Breaking News: Expo Board Backs Route Down Right of Way and Colorado (Updated Below)

expo_map.jpgPhoto: Friends 4 Expo

I just got off the phone with Darrell Clarke who confirmed our suspicions, the Expo Construction Authority Board of Directors has authorized the staff to move forward with the studies for Phase II with the "LRT-2" alignment down the existing right-of-way and then Colorado straight to Santa Monica.

There was a couple of minor changes to the resolution posted with the Board’s agenda.  Following the testimony of 53 speakers representing supporters, opponents, people worried about the rail yard, people trying to preserve Bergamont Station, the Los Angeles County Bike Coalition and a couple of Midnight Ridazz, and some of the opponents of Phase I; the Board asked the staff to take a second look at the issues in question.  Those include the fate of the bikeway, and location of the rail yard and stations in Santa Monica.  That report will be presented at their June board meeting.

This move is hardly the end of the road for Phase II, heck we’re not even at the end of the road for Phase I which is already under construction.  During his public comment, Damien Goodmon threatened to file a federal Environmental Justice lawsuit three weeks from tomorrow.

Thanks also to Ingrid Peterson who kept me in the loop during the meeting.

UPDATE: Just got an email from Damien Goodmon that explains the
potential Environmental Justice lawsuit in better context.  First, his
comment about the lawsuit came at the end of a statement pleading for
Measure R and stimulus funds to go towards grade separating between
Dorsey High School and USC.  Second, the suit only has to do with Phase
I of the project.

99 thoughts on Breaking News: Expo Board Backs Route Down Right of Way and Colorado (Updated Below)

  1. Who is Damien Goodmon really working for? This kind of behavior makes you wonder if somebody is secretly slipping him bills to obstruct projects. Environmental lawsuits are not cheap!

  2. All in all, I left the meeting feeling encouraged that the bikeway part of the project will in fact be completed.

    Given the success of the bikeway along the Orange line, a bikeway along the EXPO line seems in good order.

    bicycle, bicycle … bicycle

  3. I was surprised how on-top-of-it Expo seemed on the bikeway situation. All we need now is for for LA city to follow through with federal funding.

  4. Great. Build the sucker WITH the Westwood Station.

    No doubt adjustments and accommodations will be made, but THIS time the NIMBYs won’t win.

  5. Hooray!!!! It’s getting closer!!! We needed this light rail line 30 years ago. WE CAN”T LET NIMBYISM RUIN THIS PROJECT! BUILD IT NOW!!! Whether it’s the Olympic or Colorado alignment that gets final approval, it won’t make that much difference. Hopefully a proper site for the yards can be chosen ASAP and properly mitigated and any further nimbyism be squelched from delaying this much needed rail line.persona

  6. transcommenter, the Cheviot Hills obstructionists have spoken of “Our work in South L.A. …” as quoted by the much missed Steve Hymon in a Bottleneck Blog entry last July.

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/bottleneck/2008/07/expo-line-phase.html

    Whether that means they have some role or providing financial assistance to Goodmon’s crusade is unknown. I have asked this before in posting on this blog and Mr. Goodmon has never to my knowledge responded on what role, if any, the Cheviot Hills folks have in re his crusade, whether as allies or something more significant.

    Speaking of unanswered questions, last month activist Darrell Clarke in an e-mail poised two questions for Mr. Goodmon in response to a widely circulated and lengthy e-mail Goodmon sent titled “LADOT Letter in response to Expo Construction Authority recommendations‏”:

    Do you support NFSR’s / CHHA’s call for underground grade separation at Overland and west?

    Do you support the CPUC decision calling for a pedestrian bridge with Farmdale closed?

    Conspicuously Goodmon never deigned to answer these two simple questions. And let us also note he has been very closed mouth about whatever sources of funding he has for his ongoing activities.

  7. Yeah!! I’m with Bob! We need to start storming peoples’ home int he middle of the night and drag them off to prison too! No more dissent, however reasonable, principled, and backed by science it may (or may not) be!

    Woo hoo trains!

  8. I was present at the meeting and made my public comments. Here is a detailed report of the meeting:

    **** The Pacific Electric Santa Monica Air Line railroad right-of-way has been adopted for the Phase 2 segment of the Expo Line. ****

    After 20 years of fight, it’s all over. Today the Pacific Electric Santa Monica Air Line right-of-way that goes through northern Palms, southern Cheviot Hills, and Rancho Park has been adopted for the Expo Line. The board has voted unanimously with all members present.

    The motion has adopted the Air Line right-of-way and the Colorado Ave alignment, i.e. LRT No. 2.

    The motion additionally directed the Expo staff to address all the comments raised during the DEIR and work further on sensitive areas such as grade separation and maintenance facility. It asked the staff to come back to the board with a report on these sensitive areas in 60 days.

    The DEIR process is now complete, with the route adopted. The next step is to finalize the EIR and generate the FEIR, making changes to the details as necessary. The FEIR will also include some form of preliminary engineering. FEIR will be completed by the end of the year and will be certified by the Expo board. Once the FEIR is certified by the Expo board, the project will be official and it will be submitted to the design – build company in early 2010, to be completed circa 2014.

    I should mention that all board members were very supportive of the DEIR. Zev Yaroslavsky in particular was very considerate about possible impacts and raised issues about street striping that need to be addressed. He also stressed very strongly that this line will be built no matter what, while addressing the faction of various homeowners’-association presidents and officials from the Westside. He made it clear to their face that there is no other way. He said that delays will not be tolerated because we needed this now. He also emphasized that grade separations in Phase 2 will be determined exactly in the same way as in Phase 1 and there will not be any environmental-justice issue. He also made it clear that the maintenance facility will be in Santa Monica and it cannot be underground. He gave the large West Hollywood bus facility (former Pacific Electric major rail yard) as an example saying that it’s literally adjacent to residences (not just across the street like the Verizon facility) and it had been determined that it was not feasible to put it underground. Zev also stressed that the Westwood Blvd Station is the most important station for Phase 2 and, addressing the homeowners’-associations-presidents faction, he said that he knew they didn’t want it but it was needed absolutely and it would happen.

    Out of the 53 people who spoke for a minute today, an overwhelming majority were supporters, except for a faction of homeowners’-association presidents and officials from the Westside, all supporting the railroad right-of-way. This faction left the meeting unhappily, but I hope that they understand the importance and benefit of this project.

    My impression now is that Expo Phase 2 is now on autopilot and I don’t expect any problems further down on the road. Things should go very smoothly from now on.

    Another note from the Expo board meeting today:

    Fix Expo stated that they will launch a nuclear war on April 24. They said that this is environmental racism and since Phase 1 is federally funded (which is hardly true in reality), they will stop both Phase 1 and Phase 2 and annihilate the federally funded Westside subway extension, as well as all other future rail-transit projects.

    Earlier there was a lot of mention of Dr. King’s name by them, which I thought was irrelevant and disrespectful.

  9. I don’t get the angle for environmental racism claims. Most phase 2 crossing is at grade… just like phase 1. Santa Monica even went out of its way to ensure the section within their city limits are at grade. Seems completely equitable.

  10. Hey people, ease up on the Damien bashing and just address the issues. Its unbecoming.

  11. So what is the scoop exactly on the bike way? Is there funding for the study, will it be constructed simultaneously with the laying of the rails?

  12. So what is the scoop exactly on the bike way? Is there funding for the study, will it be constructed simultaneously with the laying of the rails?

    Yes. There is some $5 million in federal funding for the bikeway, and the intent for the Expo Authority to contract for bikeway construction as part of rail construction. But because of the federal funding, the two cities are to separately do the bikeway’s environmental study, coordinating with Expo.

    I think the biggest issue ahead is how the bikeway is to be designed in a few difficult places — including west of Motor, west of Sawtelle, and west of Stewart — where the route suggested in the Expo Draft EIR is problematic.

  13. For what it’s worth, I think that Damien’s Goodmon’s threat to file a federal “Environmental Justice” lawsuit is pretty empty. The BRU lawsuit would not be allowed today, as the US Supreme Court has since ruled that Title VI of the Civil Rights Act does not grant a “private right of action,” i.e. the US Department of Justice is the only entity that can pursue such a claim.

    There still might be a lawsuit based on the National Environmental Policy Act over the Environmental Impact Statement, but that would be procedural. Theoretically, they could argue that MTA did not adequately consider EJ implications, but the gravamen of such a suit would be procedure, and would be about delaying the project, not finding it a violation of EJ in substance.

  14. Marcotico,

    If you notice they are addressing the issue but somehow Damien has attached himself with that potential lawsuit. That makes him fair game to get lampooned from time to time that’s a fact. It’s ok for him to question an agencies practices and motives yet it’s not ok for others to question his?

    I’m sorry but he’s made his bed now he has to lie in it and take it.

  15. “Hey people, ease up on the Damien bashing and just address the issues. Its unbecoming.”

    The guy is a public figure who has inserted himself into the spotlight. He is ripe for lampooning in the same way our public officials are.

  16. Regarding the bikeway: I know there have been more in-depth posts about it. . . but can someone remind me: was the idea to have it go the full length of the Expo line, or just the phase 2 section?

  17. Yes, as an attendee of the meeting I witnessed Damien in a skitzoid, clearly off meds say deliberately that ‘if Expo is not grade seperated then we will have no other option but the nuclear option. That means that our lawsuit would tie up funds for any future capital projects including the Purple Line extension’. Now what slackspine is saying ‘ease up’ on someone who allows this sort of bile to spill out of his mouth?

  18. Okay we get it! Goodmon is a bad, bad, man for being anti-Expo at-grade. I’ll be sure to give him a dirty look the next time I see him. Happy? Sheesh.

  19. I’m anti-Expo at-grade. In fact I am anti-any light rail at-grade, yet I dislike Damien Goodmon’s tactics.

    There’s no money for anything. The Feds didn’t step up to fund mass transit like we hoped they would. Their contribution was a pittance. It all went to highways and high speed rail, let me correct myself, U.S. “high speed rail” (110 MPH lol). Even then, the stimulus amount isn’t even enough to get a single true high speed line built.

    So I don’t know what he’s hoping to accomplish by trying to squeeze blood out of a stone.

  20. He’s attempting to satisfy the Cheviot Hill crowd that will most likely fund his future political whatever. The same Cheviot Hill folks when after giving their public comment to the Board winked, waved or nodded as they walked back over to their seats. The same folks who would call the police on Damien if they caught him walking through their neighborhood at night.

    “Bray” you’re either gullible or just slow to even try to mitigate this latest shit about “we will shut down the entire transit system” that poor and colored folks desperatly rely on because we didn’t get our trench. This sort of “nuclear option” bullshit which ends up only hurting the very folks that Damien says he is defending should not be taken lightly and I’m very offended and fed up by these sort of tactics that use the poor as ‘My Little Pony’.

  21. Everyone prefers grade separation when possible, but the proper comparison with Expo Phase 1 is Phase 2, not the Purple Line. I was recently in London and stayed in a neighborhood with (the horror) a grade separated rail line. The trains frequently rolled by, the gates came down and the cars stopped without incident. The pedestrians were smart enough to use the underpass. Santa Monica wants Expo at grade. I think the Expo neighbors will be at least as intelligent as those in London and Santa Monica, and it is demeaning and insulting to assume otherwise.

    Even if one wants full grade separation of Expo, threatening the Purple Line and other projects, is hardly the way to win support for their cause. There is no guarantee the “nuclear” option won’t blow up in the faces of those attempting to use it.

  22. I was reading one of those brochures for the Gold Line Eastside extension and I learned that every single station has a unique tree. I rolled that thought through my noggin a couple times. Every single station is themed to a unique tree. The entire line even has its own tree that will be planted in various places.

    Every station has had art commissioned for it. Not only do they make the stations look good, but they worked on everything from sidewalks to “street furniture” (whatever that is) to fancy light poles. It looks pretty good in the renderings and I hope it all pans out.

    Maybe it’s not a big deal. Just something to think about.

  23. Ms. Simms,

    You say a lot of stupid things, but that is the stupidest. This whole Damien Goodmon is funded by Cheviot Hills is total and utter BS. If you’ve followed this story at all then you’d realize that is such lazy thinking. I’ve read the material on FixExpo’s website, and I’ve been to a public meeting in which there was obvious environmental racism.
    I keep having to remind people that environmental racism does not mean there are clansmen planning rail lines. It means that even if it is unintentional decisions have been made and processes have been followed that have disproportionately and negatively affected one group of people. If you review the documentation that is the case here. It sucks that this is becoming an even bigger issue this late in the game, but when you review the documentation it is obvious that the people in the south LA community HAVE BEEN raising this issue all along.

    To Dan’s point at rail v. not at rail has nothing to do with people’s intelligence. Are you saying that all 108 pedestrians who have been hit by the blue line were stupid. If that is the case then we get into some morally iffy ground if we’re going to decide that people who are the victims of collisions are stupid enough to deserve to die. Since you brought up London, keep in mind that the London transit system has been growing for 100 years. Do you think at any point in the building of the underground system someone said, ” No we can’t wait, we must have transit in the next five years so let’s do what is politically expedient.”

    I find the whole situation just as problematic as anyone else on this blog. I used to think “just build it already!” but the more I read about this, the more I’m swayed by Goodmon’s argument, that just because it is politically expedient does not mean that Expo at grade is the right thing to do. I don’t know what the solution is, but I know that Expo Authority is complicit in this mess, and therefore so it Metro. AND, just because community resistance is new to us, does not mean it is new. FINALLY, just because we all want to see improved transit, and have been working for it for years, does not mean that we should cut corners when it comes to equity. AND FINALLY FINALLY, just because you disagree with someone does not mean you should question their motives. That would be like me saying that Fallopia Sims is an Expo Authority employee/stooge/plant. That would be silly. Based on the limited that I’ve read I just think she is a lazy thinker. For example Steve Hymon is a racist, but Damien Goodmon is playing the victim for political purposes when he actually does bring up equity issues. So which is it? See lazy.

    Thoughts, anyone else?

  24. ” It means that even if it is unintentional decisions have been made and processes have been followed that have disproportionately and negatively affected one group of people. If you review the documentation that is the case here. It sucks that this is becoming an even bigger issue this late in the game, but when you review the documentation it is obvious that the people in the south LA community HAVE BEEN raising this issue all along.”

    I did and here’s the gist of it
    ‘By saying they care about the safety of the kids and then the very next sentence states “DON’T BUILD THIS LINE”‘

    How can you mitigate something some don’t want in the first place because of knee jerk reactions?

    ” that just because it is politically expedient does not mean that Expo at grade is the right thing to do.”

    That same argument can be used as a straw man for any public works project.

  25. Well, I looked at the FixExpo website, and, to be honest, their plans for a “trench”-type grade-separated Expo line look really cool. The train is in the trench, street intersections go over the top, and the train itself hits much faster average speeds and doesn’t need to blast its horns as much. I think most of us would love to see Expo built that way through South L.A..

    The problem, as usual, is money. Grade-separating the Expo line that way would cost an extra $400 million, according to FixExpo’s estimates. That’s about a 50% increase compared to what’s already being spent to build phase (something like $860 Million). That’s huge. I mean, if it could be done for say, only 10% or 20% additional cost, that would be an easier sell. But 1.5 times the existing cost?

    Now, if we’re going to have $400 million in stimulus money waiting to be spent, then ok, let’s do it, but I have a feeling there are plenty of other projects that will be asking for that stimulus money (aside: will this turn into a San Gabriel Valley vs. South L.A. money grab for their respective light rail lines?). As for Measure R money: That money has largely already been allocated when it comes to rail lines. If you take half a billion more for the Expo line, that’s that much less we’ll have for, the regional connector, the other light rail lines, and the subway.

    I’d love it if we could have a super-fast grade-separated rail line like they dream of on FixExpo. But the chunk of change they’d need is huge. It doesn’t grow on trees.

  26. Here’s the problem with that idea for stimulus.

    Q: Is this trench design Federally cleared in the Expo LRT EIR?
    A: No, because it has to be shovel ready in by August.

  27. “If that is the case then we get into some morally iffy ground if we’re going to decide that people who are the victims of collisions are stupid enough to deserve to die.”

    —————

    I certainly did not call anyone “stupid”. I did however criticize the assumption that people in a poorer neighborhood were not as intelligent as those who live in more affluent neighborhoods.

    In London, at this at-grade rail crossing I described, there was a respect for the fact that a train was coming. No motorist felt such entitlement that they thought they should be able to drive across the road even though a train is coming and the gate was down, nor did any pedestrian feel they were too good to use a pedestrian underpass. Therefore, at-grade rail or pedestrain injuries are rare indeed.

  28. Marcotico, as I noted above the folks in Cheviot Hills have made noises that certainly raises questions about just how involved they are in South L.A. I’ve several times in posts on this blog asked Goodmon to clarify if they are providing him any funding or assistance, and he has been notably silent on that. Simms is jumping the gun maybe to assume Goodmon is being funded, but it is fair to be curious about whether it is true based on what the Cheviiot Hills people have said.

    And I am sorry the whole stimulus funds thing just sounds like more Goodmon double talk. His past behavior and current talk of lawsuits has dropped his credibility among many of us to zero.

  29. Running at-grade on Colorado is a colossal mistake.

    Thanks, Friends of Expo, for endorsing gridlock-on-steroids.

  30. There’s a lot of interesting things about this whole discussion:

    1) The soft-racism of Dana Gabbard and others continued implication that the large collaboration of South LA community based groups, homeowners associations and block clubs have joined the Fix Expo Campaign because of shallow individual admiration of me, and not actual intelligence.

    2) The soft-racism of Dana Gabbard and others continued implication that the large collaboration of South LA community based groups, homeowners associations and block clubs that make up the Fix Expo Campaign is really a concoction created by and being funded by Cheviot Hills HOA.

    3) The distinction between having “no money,” and “not having enough money.”

    4) How the anti-Fix Expo people always find a way to report Fix Expo’s statements regarding the negative repercussions of the project (environmental racism, lawsuits, etc.), but NEVER report our support for additional resources being added to the project to address our concerns. The 5000 petitions that have been signed to date are all for additional resources to Fix Expo to address our concerns.

    5) The fact that “transit advocates” SO.CA.TA., Transit Coalition, Friends 4 Expo and Light Rail for Cheviot have always stood silent or opposed efforts to add more money to the project for additional grade separations in South LA, which would improve the performance of the transit project.

    6) The fact that people agree grade separation is preferable, but find it inconceivable that those most directly impacted by a project would actually fight for it, politically and legally.

    7) I have no words for people who follow transit closely and actually believe this is an issue about limited resources, and not an issue about limited political will/concern for an underrepresented community.

    And I’d love to see those who truly believe this argument to explain how our current environment of limited resources necessitates Metro building the system they are, how they are.

    For example, if resources are so tight, why build a Subway to the Sea and not a cheaper Elevated to the Sea?

    Why build heavy rail at all, and not just more light rail? (Before you answer, be sure to consult the folk who argue that light rail can carry 200K-plus per day?)

    Why build grade separations and not just more at-grade rail every where? (Before you answer, be sure to consult the folk who argue that streets like Expo/Sepulveda are okay at-grade when you need them).

    Why build light rail and not just more busways? (Before you answer, be sure to consult the folk who argue that

    The whole “limited resources” argument is a slippery slope, it’s frankly not substantiated, and I’ve found that it frequently is used solely to avoid discussing the political nature of the planning process at Metro. Because you see, ignoring the politics that goes into planning and building rail lines, conveniently eludes discussing that such processes place underrepresented communities at a considerable disadvantage, as is clearly shown in Expo Phase 1.

  31. “The soft-racism of Dana Gabbard and others…”

    ———-

    Accusing someone of “racism” is a very serious charge.

    Accusing someone of “soft-racism” is a way of attacking someone’s character without having to argue against the points they are making. “Soft-racism” is difficult to prove and difficult to rebut, but meant to discredit nonetheless.

    A person who does not agree with Fix Expo’s methods or point of view is not necessarily a racist, soft or otherwise.

  32. Over at the Transit Coalition we were having a discussion about a combined Purple Line/Pink Line Westside extension that would provide a one-seat ride from North Hollywood to Westwood and Santa Monica. I don’t believe in a forced transfer at Hollywood and Highland even though it would cost more money to implement the one-seat ride. The combined alignment is less cost effective than alternative 1 as it is, I believe it should be built because it’s an important piece of transit infrastructure that would last for centuries.

    Having said that, I find it hard to advocate for that project when there are only light rail lines in East and South Central LA. There is already a stereotype among some Los Angeles residents that you don’t go south of Interstate 10 unless you are just passing through. The striking image of seeing subways north of the 10 and light rail south of the 10 is a hard one to ignore.

    There’s the Gold Line in Pasadena, which is already seen as being far superior to the Blue Line in terms of safety. It’s been called the suburban light rail line for the well-to-do in Pasadena. I don’t agree with that sentiment, but that’s what some people have said.

    The counter argument is that both South LA and East LA don’t have say, the population density of the demand for heavy rail or 100% grade separation. Limited resources could go to not necessarily more worthy projects, but more projects overall.

    I personally support a substantially upgraded Blue Line. I want to see more grade separation. I want to see it stay underground until after Washington Station at minimum. I want to see express service between Long Beach and Downtown LA. I think this is an important upgrade, even more important than the Gold Line Foothill extension.

    I do believe there is an element of truth to the limited resources argument. To counter that, I want to see an investment in mass transit in this country on the scale of the Interstate Highway Act that built our freeways.

    I don’t think it will happen, and advocates will use any number of tactics, including accusations of racism, to fight for limited mass transit funds. This situation will continue until we see results, not solutions, in mass transit in Los Angeles County.

  33. I continue to think it’s more than coincidence that many continue to misrepresent my statements like by 180 degrees.

    Dan Wentzel is too well educated to have concocted his most recent post without some direct intent of spinning what I said into something reprehensible. No person, not even a dumb one, could read what I wrote and interpret that I was saying someone who doesn’t agree with the Fix Expo position is a racist. NO ONE! And to make the point, you deliberately cut the entire part of the sentence where I explain the soft racism of Gabbard’s and other’s insinuations.

    Furthermore, proving how ignorant even an educated man can be about racism, soft-racism is an equally reprehensible form of racism. It’s not mini-racism, it’s clear racism, that is simply delivered differently. The only thing “soft” about soft-racism is the such statements/actions are less overtly racist.

    And yes, to dismiss scores of black and brown homeowners associations, neighborhood councils, block clubs and community-based groups as gullible nimrods under the spell of some “charismatic” individual or being funded by some outside affluent white “boogeyman” (as opposed to people who have investigated, discussed, and reviewed the issue) is quite racist. And not environmental racism; David Duke type racism.

    If you’re looking for more direct/overt/David Duke type racist statements from Gabbard on this issue, why not just ask him about his posting last year or before on the Bottleneck blog, where he said something to the effect of “These type of communities are easily influenced by charismatic speakers,” en route to implying that the concerns in South LA about Expo were not well founded.

    Please don’t go there on the racist comments on Expo. There are reasons I don’t allow comments on the Fix Expo blog, and the crap I’ve read, and can still be read on many forums is 90% of it.

  34. Well, since we’re throwing around accusations of bigotry over differences of opinion about transportation planning…

    Mr. Goodman has stated his opposition to the Santa Monica Blvd. alignment, stating it should be on Sunset instead. Does he think it would be appropriate to accuse him of “soft homophobia” just because he doesn’t support something which would greatly help the heart of So.Cal’s gay community? Should we ask about people’s opinion about Proposition 8 prior to receiving their comments on the Santa Monica Blvd line?

  35. From a technical standpoint, though, the trench is going to be more expensive than what the Fix Expo people claim. The cost to send two lousy miles of single track in front of the San Gabriel Mission into a trench is nearing $500 million, or $250 million a mile.

    I know Dana Gabbard and he is not a David Duke racist. That charge is absurd. What is true, though, is that Damien Goodmon simplifies a lot of the issues. Again, not that the communities that he is advocating to are stupid, or are black or brown whatever, BUT he is deliberately targeting his audience with arguments that don’t have nuance. FixExpo and SO.CA.TA really work from different influencing models: one from a mass organizing, union model and one from a think tank/elite influence model. (Think of the difference between SEIU vs. the Center for American Progress.) One uses mass mobilization, such as the recent protest, to make a point, while the other uses technical knowledge and personal connections with public officials to make their case.

    I do wish Damien well in the lawsuit; although I predict it will fail. HIf the case is dismissed, it will set some precedent and discourage future suits, lest Damien be labeled a vexatious litigant.

  36. ” No person, not even a dumb one, could read what I wrote and interpret that I was saying someone who doesn’t agree with the Fix Expo position is a racist. NO ONE!”
    ———————

    Uh. . . I did. Look, Damien G., you literally characterized Dana Gabbard suspicions about your funding sources as “soft-racism”. How is that NOT accusing someone of racism?

    I have to say, pulling out the race card seems like a pretty desperate and unseemly act. Your platform for getting grade separation already has a basis in safety and efficiency for the expo line. It should rest on those practical merits. Accusing those who dare scrutinize your position or motivations or funding sources of racism, soft or otherwise, is a blatant red herring. You ought to be above that. Stick to the transit discussion.

    Now, regarding your discussion about funding. Of course I’m not surprised that a South L.A. organization would want to fight for grade separation in South L.A.. But if you’re going to demand $400 M, you’re going to have to make a pretty rock solid case that grade separating expo phase 1 is worth multiplying the cost by 1.5. What other MTA project is so much less important than Expo that it should have $400 M taken from it to grade separate Expo 1? The downtown regional transit connector? The subway? Goldline foothill? (That last one would be my pick. . . but the SGV might have something to say about it.) South L.A. goes from having a light rail to having a grade separated light rail, and another region loses their project entirely?

    If you can find the money in stimulus funds, then I’m in support of your cause all the way. But if you’re advocating changing the funding priority of the Measure R money, I’m sorry, but everyone wants a piece of the pie, and it’s a big county.

    And seriously, both here and on the fix expo website, the whole injection of environmental racism and soft racism into this issue is unnecessary and smacks to me of a cheap political tactic to make it harder for your opponents to argue with you without getting branded as racists. There enough legitimate logistical and practical reasons to advocate for grade separated transit without making nebulous accusations of unconscious racism.

  37. “There enough legitimate logistical and practical reasons to advocate for grade separated transit without making nebulous accusations of unconscious racism.”

    —————

    The arguments about performance of the line are the ones which are the most compelling.

  38. The Bay Area Peninsula’s Caltrain runs through the middle class neighborhoods of Palo Alto, Atherton and Menlo Park (though the last two have been described as affluent). In fact over 100 trains per day run each weekday through these cities and their city councils are fighting grade separation that would cut down on noise and remove the need for pedestrians to cross the tracks at-grade.

    The Gold Line through South Pasadena runs at-grade and crosses several streets.

    If the grade crossings for Expo Phase 1 are determined by counting up the street traffic and then measuring it against a pre-determined threshold, and not by counting up the number of black people in the neighborhood, what’s the problem?

  39. Dan & David, As I mentioned before I find this whole situation very problematic. However, having studied environmental justice issues they are real, and they are very important to the communities affected. Saying stick to the safety and technical issues ignores a history of decisions and actions that have taken place, and continue to take place. I completely agree that there are political realities at play, like the ones David raises (where does the 400M come from). But the issues of environmental justice do come into play. I’ve been following this issue, probably like everyone else here, for the past year or so. But the lines have not moved since Fix Expo really started making a lot of noise. The minute it started up there were cries that Damien Goodmon was out to make a name for himself, and that “playing the race card” was a political stunt. On the other side the issue has been the same, Fix Expo is saying you can’t just focus on the technical issue. Focusing on technical issues alone is one of the causes of environmental injustice. FIx Expo’s point is that we have arrived where we are now, because in the planning stages it was determined that mitigating traffic conditions in certain communities was more important than doing the same in other areas. Maybe looking only at density and roadway volumes and projected ridership a perfectly reasonable case was made that certain sections had to be grade separated, and other areas didn’t “need” it. What Damien is pointing out, is that those areas that don’t “need” a more expensive treatment are always the same areas. After awhile of hearing that the technical analysis always seems to favor other areas over yours, I’m sure you’d start asking some questions too. Browne Molyeux has written about this on the Bus Bench Blog. People who haven’t experienced racism always have a hard time believing it still happens. But environmental injustice is not a one time action, its a process. More specifically, its a lack of an evaluation filter being applied during planning. We look at the data and think the answer is there. But those communities who have experienced environmental injustice must be expected to use the tools at their disposal to force a more careful examination. And I don’t think this is the same as NIMBYism. This is an issue of intent. Cheviot Hills wants to sink this thing, and they’ll use environmentalism to do so (bogus charges of congestion), whereas I think Fix Expo really does want this, just not the way its happening. Your answer may be that if the result is the same who cares about the intent, but I disagree. Like I said I used to side with the political reality / get it built side of this argument, but I’ve changed my mind, and support Fix Expo.

  40. Sorry. I thought I had put paragraph breaks in there, that is truly an eyesore to read.

  41. What would happen if Expo is put into a trench and the cities of Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Atherton are told California High Speed Rail will not be put into a tunnel in their communities, which are predominantly white? Will this be a case of environmental racism?

  42. calwatch:

    FixExpo and SO.CA.TA really work from different influencing models: one from a mass organizing, union model and one from a think tank/elite influence model. (Think of the difference between SEIU vs. the Center for American Progress.) One uses mass mobilization, such as the recent protest, to make a point, while the other uses technical knowledge and personal connections with public officials to make their case.
    ————————

    That statement is rather bizarre, and ironic being that I’ve been constantly referred to as an “elitist.” Then again, according to some, depending on the day of the week and commenter I am everything and I am nothing. ;-)

    But to the point, calwatch that was a very ignorant statement. There are hundreds of pages of documentation all on or linked to on the FixExpo.org website, including dozens of studies, statistics, agency memos, and the testimony of experts in rail safety, human behavior, vehicle accident causation and traffic engineering.

    Is it because you’ve been out-organized and your positions have been exposed to the general public as illogical that the only thing you have to cling on to is some illusion of superior knowledge? (Yet people claim I’m arrogant!)

    We wouldn’t have gotten this far if the facts weren’t overwhelmingly on our side. Just read the posts here. Many aren’t disagreeing with our assessment regarding the big issues of traffic and safety. At worst, they simply disagree with our desired solution or the importance/repercussions/benefits of Fixing Expo.

    —————————-
    David Galvan:

    have to say, pulling out the race card seems like a pretty desperate and unseemly act. Your platform for getting grade separation already has a basis in safety and efficiency for the expo line. It should rest on those practical merits. Accusing those who dare scrutinize your position or motivations or funding sources of racism, soft or otherwise, is a blatant red herring. You ought to be above that. Stick to the transit discussion.
    —————————-

    Is there a deliberate attempt to ignore my statement that the environmental racism issue pertaining to Expo Phase 1 is completely different than the truly racist statement some individuals Gabbard and others have made in the course of discussing this controversy in Phase 1?

    Do I need to articulate it differently, or is it just that some folk really see that it aides the slander/demonization/misrepresentation campaign of me to blur the line? Forgive me for tending to believe it is the latter.

    And of course the kicker is that in my previous comment I pointed to a very overtly racist statement by Gabbard, which was publicly posted and is retrievable to anyone who desires to spend the time to look for it.

    I’m sorry if it makes you uncomfortable to hear it David, but it is racist to claim that “those people” (of South LA) who live in this community, have been discussing this issue for decades, have attended the meetings where both sides were present or just Expo was presenting, have come to their conclusion that the existing design for Phase 1 is inadequate solely because they are stupid and easily manipulated by some rich white boogeyman or charismatic speaker. Racist, with a capital “R.”

    And for you David, ignoring/justifying racism with some counter that highlighting racism is “pulling the race card” is soooo 1990s.

    I agree: lets get back to discussing transit and dump these B.S. arguments about everything except traffic, safety, community impacts and environmental justice in the trash can whence they came.

    ———————-
    David Galvan:

    And seriously, both here and on the fix expo website, the whole injection of environmental racism and soft racism into this issue is unnecessary and smacks to me of a cheap political tactic to make it harder for your opponents to argue with you without getting branded as racists. There enough legitimate logistical and practical reasons to advocate for grade separated transit without making nebulous accusations of unconscious racism
    ———————-

    I and others who take the cause of environmental justice seriously find the attempt by some to minimize the issue of environmental racism quite offensive.

    I said this this weekend at the protest, my goal David is not to make you or other people feel good. My goal is to address inadequacies, discrepancies and a process that places underrepresented communities at a disadvantage, and has resulted in an unsafe and unequal Expo Phase 1.

    I and others always find ourselves perplexed to the point of amusement (otherwise we might get a bit angry) why some people get so agitated any time someone tries to point out racism in whatever form it may appear. There’s a lot of truth in Marcotico’s statement that “People who haven’t experienced racism always have a hard time believing it still happens.” I think that’s part of it. The other part of it I won’t delve into.

    And I’m always amused by people who are angered by the manner in which our concerns are articulated. Just because YOU may or may not believe that grade separation is superior and needed on Expo Phase 1 JUST because of safety and traffic, doesn’t mean I or anyone else ONLY believes those are the reasons it’s necessary. Again, you’re stating that your comfort level is supposed to be equal or superior to the necessity of articulating the position of my community on an issue that directly impacts us.

    Furthermore, I and Marcotico have constantly and repeatedly said that just because you support Expo Phase 1 as is, does not make one a racist. In fact, instead of making that insinuation, why don’t you point to the post or letter where such is stated.

    But having said that, there is no excuse for the bigoted/racist/soft-racist comments that have been made in the course of this discussion. Again, they are two completely different issues. And are you really here – right now – going to claim that such statements haven’t been made and Gabbard’s statement was not pretty darn racist?

    ————-
    calwatch:
    From a technical standpoint, though, the trench is going to be more expensive than what the Fix Expo people claim. The cost to send two lousy miles of single track in front of the San Gabriel Mission into a trench is nearing $500 million, or $250 million a mile.
    ————-

    Cost of the 1/2 mile trench in front of USC including utility relocation and a curved turn over two busy intersections: $42 million

    Tell us more about this technical intellectual superiority of So.CA.TA, calwatch.

    ————-
    Spokker:

    What would happen if Expo is put into a trench and the cities of Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Atherton are told California High Speed Rail will not be put into a tunnel in their communities, which are predominantly white? Will this be a case of environmental racism?
    ————–

    As I and others have constantly said, the environmental injustice claim is specific to Expo Phase 1. It is not system-wide, and it’s certainly not statewide or rail mode wide.

    Let me explain the fallacy of your analogy. At-grade light rail exist in affluent white communities in San Francisco. By your logic, a San Jose Metro agency can build an 8 mile long light rail project that is at-grade 4 of the miles at-grade in a black/poor community and totally grade separated in 4 of the miles in a white community without being guilty of engaging in environmental racism, because at-grade rail exists in white affluent communities in San Francisco.

    Does that explain it better?

    I mean there really is a quite lengthy post on the Fix Expo blog about this. Really wish someone would pretend it exists every now and then and reference it: Environmental Justice: The Law

    Oh wait if one did they’d have to admit Expo Phase 1 violates environmental justice laws. :-)

  43. ————
    Marcotico:

    Focusing on technical issues alone is one of the causes of environmental injustice.
    ————

    Indeed. For example, we all agree that grade separation has many benefits, in particular to a community. It avoids many environmental disruption and hazards of at-grade rail, i.e. the need of a horn, safety hazard of at-grade crossings, and depending on how it’s constructed it may allow a community to remain intact.

    However, if the policy for determining grade separations is based solely on traffic (technical data), and traffic is worse in white communities than in communities of color, then the policy directly or indirectly will result in more grade separations in white communities than in communities of color.

    A better example, and the more well understood example of environmental racism is the placement of hazardous facilities in communities of color. For example, a city needs to acquire property to build a junk yard. The value of land in white communities is greater than in black communities. So it may seem logical for the city to chose the cheaper site in the black community to save taxpayer dollars. But basing the decision solely on the value of land, given the make up of the city (white areas = expensive land; black areas = cheap land) automatically placed the black community at a disadvantage. These communities of color also, very often lack equally sufficient political leadership and access to legal resources to combat the city.

    The issue with Expo Phase 1 and Culver City is even more blatant.

    First, it is the only non-environmental justice census tract. (An environmental justice census tract is majority minority and/or majority poor.)

    Second, the policy established by MTA (which I believe is flawed, but nonetheless was applied) said there were to be two (or three depending on how you count them) at-grade crossings in Culver City: Washington/National and Jefferson/National.

    Culver City threatened legal and political actions if the crossings were built at-grade. So the crossings were grade separated.

    All the while, the folk in South LA, were making the same demands which were not met.

    So the end result is a project with inequitable impacts. How do you make them equitable: applying the same treatment in the majority-minority residential communities along Expo Phase 1. And given Fix Expo and others constant request for this through Prop 1B, Prop 1C, Measure R, the Stimulus package, or scaling the project back to a temporary termini, the failure of MTA to make the change puts all of the agency’s federal dollars in peril.

    The issue has been raised to MTA, and MTA has had numerous opportunities to address it through administratively, yet they’ve failed to do so.

    I fully suspect many will blame me and Fix Expo for raising the issue, all the while completely ignoring the many opportunities MTA has had to correct the issue. The record is clear, it’s unfortunate it has gotten this far.

  44. Black people can’t live near trains, how’s that for soft racism? One thing I can say about Damien Goodmon is that he’s brought out racism in me I never knew I had.

  45. I’ll ask the question again because I think I hit the nail on the head because I went unanswered…

    The gay community has been systematically and consistently oppressed and discriminated against throughout human history. In fact, a slight majority of voters in California and Los Angeles County recently voted to strip me of equality in the State Constitution.

    In this environment, is it not in alignment with Fix Expo’s own arguments to question whether someone who supports grade separated service on Expo and Crenshaw, but also thinks the heart and soul of the gay community in Southern California should settle merely for improved bus service, is acting out of “environmental homophobia”?

    Is one form of environmental “discrimination” somehow morally superior to another?

    —————–

    Rhetorical arguments aside, there are merits to grade separating Expo east of Crenshaw, and there are merits to a Santa Monica Blvd. subway, without bringing charges of bigotry into it.

    I would prefer this discussion to be about the nuts and bolts of transportation funding and planning.

Comments are closed.

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