Breaking News: Supremes Will Hear Case in Neighbors for Smart Rail v Expo Construction Authority

The sign reads, "Children and trains don't mix." The balloons suggests otherwise.

The California State Supreme Court will hear the case of Neighbors for Smart Rail (NFSR), a coalition of Westside homeowners, community groups and businesses, against Phase II of the Expo Line.  NFSR alleges that the environmental documents for the line were improperly compared because it based traffic on future projections instead of the current status on the street.

Phase II of the Expo Line will eventually connect the existing Expo Line, which runs from Downtown L.A. to Downtown Culver City, all the way to Santa Monica. Construction of the line is already underway.

Two lower courts have already ruled that the Expo Construction Authority (Expo) acted properly basing their traffic studies on future conditions instead of current conditions. However, attorneys for NFSR point to two cases Madera Oversight Coalition, Inc. v. County of Madera (5th District Court of Appeals, 2011) and Sunnyvale West Neighborhood Assn. v. City of Sunnyvale City Council (6th District Court of Appeals, 2010where state appellate courts ruled that agencies cannot use future conditions as a baseline when evaluating the environmental impacts of proposed projects.

Faced with conflicting opinions, it’s natural for the Supreme Court to want to have the final say in this case and establish case law for similar legal conflicts in the future. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of NFSR, it could require the traffic study for the entire Expo Phase II to be done over.

After a string of legal defeats, NFSR has two wins in recent months. Last month, the California Public Utilities Commission announced they will take a second look at some of the controversial crossings in Phase II.

No timeline has been announced for the appeal. At this point, the Supreme Court is not requiring that Expo halt construction on Phase II.

  • Mo’Nilla

    Ignorant people in Cheviot don’t want the brown people riding the train into “their” neighborhood, yet those are the same brown people that have to drive in to work every day. They bought a house next to a railroad right-of-way, and now they want to complain that a train is coming through town. They complain that it will decrease their property values, yet everywhere else in the world enjoys higher prices on property adjacent to mass-transit. Idiota! Get over it! Since it made it to Culver City, we’ve ridden the train downtown about a dozen times- mostly on Friday nights to party. It’s great! The train rocks!

  • I love how groups opposed to something adopt names that sound as if they’re for it.

  • Anonymous

    How exactly does a train make traffic worse on a street that sits standstill most of the day? What a bunch of selfish, obstructionist, NIMBY-bellied sneeches these people have turned out to be!

  • Erik Griswold

     A railroad right of way that has been in place since 1875!

  • Robb

    Even if the Chevidiots win, all they’ll succeed in doing is delaying construction; it won’t stop the project or even require a redesign. They’re just being dicks. 

  • Pierrealma

    Stupid NFSR

  • aeroman

    Metro has a long history of right-of-way deaths, huge cost overruns, neighborhood insensitivity, inflated salaries, and construction times running twice the original estimate. The right of way would have been far better used as a bike path with a greenbelt. And Metro has turned a deaf ear to neighborhood pleas to run the rail below grade. Instead, this will paralyze major north/south traffic routes and divert traffic into surrounding neighborhoods, jeopardize school kids, and require even more taxpayer operating subsides than Metro already has. It will NOT take cars off the streets. On environmental, quality-of-life, and return-on-investment scales, this project is crazy. And take a look at Metro staff’s salaries, perks, and retirement pensions. They are self-serving bureaucrats insulated from any economic realities the rest of us are suffering.

  • Davistrain

    If at-grade rail service is so terrible, why is the San Gabriel Valley welcoming the Gold Line Foothill extension?  As far as “jeopardizing school kids” is concerned (think of the children!), I grew up in Monrovia, where we had a Pacific Electric line running by our school with heavy trolley cars and freight trains all day long, and I don’t recall any
     classmates being run over by a Red Car.  Are the kids in your neigborhood so stupid that they can’t stay off the train tracks?  Are they so impaired that they can’t recognize grade-crossing signals?  How do they avoid getting hit by automobiles, which are much more numerous and are not confined to railroad tracks?

  • Dennis Hindman

    Homeowners also sued to try and stop the construction of the bike path that will run next to the Expo Line.

  • Severus Snape

    NFSR is grasping at straws.  For all of this talk about the “safety of the children,” the way NFSR got this case to the state supreme court is via technicalities.  The lawsuit points out that Metro failed to study a 405 freeway overpass option.  Anyone who has ever seen where the 405 crosses over Exposition knows that a freeway overpass is such a blatantly unrealistic option that it shouldn’t even merit consideration.  Plus, the train will be elevated for this portion of the route anyway.  There’s no threat to pedestrians here.  This is nothing more than a stall tactic; no reasonable objections are being raised here.

    I find it extremely likely that the state supreme court only took this case because it provides an opportunity to strike down the portion of the CEQA which has made these kinds of frivolous lawsuits possible.

  • Karen Leonard

    Please remember that Cheviot Hills also has a very large group of supporters of Expo Phase II, Light Rail for Cheviot, do not demonize the entire population of this neighborhood!  Karen Leonard, co-chair of Light Rail for Cheviot

  • MJ

    I live next to an area where they have been working on adding the Expo line (right next to 405/Exposition). We are subjected to  RIDICULOUS noise & air pollution, 18-24hrs a day, registering well above decibel limits outlined to us in their alert-flyers or blah-blah-blah-ed to us from their reps. This has been going on for more than 2 years, through the evening hours well past dawn, and we have been lied to, ignored, and overlooked in trying to reach out to local contacts in this project to address the non-stop work-noise. Do I trust that the builders and planners have our best interest at heart when it comes to what kind of impact this will have our community, as far as disruption? NO. They don’t even care now. Am I supposed to believe this current climate of deception is going to prove differently when *supposedly* all is said and done? NO. We live in an apt. that we cannot move from because I am disabled & bedbound. I am here all day and aware of the hours of construction as well as the noise increase. We have to keep our once-open windows closed all the time now- using AC & fans to get any air (drove up our electric bill), our apt is continually layered in dust (we are all showing signs of allergies & congestion now and going through my medical air-filters at an abnormal & costly rate), and myself and my family are all suffering from sleep deprivation because even ear plugs can’t drown out the noise and the whole building shakes, waking you up if the noise doesn’t.  Initially I thought the Expo line and these kinds of  ‘new’ transportation efforts would outshine the negative, but given this experience, I’ve changed my mind.
    And by the way-I AM a minority/hispanic, so this is not about who travels through my neighborhood. Nor is it about money because we are a family of four living on a small single income, in a multi-racial area. Our neighbors are as frustrated as we are. Our landlord has been losing renters because the noise drives them away. I suspect that people who have the luxury of not living adjacent to the areas closest to these lines of transportation think this new transportation is great & progressive for our cities, and the rest of us should just take our lumps for the greater good. I believe *that* is called minority discrimination,too-when the smaller of groups has their rights/needs overlooked by the majority?  

  • BG

    Listen I am sorry that you are bedbound and disabled but this temporary inconvience will benifit tens of thousands of people in the city. We can’t stop this progress because of handful of people.  I am sure that there is an organization that will help you relocate to a quiter area which would be most likely be benificial to your health.  I live in Hollywood and they are building a 20 story tower across the street from my condo,  I have my life saving sunk into that condo and can not move.  The noise starts at 6:15 every moring the building shakes is it awful but it will end. 

  • MJ

    BG you sound like a politician-” 
     @ BG -your response:” Listen I am sorry that you are bedbound and disabled but this temporary inconvience will benifit tens of thousands of people in the city. We can’t stop this progress because of handful of people.  I am sure that there is an
    organization that will help you relocate to a quiter area which would be most likely be benificial to your health. ” 

     First, please don’t call my or my family’s health being affected a “temporary inconvenience”. We’ve been dealing with this for a long time and our health is not a “convenience”, it is a necessity. 
     No offense, but do you really think I’d be posting here if I hadn’t exhausted all means to provide a better environment for me and my family? Do you think I’d aim for tackling gov & big contractors first before getting achievable & accessable help to move? Do you really believe that people always have options that are simple, or that an “organization” is going to make it better for us, esp. during these economic times? Call me jaded, but I’m also informed and have advocated for myself for years and have dealt w/alot of depts. & organizations that are intended to “help”. If you are familiar or have dealt w/these kinds of services, you know the poverty level has been lowered even more and resources are not available-if you are housed they are satisfied. 

    As far as being one of the handful of people that would be supposedly standing in the way of progress? That’s spinning that we don’t want progress- just because we want to protect ourselves and our family’s health?  We just want sleep & no more exposure to hazardous materials-that’s not alot to ask!  I think the people working on this project Expo are full of it and I don’t buy what they say anymore because they keep doing the same thing-disregarding our wellbeing  and our neighbors-why would I believe a liar that keeps repeating the cycle? They (developers) are the ones who created this dynamic, not me. Their byproduct of shady business practices with the regulation of this construction is what is hurting my family. They turned me off to the project itself because I don’t believe that me or my family, or anyone else in our neighborhood, should pave the way to someone else’s ride around the city with our health. But they do.

    I get that 6:15am is tough for you, B G, but we have construction starting anywhere from 5-11pm and not stopping until the following late afternoon, with only a few hours in between the next start-up. And they often work holidays & weekends (we’ve been told some of the developers are privately contracted and not obligated to take off those days), and there is no end in sight. Even if we were able to move, what about our neighbors? Does everyone just have to move to satisfy another group of people who are not being adversley affected by this “progress”? They have families and children, and needs, too-many in the same boat we are.

     It’s not like we’re asking the impossible-just asking them to demonstrate fair & safe regulation of their construction practices/hours in regards to the local residents like me. Find a way to ensure safety & wellbeing and I would likely feel differently-unless they were doing this to someone else because that wouldn’t be fair either.

  • Anonymous

    If you don’t like trains, don’t live near a track.


It’s Official: Back to Court for Expo Phase II and NFSR

As promised, Neighbors for Smart Rail (NFSR) is appealing the decision of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Thomas McKnew to dismiss their lawsuit alleging that the Expo Construction Authority violated state environmental law when doing their studies of the future light rail lines route.  The appeal was filed nearly two weeks ago, on September 15, […]