The Metro, Neighborhoods, and Maintenance Yards

Aug 05, 2009 by Lisa Newton

Would you want to have a Metro Maintenance Yard in your community or on your street? Most people want the “status quo” and prefer that any new municipal, civic, cultural, and private development occur somewhere else. They’re called (“NIMBY”) which is the acronym for “Not in My Back Yard.”

Which brings me to the salient issue of today—we all want improved transit and public transportation in Los Angeles and environs—but most communities don’t want the Metro’s Maintenance Yards in their neighborhood, even though they’ve been proven to not be a nuisance in any way.

Main Objections to the Metro’s Maintenance Yards

1. Too much noise: Not true–the only noise which emanates is from the occasional train whistle. And that is mandated by Federal law which requires that the train whistle to warn anyone—or anything—which might be on or too close to train tracks. The Metro trains have several calibrated whistles and bends over backwards to ensure that they are “neighborhood friendly.”

In fact, the noise levels were much higher from the near-by Interstate 405 freeway than they were from Metro’s Maintenance Yards.

High Voltage

2. Potential Health Hazards: Another myth to be debunked. The Metro follows all Federal, State, and Local guidelines and takes extreme care having to do with the storage, usage, or transfer of toxic chemicals. Indeed they go the extra mile—keeping them protected and safe and sound in specially designed lockers which have very limited access for but a few of their workers. As listed above, not only are the guidelines met but there are also regular inspections by the very same local, state, and federal agencies to assure total compliance with all safety requirements. Personally, I think living next to a freeway is much more hazardous to one’s health than any potential from the Maintenance Yards. Even a step further it’s just as dangerous living with the threat of everyday urban life—traffic, gangs, violence, etc.

For further examination, let’s take a look at the Green Line Maintenance Yard. When it was first constructed in 1994, no homes were located nearby. Now, homes and hotels have been developed and are currently neighbors to the Metro’s Maintenance Yard.

Green Line Maintenance Yard

Looking at the picture above, the green arrow points to the Green Line Maintenance Yard, the blue arrow points to a housing development that was built subsequent to the Yard, and the orange arrow point to a Marriott Hotel, also constructed after the Yard was built.

No complaints have ever been registered from any of these neighbors about the Yard.

Now, think of the benefits of having a light rail Metro line from downtown to Santa Monica.

1. Job possibilities

2. Cost-effective transportation

3. Less traffic congestion

4. Less air pollution

5. Maybe a little more exercise walking to and from the station

This is just the short list of positive effects of a Metro line coming to Santa Monica; but if a site for a Maintenance Yard can’t be found sooner than later, light rail construction will be delayed.

Let’s be progressive, use our heads, because when Travelin’ Local, we’re not NIMBY’S!

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10 Responses to “The Metro, Neighborhoods, and Maintenance Yards”

  1. David says:

    My parents house in San Diego, has a Metro Link train running 24/7 and I bet dimes to dollars that that was more cumbersome to the people than a Metro Yard.

    As usual great coverage and photos. Very informative also.

    [Reply]

    LisaNewton Reply:

    @David, I haven’t used Metrolink yet, but the next time I go to San Diego, I think that’s the way I’ll go.

    [Reply]

  2. Mike Foster says:

    Having lived in southern Cal for years, I am all for decent public transportation to help reduce pollution and crowded freeways. Plus, metros can be fun to ride.

    peace,
    mike
    livelife365

    [Reply]

    LisaNewton Reply:

    @Mike Foster, I love taking a book or playing solitaire on my phone while I’m riding Metro. It’s much more relaxing than driving.

    [Reply]

  3. Streetsblog Los Angeles » Today’s Headlines says:

    [...] Metro, Maintenance Yards and Your Community (Travelin’ Local) [...]

  4. FEED – Friday Link Spotlight – Hidden Los Angeles says:

    [...] Stefan Richter opens up a new restaurant – EaterLA > Let’s not be NIMBYs, okay? – Travelin’ Local > I’ll take a Manhattan – Caroline on Crack > PLEASE be careful buying cars on [...]

  5. Bob says:

    You made some valid points but there’s still one worry that no one has been able to assuage.

    Home/property values.

    People are afraid that maintenance yards will lower property value and I think it’s rightly justified…if I were buying a house, I would MOST definitely consider a maintenance yard into my decision.

    The difference between your green line and the situation some folks are facing with a proposed gold line maintenance yard is that the condos adjacent to the facility in your pictures were built after…so people buying them were aware of what they were getting into.

    Some of the sites proposed for the gold line maintenance yard are smack dab in otherwise residential areas.

    Can you justify to those homeowner, who are already paying for the Gold Line in taxes, even a dime’s worth of loss in their property value?

    Its a tough subject, no doubt. I just don’t think the picture you paint is being completely fair, although you did do a good job.

    [Reply]

    LisaNewton Reply:

    @Bob, I understand what you’re saying about home values, and I realize that people would look at neighbors during any home buying experience.

    All I know is that it’s better to have a neighbor you know will be as quiet as possible, keep things clean, and not bother anyone. This is the case with the maintenance yards I saw.

    Another question to ask is is there a possibility that property values will increase because homes are so close to a Metro stop?

    After doing a little bit of research, I came up with this reference:

    How does Mass Transit Effect Property Values

    [Reply]

  6. Bob says:

    Lisa thanks for your reply.

    We have to look at this carefully because each case is different. In general, does mass transit increase property value? Yes, I think the statistics show it. But a maintenance yard will have more impact on a neighborhood’s property values than the rail line or rail station that that maintenance yard brings to the community.

    Lets look at a proposed site for the Gold Line Foothill extension. One of the sites for a rail maintenance yard sits on the Irwindale/Duarte border (technically in Irwindale) directly adjacent to a Duarte community and in front of a Duarte Elementary school and community park. Now the train station/stop for Duarte is located near City of Hope. Regardless of where this rail maintenance yard goes, whether its further west in Monrovia or across the freeway on the Millier-Brewing site where there are no homes or residential property, the Duarte stop will remain at City of Hope. So will having the rail maintenance yard in their backyard do any good to the property values for those Duarte residents? I don’t think so.

    The rail maintenance yard would have much more influence on the property value than the Gold Line in general. And in the case of these Duarte residents, getting the Gold Line is not contingent on this one site…the MTA is considering 9 other sites.

    I’m all for mass transit..the enormous economic benefits it’ll bring, the change in culture..I’m all for it. But I can’t justify damning a community when there remain viable sites that, although may increase the cost to the MTA, will not harm any community or any kids.

    Lets also not forget that in this case, the property could be developed into something that would be much more beneficial to the residents and Duarte in general. Its prime property sitting between the 605 and 210. There’s that loss we have to consider as well.

    If the Irwindale/Duarte site were the only site, then that’s a completely different question. Fortunately, I hope, for the residents of Duarte, that’s not the case.

    [Reply]

  7. Bob says:

    Also Lisa, anytime a rail maintenance facility comes in, the surrounding zoning is changed to industrial. In the case of this Irwindale/Duarte site, a change form residential to industrial or even commerical zoning would be detrimental to property values.

    And on the subject of good neighbors vs bad, no one trusts large projects..commercial or public. People trust homes, schools, and even business/shopping centers regardless of any safety claim the MTA can make. This trust translates to market value for homes in a community.

    [Reply]

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