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Commentary submitted by Beverly Hills High School c/o 2012 graduate Max Schwartz.
Fables are nice and at times appropriate, but fables are based on fantasy and light on facts. The complicated and emotional dispute over the through cannot be simplified to a fable, in spite of the fact that some supporters of the route would like to think so.
It is a shame that misinformation is being spread by people who are not educated about the complicated nature of this dispute. For example Danny Licht, who, like me before my recent graduation, is a student at Beverly, , but did not double check his facts. His “fable” contained numerous inaccuracies, which do nothing to solve this problem or encourage productive debate about the issues.
One such example is his claim that the path of the subway should go beneath Beverly because “it’s more convenient for Metro customers” and is more lucrative. In fact, if you read the MTA’s reports, they show that running the Purple Line under Santa Monica Boulevard to Avenue of the Stars instead of under Beverly to Constellation would be cheaper, have more riders and would allow a faster commute. Indeed, a station at Santa Monica and Avenue of the Stars would put riders closer to the mall and would be a more convenient walk for students at Beverly who want to take the subway. The Santa Monica Boulevard alignment also runs under the public right of way, which provides additional benefit.
Another obvious mistake by Mr. Licht is his statement about the trenching studies conducted at BHHS. The trenching does not prove that tunneling would be safe. The trenching proved that there are no active faults under Beverly, which means that the MTA’s geological studies saying there are active faults are wrong. The MTA did not perform their own geological testing in the City of Beverly Hills—under the high school property and under Santa Monica Boulevard. How can we trust what the MTA’s studies show when they have nothing to back them up? In other words, if the faults under Beverly are not active, then the faults under Santa Monica Boulevard are also not active. This leads me—and others—to believe the MTA is most likely wrong about Santa Monica Boulevard.
If the MTA were really concerned with the interests of the people, and they should be given that the MTA is an agency working under the California state government, they would not be asking people to pay more for a less effective subway, which is exactly what Licht and other pundits like him seem to favor.
This isn’t about anxious moms or selfish residents, it’s about the entire community. The people of Beverly Hills should not have to worry about the safety of their children and the future of the city’s only high school. The safety issues are real and are yet another reason the MTA should avoid tunneling under Beverly.
We do know there is a threat of methane gas. The gas is not just a significant risk for the students; it could harm all the parents, teachers and administrators in the school’s various buildings, everyone in the subway cars, and possibly even those in the neighborhoods around the building. Beverly is also the City’s only disaster center. If something happens to those tunnels under Beverly, whether a tunnel collapse, gas leak, or gas explosion, the residents will not have a large, official place to congregate in case of an emergency. Furthermore, the tunneling will be 50 feet underground, or less, which is extremely shallow for a subway. The MTA plans on tunneling 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including when students are in classrooms. This can and most likely will disrupt the learning environment.
Beverly Hills High School is our City’s legacy and our community’s pride and joy. But Beverly—with the exception of the newer Science and Technology Center—is old and has not been renovated in 30-plus years. To preserve it for future generations, Beverly Hills residents passed a . The bond money would be used to retrofit the school’s older buildings and build new structures, all of which are needed. If the MTA were to run a subway under the high school, the Beverly Hills Unified School District would need the MTA’s approval before they renovate or add on to their property, which uses additional time and money. It may prevent them from renovating entirely.
So why is the MTA taking a risk that is not necessary? The MTA says that the faults on Santa Monica Boulevard prevent it from building a subway station there. Yet they have also said that subways can be built anywhere, even in earthquake zones. If subways can be built “anywhere” then it can be built safely on Santa Monica Boulevard.
The PTA Council and the Beverly Hills Unified School District have gone above and beyond their respective call of duty to help advocate for the students and staff of this district and I would like to thank them for all that they have done; this is advocacy at its finest. I would also like to thank the Beverly Hills City Council for standing by the School District in their fight against the subway. I would like to end on the following note: those that I know who are against running the subway under Beverly are not against running a subway through the City of Beverly Hills. We believe running the subway under Santa Monica Boulevard is a better option.
Beverly Hills High School '12