Last week, the Crenshaw Subway Coalition filed suit against Metro alleging that the agency, referred to as MTA in court filings, alleging the agency violated civil rights and environmental laws in approving an at-grade route for the subway through Crenshaw Boulevard’s main retail district.
There are many complaints against Metro in the lawsuit, including, but not limited to:
- Metro failed to comply with the information disclosure provisions of CEQA and failed to adequately analyze project environmental impacts
- The environmental documents only examine the air quality impacts of construction, not the running, of the line
- Metro failed to require all feasible mitigation and failed to consider an adequate range of alternatives.
- Metro ignored community calls for grade separation of the rail line that would have reduced the local impact
- As designed, the project has a discriminatory impact on the African-American population in the project area.
As a “Thank You” for their efforts to speed up the federal review process of the Crenshaw Line, the FTA was named a “party in interest” to the lawsuit. This doesn’t mean the FTA is being sued, but rather that as an agency that still needs to take action on the environmental documents under consideration for federal review, the agency has a unique and important interest in the project.
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who represents the area surrounding the project, told the L.A. Times that the lawsuit isn’t unexpected and that despite his efforts to get the entire project below grade he hopes the lawsuit doesn’t impact the project timeline. As one of two African-American members of the Metro Board of Directors, Ridley-Thomas also took issue with the idea that the project has a negative impact on the local African American community.
Last May, the Metro Board of Directors rejected a call to have the Crenshaw Light Rail Line to run entirely below grade and refused to add additional funding to the project to build a Leimert Park Station leading to outrage in the Crenshaw community and with the hundreds of activists that attended the late May Board Meeting. Supporters of the Crenshaw Subway Coalition argue that they shouldn’t be seen as obstructionists for fighting for the best project for their community and that the blame for any delay caused by the lawsuit belongs at the feet of Mayor Villaraigosa who, along with the three votes he appoints to the Board, rejected these ammendments.
“Everyone was on board except Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the current chair of MTA,” said Winnifred Jackson, a Hyde Park resident. “And unfortunately it was his block of four votes against the Crenshaw community that was the difference. MTA refused to fix the problems. And so we go to court to defend ourselves against Villaraigosa/MTA’s destructive, dangerous and discriminatory attack on Crenshaw.”