Metro public meeting hears an outpouring of complaints

imageThe good news for South Bay residents is that the Metro light rail is expanding. The bad news is that the new line, which will connect Exposition Boulevard to LAX Airport, comes with some extra baggage.

More than 80 residents and business representatives congregated at the Flight Path Museum Tuesday for a meeting held by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority that invited public comment about four proposed locations for a new maintenance yard. The year will support a new light rail that will connect the existing Expo and Green Metro lines.

Of the 25 speakers, 19 were residents of Fusion Center, a housing development in Hawthorne. Many expressed concern that the proposed location near their community—an expansion of the existing Division 22 Metro maintenance yard—was added late in the selection process without proper notification to the surrounding community.

“We had started an environmental analysis of some sites, and for various reasons, those sites proved to be problematic,” said Roderick Diaz, Metro project manager.

Diaz pointed out the comparative ease of expanding operations at an existing yard as opposed to building one from scratch. “With environmental analysis, we are always focused on evaluating different alternatives.”

In response to complaints that the plans for the proposed Metro site near Fusion Center were not sufficiently communicated to residents, Diaz said that Metro purchased commercial mailing lists to reach all residents and businesses within a half mile of each site and that perhaps these lists were not updated or accurate when they were sold.

Aside from notification problems, Fusion residents were not quiet about the wide range of reasons they oppose the yard near their community. One by one, speakers approached the microphone to voice health concerns, risks to property values and noise pollution from a facility that would sit 50 feet from Fusion homes.

The proposed yard will cover a minimum of 15 acres to accommodate a train storage facility, several new buildings and a paint and body shop to service a minimum of 60 train cars.

Air contamination was one of the factors included in Metro’s environmental impact report. Contaminants such as sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide are predicted to be higher if a maintenance facility is built, but the report does not claim to draw direct health implications from the results. For example, the study reported that carbon monoxide emissions would not exceed the standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency’s air quality standards, resulting in a “less-than-significant” projected impact at any of the four sites.

“A lot of the impact that we’re concerned about is really hard to quantify,” said Joel Reeves, a Fusion homeowner and realtor with Shorewood Realtors. “My concern as a real estate professional is that when industrial goes in next to a residential area … the feel is not welcoming, not family-oriented. At Fusion, we’re trying to create that family atmosphere.”

The six non-Fusion speakers included residents and professionals from Redondo Beach, Westchester and Inglewood. Some urged Metro to more strongly consider the location along Arbor Vitae Street between Airport and Aviation boulevards instead of their communities because it would be the least intrusive to residential areas.

Other groups expressed concerns with land use and property sales. Rob Antrobius, vice president of AMB Property Corporation in Redondo Beach, stated that his company would not be willing to sell their land to Metro for the maintenance facility if the location at Marine and Redondo Beach boulevards is selected.

“Typically, what happens is that if we decide that we want to purchase a site, more than 90-something percent of the cases, we do an appraisal, an offer is made and there’s a sale based on that offer,” Diaz said. “In the other percent of the cases, we might explore the possibility of eminent domain.”

“We try to avoid that as much as possible,” he said.

Diaz and Metro representatives told residents that over the next few weeks, they will take the public comments about the proposed facility locations into consideration when presenting final evaluation results to the Metro Board of Directors this spring for their decision.

The next meeting for public comment will be held March 31 at Inglewood City Hall from 6 to 8 p.m., and the deadline for public input is April 11 at 5 p.m.

Read more coverage of the maintenance yard debate:
Hawthorne residents caught off guard by Metro project

Photo credit: Lisa Rau


  1. More misinformation.

    This yard will hold only 40 cards with an expansion of 3.5 acres which will add only 9 light-rail vehicles. The other three yards will hole 70 vehicles.

    I think the condos were built after the Green Line yard was present. Another case of poor zoning practice.

  2. Just more NIMBY’ism… How typical of LA.
    Of course, the residents are paranoid, thinking that their property values will decrease, etc.
    While they’re not even thinking straight, because property values at rail lines INCREASE, not decrease! NIMBY’s are afraid of a rail line in “their back yard” while ignoring the fact they will now have a choice: driving OR taking the train. It’s way better than having no choice (and being forced to drive).
    Stick your heads out of the sand, folks! The train will give you mobility options. It will improve your lives.

  3. Chris R says:

    Alek and Bob,

    I think it is you that is trying to spread misinformation. First, Alek, the facitly next to the Fusion community will NOT be a train station. No riders will be able to get on or off the train there. It is purely for repairs and parking and that activity will take place at somepoints with in 20 feet of bedroom windows. Most of the activity takes place at night when trains can be taken out of service. Residents nearby already can’t sleep with there windows open and it only services 17 trains. And Bob, the MTA is not proposing to build ALL 4 sites! Read the report. What ever facility is selected will service the whole lot of them! The residents are not opposed to public transportation but when the MTA has a choice between building a repair yard in a residential neighborhood or an industrial neighborhood, it should be a no brainer. Why would anyone consider putting next to houses over car rental parking lots? You two need to get your heads out of the sand!!

  4. Chris R,

    I know that MTA will not build on all four sites.

    The two prior sites north of LAX have 17.6 and 20.5 acres – the site south of LAX has 14.5 acres. While Division 22 yard northern extension has only 3.5 acres.

    The study has to look at all possibilities. MTA staff or their contractors cannot comment at this time until after the public review is over.

    Since prior comments may have said to just enlarge the yard or they are getting prepared for such a comment, that option had to be included.

    From an operational standpoint and the number of LRV required, this option will obviously be discarded as a feasible means.

    Condos should never have been built or zoned in an industrial area. I think they were built aver the Green Line Yard was built, but I’m not sure, but they are there and I do not blame the well behaved residence who were at Tuesday’s meeting. I would guess that those present helped MTA to discard site D22N Yard Expansion.

    What I don’t like is misinformation and bias reporting.

    There is no problem in disagreeing – and I don’t know where I said the MTA will build on four sites, but at times I leave words out and not proof what I write until I send the document – but I don’t think my head is in the sand or ever has been in the sand.

    Although, I would like to see Site 17 selected to build some of the Green Line tracks south, my money would be on site 14 being selected for one reason that one of the speakers said that LAWA and the FAA may put obstacles in continuing the Crenshaw Line south of Century.

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