After the Metro Board of Directors voted for Richard Katz’s “compromise” motion on the Leimert Park Village Station over the proposal by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Metro Board Chair Don Knabe commented to the disappointed crowd that remained that they hoped they would see the vote as a step forward for the Leimert Park Station. Here at Streetsblog, I wrote that the station was “approved,” not having seen the motion until later.
But since the Katz motion only called for the station to be built if funds were available in the original budget, the construction of the station is far from certain. And the band of politicians and community activists serving the predominantly African American community surrounding the proposed Leimert Park Village Station, don’t view the new motion as a step forward, and are ready to keep fighting. For his part, Ridley-Thomas is planning a new motion for this month’s Board Meeting, although his staff isn’t ready to announce what that motion is.
Meanwhile, the pages of South Los Angeles publications are screaming invective at Mayor Villaraigosa, who controls enough votes on the Metro Board to swing the issue and could insure construction of a station at this month’s meeting. Ridley-Thomas, and the crowd that included somewhere between 300-600 South L.A. residents, believed he had the Mayor’s support going in to the May Metro Board Meeting and found the compromise motion to be a disappointment.
The Los Angeles Sentinel, after recapping a rally the day before the May Board Meeting and the meeting itself, ends on a chilling note for light rail advocates who are eager to avoid another battle similar to the one over the Expo Line.
Danny J. Bakewell Sr., who has been at the forefront advocating for this project, share the same sentiments as the community – that it’s not over. He said, “we’ve tried friendly negotiations trying to use our influence, and at this point, we’ve come up short with nothing. I’m will be calling a community meeting in Leimert Park to rally the residents of Baldwin Hils, View Park, Windsor Hills to voice our concerns, loud and clear – either we get an underground train, or there’ll be no train.”
While The Wave Newspapers merely asked whether Villaraigosa intentionally killed Ridley-Thomas’ station motion, the strongest article was written by Anthony Asadullah Samad, Ph.D., and managing director of the Urban Issues Forum at the Electronic Urban Report. Samad blatantly accuses Villaraigosa of a soft-racism by refusing to “bet on black,” and wonders if the Mayor ever planned (or still plans)to support the station.
Given Ridley-Thomas’ performance on King Hospital and the Expo Line, and his role in making Measure R happen that benefited all communities, he should’ve been given an opportunity to find the $500 million on Leimert Park and Park Mesa (or at least Leimert Park Village component) for his own community, and Villaraigosa should have been leading the way in that conversation to pull his four votes. Park Mesa lost by the margin that Villaraigosa controlled. He fronted us off again. Then he sent a press release out claiming he supported the project. Yeah, in theory, not in funding.
Similar stories can be found at Our Weekly which recaps the meeting and lays blame at the feet of Villaraigosa and Katz. (“Mr. Katz was charged by Mayor Villaraigosa with planting the bomb that would blow up plans for the frequently ignored or delayed black community.”) and City Watch which where local advocates respond to light rail advocates (“Characterizing the motion by County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas to underground the one-mile portion of the Crenshaw-LAX Line in Park Mesa Heights and return the Leimert Park Village station to the light rail project that failed at the May 26th Metro board meeting, as “pork barrel spending” is astonishing to say the least.”)
One thing is for certain, the communities of South Los Angeles aren’t done fighting for a Leimert Park Station, and are prepared to play hardball to get it.