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Environmental Report Ordered on Bus Yard Project

April 30, 1987|JEFF BURBANK | Times Staff Writer

The Southern California Rapid Transit District board of directors has ordered an environmental impact report on a $17.5-million bus yard project near Mar Vista after residents and landowners demanded that the agency perform the study.

Albert H. Perdon, the RTD's assistant acting general manager, said the board decided last week to order the study after receiving letters and petitions from residents of Mar Vista and the tiny Del Rey community.

Perdon said RTD staff told the board last week that an environmental study was not necessary because the bus yard would not significantly affect the area.

RTD chose the site during its yearlong search to relocate its controversial Venice bus yard. Venice residents next to the three-acre yard at 100 Sunset Ave. have complained for years about diesel fumes and noise.

Residents have built homes around the yard since it was built as a maintenance yard in 1902 for the Pacific Electric Railway. It became a bus maintenance yard in the 1950s.

The agency wants to build a larger bus yard on a six-acre site bounded by Jefferson Boulevard, Grosvenor Boulevard and Beatrice Street. It would operate 24 hours a day and house 145 buses, contrasted with the 80 buses housed in the the Venice yard.

The agency plans to spend $9.5 million to acquire the land and $8 million more to construct the yard.

Funds for the project, proposed last February by City Council President Pat Russell, were approved by the council and the County Board of Supervisors.

About 70 single-family homes are within 1,000 feet of the site, according to an RTD staff report. The site is across Jefferson Boulevard from the proposed Playa Vista office park.

Russell has hailed selection of the site as a "community victory." She and aides to Supervisor Deane Dana said that there was no local opposition to the plan when the city and county approved the funding. Those officials now say that residents of Mar Vista and Del Rey, a community of 100 homes located between Marina del Rey and Culver City, oppose the bus yard.

"We are starting to get some letters from people in the community opposed to the new site," said Peter Ireland, a transportation aide to Dana. "Obviously, the concerns that the community has are things that RTD will have to consider."

Members of the Mar Vista Del Rey Homeowners Assn. said they gave the RTD board petitions with the signatures of 2,000 residents asking the agency to order an environmental impact report. The residents charged that the RTD was trying to avoid preparing a report and that it did not tell them about hearings on the yard.

Few Aware of Hearings

Marc Littman, an RTD spokesman, said that the RTD published notices of its April 6 hearing on the bus yard in The Times and in seven local newspapers. However, Del Rey resident Mickey Shockley said that few of her neighbors were aware of the hearing.

"We should have been notified. Nobody received any notice about it," she said.

Shockley said that she and her neighbors fear they will be affected, even though the bus yard site is 1,000 feet away from her neighborhood.

"The wind blows in this direction. When you have (that many) diesel buses, nobody can tell me we won't get the fumes," she said.

Shockley added that buses will be noisy and cause traffic congestion on Jefferson Boulevard.

And she said that residents are concerned that the fumes and noise will affect students at Playa del Rey Elementary School, two blocks from the site. The RTD, she said, could find a larger site next to Los Angeles International Airport, where residents already experience noise and pollution.

Meanwhile, the RTD will have a draft an environmental impact report in two or three months and conduct public hearings, Perdon said. The review process will delay the project by about six months, he said.

The RTD had planned to begin construction on the bus yard in July, 1988, and expected to operate it by 1990, but the agency now has no timetable for the project, Perdon said.

The Mar Vista site was chosen because it was in an industrial zone 1,000 feet from the nearest residential neighborhood, Perdon said.

"That distance in our judgment . . . pretty much mitigates the problems we are having with other facilities," Perdon said.

The effect on traffic on Jefferson Boulevard would be "minimal" because buses would leave the yard between 5:30 and 6:30 a.m. before morning peak-hour traffic and would return to the yard late at night after the evening peak hour, he said.

The RTD held hearings last year on six other sites in a number of Westside communities, where the agency faced strong opposition from residents.

The agency decided against all of those sites and, with Russell's help, settled on the Mar Vista location.

The RTD wanted an 11-acre site for 250 buses, similar to bus yards in Chatsworth and Carson, but a parcel of that size was difficult to find on the Westside, Perdon said.

"It's not ideal. It will probably not meet our long-term growth needs on the Westside as the population expands," Perdon said. "Ten to 20 years from now, we may need another facility. But clearly, this will serve our needs for a number of years."

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