From Renters Write, July 2010

There's Light Rail at the End of the Tunnel

The Exposition Light Rail is on its way to Santa Monica. The first phase from downtown LA to Culver City is under construction and now the section westward to downtown Santa Monica is moving into the design stages. There is a lot involved in building a system including planning for operation and maintenance of the rail cars.

A maintenance facility at the western end of the line was required. The Expo Construction Authority suggested the Verizon site on the east side of Santa Monica. The City Council concerned about the location, authorized looking for other locations with similar attributes, but there were no other options.

While Expo Light Rail will benefit many people, there are potential impacts to neighbors who live near the proposed maintenance facility. To minimize impacts, the City is in the process of acquiring the land between the proposed facility and the residential neighborhood to provide a buffer area.

The keys to creating a successful buffer area are ensuring City control of the land and working with neighbors on appropriate uses and design of the buffer area. Community meetings with the neighbors regarding potential uses will start this fall, planned for early September.

While the City can control and design the buffer area, it is also important that the design of the maintenance facility incorporates elements that mitigate impacts to the neighborhood. The City is working closely with the Expo Authority on these issues.

Also of critical significance is that the facility be designed in such a way as to limit operational impacts on the neighborhood. Los Angeles County Metro will be working with Expo and the City on these issues. Metro’s Deputy CEO, Paul Taylor, has made a personal commitment to work with the City and neighbors to ensure that Metro’s maintenance facility becomes, and stays over time, a good neighbor.

With a well-designed buffer area, a maintenance facility designed to mitigate impacts of construction and operations, and the ongoing commitment of the operator to be a good neighbor, the Exposition Light Rail can respond to the needs of transit riders and neighbors.