold on the merits of expanding rail service as Orange County transportation leaders have been in the past.
"We're expanding Metrolink, and that's going to be the backbone for mass transit in the county. But when you increase rail service, you're going to cause impacts, some of them negative, to surrounding communities," Cavecche said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times earlier this year.
So calm down for now. There's a long way to go before you start hearing train whistles in your neighborhood.