To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Los Angeles Harbor Commission to vote on embattled BNSF railyard project


By Karen Robes Meeks and Brian Sumers, March 2, 2013




 Vanessa Bacon, Ashley Hernandez, Alyssa Alvarez joins other protesters against the the Southern California International Gateway (SCIG) Project in Wilmington, Calif. on October 18, 2012. The SCIG involves the construction and operation of a railyard between Sepulveda Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway along SR-47.

Los Angeles harbor leaders this week will decide whether to endorse the environmental impact report of a controversial $500 million railyard that could support rising cargo demands but also abuts neighborhoods in West Long Beach and Wilmington.

Hundreds of people are expected to attend the Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners meeting on Thursday, when the board is expected to vote on the final EIR of the 153-acre Southern California International Gateway railyard project being proposed by BNSF Railway.

The proposed facility, to be located in an industrial area bounded by Sepulveda Boulevard, Pacific Coast Highway, the Terminal Island Freeway and the Dominguez Channel, would allow trucks to load containers and put them on trains closer to the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, rather than having trucks drive 24 miles away to another facility in downtown Los Angeles.

But health and environmental groups and residents in the area say the project will worsen traffic and health problems already affecting the neighborhoods. The project, which was proposed in 2005, is in proximity of several schools and parks, including the Villages at Cabrillo, a Long Beach transitional housing facility for homeless veterans, families and youths.

Long Beach Councilman James Johnson, whose 7 th District includes the affected neighborhoods, said the city of Los Angeles and the Port of Los Angeles "made no good faith effort to meet the needs of Long Beach 

"This is a textbook case of environmental injustice, where you take a mostly minority, working-class community that already has some of the worst air quality in the United States and you add pollution to that neighborhood," Johnson said. "I think it's just wrong."

Proponents, including the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, said the project will use green technology at the facility and help remove 1.5 million trucks annually from the Long Beach (710) Freeway.

BNSF spokeswoman Lena Kent said that the railroad's decision to move forward on the project has been the result of several years of meetings with hundreds of community members and business leaders.

"BNSF believes that we have proposed a project that not only meets the current and anticipated containerized cargo demands at the San Pedro Bay Ports, but will also create 'greener' capacity for the ports to grow and to continue to be a source of even more good paying jobs for the Southern California economy," Kent said in an emailed statement.

Los Angeles City Council member Joe Buscaino, whose 15 th District includes San Pedro, Wilmington, Harbor City and Harbor Gateway, said he supports the project. He said he is especially pleased it will encourage private investment and create tens of thousands of new jobs. He also said the port needs the railyard to ensure it remains competitive with others in North America.

"This has been eight years in the making," Buscaino said. "The time is now. I think we have hashed out all the concerns the port has had and the community has had. We cannot delay."

Representatives of both ports have said the ports aren't taking an official position on the project, though the decision lies in the hands of the Los Angeles harbor commissioners.

Kat Madrigal, a Wilmington resident and the development and communications coordinator for East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, said proponents of the project are being short-sighted. She said her group plans to mobilize at least 100 people to attend Thursday's meeting and speak out against the railyard.

She said the project might actually increase pollution locally, especially for low-income residents living near the port.

"We believe that it is important that the community both in Wilmington and in Long Beach don't want this railyard," Madrigal said. "The commissioners should be held accountable to the community. This is not something the community sees as a community improvement project."

The Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners meeting will take place at 8:30 a.m. Thursday at the Cruise Center Terminal Annex Building, 390 N. Harbor Blvd. in San Pedro, just north of the USS Iowa. For more information or to check out the report, visit www.portoflosangeles.org.
karen.robes@presstelegram.com, 562-714-2088, twitter.com/KarenMeeksPT

Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners meeting

WHEN: 8:30 a.m. Thursday

WHERE: Cruise Center Terminal Annex Building, 390 N. Harbor Blvd. in San Pedro, just north of the USS Iowa.

INFO: www.portoflosangeles.org