How you may be able to take a rental bike to the LA County Fair one day

Metro Bike Share launches in downtown L.A. at Grand Park in July 2016. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz/Southern California News Group)
Metro Bike Share launches in downtown L.A. at Grand Park in July 2016. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz/Southern California News Group) FILE PHOTO

POMONA >> A bike-share program may be in place in Pomona in time for the 2018 Los Angeles County Fair, officials announced last week.

The program would give residents the opportunity to rent a bicycle from one of various docking stations and return it to the same station or another in the system. Bike-sharing is currently available in Pasadena, downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica.

After another meeting in a series meant to brainstorm the future of Fairplex, Javier Hernandez, transportation deputy for L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis, said the county received a request to bring the program to Fairplex in time for the 2017 L.A. County Fair. However, “it’s still in the pilot phase in downtown Los Angeles,” Hernandez said.

Launching it in time for 2018, however, may be a possibility, he said.

The passage of the voter approved Measure M, a half-cent sales tax to fund transportation-related costs, will provide revenue to help carry out many projects throughout the county, he said. A bike-share program could be one of them.

The demand for such a program is high, but several pieces need to be in place before it can be launched, Hernandez said. The San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments is coordinating a bike-sharing program in the region. It needs to find the right locations for the rental stations, where there is enough activity — pedestrian traffic, shops and other factors — to support them, he said.

A key component is ensuring cyclists are able to ride safely, he added. The county wants to create a web of walking and biking paths using existing walkways along the region’s system of washes and canals.

One of those washes, Thompson Creek, runs through a portion of Fairplex. The vision is to build a pathway from the eastern end of the county to the ocean, Hernandez said.

Transportation was just one of several topics discussed Thursday during two sessions at the Sheraton Fairplex Hotel as Fairplex continues collecting public input to help plot out the future of the facility. The topics of the first session were governance and transparency. The second focused on neighborhood, housing and transportation.

How neighboring cities live in the shadow of Fairplex attracted comments from elected officials from Pomona and La Verne.

Pomona City Councilman Robert Torres, whose district includes Fairplex, said for decades residents have had concerns around the same topics, stemming from a lack of city resources and unwanted activities at Fairplex.

“Residents tell me they’re tired of seeing no changes,” Torres said.

For many, the electronic dance music festivals of 2015 were the last straw, he said. The events, which residents have said were the source of traffic, noise and unruly crowds, led to newspaper articles criticizing the management of Fairplex and compensation of top personnel, which spurred several governmental agencies to audit Fairplex’s books.

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They also led to a discussion about the Pomona City Council’s desire to regulate what takes place at Fairplex.

“The issue is about establishing community oversight,” Torres said, and allowing the City Council to have a final say on what takes place at Fairplex.

Existing zoning regulations for Fairplex were set in place in 2004. Under the pre-2004 rules, the city had a greater say in setting limits on activities. Amending today’s regulations could better encourage all the affected sides to work together, Torres said.

Being home to Fairplex doesn’t come without financial consequence, Torres said. The city needs revenue to pay for additional police and to make improvements to streets near Fairplex, he said, suggesting some sort of way to profit-share.

“I want to see this grow,” Torres said referring to Fairplex, but Pomona has to benefit from that growth.

La Verne Mayor Don Kendrick said La Verne enjoys a good relationship with Fairplex — now.

“Approximately 22 years ago, I think La Verne had the worst relationship with Fairplex,” he said.

Much of the strife centered around the drag races on the northern end of the Fairplex property. At the time, races were scheduled for 33 weekends out of the year, Kendrick said.

A group of residents, of which he was part, sought the help of the city officials who eventually convinced residents, elected officials, La Verne city staff and Fairplex administrators to work together to limit the number of drag racing days on the calendar.

After the more recent electronic dance music festivals, Kendrick was on the phone with Fairplex officials the following morning to talk about the events and their effect on neighboring La Verne residents, he said.

It took time to develop the relationship Fairplex and La Verne have today, Kendrick said, and while it is one with a great deal of communication, “it doesn’t mean we get everything we want.”

The next strategic planning sessions are set for Aug. 10 at the Sheraton Fairplex Hotel. The first of the two session will begin at 10 a.m. and will focus on equine and automotive topics and the second session will be at noon and will be centered on craftsmanship and work force development.

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About the Author

Monica Rodriguez

Monica covers the city of Pomona. Reach the author at morodriguez@scng.com or follow Monica on Twitter: @PomonaNow.