2. Background

In Interim Decision (D.) 07-12-029, the Commission authorized the construction of 36 of the 38 crossings proposed by the applicant. On February 20, 2009, the Commission addressed the two remaining crossings in D.09-02-031 and found that it is practicable to construct a grade-separated pedestrian crossing at Farmdale Avenue on the Exposition Boulevard Corridor Light Rail Transit Line, in Los Angeles County. That decision also authorized the applicant, Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority (Expo) to file amendments or a new application consistent with the February decision for the Farmdale crossing.

On July 29, 2009, Expo filed and served its amendment to Application 07-05-013. In its amended application, Expo Authority offered four alternatives to its original at-grade crossing at Farmdale Avenue for both vehicles and pedestrians:

A. Grade-separated pedestrian overcrossing with Farmdale Avenue closed to vehicular traffic.

B. At-grade pedestrian and vehicular crossing, subject to a permanent "Stop and Proceed" order for all light rail vehicles.

C. At-grade pedestrian and vehicular crossing with a station including platforms east and west of Farmdale Avenue which would require all light rail vehicles to come to a full stop at the crossing.

D. Alternative B as a temporary measure pending construction of station as described in Alternative C.

Protests were filed by the United Community Associations, Inc., jointly with Neighbors for Smart Rail, and the Los Angeles Unified School District. The United Community Associations, Inc. and Neighbors for Smart Rail also moved to strike alternatives B, C, and D as listed above and contended that the Commission had determined in D.09-02-031 that the Farmdale crossing must be grade-separated.

On September 30, 2009, the assigned Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) convened a prehearing conference. The parties requested an opportunity to enter into settlement negotiations, and subsequently reported to the ALJ that such discussions had been fruitful, with a final agreement anticipated in early 2010. The ALJ also heard oral argument on the motion to strike the non-grade-separated alternatives and ruled that in D.09-02-031 the Commission left the proceeding open to allow Expo to file "any amendments or a new application" and did not limit the alternatives that could be proposed to be grade-separated.

On December 21, 2009, the assigned Commissioner issued an Amended Scoping Memo which addressed the ongoing procedural schedule and scope related to the Farmdale crossing. The ruling set a flexible procedural schedule to accommodate on-going settlement negotiations, but set a hearing date for May 3, 2010, if no settlement agreement had been filed by that date. In the scoping ruling, the Commissioner also ruled on United Community Associations, Inc. and Neighbors for Smart Rail's motion for reconsideration of the ALJ's ruling that the Commission's decision did not preclude non-grade-separated alternatives and upheld the ALJ's determination. Accordingly, all four alternatives were determined to be within the amended scope of the proceeding.

On January 22, 2010, Expo moved for an interim decision addressing compliance with environmental review requirements. On April 27, 2010, the Commission issued D.10-04-036 which certified the Addendum to the Final Environmental Impact Statement/Final Environmental Impact Report, which had been certified by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority in 2005.

On May 3, 2010, the assigned ALJ convened another prehearing conference and Expo reported that a settlement agreement with the Los Angeles Unified School District was imminent. The ALJ set May 12, 2010, as the date for filing the settlement agreement, and on that date Expo and the Los Angeles Unified School District filed and served their joint motion seeking approval of the settlement agreement, with the settlement agreement attached. At the prehearing conference, the ALJ set a schedule for considering the settlement agreement which included written comments by the parties and a Public Participation Hearing at Susan Miller Dorsey (Dorsey) High School.

On June 1, 2010, the assigned Commissioner and ALJ convened the Public Participation Hearing at Dorsey High School. After brief presentations by the applicant and United Community Associations, Inc./Neighbors for Smart Rail, approximately 85 members of the public offered comment for the record. More than half of the comments opposed the at-grade vehicular and pedestrian crossings in the settlement agreement and instead supported complete grade-separation of all light rail and vehicular and pedestrian traffic by either placing the light rail tracks in a bridge over the Farmdale crossing or underground. Other commenters recommended approval of the settlement agreement to enable the Expo line to move towards completion.

The Commission has received 45 written comments from the public on the proposed Farmdale station crossing. One comment opposed the station and the other 44 supported it.

On June 4, 2010, Expo and the Los Angeles Unified School District amended their motion for approval of the settlement agreement and the settlement agreement itself to reflect that the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority had joined the settlement agreement.

Also on June 4, 2010, United Community Associations, Inc. and Neighbors for Smart Rail filed joint comments opposing the settlement agreement. The opposing parties reiterated their argument that the Commission's 2009 decision authorizing amendments to the application precluded non-grade-separated crossing proposals and contended that the testimony previously presented by the school district showed that Dorsey High School students are "distracted," likely to take "risks that adults would not," and that two or three students per day are identified as being "under the influence of alcohol or marijuana."1

The settling parties responded on June 11, 2010, that the Commission did not limit the types of alternatives that Expo could present in the amendment to the application and the assigned ALJ's and assigned Commissioner's determination are binding.

1 United Community Associations, Inc. and Neighbors for Smart Rail Comments on Settlement at 3 - 4.

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