"Los Angeles needs and deserves cleaner and more sustainable transportation options," said Jordan Lang, President of Aerial Raid Transit Technologies.By Francisco Castro
Imagine 52 cable carriages soaring over your house at about 40 feet high, filled with people traveling back and forth from the Dodgers Stadium to Union Station, and a tower about 98 feet tall (as tall as an eight-story building) right in front of your house with the noise of the cable car's motor moving the cables.
That's what Phyllis Ling of the Stop the Stop The Gondola Coalition, a community group trying to stop a project driven by the former owner of the Dodgers (and still owner of the parking lots around the stadium), Frank McCourt, is facing. He is promoting it to be operational for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics, even though the stadium is not among the selected sports venues for the global competition.
Ling, who has lived in Los Angeles' Chinatown for seven years, only learned about the project in 2020 because she was part of the Neighborhood Council. She says the project proponents haven't reached out to the community to seek their opinion.
"There hasn't been transparency," complains Ling, who is concerned not only about her privacy but also about the possibility of an accident or Dodgers fans returning after consuming alcoholic beverages at the stadium.
"It's a recipe for disaster," says the 46-year-old woman who launched a website to inform her neighbors about the project, as well as a petition to stop it.
Frank McCourt’s gondola is not a real transportation project, it’s a private tourist attraction to support McCourt’s private development plan “Next 50”.
“I am not convinced that this is an effective solution to reducing vehicle congestion... and I share the neighborhood’s concerns about displacement and disruption,” said Councilwoman Eunisses Hernandez to the LA Times.
On the other hand, the L.A. Art firm, created by McCourt, promotes the project as a way to reduce traffic, pollution, and headaches for fans and residents of the area, promising that the cable car will transport attendees from Downtown Los Angeles to the stadium in seven minutes.
"Los Angeles needs and deserves cleaner and more sustainable transportation options," said Jordan Lang, President of Aerial Raid Transit Technologies (L.A. Art). "We have invested significant time and capital in this project because we believe it is the right solution for the region, and we are committed to supporting this nonprofit effort. With Climate Resolve and Zero Emissions Transit as allies, we are one step closer to making this zero-emission aerial transit in Los Angeles a reality."
The Environmental Impact Report for the project has yet to be released, and then the community will have 30 days before Metro—the Los Angeles transportation agency—votes on whether to proceed with the project or not.
However, Ling says there are still many unanswered questions, particularly regarding whether taxpayers will foot the estimated $300 million bill for the project, as well as safety and privacy concerns, and who will truly benefit from it.
She also points out that there is already a bus system that travels directly from Union Station to the Dodgers Stadium on game days, and she doesn't see the need for this project.
"Transit is something developers value because it allows development with fewer regulations," says Ling, who believes the project would be the key to development in what are now the stadium's parking lots.
She adds that politicians view such projects favorably because they want to throw a "spectacular party" for tourists, but for her, it's something with "poor planning and little oversight" that doesn't solve the traffic or pollution problems since the cable car operates very limitedly.
"Politicians are closing their eyes and ignoring the negative consequences," she emphasizes.
She fears the project will displace more residents in the area.
When asked if she would move if the plan is approved, she takes a few seconds to think before responding, "It would be quite unbearable to live under the cable car, but I don't want to move."
For now, she only hopes she won't have to.