Certification of the FEIR of Phase II of the Expo Line, Feb. 4 Expo Board meeting

2/12/10email by Light Rail for Cheviot

Supporters of Phase II of the Expo Line and others,

People have asked us for a fuller account of the Feb. 4 meeting than the one in the LAT, so here goes. You could also check the video of the meeting, below (turn up the YouTube volume, system volume, and speaker volume):


The Supervisors' meeting room in the Kenneth Hahn building filled up as the 2 pm meeting time neared. This included some 150 students from Santa Monica College who filed in, all wearing aqua T-shirts with "Expo All the Way to Santa Monica." The meeting was chaired by Herb Wesson who maintained decorum in a way which encouraged supporters and opponents alike to speak and listen respectfully.

Some 180 to 200 people filled in speaker cards and were called for one minute speeches to the Board; toward the end, some of these people had left, but a full three hours of testimony occurred from about 2:30 to 5:30. Speakers from NFSR repeated certain statements, like "I'm certainly not against light rail," "we are not NIMBYs," "we just want it underground," "the train will stop cars 2 1/2 minutes out of every 5 (false)," "Overland School will be adversely affected," etc. The range of speakers in support was very wide, including students from UCLA and USC and SMC (above), representatives of businesses and medical institutions and services in Santa Monica, and residents along Phase I and Phase II of the line.

Finally speeches were exhausted and Paul Koretz was given a chance to speak as council member for District 5. Bernard Parks had earlier offered to let Koretz vote in his place, as a representative from the Phase II area, but Parks withdrew that offer only a day beforehand. Koretz regretted that he could not vote and indicated that he probably would have voted no; then Koretz spoke in detail about mitigations he would seek given the recommendations of the FEIR. Then other Board members spoke.

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky led off, championing the FEIR and making the motion to certify it. He stressed the need to move forward with Expo and not delay the decision to bring mass public transportation to the Westside, the only part of the city not now served. He mentioned light rail systems in Salt Lake City, Portland, San Francisco, and Sacramento where at-grade crossings are the norm. Los Angeles is a city of suburbs and most of it does not have the density required to make subways financially feasible; this one would cost a quarter of a billion dollars above the cost of at-grade. He commended the Authority for its work on the EIR and moved to certify it without further delay.

Then Dan Rosenfeld, head staffer for Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas who had left, spoke about the motions the Supervisor had made before leaving, the first asking for a 90 day delay to reconsider the grade-crossing criteria, before voting on certification, and the second moving for a parkway instead of parking lots at Westwood and Overland. (Sarah and I and F4E people had heard that Ridley-Thomas was asking for reconsideration of the grade-crossing criteria, we think with his goals for the future Crenshaw line in mind, and on Feb. 2 we had met with his staffers to ask that he not hold Expo Phase II hostage to the future Crenshaw line.) Council member Bernard Parks then justified his reassertion of his right to vote on the grounds that, when he saw the grade-crossing criteria being invoked and challenged, he saw the need to vote to keep the criteria consistent all along the line. Scott Malsin spoke for Culver City, and like the two previous speakers he indicated he would vote for the FEIR. Gleam Davis, deputy for Pam O'Connor, who was unable to attend for medical reasons, spoke strongly in favor of the FEIR. Bill Rosendahl, council member, voting in place of Jan Perry, spoke about part of his district 11 being in Santa Monica and said he would vote in favor of the FEIR. Herb Wesson, Chair, did not speak but voted in favor when the vote was finally taken.

The vote was finally taken, after Ridley-Thomas's motion to restudy the grade-crossing criteria was defeated (Rosendahl had seconded the motion). The vote to certify the FEIR was six in favor with one abstention (Ridley-Thomas).

Two motions put forward by Zev Yaroslavsky were then adopted, the first being to avoid taking a position Feb. 4 on the parking lot vs. parkway issue at Westwood but to include the no parking option in the preliminary engineering study. The second, in agreement with comments by Koretz, proposed that the elevated design option at Sepulveda should include looking for additional funding not from developers during the preliminary engineering study.

At about 6:30, the meeting was over and those who had stayed to the end departed.

Karen Leonard and Sarah Hays, co-Chairs of Light Rail for Cheviot

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