Rate the Debate: Which Candidate Gave the Best Answer to the $100 Million Freight Rail from the Ports Question?
Earlier today, Streetsblog asked you which candidate’s answer you thought was the best to a question on the proposed Leimert Park Station stop on the Crenshaw Line. The last question before the debate “went to the world wide web” also pertained to a topic covered here many times, a proposed $1 billion rail project that would dramatically increase the rail capacity for the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.
The rail project is opposed by many communities, many of whom are in Long Beach, because of pollution concerns. Some are concerned about pollution caused by the rail lines running close to their neighborhood. Others are concerned about the proposed rail yard that would be located feet from Long Beach communities.
The question, asked by Russell Goldsmith, chairman of the Los Angeles Coalition for the Economy & Jobs and chairman and CEO of City National Bank. Goldsmith’s tone implied heavily that these concerns should be brushed aside so that people could invest in the area and challenged the candidates to stand up to these communities.
Mercifully, Eric Garcetti quickly pointed out that many of the objecting communities aren’t in City limits and better outreach is needed. Wendy Greuel echoed Garcetti when discussing the need for more on-dock rail, reducing the need for a major transfer yard. Emanuel Pleitez discussed the need to encourage investment and entrepreneurship. Jan Perry sounded most optimistic about the project, calling it a “once in a lifetime opportunity.” Kevin James called for a look at alternate technologies.
But you tell us which candidate gave the best answer. Try to leave your personal endorsements aside and focus on what was actually said. The full answers of each candidate, in the order they were given, are available after the jump.
Garcetti – “I’ve already been in contact with those neighborhoods right next door in Long Beach. We cannot just shove something through, you actually have to sit down and we haven’t even had one hearing there. I’ve promised the Councilman that represents that area that we would sit down so we can get to yes. It’s not a lack of political will. It’s that sometimes in the city we just don’t listen to people.
I’ve been successful in Hollywood and other neighborhoods by getting past all the reasons we say no. I do want to see that get built, and I do want to see that happen. But just to stand here tonight and say ‘I’ll do it no matter what.’ Fear is real, people feel disconnected to government because they haven’t been listened to. Whether it’s moving the runway or getting that built, we have to make sure we do that and then we can move forward. Second, I’ll do more rail by doing on-dock rail, which actually takes it straight from the doc to the rail”
Greuel – 46% of the goods moved for the entire country comes through the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. We need on dock and near dock rail to make sure that we get out of the Port fo Los Angeles. We are going to face in a few years the Panama Canal, that is going to be opening up and have a competitive advantage if we don’t step up to the plate. But as I said with the airport, we have to look at not only what is safe and efficient but dealing with the neighborhoods. Looking at what that plan is and looking at the communities in the area, I believe there is a way to do that that insures we are environmentally responsible and that we can create jobs for so many of those employees that work in the Port of Los Angeles.
Pleitez – I’m the only one up here that’s ever worked with some of the investors that have the capital and want to invest in L.A. We have some of the best assets in the world. What needs to happen though is if rail isn’t working we need to look at other options. Investors will still come if there is a profit to be made, if there is a return on their investment. As mayor I will make sure we galvanize the entrepreneurs, the people who can provide new solutions. If it’s not rail, they can create the solution so that an investor will want to invest in L.A. Those investors are hungry and we need to provide the facility for them to invest in communities right around the port and invest in the real economic issues of the city.
Perry – I think it’s a great opportunity that will only come once in a lifetime and will be signifigant. It’s important to work with all the stakeholders in the San Pedro /Wilmington community to move that community forward. That community deserves an opportunity to grow, put people back to work and grow its economy, not just for themselves but for the entire City of Los Angeles. It will be very important to have a clean technology rail system that will help clean the air, that will take trucks off the road, that will reduce traffic congestion. As mayor, I believe it will be very important to tie that to economic development and the rebirth of the waterfront. Not only do we put people back to work, but we help that community move forward and redefine itself for the future.
James: There’s a very interesting alternative available for this clean technology rail system. It’s called “green rail intelligent development. It is a zero emission freight pipeline in essence that is available and is a potential alternative, or at least something to work in compliment with what you’re talking about Russell. We’re talking a bit about infrastructure. There are so many infrastructure challenges that we face: our roads, our sidewalks. People wonder where that infrastructure money has gone. And you hear stories about special revenue funds that are drained for those infrastructure purposes. This very network, NBC 4, has done a story on the rating of the special revenue funds and lapped it. Former Controller Laura Chick was interviewed for that story. The public is entitled to hear her thoughts as the former Controller on infrastructure funds in the city of Los Angeles because it’s all part of an infrastructure that impacts our everyday lives.