Crenshaw Subway Files Suit Against “MTA” Over Crenshaw Enviro. Docs

Csc v Mta Bs134507

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.”


  • Dan W.

    Sadly, the only thing “Crenshaw Subway” will accomplish is ensure that there won’t be money for a station in Leimert Park.

  • I.K.

    The Badman is at it again. I wish they could just reallocate the funding to a more worthy project like the Regional Connector.

  • R.R.

    That’s interesting logic Dan W.  How do you figure?  You seem to be either admitting that their lawsuit has merit and they will win costing the agency money, and in turn claiming that they shouldn’t be in court despite having meritorious claims?

    Station or no station, building the train at street-level for the next 50-75 years makes no sense, and as long as Metro keeps pushing this design they’re going to get sued.

  • Matt

    R.R.  The Crenshaw Line is already in danger of being overbudget, because so much of the project has been slated for subway, while when Crenshaw was selected for a rail line and then Measure R passed, it was to be an above ground light rail corridor using roughly the same corridor as the Red Car tracks ran years ago.  In fact, Crenshaw would never have been selected if it was slated to be subway as Western or Vermont
     would have been more appropriate for subway given their much higher ridership. 

    The Leimert Station has a go ahead to be built as long as it can be done in the project budget.  Now that the line has to spend money on lawyers and will potentially be delayed that makes it much less likely that there will be money left over to build this station.  Hope for a quick dismissal of the lawsuit so this station can be built.  If they win the lawsuit, it could delay or kill this project.  It is not as if even if somone wins a judgement that there will suddenly be money available.

  • Dan W.

    Well stated, Matt.

    The lawsuit doesn’t appear to have merit.  But not having “merit” never prevented anyone from not filing a lawsuit.   But even unnecessary lawsuits cost money to process. 

  • The dude abides

    I say dump this low ridership project, let them keep their crappy bus service and move the funds to complete subway to the sea where the money is well spent.

  • Anonymous

    They love to keep blaming Antonio for everything, eh? If it wasn’t for Antonio and his hard push for Measure R, Crenshaw wouldn’t even be getting their light rail project for another decade or two (until at least after Expo Phase II was done), so thanks to Antonio, we’ll have a Crenshaw Line by 2018. Plus, Antonio and his 3 appointees could have been overruled on the Metro Board if all other Chairs decided to vote for the members, but Damien likes to marginalize and place all blame on our current Mayor. How sad. It’s so unfortunate that Antonio gets ton of blame, but in 30 years, he’ll be recognized as probably the most transformative Mayor for LA with Measure R and cicLAvia, which he could have easily chosen to ignore and not support.

  • Dan W.

    Absolutely.  If it weren’t for Mayor Villaraigosa and Supervisor Yaroslavsky and Assemblymember Feuer and several others, the Crenshaw line wouldn’t be constructed for decades.

  • Darrell

    Attorney Raymond W. Johnson’s bio cites experience as Consulting City Planner in Lenexa, Kansas. So much first-hand experience with light rail there!

  • The legal name of the agency is actually MTA and that is the abbreviation that MTA board reports use now, as Art Leahy overruled Matt Raymond’s insistence on referring to the agency as “Metro” everywhere – now only on public facing reports.

  • cph

    @Matt: Yellow Car, not Red. (LARY/LATL #5)

  • You hear about these disenfranchised people and their rights being trampled on, but they seem to have money to throw around to file lawsuit after lawsuit. I mean, it’s their right to file those lawsuits, but it seems they are being well-represented.

    The Transit Coalition is full of nerdy white guys and they don’t have the money to file lawsuit after lawsuit to get what they want. They have to actually talk to people and build consensus using rational arguments the old fashioned way, not strong arm and intimidate people into doing what they want under the guise of civil rights.

  • MTA, Metro… honestly, what’s the difference? 

    I will admit that “Metro” sounds more like a subway system and “MTA” sounds more appropriate for the name of an organization charged with operating transit, but that’s just aesthetics.