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Los Angeles Aerial Rapid Transit (LA ART / Gondola) Project

The proposed Gondola project -a private development project using public land - threatens some of L.A.'s oldest communities.

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Issue Details

Development Approval Process

California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)

Overview

UPDATE: The Metro Board has will vote on the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) and vote to certify the Los Angeles Aerial Rapid Transit, on February 15, 2024, 1:00 p.m. We will share the new date and meeting details when they become available. You may still submit written public comment to BoardClerk@metro.net.


The Los Angeles Aerial Rapid Transit (LAART), or the Gondola, is a development that would construct an aerial gondola connecting Union Station to Dodger Stadium. Aerial Rapid Transit Technologies, LLC, a corporation backed by former Dodger’s owner Frank McCourt, proposed the project on public land in one of the oldest parts of Los Angeles.

The Gondola would irrevocably impact Union Station, El Pueblo, Los Angeles State Historic Park, and Chinatown.

The Conservancy is one of 29 local organizations that oppose the project, including the Stop the Gondola coalition. We advocate for the L.A. Metro Board to deny the Environmental Impact Report in favor of environmentally superior alternatives that would not harm the surrounding communities and their historic and cultural resources.

About This Issue

The Conservancy questions the purpose and need of the proposed project and has serious concerns about the cumulative impacts of the project on the surrounding areas.

At present, the Dodger Stadium Express is a popular mode of transportation on game days and would benefit from added investment. However, the report fails to fully and accurately analyze a future bus system that accounts for an electric bus fleet that would create a zero-emission system with potential for serving a larger range of users. The EIR has deemed the bus alternative the Environmentally Superior Alternative with less overall impact to the environment.

The Conservancy is concerned by the project’s use of publicly-owned parcels for private use as detailed in the report. Such land would be better suited for affordable housing with its proximity to City services and employment opportunities.

Our Position

The proposed project will greatly impact historic and cultural resources including Union Station, El Pueblo, Chinatown, and Los Angeles State Historic Park.

The Los Angeles Plaza Historic District, better known as El Pueblo, is a collection of some of Los Angeles’s earliest historic resources dating to 1818. In 1970, the Los Angeles Plaza Park was designated as Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM) #64 and initially listed on the National Register in 1972. As shown in project renderings, the Alameda station with its wires and gondolas would obstruct views from various locations within the historic district. Further, Alameda would go from an open airy corridor to one that compresses passersby below a massive structure that crowds and disrupts the existing relationship between Union Station and El Pueblo.

The Conservancy believes the various sighting, proximity, signage, lighting, noise, construction and cumulative impacts to the historic view shed at the proposed Alameda station would greatly altering the feeling and setting of this historic area. This is detrimental to the overall vitality of the historic resources in the Project area. We believe this requires Metro and LA ART to reconsider other viable and environmentally superior project alternatives.  

To see our full Final EIR comment letter, click here. Read more below for our summary issues:

1. The purpose and need for LA ART is not fully demonstrated when environmentally superior alternatives are identified and available to be implemented

The Conservancy questions the purpose and need of the proposed project and has serious concerns about the cumulative impacts of the project on the surrounding areas.

At present, the Dodger Stadium Express is a popular mode of transportation on game days and would benefit from added investment. However, the report fails to fully and accurately analyze a future bus system that accounts for an electric bus fleet that would create a zero-emission system with potential for serving a larger range of users. The EIR has deemed the bus alternative the Environmentally Superior Alternative with less overall impact to the environment.

2. Historic and cultural resources and view sheds will be impacted and irreparably harmed by the LA ART Project

It is the Conservancy’s position that historic and cultural resources and view sheds will be significantly impacted by the proposed project.

If built, the LA ART will obscure the view, setting, and future overall experience of various historic places and spaces, including Union Station, El Pueblo, Los Angeles State Historic Park, and Chinatown. The Conservancy disagrees with the report’s findings and believes there would be significant impacts to numerous historic resources by altering their historic setting and overall feeling. With an imposing new Alameda Station that extends into National Register and Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM) boundaries, visitor’s experiences of Union Station would be dramatically changed.

While walking Olvera Street, the LA ART’s cables and gondolas would be seen passing by and from within the Avila Adobe on Olvera Street, L.A.’s oldest historic building, the Alameda Station would tower overhead.  These visual impacts mixed with new signage, lighting, noise, and construction would prove detrimental to the overall vitality of the historic resource.

3. Draft EIR does not adequately address the proposed use and transfer of public rights-of-way and lands, applicable general plans, permitted legal use, and is in conflict with Public Resources Code 5019.59

The Conservancy is concerned by the project’s use of publicly-owned parcels for private use as detailed in the report. Such land would be better suited for affordable housing with its proximity to City services and employment opportunities.

4. Should the proposed project anticipate federal funding, Section 106 and Section 4(f) would be triggered and additional environmental review would be required

Given the project’s ridership, size, and station encroachment into Union Station and LA State historic Park, it is foreseable that additional government funds will be accessed despite claims to be 100% privately funded. Should that occur additional environmental reviews at the federal level will be triggered. It is common practice for the applicant/developer to submit federal environmental reviews in tandem with CEQA which is not how ARTT is proceding at this time.

5. Transfer CEQA lead agency authority to the City of Los Angeles

Lastly, the Conservancy believes the City of Los Angeles is better suited to serve as the Project’s lead agency under CEQA as it would be responsible for granting the majority of the Project’s permits.

How You Can Help

Tell the L.A. Metro Board no on the Gondola! Ask Metro to deny the Environmental Impact Review.

Tune in on February 15th at 1pm here to make public comment.

You may email the Board your public comment: BoardClerk@metro.net

Timeline

Timeline