It’s Official: Back to Court for Expo Phase II and NFSR

I'm really getting good use out of this photo shoot of NFSR signs I did last August.

As promised, Neighbors for Smart Rail (NFSR) is appealing the decision of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Thomas McKnew to dismiss their lawsuit alleging that the Expo Construction Authority violated state environmental law when doing their studies of the future light rail lines route.  The appeal was filed nearly two weeks ago, on September 15, to the California Court of Appeals

“NFSR is looking to prevent West L.A. gridlock by protecting access to the 10 freeway through West L.A.,” writes president Terri Tippett in a press statement.  “Trains blocking Overland and Westwood 24 times per hour will have a devastating impact on the existing area traffic, and all evidence shows that Expo didn’t properly study it.”

At first glance, their legal filings don’t appear to be much different in substance than the arguments McKnew rejected earlier this year so NFSR isn’t arguing anything new, just that McKnew erred in ordering the case dismissed last year.   Their main point is that the recently decided  Sunnyvale West Neighborhood Association v. City of Sunnyvale City Council shows that traffic studies should examine the impact a new project will have on current conditions, not on conditions at the end of the “life of the project.”   In Sunnyvale, a state superior court ruled that the city’s environmental review of a road extension violated state law because it based it’s review on traffic projections for 2020 instead of current conditions.

In other words, NFSR is arguing that the Expo Construction Authority should be using conditions between 2007-2010 for its traffic modeling instead of modeling of what conditions should be in 2030.  McKnew rejected this argument last February ruling that the two cases are apples and oranges.

Meanwhile it could be months before we know the fate of this appeal.

Expo’s Response to the Appeal is due October 17 but could be extended to November 1 if the agency requests. Then NFSR has another three weeks to reply to the Authority’s brief.  Sometime in the 90 days after the filing of the last brief, the court will hear oral arguments before making it’s decision, sometime in the 90 days after that.  All in all, it could be mid-May before a final ruling is issued.

In the meantime, the Authority is continuing work on the line as McKnew’s decision allowed.  If NFSR is successful in stopping the project until a new environmental study is completed, it could lead to Expo actually deconstructing portions of the line.  (Update: Bart Reed points out that if the lawsuit is completed by May, then almost no construction will actually be underway, so there’s very little that would happen if the judge ruled for NFSR and gave a cease work order.)  McKnew also ordered that NFSR pay the legal fees for the Construction Authority related to this case.  That ruling is also under appeal.

Neighbors for Smart Rail is is supported in part by West of Westwood Homeowners Association, Westwood Gardens Civic Association, Cheviot Hills Homeowners Association, and Tract 7260 Homeowners Association, and other community based organizations mainly located in West Los Angeles.

  • Mig

    “NFSR is looking to prevent West L.A. gridlock by protecting access to
    the 10 freeway through West L.A.,” writes president Terri Tippett in a
    press statement.  ”Trains blocking Overland and Westwood 24 times per
    hour will have a devastating impact on the existing area traffic, and
    all evidence shows that Expo didn’t properly study it.”

    Prevent west L.A. gridlock?  A little late for that isn’t it?  These folks are so backwards they don’t even realize what they are saying doesn’t reflect reality at all.  Also, the “devastating impact” will be on those who choose to drive in west LA gridlock… if you are taking the train you can avoid all that (kinda).  The dismissal of their suit can’t come soon enough. 

  • Anonymous

    I wish the new AEG rule for a 175 day ruling on large projects applied to this case. Anybody know if that would apply to any other future Metro projects?

  • Dan W.

    What nonsense.

    Once this line is built, Westsiders will wonder how they ever lived without it.

  • Gokhan

    All their arguments were presented in the trial and they were all
    strongly rejected. Therefore, I don’t think this appeal has any
    chance of being successful.

  • Ry Holman

    I’m all for grade-separated rail, it simply makes sense. However I don’t see how the crossings will be any different or more disruptive than a traffic light.

  • Nate K.

    Alright if NFSR wants to have a grade separated part of the Expo Line to run through their community then pony up the cash and pay for it… Westside is already a gridlock nightmare and the expo line passing through with the flow of east west traffic isn’t going to make it worse. I swear these people act as if the light rail is going to stop in the middle of the intersection for ten minutes as people load and unload.. hopefully this is turned down so we can get on with construction

  • Lawired

    So glad I sold my house and moved out of the neighborhood. I sold my house to a developer who will raze it and build multi-unit housing. Homeowners can appeal all they want, but the reality is that the single-family home in areas as urbanized and densely populated are going the way of squirrels in the la brea pits.

  • Anonymous

     Seeing as though the rail line ROW has been there since 1875, shouldn’t LA Metro/Expo Authority just close off any at-grade crossing that have been constructed since then.  It is private property and the property owner has the right to prohibit trespassing.

  • mayjay

    I’d wish they’d just hurry up and build it already. 

  • Angeleno

    I hope these people should we call them nimbys?  Either way I hope they don’t delay this much needed project for the westside, city and region.  
    If these people’s home had been built before or even if they had lived there before the rail right of way was constructed I would have more sympathy. But these people bought their homes next to former rail right of wa y and it seems to me they should have done their homework.  Wouldn’t common sense tell you that if you live near an abandoned right of way there is a chance rail, roads or some other type of infrastructure could once again be built.
    That said this nfsr group are wasting taxpayer money fighting a transit project that is traveling down the route it did years ago.  The trains will not be any more of an inconvenience than a traffic light.
    The ironic part is if the expo light rail project is built these homeowners will have increased property values and great access to the rail network throughout LA.  They are basically fighting a benefit to their neighborhood.

  • avbushopper

    twenty-four times per hour – by my calculations, that’s every 5 minutes in each direction.  if i recall, only the red/purple between vermont & union sta runs that frequently midday.  if expo is like the gold & blue, it’ll run every 15 minutes midday, for a total of 8 crossings per hour.

  • Interurbans

    If it weren’t for Terry Tippet and her likes the Expo Line would now be complete to Santa Monica for what it is costing to build it to Culver City. The many years of delays due to their strong political connections and legal suites were responsible for this line to take so long to build and cost so much.
     
    Now she and her NFSR are claiming that trains 24 times an hour or every or every 2 ½ minutes will be delaying traffic on Overland. First of all the service will be closer to every 10 minutes even in rush hour so that is more like 6 times an hour for 30 seconds. Also since she wants to use numbers a LRV train can carry 300 plus people and maybe 50 people would be delayed for 30 seconds at the crossing. So which would benefit the interception most? There are signals at Coventry and Ashby. Are they any more disruptive to Overland traffic cycling 50 to 60 times an hour than the Expo crossing 6 times an hour? Where is she coming from using numbers like this? This very import line needs to get built now, no more delays. How else is Terry going to be able to attend events at Staples and Farmers Field or get downtown in less than 30 minutes any time of the day?  

  • Interurbans

    If it weren’t for Terry Tippet and her likes the Expo Line would now be complete to Santa Monica for what it is costing to build it to Culver City. The many years of delays due to their strong political connections and legal suites were responsible for this line to take so long to build and cost so much.
     
    Now she and her NFSR are claiming that trains 24 times an hour or every or every 2 ½ minutes will be delaying traffic on Overland. First of all the service will be closer to every 10 minutes even in rush hour so that is more like 6 times an hour for 30 seconds. Also since she wants to use numbers a LRV train can carry 300 plus people and maybe 50 people would be delayed for 30 seconds at the crossing. So which would benefit the interception most? There are signals at Coventry and Ashby. Are they any more disruptive to Overland traffic cycling 50 to 60 times an hour than the Expo crossing 6 times an hour? Where is she coming from using numbers like this? This very import line needs to get built now, no more delays. How else is Terry going to be able to attend events at Staples and Farmers Field or get downtown in less than 30 minutes any time of the day?  

  • Etennyson

    24 trains per hour is not going to foul up the  traffic. That is one train every 2.5 minutes
    which is or could well be the traffic signal cycle.  They already have traffic  signals so it won’t make any difference.  The trains will take some traffic off the streets.

  • Jonathan Parfrey

    Grew-up on the Westside. Love the Westside. As such — it’s disheartening to see this kind of opposition. Back in the 1970s, when Jerry Brown was Governor the first time, he tried to build a Diamond Lane on the SM Freeway, then (as now) Westsiders vociferously opposed its construction. More recently, when the Wilshire Bus Only Lane was introduced, Westsiders again opposed the project.

    The hypocrisy is frankly embarrassing — as some of these opponents are politically progressive, wealthy, savvy and helpful on the nation scene.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

BREAKING NEWS Neighbors for Smart Rail Legal Petition to Force New Environmental Review for the Expo Line Is Denied

|
Back in December, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Thomas McKnew issued a preliminary ruling to dismiss the lawsuit brought by a coalition of Westside homeowner and community groups fighting Phase II of the Expo Line, which will complete the connection from Downtown Los Angeles to Downtown Santa Monica.  Last night, McKnew it official and […]