The Metro Board of Directors held its April meeting on Thursday virtual-style in keeping with the current safer-at-home orders and social distancing. The audio feed will be posted here within the next few work days.
In his monthly report, Metro CEO Phil Washington talked about the ongoing pandemic. A few items:
–The Metro Board will be asked to extend the current fiscal year budget — which ends June 30 — through September while Metro revises the budget for 2020-21. Metro is heavily dependent on sales tax revenues, in particular, and those are expected to plummet with so many people staying at home and unemployment rising due to the pandemic.
–Phil said Metro will be seeking maximum reimbursement for COVID-19-related costs from the federal government and the stimulus bills that have been approved. He said that Metro staff are looking at a number of ways to conserve money and will bring those to the Board. That includes looking at essential versus non-essential projects and programs.
–In terms of bus and rail service, Phil said that the plan will be to increase service after safer-at-home orders are lifted with the aim to match ridership levels. The reality, he said, is that it’s likely that not everyone will be coming back to work all at once.
–Personal protection equipment continues to be ordered and delivered. Phil said that Metro continues to work with unions that represent much of our bus and rail staff and he believes that is going well.
–Metro is forming an internal task force on recovery of the agency after the pandemic, Phil said. He said the task force will bring a number of recommendations to the Board about how we can make things such as reduced traffic, clean air and more walking/biking the “new normal.”
Among some of the more noteworthy considered by the Board:
•The Board approved increasing the life-of-budget of the Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station Improvement Project by $19 million, in part to pay for increased acquisition costs of part of the adjacent Kenneth Hahn shopping center. Staff report
•The Board approved the G Line (Orange) Terminus Improvements project for North Hollywood Station and exempted it from state environmental review. The project will add a second portal to the Red Line, more bus bays for both the G Line and local buses and infrastructure to support electrifying the line. Staff report
•The Board approved programming $50 million in Metro-controlled funds for the 710 Clean Truck Program. This is part of the project to ease congestion and reduce pollution on the southern part of the 710 between the ports and rail yards. The idea is to help develop and incentivize zero or near-zero emission truck technology and recharging equipment to be used by private industry. To put it another way, wonky but important stuff. Staff report
•The Board approved a five year, $26.9-million contract with Joe’s Auto Parks to manage Metro’s parking facilities. The Board also approved raising Union Station parking fees as per the text below. Staff report
•The Board also approved a motion that would:
A. Provide free parking for transit patrons at Metro parking facilities with 30% or below capacityon Saturday, Sunday and Federally Observed Holidays.B. Union Station and any Metro parking facilities that have special arrangements/contracts withmunicipalities or local jurisdictions for public parking or other non-transit parking use are exemptfrom this motion.
•The Board approved a motion — as amended below — that would reallocate $853,000 in funds from a Transit Oriented Communities Small Business fund to a TOC Small Business Loan Recovery Program. Motion.
AMENDMENT: WE FURTHER MOVE that the Board direct the CEO to:
1. Ensure that any Metro funding added to the LA County Business Recovery Loan Program will be repaid back to Metro and retained for the Transit Oriented Communities Small Business Program;
2. Work with LACDA to ensure geographic distribution of Metro funds across subregions; and
3. Report back to the Planning & Programming Committee in 120 days with recommendations for improvements to the Transit Oriented Communities Small Business Program, including but not limited to guideline revisions to make funding easier for small businesses to access.
•The Board authorized Metro to execute an Exclusive Negotiation Agreement (“ENA”) with Watts Station LP for the development of 3.67 acres of Metro-owned property at the 103rd St/Watts Towers Station (“Site”) for 18 months with the option to extend up to 30 months.