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P.O. Box 432181 Los Angeles, CA 90043 Phone & Fax: (323) 761-6435 info@crenshawsubway.org www.CrenshawSubway.

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CALIFORNIA ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 54 CANDIDATES QUESTIONNAIRE


1) What is your position on undergrounding the Crenshaw-LAX Light Rail Line from 48th Street to 59th Street - the eleven (11) blocks that remain at street level on the Crenshaw Boulevard portion? Christopher Armenta: Thank you for the opportunity to respond to your questionnaire. As important as the questions you pose are, more important is the candidates experience, independence and actual track record. As you know, I have a track record on advocating for communities with regard to light rail. I went toe-to-toe with the Expo Authority on grade separation in Culver City and won. My opponent has no legislative experience and frankly wouldnt be a contender in the race were it not for his father being a County Supervisor with all of the fundraising and endorsement gathering power that implies. The 54th needs a representative with experience in facing-off with transit authorities and winning. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on my responses and doing the same for the 54th as I did for Culver City. Simply stated: The Park Mesa tunnel segment needs to be underground. Light rail is, in theory, supposed to increase transit options. I believe that at-grade light rail actually reduces transit options while also introducing unnecessary safety hazards, dividing communities and harming established business districts. Opponents of the tunnel will cite its cost. I would ask them- what is the cost of exposing residents to harm and impacting a business district that is important to the African America community. This is a 100 year project. It should be done right. As your assemblyperson, I am committed to supporting or introducing legislation to require grade separation for light rail systems. John Jake: I believe the rail should go underground because the area from 48th Street to 59th Street is a critical junction on Crenshaw Blvd. The residents and the youth that go to Crenshaw High would be effect from the position of this Metro junction and from history, there have been several youth deaths surrounding the train being at grade. Secondly, the train must go underground because if it goes at grade, the businesses will be impacted from the construction and some of them will have to close their doors over the 4 to 5 years of the construction project. Finally, during and after the construction, traffic will be more of a problem because of Permanent Street closures and with the removal of crosses walks; youll have to walk further to find a crosswalk to cross the streets. If elect, I will fight diligently for the community to make sure the train goes under ground between 48th and 59th Street and not allow for the community to be pushed around.
Crenshaw Subway Coalition is a California 501(c)3 nonprofit, led by a collaboration of South L.A. neighborhood associations, business owners & community leaders

CALIFORNIA ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 54 CANDIDATE QUESTIONNAIRE

Sebastian Ridley-Thomas: I support Dr. Morry Waksberg, MD: The line between 48th and 59th should be underground.

2) What is your position on the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authoritys request for the state legislature to create a ballot measure that would ask citizens to reduce the threshold for passing local taxes for transportation from the current 2/3rds to 55%? Christopher Armenta: Had local agencies, including the MTA, shown a history of listening to communities instead of forcing their will on communities I believe this question wouldnt even be on this questionnaire. Whether it is at-grade crossings in West L.A. or at-grade segments in South L.A., the voters have been ignored. It is no wonder that the 2/3rds threshold has been difficult for MTA to achieve. The existing threshold provides a needed check and balance for transit authorities. If they do things properly with community support, voters will support their projects. If they do not, the voters will not trust them with additional tax dollars. I do not support reducing the threshold as that would remove the accountability that is afforded by the higher threshold. John Jake: I would oppose the ballot because its bad for the community and it like giving the MTA a blank check to do what they please. The safety of our school children are at stake here and it will reduce the last streach of the Los Angeles black business corridor in the state. We must stand up and oppose the change and fight against the tide of the Los Angeles transportation department to decimate and displace another community of color. Sebastian Ridley-Thomas: I support Dr. Morry Waksberg, MD: I would like it funded without changing the threshold if possible.I continue to analyze the best solution

3) What is your position on efforts to change the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to limit the rights of citizens to legally challenge construction projects that impact the environment, which includes mass transit rail projects? Christopher Armenta: CEQA reform as proposed (and championed by my opponents high-roller contributors) is NOT reform. It is an effort to gut a key environmental law. While it is true that a small percentage of CEQA lawsuits are advanced by opposing business interests, I have found that the communities of the 54th rely on CEQA to preserve their communities. What is not grasped by the reform/gut CEQA advocates is that CEQA lawsuits are expensive and time consuming, and community members are not paid for their work. It takes communities and community leaders time to read the voluminous EIRs, raise money and hire attorneys. Accelerating the CEQA timetable assures that the only people who can bring CEQA suits are the opposing special interests. The community will not be able to mobilize in time.
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CALIFORNIA ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 54 CANDIDATE QUESTIONNAIRE

Instead of pushing to gut CEQA in the name of reform as my opponents supporters do, I propose to strengthen CEQA in a way that will provide the community AND project developers/agencies more certainty. I have attached my CEQA position paper for your review. John Jake: Im opposed for any changes to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and believe it is in the best interest of the citizen of Los Angeles to push for no changes to the current law. We must make sure our citizens have a voice in their community regarding projects that will impact the environment and their neighborhoods. We must look towards the future and battle in the present to better our communities and not let outsiders dictate our future. Sebastian Ridley-Thomas: I oppose Dr. Morry Waksberg, MD: The legal rights of citizens are a top priority.Construction projects impact the environment and and should be scrutinised carefully.I would like to read the specifics of any changes.

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