At a public hearing on the proposed extension of the Metro Green Line Monday night, one of the main concerns raised by Redondo Beach residents who spoke was whether the light-rail line might lead to an increase in crime.
"I think [the Green Line is] going to be bringing outsiders into our community, and it's not going to be people who are spending money," said Ken Prinzi. "I think it's going to be people going to the Galleria … It's like putting a big bull's eye of congestion in our city."
Prinzi was among nearly 100 people who gathered for the meeting at the North Redondo Senior Center at Perry Park, and one of 27 who voiced opinions about the project after a half-hour presentation by project manager Randy Lamm. Each person was given two minutes to state his or her opinion.
The current plan calls for Metro to add on to the existing Green Line, building tracks along an existing right-of-way used by freight trains. For now, the tracks would stop at a proposed station at the South Bay Galleria, though some have expressed hope that in the future, the line would extend all the way to San Pedro.
Like several speakers, Prinzi said that he thought the Green Line would introduce a "bad element" into the city, and Lori Prinzi agreed.
"I feel that when you have train stations … there's a loitering aspect to this, and we have parks nearby," she said. "Where are these people going to hang out, if you will? Are they going to go to the parks? Are they going to go walking around in the community?
"Do you feel that this is going to create an additional crime element?" she asked Metro officials. "This is something that I'm concerned about."
Resident Barry Ogle, who lives near the Galleria, concurred.
"Yes, there is a problem with the bad element coming into town," said Ogle. "Since that mall's opening, they've tried to set it on fire; they've shot at people; they've killed one … person around the corner from my house."
David Gonzales said that transients allegedly from the Galleria frequent his neighborhood.
"They've thrown rocks at our windows," Gonzales said.
Jenya Romanovsky, who told attendees she had been riding public transportation since she was 13, took umbrage at that remark when it was her turn to speak.
"I don't throw rocks," she said, noting that she was the sort of person who would probably be riding the rail line. "I don't walk on lawns."
, a Patch contributor who is a board member of the South Bay Bicycle Coalition, dismissed the concerns that the Green Line would lead to an increase in crime in the area.
"I've heard a lot of anecdotal information about the bad, scary element of people who this is going to bring into our neighborhood," he said. "I would challenge the people that say that to show us some data that proves that, because to my knowledge of light rail in this area, in Portland, in Seattle, in all the other areas where it's gone in, it's increased property values, it's increased local businesses, and it's been a boon to the community.
"So the fear factor, while it may be an effective tactic to use in a meeting like this, I don't think it's true, and I haven't seen any real, empirical data that proves that."
The final speaker, Terry Destefano, said she was offended by the "talk about an 'element.'"
"Who is this element that we're talking about?" she asked. "Remember, we're all somebody else's element. It almost sounds like some polite, racist term."
People who spoke also covered a range of concerns, including eminent domain, noise levels, traffic and even the type of rail car.
After public comment, Lamm took the time to address some of the points brought up by the speakers. As far as a possible increase in crime goes, he said project officials were analyzing the data with police.
The earliest construction would start on the project would be 2014 under Metro's 30/10 initiative, which would require borrowing funds from the federal government, Lamm said. Under the timeline for Measure R, a half-cent sales tax passed by voters in late 2008, construction would start in 2028, and the project would be complete by 2035.