In an email today to Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, we delivered the question posed by many members of the community who attended Tuesday's ceremonial groundbreaking to start construction of the Crenshaw/LAX Line. Questions remain as to whether the press event was intended to overshadow our court hearing challenging the project for violating our state's civil rights and environmental laws scheduled for February 6th.
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas:
Many thought it tragically ironic that at Tuesday's Crenshaw/LAX Line groundbreaking you literally applauded the demolition of a school to ceremonially "start construction."
The term used was "tragically ironic," because the school was on the southeast corner of Crenshaw/Exposition and is one of 6 small businesses being displaced as part of construction of the Crenshaw Line's Crenshaw/Exposition underground station. The other 5 small businesses now boarded up, fenced off and ready for the demolition crew are Yum Yum Donuts, Conroy's Flowers, Earlez Grille, Haven Burger and a laundromat.
We understand that to build a subway station portal (with elevators and escalators to go down to the future Crenshaw Line Exposition/Crenshaw subway station platform) one of the corners at Crenshaw/Exposition had to be acquired. The issue is Metro and you made the deliberate decision to displace the six small businesses on the southeast corner instead of the one gas station and probation office on the southwest corner. (See the image attached)
75% of the land on the southeast corner was/is publicly owned - it is the probation office for LA County - it is a probation office in your supervisorial district. (The other 25% is a gas station.)
As you know, this is not a new issue. The Crenshaw Subway Coalition formally requested your office pursue the less disruptive and community-prefered alternative of the southwest corner for the future Crenshaw Line Crenshaw/Exposition station site on May 31, 2011 - over 2 1/2 years ago. Such changes are customarily done on Metro rail projects and in fact has been done at other stations along the Crenshaw Line. Instead of advocating for the acquisition of just 1 gas station and probation office to build the Expo/Crenshaw station (the southwest corner), you actually offered the motion to begin eminent domain proceedings to acquire and displace 6 small businesses on the southeast corner at the June 2013 MTA board meeting. (The Crenshaw Subway Coalition protested the decision at that board meeting.)
Supervisor, citizens of the Crenshaw community are perplexed by your actions. So specifically, please enlighten us as to why in the 5 years you have been on the Metro board you have not once offered a motion to move the Crenshaw Line Crenshaw/Exposition station site from the southeast corner to the southwest to protect Crenshaw small businesses?
I'll be sure to forward your response to the 454 members of the community and press who I have BCCed, and possibly include it in the next Crenshaw Subway Coalition newsletter. Additionally, I've included this correspondence on the Crenshaw Subway Coalition blog at http://www.crenshawsubway.org/mrt_question_eminent_domain
Your response is greatly appreciated.Respectfully,Damien GoodmonExecutive DirectorCrenshaw Subway CoalitionBCC: Community & Press