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Lawsuit Claims Expo Rail Enviro Review 'Fatally Flawed'

 

By Jonathan Friedman
Lookout Staff

March 17, 2010 -- A coalition of Westside homeowners groups known as Neighbors for Smart Rail (NFSR) filed a lawsuit earlier this month over the approval of the Exposition Light Rail Transit Line. The suit takes aim at the Environmental Impact Report (EIR), which NFSR says lacks crucial analysis of effects on traffic at various locations. But its members insist the goal is not to derail the project.

“We’re Neighbors for Smart Rail, not Neighbors Against All Rail,” said Mike Eveloff, president of the Tract 7260 Homeowners Association, one of the groups affiliated with NFSR. “There are ways this can be made to work. But that isn’t what’s been proposed so far.”

To see a copy of the complaint filed with the Los Angeles Superior Court, go to http://www.friends4expo.org/nfsr-lawsuit.pdf.
The Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority Board approved the rail line by a 6-0 vote last month. The $1.5 billion project will connect Culver City to downtown Santa Monica, and is the second phase of a line that will begin in downtown Los Angeles. The first phase is currently under construction, although it has been plagued by delays.

Mayor Pro Tem Pam O’Connor sits on the Expo Board. She did not vote on this project because she was recovering from surgery. O’Connor said she is not familiar enough with those filing the suit to comment on their motivation, but she said she was not surprised to hear about the suit because she knew there was some vocal opposition.

“There is support for it in neighborhoods all along the alignment, and I suspect there are more people who support the project than who don’t,” O’Connor said.

 


Expo released a statement that was less kind than the one from O’Connor.
“Given the long and careful planning history, and the urgent need for traffic relief, we are extremely disappointed that a small faction of the community seeks to delay the extension of a project that has the overwhelming support of the communities on the Westside,” the Expo release stated.

Expo added it “intends to defend the project vigerously.”

Friends 4 Expo Transit, an activist group in favor of the project, put a statement on its web site that the suit “seems broad-brush and unsubstantiated.” The group added that the EIR was thorough and in line with the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act. O’Connor and Expo also praised the environmental document.

In response to the criticism, Eveloff sarcastically remarked, “Yeah, we’re just a bunch of crazies.” He said there are thousands of homeowners and businesses supporting the litigation.

Eveloff said he and others received similar ridicule when they challenged Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s plan to transform Olympic and Pico boulevards into one-way streets. That proposal is now on hold due to a court ruling.

“They’re just trying to push through a flawed project,” Eveloff said. He continued, “It’s really just going to make things worse. Mass transit isn’t any good if you can’t get to it. They’ve put together a flawed project that is going to lock up the Westside.”

 


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