Environmental groups sue Metro to block gondola project



LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Environmentalists made good on their promise Monday to sue Metro Corp. for approval of planning documents for a proposed gondola to run from Union Station to Dodger Stadium.

The Los Angeles Parks Alliance, a public space advocacy group, announced a lawsuit against the transit agency under California environmental law. It asked the court to throw out the gondola’s “fatally flawed” final environmental impact report. Metro he certified this report in February, marking significant progress for the project.


Alliance members argue that the gondola will significantly impact the land and airspace of Los Angeles State Historic Park, destroying more than 250 trees, displacing wildlife and permanently ruining its landscape. There is.

“LA Metro’s decision to certify this seriously flawed EIR leaves us with no choice but to litigate in court,” said Tom, an adjunct assistant professor at the UCLA Institute for Environmental Sustainability and the partnership. said John Christensen, founder of statement.

“The board’s actions ignore 20 years of community advocacy to build parks in areas where green space and recreational opportunities are desperately needed, and in effect create an illegal commercial It gifts the people’s land and air rights to billionaires for commercial exploitation.

Metro said it does not comment on pending litigation.

Zero Emissions Transit, the nonprofit owner of the gondola project known as Los Angeles Air Rapid Transit, said in a statement to City News Service that lawsuits from opponents are “unfortunately” commonplace with large infrastructure projects. said.

“Los Angeles is, and must continue to be, a place of innovation and creativity, and a region that addresses the most pressing issues of our time, including climate change and reducing fossil fuel emissions,” the statement said.

ZET spokesman Nathan Crick said the nonprofit is led by people he described as “veterans” who have delivered complex projects to the region. They are working with all relevant agencies to ensure the project moves forward.

Regarding the alliance’s assertion that the Los Angeles State Historic Park would be affected, Click said the easement from the project would be located adjacent to the existing Metro light rail line at the edge of the park. The proposed station occupies “only 0.1% of the park’s footprint, a narrow space adjacent to Spring Street and the A (Blue) Line.”

“More than 30 of the park’s 32 acres will be unaffected and new trees will be planted to preserve the landscape,” Click said in a statement.

ZET says the project has support from the Clean Air Coalition, Climate Resolve, and other leading environmental groups in the Los Angeles area.

Metro serves as the lead agency overseeing the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act, as required by the Public Works Act, for the design, construction, and implementation of public mass transit projects, with and without transit facilities. All proposed plans were reviewed for approval. I am the sponsor of the project.

As part of the approval, Metro’s board also signed a community benefits agreement that imposes about 30 conditions on the project. If these conditions are not met, Metro may revoke the permit and use of the land.

Highlights of the agreement include calling for a continued Chinatown Revitalization Revolving Loan Fund that will provide low-interest, interest-free and forgivable loans to local small businesses, entrepreneurs and street vendors. It also establishes requirements for tree replacement parking, local job creation, workforce development, and sustainable and affordable housing.

The project will also require further review by the City of Los Angeles, Caltrans, the California Department of Parks and Recreation, and the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration before returning to the Department of Transportation for construction approval in the future.

Former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt has proposed a $300 million privately funded project to build a 1.2-mile aerial gondola between Union Station and Dodger Stadium.

The project includes constructing a station at the southernmost entrance to Los Angeles State Historic Park, as well as pedestrian and landscaping improvements. The project will fly over Chinatown, Mission Junction, Elysian Park, and Solano Canyon.

The project was originally estimated at $300 million, but the latest financial documents show the gondola’s construction is approaching $500 million.

In 2023, McCourt transferred the project to a new entity, Zero Emission Transit, which is now responsible for the construction, financing, and operational potential of the gondola.

Metro said it would not fund the project and assured that no taxpayer money would be used. ZET also reiterated that this is a privately funded project, but opponents say there is no guarantee that public funds will not be spent.

ZET believes that this project is environmentally friendly, and by removing 3,000 cars, it will contribute to reducing traffic on the roads surrounding the stadium and on the expressways leading to the stadium, resulting in a net reduction of approximately 166,653 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. It claims to be connected.

Last week, ZET Executive Director David Grannis attended a Los Angeles City Council meeting to discuss the project. He said the project will “reduce car trips, ease congestion and improve access to Major League Baseball’s most-visited venue.”

He also said the agreement with Metro sets a “new standard” for investing in communities through transportation projects.

The coalition alleges in its lawsuit that McCourt has plans for a parking lot at Dodger Stadium, which he owns, and would likely build a retail and entertainment complex similar to L.A. Live. McCourt has submitted plans to Los Angeles City Planning for several housing projects around the stadium.

The coalition argues that the EIR does not study the impacts of these foreseeable plans, undermining the claimed traffic and greenhouse gas reduction benefits. The group also criticized the EIR for not allowing the use of land and airspace at the Los Angeles State Historic Park.

“This project clearly violates CEQA, but more importantly, the community has had to endure more than its share of a project that does not benefit the community,” LAPA General Counsel John Given said in a statement. It’s being forced upon us,” he said. “I believe the court will recognize what the elected representatives on the Metro board have not acknowledged and will correct this gross abuse of discretion.”

The Los Angeles City Council last week approved a motion to halt approval of the gondola project pending further study of its potential impacts. City Council members voted 11-2 in favor of a motion filed by Councilman Eunice Hernandez, who represents Ward 1, which would decide where the gondola would be located.

As part of the measure, City Council members approved $500,000 for the Los Angeles Department of Transportation to hire a consultant to conduct an evaluation.

city ​​news service

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