Clock’s Ticking on Expo Phase II Lawsuit. Opponents Vow to Get it Filed by Next Week.

2_23_10_future.jpgThe future home of Expo Light Rail? Facing East on Sepulveda and Exposition.

Photo: LA Streetsblog/Flickr

Anyone awaiting word on whether the group fighting to stop or reconfigure Phase II of the Expo Line would file lawsuit doesn’t have to wait until March 6, the last day they can file to legally challenge the certification of the Environmental Impact Statement approved by the Expo Board on February 4. At a meeting of Neighbors for Smart Rail last week, the organization was collecting checks and promising from the podium that a legal filing was in the works.

Reports vary on the amount of people in attendance at last weekend vary, but range upward to 250 attendees, almost all of whom were vocal about their opposition to the line. In addition to the lawsuit, the Neighbors for Smart Rail are planning a grassroots effort to inform the community, both residences and businesses, that the Expo Line will go through West L.A. at-grade. After the jump, you can read a full summary of the meeting from the "West of Westwood Homeowner’s Association" an organization that is supportive of Neighbors for Smart Rail.

I want to thank the over 250 people who attended the NFSR meeting yesterday.

It was nice to see new faces but it was concerning to see how many people STILL did not know that if we do nothing the train would be coming through at grade (street level) in 5 years. Many thought it was going below grade or around us.

Soon we will be putting up lawns signs soon to let not only the residents but also the business community know that the train is coming at grade.

We encourage you to invite your neighbors and friends to a coffee. At this informal setting they will learn what the impact of a train running through here at grade every 2 1/2 minutes will have on them. Please let us know when you will have a coffee and we will have a representative there to help you. (Please see attached flyer)

We also need people to go door to door talking one on one with their neighbors. We will be having a meeting for anyone (included those who already signed up) interested in doing this. You will receive a packet with instructions and talking points.

We will also visual demonstrate the impact on traffic on the train at grade will have on our already congested streets and how it will increasing cut-through traffic. I have been contacted by both print and TV press to ask when we will be holding our demonstration.

We will be filing our lawsuit soon. Please remember we cannot do this alone we need your support.

EVERYONE MUST HELP

We know times are challenging right now. Attached is a Donation Pledge form that will allow you to make monthly payments. You can write a check or go to smartrail.org and click donate. We are trying to make it as easy as possible for you to donate.

Because we are tax deductable we are keeping a list of who contributes what.

What is the cost of NOT increasing cut-through traffic in our community

What is the cost of having emergency vehicles able to reach you without an added delay of waiting for a train to pass

What is the cost to be able to get on to Overland, Westwood, Military and Sepulveda from our homes

What is the cost of a good night’s sleep not hearing bells and whistles

What is the cost of our children’s safety

PRICELESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Make a donation NOW or be ready for the impact of Expo at grade in our community.

  • “If there is no money to build Expo right, pull the plug on Phase 2. Use the money to grade-separate critical crossings on Phase 1 and the rest to support the Purple Line to the sea, a true regional transit project.”
    -NFSR
    —–

    I honestly don’t think that would be a bad outcome. However, this lawsuit will fail. The only way it can succeed is if Metro screwed up the EIR, and they’ve shown that they can make rail EIRs that pass legal muster.

    At this point NFSR is better off holding bake sales to pay for the grade separations themselves.

  • Alex Kasperavicius

    “Yes, we need to fix the traffic problem and provide another route from West to East, but it damn well better not be near my home.”

    If this goes to trial we will organize marches of the “brown people” you so despise. We will come to Cheviot Hills every weekend for tours of our local racist neighborhood, and picnic on your tree lawns and sidewalks until this insanity stops.

    We have voices too.

  • David Galvan

    What? Expo is controversial? :O

  • Speakers at the Sunday NFSR meeting again put out false statements, like the notion that trains would stop at-grade traffic 2 1/2 minutes of every 5 minutes – this statement was corrected at least twice at the Feb. 4 Expo Board meeting, by Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and Steve Polechronis of the Expo Authority. These people either don’t listen or don’t believe in facts; they prefer their own versions. They ask for donations and say that only an underground line will do, but if they do succeed in successfully challenging the at-grade policy at Overland and Westwood they will get an elevated line. This word, elevated, was not mentioned in their meeting…

    Karen Leonard

  • Eric B

    If traffic gets stopped every 2.5 minutes for the 45 second or so train cycle, then that is shorter than every other traffic light on those routes. As a Palms resident, I can’t wait to have a ped- and bike-accessible rail line ready to whisk me to Santa Monica or Downtown LA, whichever way my heart desires. It’s not like we’re running the long freight trains that used to run through that corridor. Truly smarter rail is the rail that’s feasible to build now with today’s resources.

  • mandor

    It’s interesting that they think the train will cause *more* traffic to cut through their neighborhood. As if that isn’t the case now due to the clusterfuck that is rush hour in that area.

  • Chewie, you’re right, it’s theoretically not a bad outcome, but they don’t want the outcome. They want to provide an alternative that costs much more.

    When presented with true BRT, the opposition will claim that it’s not good enough, it must be rail.
    Fair enough, rail it is, we’ll sepnd the extra 100 million. Except now that’s not good enough, it must be grade separated.
    Elevated, sure there’s an extra 500m laying around?
    No, that’s an eye sore, it must be underground.
    Underground, we just happen to have an extra 3 billion?
    No way, that will result in years of disruption and methane explosions.

  • @ Jass
    You could very well be right about that.

    Some of NFSR’s arguments are stronger than others. The traffic jam argument really only applies to cars trying to move north-south during peak hours (for cars moving in the same direction as the train the signal priority will be better with the train). The train every 2 1/2 minutes thing only really applies during peak hours. So that’s a bit misleading. Plus, their comments ignore the idea that (gasp) people might actually use the train and leave their cars at home.

    On the other hand I sympathize with complaints about noise. I haven’t read the whole EIR so I don’t know which areas are getting sound walls. But I know there are areas on the Blue Line that really need sound walls and don’t have them. Hence, there’s a legitimate trust issue there.

    As far as safety goes, it’s the same old debate. At-grade rail is safe if you obey all traffic laws. It’s just that we know that people manage to screw that up. The concern is really for children, who aren’t as likely to know what they’re doing.

  • I lived next to the Gold Line (i.e. 20 to 30 feet) for several years. The train emits a low hissing sound, but is otherwise silent when passing by. At crossing gates, the City forced the MTA to use muted bells and a weird horn noise.

    With some money tossed around for double paned windows, it is not much noise indoors.

    Now, the MTA’s buses … that is a serious problem. I’ve been woken up at 2 a.m. by the slipping belt on a CNG-powered bus many, many, times. I wear an earplug in my left ear when riding my bike to prevent ear damage from passing buses. That is a real noise problem.

  • Superimposing rail on the auto-system will not work. First, get rid of the cars. Yes, that means buses in the transition. Make buses fare-free and break the critical mass of the auto-system with its $trillion subsidy.

  • @ Umberto

    I agree about the noise problem from some of the buses. I’m not sure which part of the Gold Line you live near, but I’ve walked sections of the Blue Line in Compton and South LA that are ridiculous.

    For example, I got off at Slauson, walked a block west and walked south all the way to Florence, just listening to the trains that passed. It comes off of an elevated station, and by the time it’s up to speed, it’s blazing by a bunch of unsheltered houses. No sound walls. Of course it will be a bit quieter inside, but the amount of noise being generated was extreme and would have been annoying even inside.

    The faster a train goes and the more cars that are attached to it the more noise it makes. Hence, its not a problem on every single segment of every line. But there are definitely trouble spots.

  • evelyn silvey

    The train being at grade will impede emergency vehicles from crossing the tracks when a train is crossing. THE TRAINS CAN NOT STOP AND THE CROSSING GATES WILL NOT MAGICALLY GO UP TO ALLOW EMERGENCY VEHICLES FIRE TRUCKS, POLICE, AMBULANCES TO CROSS. Therefore anyone living south of the tracks whether in West LA or Santa Monica will be impacted. Think about it, the hospitals are on the north side of the tracks, ie UCLA Westwood, St John’s, and UCLA Santa Monica. Should you be realLY unlucky and have suffered from a stroke or heart attack, you could have to wait at the tracks twice for a train to go by. The first wait would be 1:20 minutes and an additional 1:20 mins to return across the tracks. Everyone knows that this is a critical time for emergency personnel to provide care. Should your house be burning down, an intruder be in your house you just may have to WAIT!

  • lordj

    This all seems a little exaggerated! I live in South Pasadena and have the Gold line tracks at my back fence, I don’t even notice the trains going by. Visitors hear a faint whisp that lasts about 10 seconds when standing by the back fence. They then ask what was that.

    LA desperately needs more alternative transit i.e. rail! Why is Beverly Hills and the West side so against public transit ‘in their neighborhood’? Are they so far above the rest of LA County? Can we not think about ourselves and think of the rest of the community? If I had the choice to get to Santa Monica by rail I would, which means one less car congesting west LA! Wouldn’t that be a good thing?

    Why is rail so scary?

    AND shouldn’t they have thought about trains in their neighborhood before settling there? The rail right-or-way was there long before they were and will be there long after they are gone.

  • lordj

    And for the “EMERGENCY VEHICLES” comment, they do have fire stations on BOTH sides of the tracks..

    How many trains run in the world daily and how many people have died because of a train crossing impeeding emergency vehicles? Where is your statistical data or study to support that argument?

  • Hmm, yes, about impeding Emergency Vehicles…don’t you guys have SPEED HUMPS in your neighborhood that impede both regular traffic and Emergency Vehicles? How many people have been KILLED by your speed humps??? But I don’t suppose anyone is in favor of removing those, now are they?

    The arguments by these SELFISH people are a joke. I am tired of their constant whining and complaining and can’t wait until their lawsuit TANKS and FAILS. I’ve been putting up with their BS for over 10 years now. These people need to be quiet and stop trying to ruin MY CITY with their stupidity and selfishness.

    The Gold Line is proof in the pudding. No crazy amount of deaths, no people dying because ambulances couldn’t get to them. Look at the FACTS.

    That rail right of way has been since 1875, long before any of you were born. You had to realize that even if the ROW was not in use (between 1985 and the present) that there was a good chance it would come back into active use some day, for some purpose. Railroad rights of way don’t just grow on trees, you know, they are valuable community assets.

    Can’t wait for your protest. I will be there to counter you.

  • Emergency vehicles don’t warp at light speed to the hospital. They are still impeded by the massive amount of automobile traffic in Los Angeles. They still slow down to avoid hazards, hazards that are exacerbated by congestion.

    However, maybe the few people who die in the ambulance on the way to the hospital because they were delayed by Expo will be balanced by the higher quality of life fostered by better transit. Maybe someone will decide to get out of their car and take Expo, instead of jumping into their car and hitting someone on the road.

    Hahaha.

  • Matt

    Lordj,

    Don’t think that the Westside is against rail. In fact, all other homeowner groups and the vast majority of Westsiders support Expo and the Purple Line (even Beverly Hills now). This is just one neighborhood group that gets all the press, because they have money to push a lawsuit. It is also important to remember that not even everyone in Cheviot Hills is against the project. From what I have heard the community is split roughly 2/3 against and 1/3 for.

  • Interurbans

    The Expo Authority did their homework and did it right. The line is being built right. Even if there was the extra 3 bullion dollars available this section of the line should still be built as planned at grade. Sure their will be delays for emergency vehicles of 30 to 45 seconds at the three crossings in dispute under the worst possible conditions 2.5 minutes apart but normally every 5 to seven minutes. No worse than a typical traffic signal in the area.

    As for noise as stated the Pasadena Gold line is about how it will sound on the Expo Line. The Blue Line through poor planning has a different “wheel profile” and the cars are much nosier than the Gold Line or the Expo line will be.

    The Smart Rail people have overly hipped ideas of just how bad the line will be. They can take a short drive to the Gold Line through South Pasadena and Pasadena to see how the line will be through Cheviot Hills. Their fears are way out of proportion to how the line will actually be.

    If the Expo Authority and the MTA use the area adjacent to the line as a green park area with swings an playground equipment for children and do not build any kind of a wall above 3 feet, have hourly parking (parking permits for residents) in the adjacent neighborhoods, no parking at the Westwood Station this will be a win-win for all. Homes are several hundred feet from the line and trains will not be heard even in the yard of close by residents.

    The good news will be that Cheviot Hills and Rancho Park residents will be able to get to the beach at Santa Monica in 10 minutes, SMC in 5 minutes, get to the Coliseum, SC, the Museum complex in 15 minutes and to downtown with connections to many other areas in 20 minutes with no parking worries. Now their kids will be able to get to events or the beach with out having to have a chauffeur.

    When the line opens it will be good for the neighborhood and the whole city of LA.

  • Alex Kasperavicius

    Of course, Emergency Vehicles are he concern. I see!

    Didn’t you guys push through some asinine piece of legislation called “traffic calming” a few years ago? Remember dear?

    Yep folks, Cheviot Hills has made it very near impossible to drive through their neighborhood during morning rush hour.

    “Traffic Calming” is a combination of right and left turn restrictions on all streets in the morning, traffic bumps, and through road lights timed be green for about 10 seconds out of every three minutes.

    This has made Cheviot Hills blissfully quiet during the morning rush hour, yet snarled traffic throughout the next door, poorer area of Palms. We’re talking regular stand still traffic on Motor Avenue when people are trying to get to work. The roads are artificially clogged so “these people” find some other way to work. It is not working.

    Emergency vehicles simply cannot get through ANYWHERE during this time all as a direct result of Cheviot Hills resident’s efforts. This make the earlier, feigned “concern” about emergency vehicles very hollow.

    Again, we are dealing with obstructionist, elitist residents who feel it is their right to have things their way at all times. They feel it OK to lie and present half truths on a regular basis in order to get their way.

  • Erik G.

    I love how the Streetsblog Blog Webpage Editor just gave smartrail.org a free plug/link in Damien’s post.

    Why do people buy property next to a railroad right-of-way and not expect trains to come again someday?

  • evelyn

    LOOK AT A MAP! THE CHEVIOT HILLS PEOPLE WHOM YOU HATE SO MUCH WILL NOT BE IMPACTED BY THE DELAY OF EMT VEHICLES.

    THE PEOPLE WHO WILL BE IMPACTED ARE SOUTH OF THE TRACKS, GET IT? IE SOUTH OF EXPO AND FURTHER DOWN IN MARV VISTA SOUTH OF OLYMPIC, SANTA MONICA SOUTH OF OLYMPIC AND COLORADO. NOT THE DISPISED PEOPLE OF CHEVIOT HILLS.

  • Eric B

    I live in the area “SOUTH OF THE TRACKS” and hope that Expo happens ASAP so that it can reduce MY travel times. Emergency responders can alter routes and protocols to maintain adequate response times. There are fire and medical stations south of the Expo Line too. We’re not talking about mile-long freight trains rolling through here. The emergency response argument is more suited for monster trains in San Bernardino.

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