Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Ivy City Bus Depot Environmental Injustice

A proposed bus depot plan for Ivy City in Washington, DC has triggered charges of environmental injustice against the city.   Mayor Vincent C. Gray's (D) announced  plan to build a bus depot for 65 D.C-to-New York motorcoaches in Ivy City motivated residents to file a lawsuit to stop it.  Empower D.C., a community organizing group, helped residents file a lawsuit in D.C. Superior Court in July to stop the bus depot.  The city has filed court papers arguing that no laws were broken in selecting Ivy City for the bus depot. The suit claimed the depot would threaten the health of residents.
Mayor Gray’s plan calls for relocating at least 65 charter buses from their berths at Union Station while that facility undergoes a $7 billion renovation, which could take years. Under the plan, passengers would still be picked up and dropped off at the station, but most buses would sit in Ivy City until needed.
Ivy City is a 1.7-square-mile neighborhood just off New York Avenue. It was founded by African Americans in 1872. The neighborhood has three liquor stores, two carryouts, a nightclub, a group home, parking lots for school buses and public works vehicles, a halfway house and a juvenile-detention facility.  According to locals, about 20 percent of the residents in Ivy City have respiratory problems.  The biggest source of exhaust fumes is New York Avenue (Route 50), which is nearly.  Although scores of residents are clustered throughout the mix, there is no recreation facility, playground, library, job center (unemployment is near 50 percent) or day care.

Because Ivy City is a low-income African American community, residents feel city officials think it is okay to locate this facility here instead of the elsewhere in the city.  It measures only 1.7 square miles near the Maryland border in Northeast and has some of the city’s poorest residents, with an unemployment rate approaching 50 percent.  Ivy City is dotted with parking lots for scores of government vehicles — quarter-ton snowplows, salt trucks, parking-enforcement vehicles and school buses that belch exhaust as they rumble through the streets.
Ivy City is in Ward 5.  See AAEA report "Our Unfair Share" to see sources of pollution citywide and in Ward 5.
At a hearing in August, a judge appeared to sympathize with the suit’s claim that the city failed to inform Ivy City of its agreement with the Union Station Redevelopment Corp., a nonprofit group devoted to the station's restoration, and other partners before it was completed. The judge also expressed concern over the city’s apparent failure to conduct an environmental impact assessment, as the suit claims, in an area where residents suffer from respiratory problems. (Wash Post, Courtland Milloy, 11/13/2012, Wash Post, Darryl Fears, 8/12/2012)


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