Major victory scored at the PUC Hearing
e-mail report by Damien Goodmon
August 11, 2008 3:11:51 PM PDT - At the PUC Hearing today on the Expo Line crossings by Dorsey HS and Foshay Learning Center, the assigned Judge Kenneth Koss issued the following statement as part of his ruling: "With the submission of Expo's information it appears that a grade separation at Farmdale is in fact practicable."
This means that the street-level application with the holding pen IS OFF THE TABLE!
The only options are:
c) street closure with a pedestrian bridge.
This a MAJOR VICTORY for the Dorsey High School family - for the future children of Dorsey HS. It validates all of your hard work.
Hearing on Exposition Light Rail Line Begins
from KTLA-TV 5
August 11, 2008, 3:54 PM PDT - A state comission begins hearings today on the safety of the proposed 8.5-mile Exposition Light Rail Line that would connect downtown Los Angeles and Culver City along a route parallel to the Santa Monica (10) Freeway.
Two at-grade street crossings -- at Farmdale Avenue near Dorsey High School, and Harvard Boulevard near the Foshay Learning Center -- have Los Angeles Unified School District officials and neighborhood groups concered.
They say it is unsafe for children and want the crossings redesigned so they go undergroud like a subway tunnel or above ground like a bridge.
Now the $863 million project is on hold while the LAUSD and the United Communities Association take on the Expo Construction Authority before the California Public Utilities Commission at the Junipero Serra State Building downtown.
Oral arguments will feature expert witnesses for both sides. They are expected to last one week, but could take significantly longer, according to Samantha Bricker, chief operating officer for the Expo Construction Authority.
The construction authority must submit an application to the PUC's rail crossing safety branch for every intersection a planned rail line would cross.
A total of 38 applications -- 26 of them for at-grade crossings -- were submitted for the Expo line beginning in 2006.
The PUC certified them as safe, but the controversey surrounding the Farmadale and Harvard crossings has led them to reconsider the earlier decisions.
The hearing was originally slated to occur near the PUC's headquarters in San Francisco, but was moved to Los Angeles at the request of political leaders including Sen. Mark Ridley-Thomas, D - Los Angeles, Speaker Karen Bass, D - Los Angeles, and L.A. City Councilman Herb Wesson.
UCA Fix Expo Campaign coordinator Damien Goodmon said that it would have been prohibitively expensive to fly his Los Angeles-based group's witnesses to San Francisco to testify.
"I just looked, we've got $1,200 in the (bank) account," said Goodmon. "This is as grassroots an effort as you can have," he added.
The PUC is expected to reach a decision by November at the earliest, Bricker said.
A Monday Morning Call to Arms
On Mon, Aug 11, 2008 at 6:50 AM, Damien Goodmon wrote:
Ladies and Gentlemen:
There will be FIREWORKS at today's Expo Line hearing before the CPUC, which begins at 10 am and is at 320 W. 4th Street Suite 500, LA, CA
The Expo Authority since February has been conducting a study on alternatives to the street-level railroad crossing at Farmdale right by Dorsey HS. Since April, both our attorneys and the LAUSD lawyers have been requesting the study. Expo has refused to supply it, including during discovery. They were ordered to supply it by the Judge and still they have not. Yet, in June Expo produced testimony stating that this study showed that closing off Farmdale and building a pedestrian bridge was not possible because it would have adverse traffic impacts on the adjacent crossing of Buckingham that could not be mitigated and would not comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Again we requested the study and they failed to supply it.
The LAUSD and our attorneys supplied our testimony in response to Expo's testimony August 6 and July 30 respectively.
Our lawyers filed a request for a continuance on Thursday because of the failure of Expo to supply the document, along with motions to eliminate from the record any reference of Expo's witnesses to the study since Expo refused to supply it. The same day, the Judge denied the request for the continuance, and stated the other matters would be addressed on Monday.
On Friday night at 7:30 pm Expo sent amended testimony COMPLETELY REVERSING their position that they could not close Farmdale and on Saturday night they submitted another 75 pg document showing how it would legally comply with CEQA.
Everyone is livid.
The LAUSD is quite clear in their statement filed last night, which is attached:
"We can reasonably infer from such changes in Expo's Friday night revised testimony that the 'draft' traffic study found adverse impacts that would have to mitigated, so Expo commissioned another study to reach a conclusion more to its liking."
Accordingly, the LAUSD has requested they be supplied all of Expo's draft studies to determine the extent of the manipulation by the Expo Authority:
"These studies will provide a window into Expo's apparent manipulation of technical studies to serve its litigation interests in this case. To the extent is shows that Expo has suppressed studies with conclusions not to its liking and has commissioned other studies that later the assumptions or methodologies to arrive at different conclusions, that practice is highly relevant to the weight this Commission should give to Expo's witnesses' testimony. To ignore such practices and to accept the project proponent's technical assertions at face value would make a mockery of this hearing."
The extent to which this CPUC is a Kangaroo court will quickly be determined. Our attorneys have said in their combined over 75 years of practice they've never been subjected to such an egregious violation of due process.
MY CONTACT INFO:
See you there.
The LAUSD Brief
Dear Judge Koss:
Attached please find a copy of the Los Angeles Unified School District's Motion to Compel Production of Studies and Reports and to Determine "Draft" Traffic Study Admissible, which we will be filing with Your Honor at the beginning of the evidentiary hearing Monday.
Thank you for your consideration of this matter.
/s/ Michael J. Strumwasser
Michael J. Strumwasser
Strumwasser & Woocher LLP
100 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1900
Santa Monica, CA 90401