Ryan Hagen, Staff Writer
Posted: 07/02/2012 08:40:08 PM PDT

SAN BERNARDINO – A rapid-transit bus system moved one step closer to operation Monday after the City Council approved a general plan amendment that creates specific zoning areas surrounding 13 transit stations along the route.

San Bernardino, Omnitrans and other transportation agencies have already begun constructing those stops along the sbX route, which will stretch from Cal State San Bernardino to Loma Linda University and include a designated bus lane for part of the trip.

There was no sign this was a done deal from the residents, business owners and two City Council members who spoke against the plan amendment and the broader sbX project.

Councilman John Valdivia said Hospitality Lane and other areas he represents would be particularly hard-hit by construction and other aspects of sbX, because that ward has the most acres under sbX construction.

“The central part of this city will bear the brunt of this boondoggle,” Valdivia said, adding that the project would cost $200 million the city and other funding agencies can’t afford.

“Is this a priority for this city at this time when we have a great surplus of foreclosed homes and businesses are shuttering their doors? … I continue to oppose this bus to nowhere.”

Mayor Pat Morris said the plan would spur greater development and argued that money used for the project couldn’t be used for anything else because it came from Measure I, a bond for mass transit.

“The voters approved that, by a 70 percent margin, for a specific use,” Morris said. “(The money) cannot be used for public safety or to fill potholes in our streets. Those are not permissible uses.”

Councilman Robert Jenkins contested that, saying Fontana has used Measure I money to repair potholes on streets used by public transit and private vehicles.

“We have a transit system already — Omnitrans,” he said. “Use (Measure I money) to fix the transit system we have. Use it to fix Waterman, use it to fix Highland.”

Slightly more public speakers said they opposed the project than supported it, in contrast to two weeks ago when a majority said it would revitalize the city and reduce pollution.

Councilman Rikke Van Johnson said the plan was a wise investment in the future.

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