By Jonathan Friedman
November 26, 2009 -- City officials could be close
to agreements with various agencies on the light rail maintenance
facility proposed for the Pico Neighborhood. But not everybody
The City Council had another of its many discussions on Tuesday
about the proposed facility needed for Phase II of the Exposition
Light Rail. The Exposition Construction Authority (Expo) has
agreed to remove the paint and body shop from the proposal,
although there still will be a “light duty repair”
Council members instructed the City manager to negotiate
an agreement with Expo that would locate the maintenance facility
on an area covering the Verizon-owned site on Exposition Boulevard
off Stewart Street and a Santa Monica College (SMC) parking
City staff will continue talks with SMC about a land swap
in which the City would give Airport “residual land”
to the college in exchange for the parking lot.
Also, City staff must speak with officials from the California
Public Utilities Commission and the Metropolitan Transportation
Authority (Metro), which will operate the rail line connecting
Culver City to Santa Monica.
The City Council has no official say regarding the light
rail or the maintenance facility. Only the Expo Board of Directors
have the authority to make those decisions. The board is expected
to vote on them in January.
Some consider the current proposed location for the facility,
dubbed the “hybrid concept,” better than a previous
plan in which it would only be located at the Verizon site.
With the parking lot included,
it would allow for a buffer zone of up to 110 feet that would
separate the facility from residents.
A park could be built at the buffer location, city officials
But even with the “hybrid concept,” many Pico
Neighborhood residents say they are frustrated by a facility
they say poses a health and noise threat. The residents say
they have been ignored throughout the process.
“We feel bulldozed by this process,” Pico Neighborhood
Association co-Chair Maria Loya told the council. Although
Loya did not mention her by name, she also spoke against Mayor
Pro Tem Pam O’Connor, who sits on the Expo and Metro
“As our representative, she has failed to protect the
health and well being of her constituents and the community
will not forget that,” Loya said.
Several other Pico Neighborhood residents criticized council
members, saying they had not done all they could to help.
Council member Robert Holbrook said this was not true, and
noted that City officials had researched other possible locations
for the maintenance facility. Expo rejected all proposals
because they were too costly or unfeasible.
“I guess my skin is getting thin,” Holbrook said.
“Because after devoting so much time and thought and
energy to this--as many of us have--to say that we’re
uncaring just hurts.”
The neighborhood received the most sympathy from Council member