The Southern California Rapid Transit District is considering purchase of a new Westside bus yard site in an attempt to end a decade-long battle with Venice residents who live next to the district's existing yard.
David D. Dominguez, assistant to RTD General Manager John Dyer, said that the district has begun discussions with brokers of four parcels, any one of which would be suitable for a new bus operations center.
The district's current center, at Main Street and Thorton Court, has been under continual attack by nearby residents because of noise made by the approximately 100 buses operating out of the two-acre facility.
Dominguez refused to disclose specific locations but said the new sites being considered are in an area bounded by Santa Monica Boulevard, Slauson Avenue, the San Diego Freeway and the ocean.
"Our intent is to move our operations completely," Dominguez said.
Will Continue Search
He said that the district's board of directors will consider the possible sites at its June 27 meeting.
"I do not think we are yet at the point of selecting a specific site, partly because we know other parties not associated with the RTD also are looking into the properties," Dominguez said. "We probably will ask board approval to continue our efforts to find a new site."
The four parcels, each of them four to six acres, will cost "a substantial amount," said Dominguez, who declined to be more specific. Part of the cost could be made up by the sale or lease of the existing bus yard.
Until the bus yard is moved, the district has taken several actions to make life for residents abutting the property as bearable as possible, Dominguez said.
The number of buses using the site has been reduced to 90 from a high of 105 and the district is replacing noisy buses with some that run more quietly. The tire-changing operation has been enclosed to reduce noise and testing of the bus wheelchair lifts has been moved as far away from the homes as possible. Departure times for the buses also have been changed to diminish complaints about early-morning noise.
The district also has approved landscaping of the facility and had offered to build a noise-deflection fence between the yard and homes, but residents rejected the offer.
Glen Small, whose home at 120 Thornton Place is right next to the bus yard, said that residents were concerned about any noise-abatement proposal that had a permanent look to it.
"We opposed the fence because it looked like the RTD would be entrenching themselves on the site," he said. "The bottom line for the residents is that we want the bus yard moved. We will put up with almost anything to get the RTD to move."
'Things Are Better'
Having said that, Small conceded that RTD officials have worked to improve noise conditions at the yard. "Things are better," he said. "Since the arrival of new management of the yard three years ago, they seemed to have been on top of the problems."
Dominguez said that new managers were appointed to the facility as part of the district's normal rotation of supervisors, rather than because of any criticism of past management.
"Certainly," he said, "we could have done a better job communicating with the residents than we did and, initially, there may have been the attitude of our having been here first (before the surrounding homes).
"We recognized that the area had changed too much to allow for a peaceful coexistence between ourselves and the residents. The important point is that we will move to another location as soon as possible."
The bus yard, in one form or another, has been at the Venice location since 1902, first as a repair site for trolley cars, then serving the Pacific Electric Co. and the RTD.
When RTD officials began to consider replacing the facility, they were looking for a site of at least 14 acres. The acreage was scaled back because of the high price of Westside property, Dominguez said.