Saturday, January 21, 2012

Elysian Valley & Cypress Park: Sensitive Land Uses & City Planning Esoterica

Photo: Diane Edwardson, January 12, 2012.  Metrolink's Central Maintenance Yard on San Fernando Road is too large for one photo.  It's located a few hundred feet from homes, the LA River bike trail and the Cypress Park Recreation Center. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

In 2005, California Air Resources Board (ARB) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a report titled: Air Quality Land Use Handbook, A Community Health Perspective. 

In it, they make recommendations to local land use agencies (ie: City Planning) to refrain from locating NEW sensitive uses within 1000 feet from rail yards.  Too bad if these sensitive land uses are already in place around a rail yard.

What do they define as "sensitive uses?"   ALL residential uses, schools, day care centers, recreation centers, playgrounds, playing fields, hospitals, nursing homes and medical clinics.

There are 9 schools within a mile of the Metrolink Maintenance Yard.

How bad is the air near rail yards?  The ARB Land Use Handbook recommends restricting sensitive uses 500 feet from a freeway, but recommends 1000 feet from a rail yard.  That would indicate a rail yard is twice as bad as a freeway. The ARB goes on to recommend additional siting restrictions and mitigations for sensitive uses within a mile of a rail yard. 
Photo: Diane Edwardson, October 15, 2011.  View from Metrolink train looking toward LA River and Elysian Valley. 

Metrolink moved to this site in the early 1990s when they acquired the southernmost portion of Taylor Yard.  Because Taylor Yard has always been a rail yard, Metrolink was exempt from environmental review under CEQA.

Within the last 10 to 20 years, there has been no shortage of studies linking the very serious health risks of living next to sources of of Diesel Particulate Matter.  

Just because "It's always been a rail yard" is no excuse to allow Metrolink to continue poisoning the adjacent communities. 

On their website, the ARB has a bunch of Health Risk Assessments for rail yards around the state. It's not exactly light reading.

City Planning Esoterica: When they recently updated the housing element of the General Plan, they failed to even include guidelines or restrictions for "sensitive uses" near freeways, despite Silver Lake community activists presenting considerable evidence for the need.

Metrolink will respond to community concerns at a Community Meeting, Wed January 25, 2012