Wilmington residents won at least a partial victory Tuesday in their battle to reduce truck noise at the Swift Transportation Co. loading center near Sanford Avenue and Pacific Coast Highway.
The Los Angeles City Council's Planning and Environment Committee, reviewing plans for a new 200-foot loading dock at the facility in east Wilmington, recommended disapproval of the project unless the company closes off an existing loading dock next to homes on Sanford Avenue.
If supported by the full City Council on Friday, the action would force the company to use the new loading dock in place of the old one, rather than use both.
Harold Bridges, an attorney for Swift Transportation, strongly opposed the committee's recommendation, saying the action would make it financially impractical to construct the new dock. The new dock would benefit homeowners by handling more trucks on the northwest portion of the eight-acre site, farther from residents who have complained about truck noise, he said.
"We have sought to accommodate neighborhood concerns and the City Council concerns," Bridges told committee members. "But (the decision) . . . defeats the whole purpose" of the expansion, he said.
Committee members suggested that Swift officials continue meeting with Harbor-area Councilwoman Joan Milke Flores to resolve the issues before Friday's council vote. Usually, the 15-member council upholds the recommendations of the three-member planning committee and the district's council member.
Flores, whose Wilmington constituents have complained repeatedly about noise from heavy trucks, has opposed the location of the shipping center because of its proximity to homes. The company moved to the site in December after 12 years on a smaller lot about 10 blocks away, where neighbors continually complained about trucks on residential streets.
Favoring a move by the company to an industrial park, Flores has tried to apply pressure to ensure the facility does not further inconvenience homeowners, aide Nelson Hernandez said. Flores appealed the city Planning Department's decision to grant a permit for the loading dock and has proposed several conditions that must be met before the project is approved.
One of those conditions, Hernandez said, would require the construction of an eight-foot, ivy-covered wall at the site along Sanford Avenue to restrict truck access and reduce noise. That wall would prevent the company from using portions of the existing dock that are used to load flatbed trucks, Bridges said.
Other conditions supported by Flores would prevent trucks from parking on residential streets, require paving on dirt portions of the site, and limit operating hours at the facility from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, according to Hernandez.
Peter Mendoza, president of the Wilmington Homeowners Assn., praised the committee action but said it does not go far enough to protect long-suffering Wilmington residents.
"By Wilmington standards, at least it's something," he said. "In another community, maybe we could get (Swift Transportation) out of here totally. But in Wilmington, we have to be satisfied with cosmetic concessions. Wilmington has always been a third-rate . . . community."