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Metro Board Postpones Vote on Century City Station

The decision on where to locate the Westside Subway Extension stops west of La Cienega Boulevard is put on hold.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors announced Thursday that it will postpone voting on the Westside Subway Extension stations west of La Cienega Boulevard until a takes place.

“I’m pleased that the vote was delayed. We now have the opportunity to set up a hearing and take time to review the data and look at the different interpretations,” Beverly Hills Mayor William Brien said. “We would all be best served finding a path by which we can work together to solve this very real problem.”

Beverly Hills City Attorney Larry Wiener told Patch that Metro has between 15 and 60 days to schedule the public hearing.

The board did vote 11-1-1 to certify the project’s Final Environmental Impact Statement/Report.

Metro's recommendation calls for tunneling under Beverly Hills High School to reach a stop on Constellation Boulevard in Century City, a route strongly opposed in Beverly Hills but supported by many people in the city of Los Angeles and elsewhere.

Susan Bursk, president and CEO of the Century City Chamber of Commerce, supports a subway alignment that goes under BHHS.

“I think it was expected. They’re doing their due diligence and they’re addressing all the concerns,” Bursk said about the board's decision. “We just have to keep doing our part. Continue making sure the science is correct and hopefully, it will work out for us.” 

Wearing an “I Love Constellation Station” button, Renee Watkinson came out to advocate for the current subway plan.

“I’m here in support for the business community of Century City for the Constellation station as it’s the most centered location,” Watkinson said. “In Century City it will gain the most ridership for the city, across the board. From support staff, union workers, all the law firms—access to downtown court systems.”

Beverly Hills Human Relations Commissioner Tom Pease questioned the accessibility to a Constellation station.

“I take Metro every day. And frankly transit that doesn’t meet other transit makes no sense,” Pease said. “There’s no sense in having a stop at Constellation. It doesn’t meet up with their other transit lines at Santa Monica Boulevard.”

The Metro board has yet to schedule a public hearing with the city of Beverly Hills.

To read a live blog of the Metro board meeting, click .

To view a photo gallery of the Metro board meeting, click .

An earlier version of this story said Metro's Final Environmental Impact Statement/Report was approved in part. It has been corrected and now says the FEIS/R was approved in full. The location of the stations west of La Cienega have not yet been finalized by the Metro Board of Directors.

John Mirisch April 27, 2012 at 06:57 AM
Simon, since you trust the LA times so much, you might be interested in the following articles: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-blue-line-20120421,0,591963.story http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-mta-civil-rights-20120424,0,2303006.story
centurycitysubway.org April 27, 2012 at 01:29 PM
Simon: As you know, the LA Times EDITORIAL was OPINION and not based on any reporting or factual research. The BH Courier article, on the other hand, contained extensive research and reporting. It's time for you to put up or shut up; how about you share some evidence or data to support your position. And pointing to a Metro FAQ that contains nothing but conclusions just won't cut it.
Alexander Grossman April 27, 2012 at 02:19 PM
The issue is not as simple as being just about tunneling under the existing school. The additional problem is that the campus is not that large, there isn't sufficient land to put up a new structure that would avoid interfering with the Metro easement. Other school campuses with tunnels either did not require major expansion or had land to accomodate new buildings. If the campus were larger so that a new building could be constructed in a way that did not impact Metro, this issue would already be history. It's the combination of factors that created the opposition to the tunneling under BHHS, as well as the fact that the original proposal from Metro did not envision this and changes were made after initially gathering support from residents and voters across Los Angeles.
Rudolf Martin April 27, 2012 at 03:08 PM
uhh.., i'm reading this in NYC where half of manhattan is sitting on subway tunnels. certainly including schools. all that is beside the point. more public transportation is badly needed and some people will have to suck it up for the greater benefit. it was a good step to put that part of the plan on hold to see if there is any way around it.
Kat Maxwell April 27, 2012 at 04:25 PM
OMG!!!!! Tunneling under the school will NOT keep you from modernizing Beverly Hills High School! Are you serious to think that it could? If you TRULY love your children like you claim, GIVE THEM A SUBWAY STATION SO THEY DON'T HAVE TO SIT IN OUR GOD AWFUL TRAFFIC EVERYDAY OF THEIR LIVES!!! As for kids getting "sucked down in a tunneling hole? ARE YOU SERIOUS? They aren't going to do the work above ground!
LAofAnaheim April 27, 2012 at 04:27 PM
How is that fact and science when each of the top geologists and sceismic scientists at the Metro meeting (where was the BH scientists/researchers by the way?) laid their profession on the line and said tunneling under the high school was safe? I can't wait for this hearing at BH, I hope to attend. Preview: Metro will bring thier scientists and research. BH will bring Exponent and Shannon & Wilson. Exponent and Shannon & Wilson will essentially agree on everything with Metro and their scientists and all the "fear mongerors" will just play off emotions. In the end, you'll file a lawsuit (that will go nowhere b/c you cannot change a precedent that started in the 1850s and continues to this day), waste time and money. Your city will be hated by all of Los Angeles. The layperson already is starting to recognize you've become an unnecessary roadblock to a great transit project. Your reputation will be damaged by Angelenos.
Carol Spencer April 27, 2012 at 04:36 PM
I feel that the METRO board was correct in postponing the final vote. Hearing the Beverly Hills presentation is a part of due diligence - something that will be looked at carefully in the future when this goes into the court system. I hope that it will not come down to a he said - she said situation. Let us stick to the facts and base our decisions on the facts. And as Ms O'Connor said in the committee meeting let us proceed on a higher level.
Chris Loos April 27, 2012 at 04:44 PM
Beverly Hills politicians have no concept of the "greater good" Rudolf. How else can one possibly explain that they're willing to push the subway route onto Santa Monica Blvd, where it actually WOULD endanger riders, rather than have it go under there school, where it wouldn't endanger anyone.
centurycitysubway.org April 27, 2012 at 05:25 PM
Neel: The BHUSD retained its own independent consultants who conducted their own studies and collected their own data. Metro has not reviwed those studies or the new data. It is important to note that Exponent, Shannon & Wilson and Metro's peer review all relied on same data provided by Parsons Brinckerhoff. If that data was flawed, which it seems to be, then their conclusions are likely flawed as well.
R. Zaften April 27, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Simon, I know there's a subway underneath the Pentagon. Did you know the Pentagon was ATTACKED? Imagine if school kids were in there at the time. We really need to consider the safety of our children, and if we have to spend ANOTHER two million dollars to do it, then I say go for it!
R. Zaften April 27, 2012 at 06:00 PM
The Courier (unlike the Times) is not afraid to speak truth to power! In fact, they just broke a story about lead and asbestos in the High School -- this is major! Did you know how much lead and asbestos were there? Can you imagine if there's a subway running underneath it? The vibrations alone could cause all that stuff to become airborne. We really need to THINK ABOUT THE CHILDREN. http://www.bhcourier.com/article/Local/Local/Lead_and_Asbestos_Survey_Will_Be_Conducted_At_Beverly_Hills_High/87601
Alexander Grossman April 27, 2012 at 06:16 PM
Rudolf - as a former New Yorker, I can tell you that tunneling in LA is quite different than in NYC where much of the city sits on granite. As someone who has lived in many cities with very effective public transit, including metro systems, I can also say that LA needs to modernize and improve its own system. The city and residents of Beverly Hills welcomed the Metro expansion from the start, looking forward to the two stops to be located within Beverly Hills city limits, and using the original proposal of tunneling under the existing right of way of Santa Monica Boulevard. That makes sense. The objections began when Metro decided to move the original location of the stop in Century City one block to the south (in other words, from Santa Monica Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars to Constellation and Avenue of the Stars). This change came along with a statement from Metro that they would now need to deviate from the right of way and tunnel under the high school. California has very strict building codes due to the seismic activity in the area. They are particularly strict for school buildings because of child safety. School buildings, unless pre-existing, must have deeper and stronger foundations than normal buildings. A tunnel under the high school, with the easement that goes along with it, would prevent any redevelopment and construction of new facilities to replace the 80 year old building now in place. That is why the city residents want this issue examined.
Alexander Grossman April 27, 2012 at 06:20 PM
Chris - please see my comment just posted addressing many of the points you allude to. As for the greater good, nobody in BH is blocking that since we welcome the stops in the city limits and the project as a whole. As for endangering people, how would people be endangered by a stop on Santa Monica Boulevard? Not only would a stop there be better for the children who need updated school buildings, but placing it there would also co-locate the metro stop with the stops for existing bus lines which run up and down Santa Monica Boulevard. This would allow for easy transfers from bus to metro or vice versa, thus maximizing and enhancing the utility of the metro. To argue that people going to Century City can't walk one additional block because it would endanger them is, on the face of it, rather difficult to understand.
Alexander Grossman April 27, 2012 at 06:23 PM
Kat - please read my comment above in reply to Rudolf and Chris to answer your post. Thank you.
Alexander Grossman April 27, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Well said, Carol. The science is what should govern this. For example, how is it that a stop on Santa Monica Boulevard is seismically bad when the city just approved a 39 story building for the adjacent site on Santa Monica Boulevard itself? It's questions like this that need to be examined and the data that backs this up.
Chris Loos April 27, 2012 at 07:32 PM
"As for endangering people, how would people be endangered by a stop on Santa Monica Boulevard?" Alexander- there is a fault line that runs along Santa Monica Blvd, making constructing an underground station there impossible. That's the whole point of putting the station at Constellation Blvd. How are you missing this?
BJToepper April 27, 2012 at 07:35 PM
@A. Grossman: "They are particularly strict for school buildings because of child safety. School buildings, unless pre-existing, must have deeper and stronger foundations than normal buildings." Can you point me to a resource describing extra-strict school building codes?
centurycitysubway.org April 27, 2012 at 07:48 PM
@ BJToepper http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Field_Act
BHHS Student April 27, 2012 at 07:56 PM
Yes, Cynthia, this is a proud moment for Beverly Hills - we have effectively refused to listen to all the science, objective evidence, and clear facts, in the name of NIMBY hysteria. Nevermind that subway tunnels run under schools across LA, California, the U.S. and the world without incident. Nevermind that subways run under sensitive properties everywhere. Let's ignore all the facts and continue our war on science! BHHS is a special sacred school, unlike all others. We deserve to block the subway that will benefit hundreds of thousands of people simply because we don't want it under OUR school. Instead of listening to all the lies from Mirisch and Korbotov, why don't you actually READ some of the reports and testimony from world-renowned experts, instead of relying on your own ignorance and city council brain washing? The FACTS point to Constellation, which is where the station will go. Keep wasting your time and energy, because a war on science is an entirely fruitless one - it will only cause delays and cost increases. Meanwhile, traffic will only get worse.
BHHS Student April 27, 2012 at 07:58 PM
Gary, you need to go tell all the other students and parents of schools with subway tunnels that their children are in immediate danger!! The entire world has built subways under schools without incident, and yet you refuse to believe science and objective data that shows a station CANNOT go on Santa Monica Blvd. If you actually loved your children, you would SUPPORT a transportation alternative for when traffic is crawling at 5 mph in Beverly Hills and the entire region.
BHHS Student April 27, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Gary, subways run under schools across the entire COUNTRY AND WORLD. Are you really that dense that you cannot fathom a subway under any type of building? They do it EVERYWHERE without incident! Keep up your war against facts, the school district has lots of excess money it needs to waste!
BHHS Student April 27, 2012 at 08:02 PM
Mirisch, you are no EXPERT on any matter regarding public transit, so you should really keep quiet and let the experts tell us where the subway is safe to go. Stop wasting our city's time and money on this ridiculous matter - subways go under buildings of all types, sizes, sensitivities, across the entire country, including LA and the world has not ended. Go find something constructive to do, Mirisch, instead of spewing lies on blogs.
BHHS Student April 27, 2012 at 08:04 PM
Alexander Grossman, there is no way you can refute pure FACTS - that tunnels under private properties are completely safe and that there is an EARTHQUAKE FAULT along Santa Monica Blvd. Read up on the science before you speak.
Chris Loos April 27, 2012 at 08:10 PM
The memes have begun. http://i.imgur.com/rQBj0.jpg http://imgur.com/KSv9W
Alexander Grossman April 27, 2012 at 08:35 PM
@BHHS Student - if you actually read the EIR by the firm retained by BHUSD, you'd realize that there is a contradiction in the facts cited by the school district and that cited by the firm retained by Metro. Specifically, the firm retained by BHUSD, which runs the school you attend based on your handle, undertook its analysis based on a more intensive study of the ground and fault lines using techniques that are more reliable than those used by the Metro retained firm. And, the issue, at least in my mind, is not whether or not tunneling would be safe (the BHUSD retained firm indicated that it would be safe to tunnel under BHHS), but whether or not it would prevent the district from upgrading, modernizing and adding to the buildings for BHHS students due to the easement that would automatically be granted to Metro and the provisions of the Field Act as it applies to school buildings in California. Please see my comments elsewhere on this page for additional information and don't be so judgmental regarding other people (since I am well aware of the science and am, myself, an engineer).
Alexander Grossman April 27, 2012 at 08:51 PM
@Chris Loos - the reason the vote was postponed was so as to hold a hearing to review the data developed by the firm retained by BHUSD. The fact is that there is s discrepancy between the data developed by the Metro firm and the BHUSD firm as to whether or not it is dangerous to tunnel under Santa Monica Boulevard and whether or not there is a fault line there. Moreover, if there were a fault there, then why did the city of LA just approve a 39-story building for the lot adjacent to where the Metro station would be located? Something simply doesn't fit here. If there really is a dangerous fault line under Santa Monica Boulevard, then there's no way a 39-story building would have been approved.
Carol Spencer April 27, 2012 at 09:01 PM
Alexander, The building is not yet built! However, the fault line is under the north side of Santa Monica Blvd this building is to the south off of Santa Monica Blvd. As I understand it, Subway stations are not to be built parallel to and on top of a fault line. That is the proposed location of the eastern SMB station. In the 1990's earthquake, a friends home in the valley was located exactly on top of the fault line - the house was split in two with one half 2 or 3 feet higher than the other while their neighbors homes were not affected.
centurycitysubway.org April 27, 2012 at 09:09 PM
Carol: Can you explain how it is safe to build 30+ story skyscrapers on the same stretch of Santa Monica Blvd that Metro determined is an Alquist Priolo zone and unsafe for a subway station?
Minoter April 29, 2012 at 12:27 AM
centurycitysubway.org PR guy: Here's the answer. The Alquist-Priolo zone is not even on SM Blvd. The private property for these 30+ story entitled buildings do not sit on earthquake mapped sites. Wonder how all those modern skyscrapers got built in Tokyo, the constantly quaking metropolis.
Joe Parker April 29, 2012 at 01:41 AM
Bingo! There are no active faults on Santa Monica Blvd., and I don't care what Lucie Jones says. If Dr. Dolan was not conclusive when he trenched at the Veteran's Hospital, how can he now be so sure the Santa Monica Fault is active from holes poked in the ground? Have him trench and bring in CGS scientists as BHUSD did. The bottom line is that the subway will NOT go under the high school. All of you can post here for 30 years, but that will not make it happen. If you want to have a subway, find another route. Once we brush away Metro's crappy science, I suspect everyone will agree that Santa Monica Blvd is where it should go. But who knows? It's just not going under the high school. That I'm certain about.

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