Summary of the Major Decisions from Today’s Metro Board Meeting
Here’s a quick rundown of the major votes by today’s Metro Board. Each of these five motions were discussed at Streetsblog over the last couple of weeks, and links to those stories can be found at the end of each summary. Streetsblog will have links to all news reports on today’s meeting tomorrow.
Westside Subway Locally Preferred Alternative/Environmental Studies
As expected, the Metro Board of Directors unanimously voted to approve the Westside Subway “Locally Preferred Alternative” as the 9 1/2-mile route to the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Brentwood from the current end of the Purple Line at Wilshire/Western in Koreatown. Despite over an hour of public comment from the Beverly Hills’ NUMBY’s, there was no decision made on whether the subway should have a stop on Santa Monica Boulevard in Century City or Constellation Avenue.
Yaroslavsky’s motion, which seemed to place the concerns of Beverly Hills regarding the Constellation Avenue/Santa Monica Boulevard debate ahead of those of other communities, was amended by the author to urge the staff to provide a detailed account of the impacts of both alternatives through the Westside. This would have happened regardless under the Final Environmental Impact Statement that the Board approved funding for today. For background on this motion, read yesterday’s Streetsblog story or an update on today’s vote from LA_Now.
Regional Connector Locally Preferred Alternative/Environmental Studies
The Metro Board also approved the “Locally Preferred Alternative” and funding for the environmental studies needed for the Regional Connector. The debate was dominated by Little Tokyo business groups concerned that “cut and cover” subway construction would disrupt the community and cost them business. Downtown interests and LA City Councilwoman Jan Perry also expressed concerns about the exclusion of the 5th and Flower stop from the LPA. The Board narrowly voted to exclude the 5th and Flower for now, but left the door open to include it in the environmental studies, if local businesses raise the roughly $2 million needed for that part of the study. For more background, read this story at Streetsblog or an update on today’s vote from Blog Downtown.
“BikeWood” Hub at Hollywood and Vine
The motion allowing the creation of a street level, highly visible Bike Hub a the Hollywood and Vine Transit Oriented Development passed without much discussion. Streetsblog provided the background for this motion on Monday.
Ridley-Thomas Grade-Crossing Motion
The Metro Board quickly passed County Superviser Mark Ridley-Thomas’ controversial grade crossing motion that appeared to introduce a more “subjective” tone into the analysis of whether light rail should run at-grade or grade-separated at major street crossings. Board Member O’Conner asked that the motion be tabled for a month so Board Members could have more time to analyze the motion. But, after Metro staff argued that the motion was just a re-emphasis on community concerns from the current grade-crossing policy and that it would have no impact on how these decisions are actually reached, the Board voted to accept Ridley-Thomas’ motion.
During a public discussion segment, Southern California Transit Advocates’ policy director, Kymberleigh Richards, warned that the changes would lead to “days of public comment” over controversial crossings when communities felt their concerns weren’t being addressed. We’ll have to wait and see if that prediction holds true once debate on specifics of the Crenshaw Line reach the Board in 2011. For background on this motion, click here.
710 Tunnel Cost Estimate
Ha! Najarian was listening to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, siting his “wisdom” as a reason to get a new cost estimate. The official estimate was based on figures from 2006. While Najarian was able to read his motion into the record, the motion won’t have a full hearing until the next Board Meeting. For background on this motion, click here.