Los Angeles Aerial Rapid Transit (LA ART / Gondola) Project
On January 17, 2023, the Conservancy submitted Draft EIR comments, raising a number of concerns about the proposed project and its impact on Union Station, El Pueblo, Los Angeles State Historic Park, and Chinatown. Below is a summary:
- The purpose and need for LA ART is not fully demonstrated when environmentally superior alternatives are identified and available to be implemented
- Historic and cultural resources and view sheds will be impacted and irreparably harmed by the LA ART Project
- 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
- Should the proposed project anticipate federal funding, Section 106 and Section 4(f) would be triggered and additional environmental review would be required
- Transfer CEQA lead agency authority to the City of Los Angeles
Following the release of the Draft EIR, Conservancy staff met with the project team, attended community events, and met with various stakeholders to better understand the impacts the project would have.
On October 17, 2022, Metro released its Draft EIR for the project and the second stage for public comment under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). With its release, the public got a fuller picture of the proposed project and many more pieces of the puzzle including the route, scale, and station locations.
In 2020, Metro released its Notice of Preparation (NOP) for the Los Angeles Aerial Rapid Transit (LA ART) Project. The NOP was the first public comment stage in the CEQA environmental review process. In September of 2020, the Conservancy submitted NOP comments raising concerns about the project’s impacts to historic view sheds for El Pueblo and Union Station. With a proposed station on Alameda, we recognized the potential for significant changes to the area’s setting and feeling.
The Aerial Rapid Transit Technologies, LLC (ARTT) first announced plans for an aerial gondola connecting Union Station with Dodger Stadium in April 2018. The initial announcement heralded the gondola’s ability to move up to 5,000 passengers per hour in each direction replacing the existing Dodger Stadium Express bus line.
The Conservancy has real concerns about the impact of the proposed project on Union Station, El Pueblo, Chinatown, and Los Angeles State Historic Park. Below are our primary concerns as detailed further in our Draft EIR comment letter.
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.
Make your concerns heard by contacting the following:
- Councilmember Eunisses Hernandez by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (213) 473-7001
- Supervisor Hilda Solis at email@example.com or by calling (213) 974-4111
- Mayor Karen bass at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (213) 978-0600
- Deputy Executive Officer at Metro Cory Zelmer at LAART@metro.net or by calling (213) 922-6913
- Please copy Adrian Scott Fine, Senior Director of Advocacy on all emails at email@example.com