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(March 2. 2018, 10:45 a.m.) -- Below are some pesky facts that others may not report or may now try to downplay about Metro's March 1 Board vote that selected an I-710 "Locally Preferred Alternative."

We cite below what we consider salient matters in the records of Mayor Robert Garcia (a voting Metro Boardmember who has no City of LB policy deciding vote) and the records of LB's three policy-deciding Councilmembers with districts along the 710 corridor: Councilmembers Roberto Uranga, Al Austin, and Vice Mayor Rex Richardson.

[Scroll down for further.]

1. Despite its highly impactful LB consequences, Mayor Garcia didn't mention the upcoming I-710 action in his mid-January 2018 State of the City message. Although LB's Mayor has no City of LB policy-setting authority, Garcia didn't bother to agendize the I-710 issue for full Council discussion and voted approval. Neither did any of LB's policy-setting LB Councilmember(s). In other words, the Council let Garcia do what he did.

2. On January 30, 2018, LB Councilmembers Uranga, Austin and Vice Mayor Richardson (who comprise the Council's "I-710 Oversight Committee") held a 3:00 p.m. meeting (when many people are at work) to choose a Locally Preferred Alternative. No written materials were available for the public online prior to the meeting. At the Jan.30 Committee meeting, Metro reps presented a Power Point presentation (belatedly visible here) and recommended Alternative 5C (ten freeway lanes at a cost of roughly $6 billion) over Alternative 7 (with an elevated four lane "Clean Freight Corridor") at a cost of roughly $11 billion. Both alternatives involve taking 100+ homes and businesses for onramp/off-ramp upgrades. A number of residents and grassroots groups testified in opposition to Alternative 5C with several urging the Council Committee members to recommend that Metro halt the project's advance, re-work it to focus to a greater extent on health and community benefits and recirculate its EIR.

  • To hear the public's Jan. 30 LB Committee testimony, click here.
  • To hear the three Councilmembers' responses (in order: Uranga, Austin and Richardson) in supporting Alternative 5C, click here

3. In a Committee discussion with Metro's rep, Vice Mayor Richardson indicated [paraphrase] that he views the project as an opportunity to correct a chronic NLB injustice in the current configuration of the 710/91 interchange that disserves the area and leaves some adjoining land areas "land locked." He also indicated (quite forcefully) that the project's "Early Action" items north of downtown should receive the same priority as downtown LB area items (which include Shoemaker bridge and Chavez Park entering downtown LB.) Richardson ultimately incorporated his concerns into a motion to choose Alternative 5C made by Committee member Austin, seconded by chair Uranga, as follows:

[Jan. 30 Committee meeting minutes text] A motion was made by Member Austin, seconded by Chair Uranga, to approve recommendation to support alternative 5C and further study: [1] the I-91 and I-405 interchanges with the I-710 with intention of highest and best use of land locked parcels; and [2] early action projects for the interchanges dispersed throughout the City, specifically to include certain areas on the map are included in City's official request for early action projects further north of the Shoemaker Bridge are included with the same emphasis that have been highlighted with the Shoemaker Bridge.

The Council Committee's motion carried 3-0 but wasn't brought to the full City Council for high visibility public and Council discussion that would produce a binding City of LB policy-setting vote. In other words, the three Councilmembers with residents along the I-710's "diesel death zone" (again) effectively let Garcia do what he did.

4. A few days before the Metro Board meeting, Garcia co-authored a motion with L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis (joined by Supervisors Hahn, Ridley-Thomas, plus Boardmembers Butts and Najarian), reported in full by at the time and republished below with boldface added now for emphasis:

WE THEREFORE MOVE that the Board adopt Alternative 5C as the Locally Preferred Alternative for the I-710 South Corridor Project FEIR/FEIS (inclusive of Motion 22.1 from October 2015) and expedite the delivery of an Early Action Program (EAP) that emphasizes the following:

A. Projects that deliver the most immediate and significant benefits related to safety, mobility and air quality;

B. Projects that can be implemented with minimal or no displacement of residences, businesses, and sensitive land uses;

C. Developing a local/targeted hiring policy that is applicable to any and all eligible funding sources;

D. Conduct an operational performance analysis upon completion of the Early Action Program utilizing the most current State and local evaluation measures and standards to re-evaluate and re-validate the remaining elements of Alternative 5C, especially identifying opportunities to further reduce property impacts;

E. Return to the board upon completion of the aforementioned directive to seek further consideration and authorization related to implementing the balance of improvements in Alternative 5C.

FURTHER MOVE that the Board direct the CEO to establish a working group with the freight industry, air quality regulators, transportation and metropolitan planning agencies, the Gateway Council of Governments and other relevant stakeholders to explore the lead authorities, financial impact and other implementation factors related to:

A. Develop a strategic plan that is consistent with the South Coast Air Quality Management Plans, which expedites the transition from diesel freight trucks to near-zero emission vehicles as soon as possible and outlines a transition to zero-emission vehicles as the cleanest, most reliable technology becomes available;

B. Host an industry forum aimed at stimulating and accelerating the deployment of cleaner freight truck alternatives. The forum shall include, but not be limited to topics such as funding and financing, public-private partnerships, new technologies, on- and off-dock rail support facilities, best practices research and development, demonstration programs (example: rechargeable roadways), creative purchase/lease incentive programs, etc.;

C. Develop and evaluate multiple scenarios for a comprehensive congestion demand management program, to be evaluated independently, that focuses on separating freight and non-freight vehicles (i.e. dedicated toll lanes) within the existing rights of way on freeways facilities throughout Los Angeles County with priority on Near-Zero and Zero-Emission vehicles;

D. Develop an overarching transportation demand management (TDM) strategy consistent with the larger, previously approved TDM strategy development process that will minimize the impact of goods movements and people in the surrounding communities along the I-710 corridor. FURTHER MOVE that the CEO works with the Gateway Cities Council of Governments to assess the effectiveness and recommend potential improvements to the community participation structure that was established for the environmental review period. Report back to the board in 120 days.

FURTHER MOVE that, as part of its NextGen Bus Study, Metro evaluate the feasibility of implementing high-frequency bus service in accordance with Motion 22.1 (October 2015).

5. The Solis-Garcia motion as written didn't provide the public with legally binding commitments on the outcome of choosing Alternative 5C as the I-710 "Locally Preferred Alternative." It simply required Metro staff to deliver an "Early Action Program" that emphasizes policies in section A, B and C that are already basically part of Metro favored priorities. It adding verbiage in Section D that staff return to a future Metro Board meeting (perhaps years hence) to seek further consideration and authorization related to implementing the balance" of Alternative 5C. especially to identify opportunities [not requirements] to further reduce property impacts. It only required staff to return to the board to seek further consideration and authorization for the rest of the "Locally Preferred Alternative" (after getting started on its "Early Action Projects.") In other words, the Solis-Garcia motion as written effectively "kicked the can down the 710" on the scope and configuration of the freeway's future expansion and the issue of taking properties to do so.

6. The lack of clarity in the Solis-Garcia motion disturbed L.A. Councilman Mike Bonin who pressed Metro staff over how they interpreted the Solis-Garcia motion's foggy verbiage. When a Metro staffer offered a less than categorical response, a Metro Boardmember [sounded like L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti] interjected that since Metro has no funding at present to proceed with additional aspects of the project (including widening the freeway), those issues would automatically have to return to the Board for voted budget approval. That stunning response showed that the Solis-Garcia motion was never especially bold or transformational since Alternative 5C would already have to return to the Metro Board in the future.

However Councilman Bonin wasn't satisfied with that answer, or the Solis-Garcia motion's text. L.A. Councilman Bonin made a friendly amendment (accepted by Solis-Garcia as motion-makers) that Metro staff return to the Board for approval of a list of the "greenlighted" early action projects "with a corresponding analysis of the safety benefits, the mobility enhancements, the air quality improvements and a displacement avoidance strategy." This significant exchange can be heard in full between 2:19 - 2:29 in our on-demand audio, linked here.

The Solis-Garcia motion as amended by Bonin passed without dissent.

The net result of the March 1, 2018 Metro Board voted action effectively sentences tens of thousands of LB 710 "diesel death zone" residents to years of additional eye-glazing "community meetings" staged by current or future Metro staff that will begat Metro staff recommendations to future Metro Boardmembers who could support or ignore what residents have said thus far and may say in the future.

The only issue now for 710 impacted residents is to what extent they believe the record above does or doesn't reflect favorably on the political futures of the LB City Hall incumbents responsible for it. By this, we mean our entirely-speculated not-yet-provable-factually future moves of those we speculate may become (sooner than some may think) wanna-be Congressman Garcia, wanna-be State Senator Austin and wanna-be Mayor Rex Richardson. (We're not snubbing Council incumbent Uranga; we just haven't figured out his next move yet.)

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