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Local Property Owner Sues to Stop $120 Million Gold Line Project in Monrovia

A Monrovia property owner is suing the Gold Line Construction Authority to stop a rail maintenance yard from coming to town.

A lawsuit filed by a local property owner could upend a plan to locate a critical piece of the Gold Line Foothill Extension in Monrovia and delay the much-anticipated light rail project.

The Metro Gold Line Construction Authority (GLCA) last month that paved the way for a $120 million rail maintenance facility to be built in Monrovia as part of the Gold Line Foothill Extension. The Gold Line cannot progress until a maintenance yard is built somewhere along the new line, which will extend from Pasadena to Azusa.

But a lawsuit filed Feb. 17 by a local property owner who stands to lose his property to the GLCA through eminent domain alleges that the construction authority improperly conducted the environmental review, according to court documents.

Robert P. Silverstein, the attorney for George Brokate, who owns property on Evergreen Avenue inside the proposed project area, said Tuesday that the GLCA "whitewashed" the environmental report for the project area.

"The Gold Line Authority was obligated to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)...," Silverstein said. "We contend that they grossly failed to do so and disregarded all of our objections and our experts reports."

Silverstein said his client does not want to sell his property, which he currently leases to an industrial distribution company. The lawsuit seeks to invalidate an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) conducted by the GLCA and force it to restart the process.

Habib Balian, the construction authority's CEO, said Tuesday that the GLCA followed the law.

"We’ve gone through a detailed process and met all the requirements based on CEQA," Balian said, adding that litigation is not uncommon in large projects like the maintenance yard. "These kind of challenges or actions are pretty typical on a project of this size and to be expected. It's not a surprise," Balian said.

The GLCA will continue to acquire the necessary property to move forward with the maintenance yard while the litigation progresses, Balian said.

The city owns about 50 percent of the 24 acres of land located in the light industrial zone in the south side of the city where the yard would go, and Balian said that land is expected to be acquired by the GLCA some time this spring.

The EIR certified last month determined that the site in Monrovia--bounded by Evergreen Avenue on the north, Shamrock Avenue on the east, California Avenue on the west and Duarte Road on the south--is the "preferred" place for the maintenance facility to be built. Another option was explored in Irwindale, but officials there opposed the yard.

Silverstein said the GLCA did not consider enough alternatives to the Monrovia site.

"We contend that they failed and refused to consider a reasonable range of alternate sites that would have been environmentally superior and would have caused less damage to private property owners…," Silverstein said.

If the maintenance facility must be located at the Monrovia site, Silverstein said his client's property should be "carved out of the project."

Local officials have repeatedly said they support building the maintenance yard in Monrovia because it will expedite the Gold Line and bring about 200 new jobs to the city. The city plans to build a massive mixed-use development, , along the Gold Line right-of-way in anticipation of the foothill extension. Construction on the extension is currently slated to finish in late 2014.

Silverstein's law firm is no stranger to CEQA lawsuits or litigation against Monrovia. The city in another lawsuit filed by Silverstein on behalf of Brokate that alleged city officials violated the Brown Act in its dealings regarding the Gold Line maintenance yard.

And the city had to last year after Silverstein successfully sued on behalf of a hillside resident who claimed the city's first EIR for the preserve was incomplete. A resource management plan for the preserve has still not been developed.

Gwendolyn Jones February 24, 2011 at 01:34 AM
MY name is Gwendolyn Jones. I will continue to stand up for my neighbors all over Monrovia. I see the Park on the Southside in, the very near future, and it is looking clearer, every day.
Danielle Corona February 24, 2011 at 06:28 PM
Alexis, I am not aware of any tax revenue it will bring. Can you share details on that?
Steve O. February 25, 2011 at 03:00 AM
I actually live pretty close to this as well, though I don't have enough facts to really have an opinion. I will say, however, that over the last couple of years I saw a lot of news about this. I event went to the website for more details, where I was able to signup to a mailing list to get updates, which I got every couple of months with news and pictures of what it is supposed to look like. They also talked about the meetings and stuff. Again, I'm not sure how to feel about this yet, but I think they did a reasonable job of getting the word out.
David Conway February 25, 2011 at 03:04 AM
Erin & Gwendolyn - You're right, there are no Monrovia city parks south of Huntington (not counting Pamela Park, which is an L.A. County park). Are you working to change that? If you are, I support you. I used to live on south Myrtle and I agree there should be a park somewhere in that area. I don't live in that part of the city anymore, and I'm not sure where to start, but if you've got something going I'd like to help out. Meanwhile, I know the Monrovia School District is working with the city to open up some school sites for use as parks after school and/or on weekends. I think Plymouth is next on the agenda. Have you contacted Monrovia USD superintendent Linda Wagner to discuss the status of this initiative regarding Plymouth and/or Santa Fe? The logistics of this aren't as simple as you might think, and it's not really a substitute for an actual park, but it might be worth exploring the possibilities with her. Erin - Your point about a lack of parks in southern Monrovia is correct, but for the record Julian Fisher Park is located on California just north of Huntington, below Olive.
David Conway February 25, 2011 at 03:10 AM
LASPULGASGUNNER - You state "The City of Monrovia was also listed as one of the top ten cities in Californa who have abused eminent domain. " Do you have a citation for that? Also, what does your handle mean?
LASPULGASGUNNER February 25, 2011 at 04:14 AM
It was listed on a website that deals with eminent domain abuse. It listed the top ten cities in California who abused eminent domain if the recent past. It surprised me that the City of San Diego made the top ten. It didn't surprise me that Monrovia made the list. From what I understand, the final act that the City did to get them on the top ten list was when the City condemned a Monrovian's property on Duarte Rd. so a developer could build some condos on the site. Gee, I wonder who built those Condos ? LASPULGASGUNNERS = Artillery, Camp Pendleton.
LASPULGASGUNNER February 25, 2011 at 04:50 AM
Was just doing a little research. When the MTA tried to put a rail maintenance yard for the Green Line in the City of El Segundo, the site would have been almost two miles from the closest residence in the City. The City of El Segundo said they would rather have a slaughter house located in the city than a rail maintenance yard . I guess any city would. It seems the City of Monrovia is the first city in L.A. County to welcome a rail road maintenance yard. Monrovia will probably be the last. Any time the RTA tried to locate a rail maintenance yard in any city, the city governments along with the people rejected the construction of a rail maintenance yard in their city's. I noticed last year most of the residence in Monrovia opposed the rail road maintenance yard being located in Monrovia. But last November the City Manager lied to the people and convinced them it was a good thing. I believe he even brought up the City of El Segundo but he didn't tell the people the truth. For some reason I think this Gold Line light rail is a special pet agenda of Mary Ann Lutz. You know, we Monrovians are to stupid to know what is best for us so Scott Ochoa and the City Council will decide what's best for Monrovia and how we should live our lives because we are to stupid. The only people that the City Council seems to listen to are those who believe they are above the law.
Nathan Griffin February 25, 2011 at 03:37 PM
These light rail facilities do not have much in common with the Freight railroads that you used to work for. I invite anyone who has an issue with this light rail maintenance facility to look at this article and map. In 1994 when the green line was built, its maintenance facility was surrounded by empty land, but since then, HOTELS AND APARTMENTS HAVE BEEN BUILT ON LAND ADJACENT TO THE FACILITY. These are not huge clunking diesel locomotives, they a light, quick and electric, with no emissions or long idling. http://www.travelinlocal.com/the-metro-maintenance-yards-and-neighborhoods/
Nathan Griffin February 25, 2011 at 03:40 PM
http://www.travelinlocal.com/the-metro-maintenance-yards-and-neighborhoods/ what other cities do isnt not always the correct thing. I am not a stake holder in this either, i am a 23 year old student who hates to drive. At an MTA i invite you to ask the representatives to organize a "field trip" to this facility and they will oblige, they did it for the EXPO extension meetings.
Alexis Kasperavicius February 26, 2011 at 10:13 PM
Light rail maintenance yards are quiet! There's virtually no noise, which is why a hotel was built next to the one in El Segundo, along with an apartment building on the other side. In Europe these things are smack in the middle of the city, next to high-end residences. There's just no issue. BUT as Southern Californians we're just not used to it! We associate trains with noise! That's because all of our systems were yanked out in the late 50's - no one remembers how quiet they were. There is a big difference between streetcars and locomotives. Locomotives are massive, loud, clunky things you can hear a mile a way. But streetcars (light rail) are design for quiet speed. The motors are light, the cars are fast - they're quieter than buses and you won't eve know they're there. Go check out the Green Line yard in El Segundo. No one, NO ONE has a problem with it now that it's in.
David Conway February 26, 2011 at 11:14 PM
LASPULGASGUNNERS - First of all, thank you for your service. Secondly, I also did a little research. According to an article I read you're correct that the City of El Segundo was adamantly opposed to a new rail maintenance yard in 2009 , and I assume they still are. However, there is an existing rail maintenance yard in Hawthorne, as shown in the link provided by Nathan above. The article is well worth reading by anyone concerned with this issue. Hawthorne is next door to El Segundo, and the google map I looked at shows the existing rail maintenance yard borders El Segundo. Why they need another so close to the first for a new line I don't know. I think it's pretty obvious that Scott Ochoa was referring to the existing yard in Hawthorne, which does look to have a positive impact on the area, when he made his comments last November. Please be careful about accusing someone of lying.
LASPULGASGUNNER February 27, 2011 at 12:31 AM
Alexis, surprising what you can discover by doing a little research, Keep researching the topic, you'll discover why each city opposed a maintenance yard in their city. The City of Hawthorne's opposed their yard only because the residence in the neighborhood opposed it. The City of Hawthorne actually listens to it citizens. The reason the City of El Segundo and it's residence opposed the rail maintenance yard and still do, that area in El Segundo is a huge cash cow for the City. The City of El Segundo is now loosing millions of tax revenue every year because the MTA doesn't pay taxes ! The MTA can't even operate their trains from their own revenue and are subsidised by the tax payers. The MTA is a poorly run organization and those making the decisions have no experience in the transportation industry. Remember the "Subway to the Sea" ? That was a scam they tried to pull on the tax payers of L.A. Co. When you have a political leftist hack who has never had a real job in the private sector running the second largest city in America, you better keep a jar of YK with you. Not one penny of revenue from the maintenance yard will go in to the Monrovia's tax coffers. A taco stand on that location would be more profitable to the City.
LASPULGASGUNNER February 27, 2011 at 01:16 AM
David and Nathan, I looked at the aerial photo of the Hawthorne rail maintenance yard. Those homes or condos or what ever just too the south of the maintenance yard is on federal property. Could they be military housing for the Los Angeles Air Force Base that is about a mile and a half to the north on Aviation Blvd. ? Just south of the housing is a federal building that houses the FAA, the CIA western offices and other federal agencies that they don't like to advertise about. There's no excuse for Scott Ochoa getting the Hawthorne rail maintenance yard mixed up with the El Segundo yard. I have a stake in El Segundo and Ochoa saying there were residences next to the El Segundo yard really through me off track. The entire section bordering Aviation Blvd, Rosecrans's Ave, Sepulveda and El Segundo Blvd is zoned commercial. The closest area in El Segundo zoned residential is over a mile away. If that housing next to the Hawthorne rail maintenance yard is military housing, that is expected. The military has little choice where they can build military housing. The original site of the L.A. Air Force Base is now military housing at the S/E corner of Aviation and El Segundo Blvd. The base moved over to the N/W corner some years ago. At least they aren't next to an artillery impact range.
LASPULGASGUNNER February 27, 2011 at 08:17 AM
The evidence is starting to point towards that the City and the City Manager either lied or were so incompetent with the facts that they misidentified the Hawthorne MTA R/R maintenance yard with the El Segundo MTA R/R maintenance yard. That the City Manager used wrong information that there was a hotel and residences next to the El Segundo yard to change the opposition of the residence of Monrovia against establishing a MTA rail maintenance yard in their neighborhood when the truth is, there are no residence's or hotels next to the El Segundo mainteance yard. And when did the job description of the City Manager become a political position ? The City Manager is not an elected position and is suppose to run the day to day operations of the City. His personal political views are suppose to be kept to himself and not influencing City Council members. One has to wonder who is calling the shots in Monrovia ? What the truth is, the Gold Line extension is a pet peeve of Mayor Mary Ann Lutz, She has her panties wound up in a knot to progress as fast as possible with no regards how others may feel about the project and complete the extension of the Gold Line. Lutz is your typical liberal who believes that light rail is the answere to all of Southern California's traffic congestion. In reality the problem is, there are to many people living in California and most people don't like liberals telling them how they should live their lives.
harold leacock February 27, 2011 at 11:47 PM
Laspulgasgunner, the correction on Hobart Yard is near the city of Vernon, off Washington Blvd. Taylor Yard is what you are thinking about, off of San Fernando rd. which is now defunct.
LASPULGASGUNNER February 28, 2011 at 07:04 PM
The MTA rail maintenance yard was never built in El Segundo, The City of El Segundo and the people prevailed. The maintenance yard was constructed in the extreme south / west corner in the City of Hawthorne. This is the maintenance yard that Scott Ochoa misidentified as being in El Segundo. But it seems that the MTA wants to expand the current maintenance yard in Hawthorne for the Crenshaw / LAX Corridor Project. Of the four alternative sites being considered for the new maintenance yard, Hawthorne, Inglewood , Los Angeles and Redondo Beach, expanding the current MTA maintenance yard in Hawthorne seems to be the best alternative because eminent domain will only have to be used for one established business where the other alternative sites would result in using eminent domain to take away numerous established businesses in the other proposed sites. In fact a public meeting is being held this evening regarding the new MTA maintenance yard that the MTA says it needs. For decades, the City of El Segundo was being dumped on, they had enough ! Now it looks like the City of Hawthorne has become the city to dump upon. :- ( I wonder when the MTA will want to expand the Monrovia rail maintenance yard ? Lets just hope the City of Monrovia doesn't become the new dumping ground for the San Gabriel Valley.
Mark Baker-Wright February 28, 2011 at 07:13 PM
You do not speak for all of us. Some of us do not by any means consider Monrovia to be a "dumping ground," and very much want to see this facility built here.
LASPULGASGUNNER February 28, 2011 at 07:23 PM
HAROLD LEACOCK; Your correct, I did mix up the Hobart yard with the SP R/R Taylor maintenance yard. The Taylor Yard was your classic rail road maintenance yard. Large, dirty and dangerous. You needed a road map to find your way around the yard. Some of the signage had to be relics of W W ll. No cameras allowed ! The yard even had it's own burger stand. The Hobart Yard use to be the AT&SF intermodal yard. Today it's BNSF R/R. Probably still being used as a pig yard. Thanks for correcting me.
Tom Adams February 28, 2011 at 08:09 PM
I have watched this with a bit of wonderment. I see that LASPULGASGUNNER states that he did mix up some places yet says this; "There's no excuse for Scott Ochoa getting the Hawthorne rail maintenance yard mixed up with the El Segundo yard". I guess that he can mix up places but Ochoa can't. How do we spell double stadard?
LASPULGASGUNNER February 28, 2011 at 08:09 PM
Mark, I didn't say Monrovia has become a dumping ground, I said " Lets just hope the City of Monrovia doesn't become a new dumping ground for the San Gabriel Valley." The City of El Segundo felt that their city was being used as a dumping ground for unwanted facilities that other cities didn't want. For example the Edison electrical generating plant to the west of El Segundo residential area and the Hyperion sewage treatment plant also located on the west end of the city. Where do you think the unofficial logo for the City of El Segundo comes from, ? " EL STINKO." The City of El Segundo is probably one of the best run cities in Southern California. With a population of around 18,000 it has held on too it's small town atmosphere. Except for the sewage treatment plant, everyone doing business in El Segundo pays taxes and the City of El Segundo has a huge tax base that seems to always keeps the City tax coffers full. They are not a welfare case like many other cities who depend on state and federal handouts. Federalism is still alive in El Segundo. Downtown El Segundo is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and a sewage treatment plant and power generating plant, too the north by LAX, to the east it's all industrial, mostly aerospace and defense related and on the south by the largest cash cow for the City, the Chevron Oil Refinery. And still today the City of El Segundo is one of the most desirable places to live and raise a family.
LASPULGASGUNNER February 28, 2011 at 08:35 PM
Mr. Adams, you'll notice there a difference between I and our City Manager, when I make a mistake, I admit I made a mistake. Some times I even thank the person who noticed my mistake. Second I'm not the City Manager for Monrovia so I'm not suppose to be held to the same standards as the City Manager. But it was I who discovered that the MTA maintenance yard that Mr. Ochoa claimed was in the City of El Segundo was actually in the City of Hawthorne and it was I who talked to El Segundo and Hawthorne City officials to find out the truth. If Mr. Ochoa made a mistake, he should correct himself, but when has our City Manager ever been wrong ? He has actually used the City computer and it's website to attack certain individuals and question others intelligence how many times ? If Mr. Ochoa corrects himself at the next City Council meeting, it will be a first. But it wouldn't surprise me if Mr. Ochoa sticks to his old habits and attacks me instead. There seems to be a double standard, when I make a mistake, I acknowledge the mistake and correct myself. You would have thought the City would have contacted the cities of Hawthorne and El Segundo to find out what the real affects of having an MTA rail maintenance yard in their cities had and why they opposed the maintenance yards being located in their.
Mark Baker-Wright February 28, 2011 at 08:56 PM
You seem to imply that, if Monrovia gets the rail yard, it either becomes, or is in danger of becoming, such a "dumping ground." I not only disagree, but find this to be an inflammatory suggestion. I repeat, you do not speak for all Monrovians. As a person who lives very near where this would be built, I can't see it happen soon enough.
Danielle Corona February 28, 2011 at 09:44 PM
Aw geez... anyone may agree or disagree, but what is inflammatory about the suggestion? People... take a breather...
LASPULGASGUNNER March 02, 2011 at 08:48 AM
Well Mr. Councilman Adams, I just watched this evenings city council meeting and it was no surprise that the City Manager didn't admit he was wrong and misled those who opposed the construction of the MTA rail maintenance yard with in the City of Monrovia. Standard SOP (standard operating procedure) for the City manager. It also didn't surprise me that Mayor Mary Ann Lutz went on a rant of praising the City Council and the City Manager how great of a job they are doing. Wouldn't you think if you and the Council and Ochoa were doing a great job, wouldn't we already know it ? I guess not and Lutz didn't convince me. Also saw the City Manager's "Weekly Report", Ochoa sounds like a "statist." Because the State took funds that use to go to the municipalities in California, that Monrovia should become a welfare city sucking off the tax payers of California ? What ever become of taking personal responsibility ? What ever happen of taking personal pride of being a independent self governing community ? The Scott Ochoa's are why California is facing the problems it has today. One must have to wonder if Mr. Ochoa has ever had a real job in the private sector ? Who paid for his college education ? Should we even dare go back further ? Hey Mr. Ochoa, your expertise seems to be to suck off the tax payers. When you suck off of America and California, your sucking off of Monrovia. Don't you get it ? Your part of the problem Ochoa.
Tom Adams March 02, 2011 at 05:24 PM
If you ever get to the point were we can have a conversation without you calling others names I will be happy to respond. At this point your anger prevents you from taking place in an intelligent conversation. The sad part is that you are the one who misses out on the process.
Joel C March 02, 2011 at 06:00 PM
LASPULGASGUNNER, you sound like you are just opposed to any government program or project. "Statist"? Who says that, outside the John Birch Society? Are you aware that Caltrans has a maintenance yard on Huntington, just west of Mountain? Or that Foothill Transit has a maintenance yard on Peck just south of Live Oak? In fact there are transit maintenance yards scattered all over the southland, not just in the ghetto (where you would prefer them). These facilities are necessary to maintain the transit vehicles millions of us use every day.
Jonathan Lesueur March 02, 2011 at 09:33 PM
LASPULGASGUNNER Not only the maintenance yard for cal trans there is a maintenance yard for Edison on the other side of the freeway next to condos and homes and yet no one has complained about that yard . I welcome the gold line maintenance yard it will bring much needed jobs .
LASPULGASGUNNER March 03, 2011 at 03:38 AM
"Statist" ! That's right, that term is no longer politically correct. I should have used "progressive." John Birch Society ! Now every time I buy a burger at Karl Jr's instead of thinking about Kim Kardashian, I'll be wondering how much money I just contributed to the John Birch Society. Joel, you sure know how to take the fun out of eating and replacing it with politics. That CAL- TRANS maintenance yard is more of a parking lot for CAL-TRANS vehicles. Jiffy-lube services more cars per day than the CAL-TRANS yard does in a month. Another facility that other cities didn't want and was dumped on Monrovia. CAL-TRANS doesn't pay taxes. Just think what tax revenue for Monrovia would be generated if something else was located at that prime site ? That yard is also a eye sore.
LASPULGASGUNNER March 03, 2011 at 03:46 AM
That isn't a maintenance yard. It's Edison's District Service Center. It consist of some offices, a warehouse used for storage and a large parking lot for SCE vehicles. The facility isn't an eye sore and Southern California Edison actually pays taxes !
LASPULGASGUNNER March 13, 2011 at 09:20 AM
The gated community of Fusion in the City of Hawthorne that Scott Ochoa misidentified as being in El Segundo. It seems the residents of this neighborhood that is located next to the Green Line Maintenance Yard aren't happy campers with the maintenance yard and are up in arms of any expansion of the yard. Just not the 5 % decrease in property values that is expected but what wasn't included in the EIR. Fusion board members also expressed concern about the possibility of an increase in electromagnetic radiation, an impact that is not regulated by the State of California, and thus, not included in Metro's environmental impact report. In 2007, Southern California Edison conducted a test for electromagnetic radiation at Fusion Center after residents expressed concern that the existing maintenance yard might be producing unhealthy levels of the contaminant. Using standards set by the National Council on Radiation Protection & Measurements, readings were normal across the community, except on the northern side that faces the yard. The council recommends a safe reading of 0.9 milligauss; the northern side produced readings of 3.8 milligauss.

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