Approximately two dozen people gave comment at a public hearing about Phase II of the Exposition Light Rail project to Santa Monica at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, many of them voicing sharp opposition to the Expo Authority’s proposal for a round-the-clock maintenance yard located in a residential area in the 2900 block of Exposition Boulevard. Expo Authority officials presented a slide show outlining alternative sites they studied for the facility, claiming none of those sites would work, mainly due to size issues. The maintenance facility will be used for train car storage, horn testing, washing, and other maintenance procedures, many of which are known to cause loud noise. No one spoke in favor of the facility’s proposed location. Opponents said the 24-hour-a-day noise coming from the facility will negatively impact nearby residents’ quality of life. A handful of people from the site’s surrounding neighborhood spoke, some referencing the low-income status of some area residents as a reason for the choice of location. Several students from Santa Monica College also spoke about the Exposition Light Rail, though approximately 18 members of the group left at 9:30p.m., before having a chance to speak. The students voiced general support for the project, but didn’t have comments about the maintenance facility. Their basic stance was that the project would help the environment by getting cars off the road, and would provide more access to higher education. A dozen people representing Crossroads School reiterated their ongoing support of a Colorado Boulevard alignment as opposed to an Olympic Boulevard alignment, which they say would endanger students. The council unanimously passed a motion to oppose in the strongest possible terms the current location of the maintenance facility and requested the Expo Authority continue searching for alternative sites. Though the city does not have final say on the matter, the council requested a letter be sent to the Expo Board and Los Angeles County Supervisor, Zev Yaroslavsky stating their opposition to the facility. They also adopted a resolution declaring the city standards and practices for curb return radii and curb access ramps at street intersections to minimize the number of property acquisitions required for the project, and unanimously passed a motion to adopt a policy declaring support of the Colorado alignment. A final, unanimously passed motion on the project directed staff to explore several topics, including parking, bike path routing, and minimization of the visual impact of overhead wires. A request by Councilmember Kevin McKeown that the city participate in the worldwide Earth Hour on March 28 was unanimously supported, as was a recommendation to accept Gleam Davis’ resignation from the Planning Commission due to her recent appointment as City Councilmember. The council also unanimously approved the Saint Monica development agreement concept plans. The next scheduled city council meeting is on March 24.
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