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Suit seeks to ground Dodger Stadium gondola project

A nonprofit health foundation has filed suit against LA Metro to halt planning on a proposed Dodger Stadium gondola project, linking the ballpark and downtown’s Union Station, citing the impact on  Chinatown and surrounding communities.

McCourt Global, led by former Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, has been planning the gondola project with LA Metro, the local mass-transit authority, under the Aerial Rapid Transit Technologies LLC umbrella. The gondola system would fly close to the Metro L Line (Gold) light rail tracks along the southern edge of the Los Angeles State Historic Park, running over public right of way, freeway, Chinatown and multiple communities. At full capacity, the gondola system could move up to 5,500 people per hour to the ballpark, allowing over 10,000 fans to commute to the ballpark before the start of a game. While this won’t relieve all the traffic issues at Dodger Stadium, a gondola system could lessen the traffic. 

The California Endowment filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court against LA Metro, asking that planning be halted on the project. The rationale for opposing the project: residents living in Chinatown and surrounding communities will be impacted by the harmful effects of the project, including increased traffic congestion; potential risk to taxpayers should the private investment fail; and threats to the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. In short, the suit argues the gondola line serves no public purpose: ““Although the need for increased transit infrastructure is significant, the Gondola Project as proposed functions as a private tourist attraction, not a public transportation line to serve Metro riders.”

The actual lawsuit follows the game plan you will find from opponents from any California development, mostly procedural in nature: the project was fast-tracked for approval without meeting the legal standards set out in California law and Metro’s own policies, there was no public bidding process, and much of the planning discussions took place behind closed doors. In short, the people impacted the most by this project were not invited to the table for their input

“The community did not ask for this project. No true community engagement and needs assessment has been conducted. The project lacks transparency and has been rushed through without any meaningful public input,” said Sarah Reyes, Managing Director of Communications for The California Endowment, via press release “Increased traffic, less parking, and visual blight are just some of the threats posed by this project. We don’t need an unsolicited private pet project that diverts valuable public land and resources away from more essential transportation needs of the community.” 

Rendering courtesy Aerial Rapid Transit Technologies LLC.

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