We issued Resolution SX-100 on November 14, 2011, and granted Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority ("Expo") authorization pursuant to Commission General Order 164-D ("GO 164-D") to construct 16 new at-grade and
11 grade-separated highway-light rail crossings as part of Phase 2 of the Exposition Corridor Light Rail Transit Project. Expo, on behalf of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority ("LACMTA"), is charged with planning and constructing the Exposition Corridor Light Rail Transit Project. The project is a light rail transit extension that, when complete, will provide public transit service between downtown Los Angeles and the City of Santa Monica. Phase 1 of the project, an 8.5 mile segment from downtown Los Angeles to Culver City, has received Commission approval and is under construction. Phase 2 of the project will extend approximately 6.7 miles from the terminus of Phase 1, at the Venice/Robertson/Washington aerial station in Culver City, to the downtown area of Santa Monica.
The Commission's Railroad Crossings Engineering Section ("RCES") has worked with Expo since 2007 to review the locations of the proposed crossings for Phase 2 and to address safety concerns related to proposed at-grade crossing designs. On January 27, 2009, Expo circulated its Draft Environmental Impact Report ("EIR") for Phase 2 for public comment. On March 27, 2009, RCES staff submitted comments to Expo's Draft EIR, noting specific safety concerns related to the proposed at-grade crossings. On November 16, 2009, Expo provided written response to RCES staff comments on the Expo Phase 2 Draft EIR. In December 2009, Expo prepared its Final Environmental Impact Report ("FEIR"), identifying environmental impacts and associated mitigation measures related to the Phase 2 project. On February 5, 2010, Expo adopted a Notice of Determination ("NOD") in certifying its FEIR, including a Statement of Overriding Considerations. On June 9, 2010, Expo submitted its Draft Rail Crossing Hazard Analysis Report ("RCHAR") to RCES for review and preparation of field diagnostic meetings. Two pre-diagnostic field meetings were held on
July 27 and 29, 2010, and two field diagnostic meetings were held in Los Angeles on August 2 and 4, 2010. The field diagnostic meetings included a field evaluation of each proposed crossing. On November 12, 2010, RCES staff provided Preliminary Recommendations to Expo's RCHAR. RCES staff requested that three proposed at-grade crossings be evaluated for either closure or grade-separation. On March 11, 2011, Expo submitted its Final Draft RCHAR, which incorporated changes to the three at-grade crossings identified by RCES staff that satisfactorily addressed RCES staff's safety concerns. On April 1, 2011, Expo submitted revisions to its Final Draft RCHAR that included grade-separation for the Sepulveda Blvd. crossing.
On September 26, 2011, Draft Resolution SX-100 was published on the Commission's Daily Calendar and was also mailed in accordance with Section 311 of the Public Utilities Code and Rule 14.5 of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure. Twenty-eight individual comments were received in support of Resolution SX-100, including a petition of support containing 312 signatures. Two individual comments were submitted in opposition to Resolution SX-100 from NFSR and from United Community Associations.
We issued Resolution SX-100 on November 14, 2011. On
December 14, 2011, NFSR filed its application for rehearing of Resolution SX-100. NFSR's service of the rehearing application was defective, and was not properly accomplished until December 23, 2011. As such, the time for filing responses to NFSR's rehearing application was extended by ruling until January 25, 2011.
In its rehearing application, NFSR challenges Resolution SX-100 on the following grounds: (1) at-grade crossings are not cheaper, and Expo cannot claim cost as a factor in eliminating analysis and adoption of grade separations if they did not seek funding for those options; (2) the Commission failed in its duties as a responsible agency under the California Environmental Quality Act ("CEQA"), and the Commission cannot claim it did not know the requirements of CEQA; (3) the Commission failed to comply with section 13.6 of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure, which states that the substantial rights of the parties must be protected; (4) the Commission has lost objectivity in proceedings with LACMTA and therefore further fails to serve the public interest and need for transparency, due diligence and due process in transit planning in Los Angeles County; (5) the metro grade crossing policy circumvents safety and defers environmental review; (6) NFSR agrees with Commissioner Simon that the public was excluded in the crossing approvals, and the Commission erred in relying on Expo to conduct public outreach; and (7) the ratesetting categorization wrongly disallows intervenor compensation for parties who are members of the public. NFSR also requests oral argument on its rehearing application.
We have carefully considered the arguments raised in the application for rehearing, and are of the opinion that good cause has been established to grant limited rehearing on issues involving CEQA and due process as set forth in today's decision.