2009 Wrap-Up: With FEIR In-Hand, Expo Phase II Seems Ready to Roll, But Is It?

12_21_09_LUCE.jpgRendering of proposed Bergamont Station in Santa Monica. Photo:Santa Monica via Friends 4 Expo

(This is the first in a four part series following up on stories that have run through the year but aren’t yet finished.)

Just because the word "Final" appears in the document name doesn’t mean that the battle over the routing and crossings for the Expo Line have ended.  While the Final Environmental Impact Report predictably contained good news for supporters of getting the light rail line completed quickly, even the most enthusiastic supporters know that there are still opponents of the project that still have some arrows left in their quiver.

Karen Leonard, the co-chair of Light Rail for Cheviot, writes, "I’m very glad that the Expo Authority took neighborhood comments seriously and discussed the grade separation possibilities at Overland and Westwood at length and in detail.  Since LADOT now concurs with Expo that these
crossings should be at-grade, given the mitigations proposed, one hopes that NIMBYs in several homeowners’ associations do not succeed in funding litigation and delaying the line significantly."

While Leonard is choosing her words carefully, she’s referring to the coalition of affluent Westside neighborhoods that have rallied together under the banner of Neighbors for Smart Rail.  Friends 4 Expo member "Gokhan" takes a less-nuanced approach to defining NfSR’s position in the Streetsblog comments section:

NFSR comes next. Terri Tippit, the veteran Westside neighborhood
politician, Head of the West of Westwood Homeowners’ Association and at
times the President of the Westside Neighborhood Council, is the
President of Neighbors for Smart Rail (NFSR). Collen Mason Heller of
the Cheviot Hills Homeowners’ Association is the Vice President of
NFSR. Her husband Larry Heller is the attorney for NFSR. NFSR has been
collecting a lot of money in order to launch a lawsuit within 30 days
of the certification by the board of the Expo Authority of the final
environmental-impact report on the first Thursday of January. (editor’s note, the date for approval has been moved to February 4)

Officially, the position of Neighbors for Smart Rail is not that the line shouldn’t be built, but that the line needs to have safe (i.e. not at-grade) crossings near Westside schools as it rolls by.  Legal actions against the Expo Construction Authority in South L.A. have forced the agency to add additional pedestrian amenities near Dorsey High School.  However, thus far Neighbors for Smart Rail is playing it close to the chest.  The group is not quoted in any of the press accounts of the FEIR release and emails requesting comment for this article have not been returned.  I’m sure there will be a lot more on this story in the coming year.

  • At one time I just couldn’t wrap my brain around why professed rail nerds (of which I totally consider myself) total unwillingness to question anything MTA or Expo said about this line.

    Here are some of the woppers I would hear from people, who regularly ride these trains early on (and some are still said)

    -“These trains are quiet,”
    -“Crossing gates disrupt traffic only about 25 seconds,”
    -“The trains emits no vibration,”

    These were statements that were so contrary to just basic observation I was shocked that people who spend time studying the issue would have the gall to publicly state it.

    Then when I started pointing out blatant miscalculations in the EIR, I would notice a familiar pattern. I’d say the EIR/process was flawed and point to things like the omission of a soundwall just 30 feet from Dorsey HS classrooms (with noise projections of 225-ton trains at 55 mph), and the Expo Authority staff conclusion that Venice Blvd was not wide enough to fit 25 foot tracks. Instead of ever addressing the issue they would always just say, “The EIR says it’s not an issue.” As though the EIR was a bible and we were in Baptist Sunday School.

    I thought it was that they just couldn’t get their minds around the fact that common sense, coupled with numerous studies could all indicate that the conclusions being made were flawed. It took some time for me to realize that it wasn’t that they couldn’t get their minds around it – it was that they and their organizations purpose had nothing to do with discussing these issues.

    Regardless of the level of incompetence displayed by Expo/Metro or the total fabrication of staffs statements, their sole objective was to support the project and standing by the flimsy if not fraudulent conclusions was necessary because the end product was all they cared about.

    Read Karen Leonard/Light Rail for Cheviot statement and you see the same strategy at play. LR4C built what ever little base they have by requesting grade separation. When it wasn’t given they made a roar about methodology saying they want reconsideration and are still all about grade separation. Now that the chips hit the fan they return to what I’ve known was their real position all along (“at-grade, grade separated, who cares as long as it’s on the ROW”) and use the same rhetoric Darrell and Co. have been using for years hiding behind flawed results, ignoring the level of political manipulation at play in all of this and claiming the process was flawless and we all need to move on with our lives.

  • Oh and I’ve got $1000 on the need for the EIR to be redone.

    Who wants to take that bet?

  • Like with Global Warming deniers, it doesn’t matter how many experts are consulted or how comprehensive the report, it is still dismissed by critics.

  • This cat is standing by agency conclusions that say Sepulveda (Yes, SE – PUL – VE FRICKING DA!) is okay at-grade and claiming those who question their conclusions and methodology are akin global warming deniers?

    HAHAHA
    HAHAHA
    HAHAHA
    HAHAHA
    HAHAHA

    Thank you Darrell for making my point oh so clearly.

  • No, thank you, Damien, for confirming my point with a response that didn’t address the reality of traffic engineers’ mitigation plans on Sepulveda at all.

  • I’ll take that action, Damien. You can make out the check to Friends 4 Expo.

  • Alan K. Weeks

    I have followed the Expo project for more than twenty years. I find it very perplexing that so many objectors and detractors have popped up like Daisys
    in the Spring. Or should I say weeds. We live in an age of individual ignorance.The majority of people fail to get or understand facts on all or most any new project these days. Airports, Auditoriums, schools, Light Rail Lines, music centers, etc. bring out irrational objectors. Like Darrell said their minds are already made up. So don’t confuse them with facts. Damien comments are total nonsence. He has NO facts to back up his statements. His statements are not facts but just plain biased opinions. My Last complaint is that the Public Utilities Commission is supposed to work for the public. Instead all regulatory agencies are working for obstructionists like Damien who has singly held up Phase 1 for more than a year. The PUC is derilict in duty by draging out Farmdale crossing for two years. Justice delayed is Justice denied. This issue should have been decided in six or less months.

    Alan

  • Gokhan

    Damien Newton, you got Neighbors for Smart Rail’s stance totally wrong. Their official stance is “Build it right or not at all.” They define “right” as a subway, and they make it clear that they will accept nothing else — hence “not at all.” Their chosen strategy is that if they can push hard enough for a subway, there will not be enough funds to build the line, and there will be inequalities between Phase 1 and Phase 2, which will eventually delay the line indefinitely or kill it alltogether.

    Damien Goodmon, what should I say to you? Yes, trains are vicious, evil, and from Hell. They will wrack havoc to the city, vibrate the homes out of their foundations, blow people’s eardrums, sacrifice a young child everyday, and, of course, bring the traffic to a complete halt.

    As far as the NFSR lawsuit is concerned, my guess is that it will be thrown out rapidly. FEIR will be not be redone. We will not have the same problems we had with CPUC as we had with Farmdale, with extensive cooperation with CPUC, Expo, And LADOT having already taken place.

    The Expo Line Phase 2 will be the most beautiful light-rail line to date. It will transform the city into a more friendly atmosphere.

    Check out some of the pictures I took of the beautiful Expo Phase 2 right-of-way, and let me know why anyone with good intentions would like to bury the light-rail experience under these amazing grounds:

    http://transittalk.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=expoline&action=display&thread=66#10409

  • Gokhan
  • CPP Planning Student

    I agree with Gokhan when he says this line will do wonders for the city. From the Financal Distrcit to L.A. Live, USC, Crenshaw District, Culver City, Santa Monica and evrything in between, no single line will connect such diverse neighborhoods and important city landmarks like the Expo Line will. My only questions is…why did anyone ever take Damien Goodmon seriously ? Can he go away, please?

  • Lost angelino

    I thought the whole point of building a transit system was to get people out of their cars and providing a viable alternative. Street running portions over busy intersections are just assinine. Look i know conductors arent purposely hitting cars. La is filled with bad drivers. It doesnt make it any less stressfull if your in the train knowing theres a possibilty of it happening. Its one of the reasons i hate riding the blue line. and look at the eastide extension of the goldline. goes slower than anticipated and the ridership isn’t as great as they expected. And the backups at lorena and first are rediculous.(should of tunneled to third street!) And thats an area with a third the traffic of sepulveda. Saving a few bucks here and there just for the sake of having a pretty train, isnt my idea of good transit. People like gokhan would fight to get a train built at grade accross a freeway just to get a train built. At grade has its place but not on the weside of LA where every north south artery clogs up like a obese person eating a donut.

    I see rail as the freeways of the transit world. If all the transit advocates really want to see people get behind riding rail in this city it needs to be quick and be competitive with driving. and not at grade over major streets. (stop telling yourself it doesnt, ask anyone why they avoid public transport in LA. takes to long!!) Imagine if freeway planners would have decided to add a four way intersection where Wilshire and the 405 meet. All because of some fuzzy math some so called expert came up with. Its just stupid because its not a matter of will an accident happen its when. the gold line didnt take long after opening. not a peep from the the advocates who were praising the arrival of this line. that came on time and under budget. emphasizing under budget. Its under budget and flawed in my book. best part about riding it it was the subway portion. (lol maybe i just like tunnels.)

  • Interurbans

    Lave it to Damien to throw out half truths with no backing.

    The trains make no more noise than a bus at the same speed. Just stand near the tracks along the Gold and listen for your self as to just how noise the trains are.

    Trains on the Blue and Gold lines do take less than 30 seconds to pass from when the gates start to drop until they go up after the train passes at many crossings.

    Who said that the Expo Trains will pass Dorsey at 55 mph with no sound walls anyway? This was never the plan. Now the Dorsey crossing is still up in the air after more than one year thanks to Damien and his obstructionist ways to get personal notice.

    As for his other statements, he is comparing apples and oranges and has little to do with the Expo Line

    Now he is throwing obstacles at the Crenshaw Line demanding a subway where it is not needed and where Crenshaw is over 100 feet wide and had a rail line in the past on privet right of way. His tactics as with the Expo Line is to delay and increase the cost to where it is too expensive to build it and ultimately try to kill it if he can, or at least get recognition as a powerful neighborhood leader.

  • Joseph E

    Interurbans (and others), I don’t think we should assume that Damien Goodmon wishes to kill any of these rail projects. His original vision from a few years back (http://getlamoving.org/) was for grade-separated rail lines along Expo, Crenshaw, and all the other planned and future corridors. I believe Damien does not want surface light rail, but he would be in favor of these routes as subways.

    Damien, could you give us any more insight into your perfect solution, considering current political and economic realities? Would you rather that Expo never be operated? Would you like it to open only to Culver City and then stop? Would you support spending 1 billion to grade separate the crossings on the first segment, if it meant we had to delay the Crenshaw line or Regional Connector or Wilshire subway?

    Will you support the Crenshaw line if it is mainly grade-separated, but has a couple of grade crossings and surface stations? If you will not settle for that, would you support building the tunneled segment from Wilshire to Expo first?

    Which heavy rail lines should get funded right now? Which should be studied right now, considering the money we have available this year?

    Damien, I would love to see the “Get LA Moving” plan built, and much much more, over the next 10 years. But that will take new federal, state and local commitments, and several years of study, even if the voters and politicians would get us the money to do it. What should we prioritize right now?

    To be honest, I don’t know what your motivation are, Damien. I wish I could believe that you had good intentions and goals, but sometimes that is hard to believe.

    Joseph E
    Long Beach, CA

  • Scott –

    I want it in WRITING!

  • First off – a single-finger salute…I mean wave to my hater brigade. Hi guys. I haven’t bothered to read their posts – once I see the names Alan Fishel, Interubrans and Gohkan I just keep scrolling. Dana will pop up any moment now I’m sure.

    Joseph –

    I have serious concerns about Phase 2, that have really evolved in the past year since Measure R passed. I think the smart solution would be to hold off on the project for a couple of years (it’ll be in court then anyway) and see what the feds say about it effects the last leg of the Wilshire subway.

    Are the feds willing to fund another line in L.A. just 1/3rd to 1/2 mile from a line serving the same corridor? If not, we’re essentially on the hook for a minimum $4B locally to get one line from Culver City to Santa Monica and the other from I-405 to Santa Monica.

    Would we not build that last leg of the Wilshire line? And if so how does that effect that line’s ridership/cost-effectiveness, the Pink Line ridership and the system ridership.

    This issue hasn’t gotten anywhere near the amount of attention it should have. I think that right now THIS should be the public’s biggest concern regarding mass transit on the westisde. I don’t think people are being told that there is a real possibility that building Expo Phase 2 at all, let alone building it at-grade across these major intersections (insanity), would jeopardize the Subway to the Sea and cost the systems more riders than not building it at all.

    Not that the people who have commented above would care. Friends 4 Expo fought attempts to prioritize the Wilshire subway in the past, and I’m sure they wouldn’t care if the Expo Phase 2 essentially killed the Subway to the Sea.

    RE: Crenshaw – the more grade separation there is, the happier I am. Focusing now on getting these cost estimates to reasonable levels and identifying potential federal funding sources, of which there are many and the Crenshaw project is eligible, because it is both an EIR and EIS document.

    Expo Authority just can’t get off their strategy of continually screwing up and basically locked the project out of receiving a penny of federal funds by pursuing this as a solely state (EIR) document.

    And understand Get LA Moving was not just a map. It was a way to build that was more cost-effective and required less time (both of which are related).

  • Gokhan

    Damien Goodmon, if there is one person who is full of hate, it’s you brother. Your hate against the Expo Line, light-rail, the Westside, and pretty much everything baffles me.

    I see that your latest slogan is “Don’t build the Expo Line but build the Westside subway instead.” Welcome to the Neighbors for Smart Rail NIMBY camp, who now says the same thing in order to try to prevent rail in their neighborhood. But do you realize:

    (1) The Expo Line is already being built and it’s not meant to terminate in the Culver Junction but meant to reach the ocean.

    (2) Wilshire subway and the Expo Line are different corridors. I didn’t know that the Wilshire subway served your “South LA,” Culver City, Palms, the Pico – Oylmpic corridor, as the Expo Line does.

    (3) The Wilshire subway again serves a different corridor and will take decades to build, regardless of what happens to Expo. But the Expo Line will happen in only five years from now.

    (4) Your Crenshaw Line with 10,000 riders a day is costing twice as much as Expo Phase 2.

    (5) Unlike you, we, real transit advocates, support all these lines, including the Wilshire subway and Crenshaw LRT.

    And, last but not least, Joseph E, Alan Fishel, and others, stop giving Damien Goodmon the spotlight, as this is what he only cares about and stop wondering his motivation, because the spotlight is his motivation. He is laughing at you when you feed his ego. So, just plain ignore his nonsense rhetoric.

    Expo Line to Santa Monica — coming soon. ;)

  • Hey, Damien has a good point. “Light rail” is not equal to “streetcar” – and crenshaw had streetcars, as did the trains plying the Expo right of way, no?

    I love street cars – but light rail is a whole ‘nother thing. Damien has held up parts of the Expo project because, frankly, it is in the interests of the community to do so until their demands are met. What else should they do? Say, “oh well” when the pavers and earth movers start screwing up their neighborhood? It will be too late then.

  • Friends 4 Expo fought attempts to prioritize the Wilshire subway in the past

    Is a fabricated falsehood. Friends 4 Expo as a group is dedicated to completing the Expo Line, but many of its members, including me, pushed to get the subway back onto Wilshire (from the Pico-San Vicente methane detour) and were part of the campaign that resulted in Measure R that will fund it at least to Westwood. As Gokhan noted, Expo and Wilshire serve different corridors, that when completed will form a network across the Westside.

  • Joseph E

    Damien, you planned this in April 2006, and reaffirmed it in September 2006: (http://thetransitcoalition.us/ConDG02.htm)

    “AQUA LINE (10)
    “Two extensions for the light rail line:
    “1) West from the Washington/National station down the Exposition ROW to Olympic/22nd (grade). West down Olympic to 10th Street (grade). West over the 10 freeway to the 3rd Street Promenade terminus (el).
    “2) East from Union Station…
    ” Totals: …25 miles, 39 stations, 1.7 to 2.3 billion”

    So, it looks like you wanted Expo to be at grade back on 2006. On the other hand, you already wanted the Crenshaw line to continue up to Hollywood and be grade-separated.

    When did you change your mind about Expo, and why?
    I have read many of the old discussions and arguments from two years ago, and the news articles about the Farmdale lawsuit, but I still don’t understand.

  • Gokhan

    ubrayj02, you don’t know about Pacific Electric. These trains were “interurbans,” monster electric passenger trains, which would make the Blue and Gold Line LRVs look like toys next to them. ;) See the picture of one below. This 75-ft-long, _not_ articulated, high-patform electric train is no trolley! :)

    http://i388.photobucket.com/albums/oo325/esirgen/OERM%202009-09-12/IMG_0965.jpg

    While the Crenshaw Line run by Los Angeles railway was small, narrow-gauge trains, they used up to four or six cars.

    The only thing which is holding the Phase 1 by the way is Farmdale by the way, which is about to reach a conclusion. And, if you ever visit the Expo Line, you will see that the tracks are already laid at most parts of the line. ;)

  • Lost angelino

    @ Joseph E

    the community came to him. youd have to go to the coalition forum to the very beginning where he explains his reasons. he went to Friends for expo/coalition with the issues they responded to him with the following: (And frankly its gotten ugly)

    The math for at grade crossings says were good….

    umm theres a row of cars backed up every rush hour on all these major streets see the pics, F4E response…um no the math says were good. train wont affect it

    no difference to grade seperating more money for one minute time saved…..(because hitting a car in the future wont make you late to work) but hey that idiot deserves to die.)

    Cost is too high to grade Seperate from Vermont to Farmdale
    ( so was the culver city phase one terminus but it going built magically because hey theres money does grow on tress when govt decides to not blow it on fancy dinners.)

    People should have come out sooner its too late we did meetings (mind you little outreach was given to community according to some)

    do you think people in your community aren’t smart enough to stay off train tracks(not if i dont fit in one of the holding pins you thought of

    theres no such thing as enviromental racism your a fool your lose in court. (yeah see culver city and phase two grade seperations)

    heres a picture of a train going next to a school whats the difference. (when theres tons and speed)

    heres another picture of other trains in other major cities and at grade works fine. (mind you these cities are a third the size of LA. and dont have nearly as many automobiles on the road.)

    your anti trains and pro cars. (as if was wrong to want to have traffic mitigation for both trains and cars) Isn’t this about mobility?

    oh and lastly (your a nimby!!!!!!!) because disagreeing route and crossings with some in the coalition/friends for expo is blasphemy!!! yup we dont want trains!lol)

    any who short answer to your question friends for expo basically told him to go away its done.

    Damien is a very smart individual does tons of research comes back with some very strong arguments. and the responses went from were smarter than you cuz were transit buffs heres the data why we cant do what you want. to the drivel you see posted in response to anything he says. its more personal attacks on him and not the issue because some people are either threatened by him or try to get under his skin. of course they will say things like he started it.

    Go to any transit blog or urbanism blog and the minute hes posts its the same three or four people damien just mentioned. its quite juvenile.

    in the end the guy stood up for his neighborhood when friends for expo either ignored it or didnt realize it was going to be an issue. Funniest thing in all of this is his rivals believed that he would go away and the Farmdale issue would as well. lol aparently there might be a station there now. Read the expo line thread at the coalition website.

    And i totally thought he was in the wrong when he first started all this .

  • Spokker

    “Damien is a very smart individual does tons of research comes back with some very strong arguments.”

    His opposition does research too.

    “and the responses went from were smarter than you cuz were transit buffs heres the data why we cant do what you want.”

    Damien is a transit buff too.

    “its more personal attacks on him and not the issue because some people are either threatened by him or try to get under his skin. of course they will say things like he started it.”

    It doesn’t matter who started it. Damien lobs the personal attacks as well. It doesn’t bother me, but he does it.

    “Go to any transit blog or urbanism blog and the minute hes posts its the same three or four people damien just mentioned. its quite juvenile.”

    These are discussion forums. Damien often shows up in similar discussions to these in order to post a dissenting opinion and vice versa. The fight is what makes the Internet great.

  • Spokker

    Here’s a great video on flame wars by Penn Gillete: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BenvSXs_qE (kind of long)

    Here’s another one of my favorites that may be applied to Very Internet People: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjonhK8iGnQ

  • Spokker

    Jillette, rather.

  • Spokker

    “My only questions is…why did anyone ever take Damien Goodmon seriously ? Can he go away, please?”

    This is the stupidest thing you could say no matter which side of the debate you are on. Go away? Who the fuck are you? Any idiot is allowed to get on this web site and spout whatever they want (as long as it’s legal, of course), and that’s what makes the Internet the great place that it is. I disagree with the guy, but I want him to post until the end of time. Post for the love of posting and good things will come. Always respect another’s ability to post. That is the true Internet way.

  • Joseph E –

    The Transit Coalition maps are not current, nor were they up to date at the time they were posted.

    You can see on the current alignment page of Get LA Moving (which has to be updated in itself) that there was a change from at-grade to grade separated by the Santa Monica College diversion. Link:

    “Southwest down 26th to Cloverfield, veering southwest to Pico/20th. West down Pico to Lincoln. Veering northwest from Pico/Lincoln to the Santa Monica Pier and Promenade terminus at Colorado/4th.”

    But for history, since you asked, “the map” began as an attempt to fit the cheapest possible rail everywhere. Go to the old Transit Coalition forums and you’ll see me making many of the same arguments that are made today. Specifically, I remember asking for total preemption to put heavy rail at-grade down the middle of Vermont.

    Then it changed to grade separated rail after I did my research. I went from just trying to piece lines together to actually trying to build a system that would work.

    I looked at travel patterns and needs, along with growth needs, broke down project cost to figure out what we were spending and where. I began to understand why the MTA Transit Service Policy states that lines expected to serve over 50K riders/day to be grade separated. And probably more so than anything else, I began to talk to the executives who have to operate the lines and got a completely different story from those who are plan to build them.

    It turned to primarily subway (all though a significant portion of the map is at-grade grade separated) in part because of equity and proximity to destinations, and primarily because of construction impacts, construction cost and time. Which was also tied to winning political backing in the citizenry and with the electeds. Reading about cost efficiencies in foreign countries that had equally high labor and environmental standards was probably the most pivotal moment. They were then and are today building subways in Spain at the cost we’re building primarily at-grade light rail in L.A. I saw a lot of waste and an entrenched almost entitlement system at play in our planning/construction process and realized it was essentially a 33-50% tax on top of our projects.

    Again, all of this is why I say Get LA Moving (which those early maps actually were not), is not just a map but a call for systemic change, if you will.

    So if you’re looking for a simple explanation: I became smarter.

    I don’t know when the change occurred, but likely sometime in the 2nd half of 2006. And I only know that because by the January 2007 presentation to the Transit Coalition, I was talking all subways and economies of scale, and station proximity, 100% grade separation, etc.

  • Re: F4E

    There was also deliberate deceit and fabrication of information that I didn’t expect early on. Some things I just didn’t expect to be disputed, if they could be proven and they were, especially given that I thought we were having a reasonable dialogue while putting together Get LA Moving. Alas, dialogue over theories and concepts is a whole lot different from a dialogue for political action.

    Here’s just one major example (there are literally dozens). As the Farmdale controversy became more of a firestorm, F4E was repeatedly saying that there couldn’t be a change at Farmdale because any change would kill the project from delay and cost. They continued this line after international experts in rail safety testified that the crossing was a catastrophic accident waiting to happen and over 500 people packed Dorsey HS auditorium asking that the line be built, delivering for the most part very well articulated points, but that it be grade separated. Gohkan regularly attempted to attack the intellectual credibility of a tenured professor at his own place of employment, and Clarke and others misrepresenting the qualifications of the person who held the position of the country’s foremost expert of rail accident causation. But I digress.

    From the beginning, I kept pointing to the Minimum Operable Segments portion of the Expo Phase 1 EIR, that allows the line to be built in phases (to Vermont and then to Crenshaw) and saying the resources were there to add the grade separations to the project, specifically recently passed Proposition 1B.

    Did they say, hey you know what, you’re right. Lets go to our elected officials together and get them to go after Prop 1B and avoid this fight and bring the community and F4E together. Of course not!

    They continued to drum up the line that any change would kill the project.

    Now fast forward to today. Now that Farmdale is not settled you see those phases at play. At best Expo will open to Crenshaw and have to wait until Farmdale is resolved.

    Also, sometime in Sept 2007, Expo went after resources to add $222 million dollars to the budget ($145 specifically for cost overruns and $54 million to add the Washington/National overcrossing), $218 million from the same resource I was pointing out (Prop 1B). Also, since that time, Phase 2 has gone from a projected $800/900M to $1.9B. And yet the drumbeat has been constant (any change will kill the project because of delay and cost).

    Have any of them gone back to admit they were wrong? Absolutely not. But the bigger point is that they never really admitted that it wasn’t possible, they just ignored it while they rallied their friends to come to Expo board meetings to fight our efforts for grade separation.

    What I found Joseph was that I was not dealing with people who actually valued a democratic debate or facts. (And that’s not an indictment of them all, but rather the leadership Clarke, Gohkan, Alan Fishel, Reed, Alpern, Wright, etc.) I was dealing with a public relations group sent out there to settle the masses and get the project done regardless of community impacts. It’s why I’ve come to saying to Darrell, “You’re either being paid some kind of way or too dumb to know that the only people who do what you’re doing get paid.”

    In fact, you’ll note that when the Orange County Centerline got in trouble, in large part because people began crunching the numbers and unmasking the public relations spin delivered by OCTA, they went out and hired none other than the Co-Chair of Friends 4 Expo (Darrell Clarke) to be their head spokesman. Bart Reed and others galloped in on their white horses.

    The infiltration of strategy meetings, the constant twisting of my statements and actions, the fabrication of data, the refusal to criticize any major staff determination, etc. It’s a little fricking crazy when you step back and think about it.

    The only thing I would change from what Lost Angelino said is that the community group sort of found me and I found them. Again, in line with what I said prior about this systemic attempt to demonize folk to attempt to discredit them, when I first started talking to the Expo Communities United folk, F4E had chosen to tell me I should ignore them and their concerns, despite the fact that it was THEY who were being most impacted, because they were anti-transit, they just wanted to kill the line, they didn’t know what they were talking about, blah, blah, blah. (It’s a constant creed with them).

    Well being the person I am (you know the kind that has the capacity to think for themselves), I never just ignore anyone, especially not a neighbor because of their beliefs. But the more I began to talk to them I learned that the F4E assessment of their beliefs was B.S. And furthermore that they had never attempted to find a way to represent the legitimate issues they were offering either with these people or independent of them.

    It became clear that the goal in attempting to smear the was to just marginalize them, ignore the issues so they project could be built. There was and remains no concern for the communities impacted. And well, not only because I live here (albeit about 0.75 mile away) but because I’m a decent person, I don’t that’s fair. And repeated opportunities by F4E and elected officials to reduce these hazards and impacts were constantly passed over.

    But I do give them this, this isn’t personal between our community and them. They’ve fought every single community every single time they’ve made a big request for change in the project to lessen the impacts. USC, Culver City, South L.A., Cheviot Hills and eventually Santa Monica groups – if they get too loud.

    Take for example, their supreme boogeyman – the Cheviot Hills HOA. “They’re racist,” Gohkan will tell you. “Stuck in 1950s mindset” others will say.

    Do they mention, any of them any of the time – that they the head racist anti-transit organization in the city have articulated a position where by they will accept the line? Of course not.

    And here’s the kicker – there’s just a $100-200 million difference between avoiding a legal challenge to delay this project for years and increase its cost, and getting this line built on time. 100-200 million dollars – less than 10% of the frickin’ budget! The amount of money this project will increase in cost while it’s stuck in court!

    So on top of having no regard for the communities the line passes through, advocating for an inferior design that does not meet our transportation needs and utilizing some of the more abhorrent tactics I’ve seen from a “volunteer” organization, just like the Expo Authority and the politicians pushing the line, they’re not even executing a sound strategy. Unless the strategy is simply to applaud whatever Expo/MTA say – a real possibility.

  • Spokker said:
    It doesn’t matter who started it. Damien lobs the personal attacks as well. It doesn’t bother me, but he does it.

    Lets be real, for every personal attack I deliver, there are 10 coming my way. I ain’t complaining, I’m just describing. In fact, the only time people bring up personal attacks is when I’m responding with one in kind.

    So I’m clear, per the conversation about at-grade-Tokyo on the other thread, and Get LA Moving here its much more enjoyable to me and constructive to have level headed debates. We can agree to disagree and even admit to weaknesses in our arguments. But when you start saying people are this or that because they’re crazy, anti-transit, racists, too stupid to avoid a train, need to be defeated, etc. (a.k.a. the direction the Expo discussion goes with a great many people) you have to expect real patience and tolerance from the other side if you expect to get anything constructive out of the conversation.

  • Gokhan

    So, Damien, could you let us know why your very own pro bono lawyers fired you and you are no longer a party in the CPUC process for Farmdale? Would it be because you’re so irrational and offending, as it have become clear with your posts here?

    As they say, the best thing a person can do is the good thing. And the second best thing is the bad thing. You had chosen the good thing when I first met you a few years ago, drawing your maps and such. Then you decided to choose the bad thing. But this is not working out you. Farmdale is almost resolved and Phase 2 will soon be constructed. Why don’t you go back to the good thing? Perhaps go back to the school and finish college? We missed the good Damien and we want him back! ;)

  • Very simple

    Metro should cancel ALL transit projects in this area to shut up these worthless obstructionists. There are so many other communities in LA County clamoring for light rail that would be more than happy to have this run through their community. Then we can all laugh from our light rail trains while areas like Cheviot Hills are trapped in 24-hour vehicular gridlock.

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