Following the public hearing organized by the Port of Los Angeles (POLA) nearly two weeks ago regarding the proposed Southern California International Gateway (SCIG) railyard by BNSF, Long Beach Councilmember James Johnson has decided to take matters into his own hands–literally.
The SCIG Railyard is a proposed 12-track rail yard intended to expand the Port’s capacity for goods movement. The 153 acres are already mostly owned by the Port in unincorporated East Wilmington. Residents of West Long Beach fear the impact such a yard would have on local air quality and road conditions as trucks and trains access, idle and leave the port area. The project would cost $500 million dollars.
After a rare show of vitriol towards the POLA after the port refused to hold a public hearing in West Long Beach Johnson has decided to host his own public hearing . While POLA opted for Wilmington for its hearing, Johnson will host his in West Long Beach, the region he represents and the one POLA’s documents show will be most impacted by the rail yard. By holding a hearing Johnson is not just giving residents a chance to speak up, but also gets their opinions on record. The move, at least within the eyes of detractors of the project as it stands, was a bold move to be both applauded and respected.
“A core part of the democratic process is the right of residents to be heard on projects that may affect them,” said Johnson, who also said that the recorded responses will be transcribed and sent to POLA as a formal response to the matter.
The project, particularly following the analysis of its RDEIR, has gained more media attention within the past two weeks than it has over the past five years, including a rather ironic piece from the Press-Telegram covering the initial public hearing after endorsing the project just weeks beforehand. The surge in coverage is most likely due to BNSF’s rather faulty response that residents within the proposed construction area will suffer more if the project does not go ahead as planned.
Johnson’s own hearing will be held next Wednesday, November 7, at Silverado Park at 6 pm. Silverado Park is located at 32nd Street and Santa Fe Avenue.