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BH Officials Ready for Court Fight Against Subway Route

Lawsuits filed under the California Environmental Quality Act and National Environmental Policy Act could challenge Metro's plans to tunnel under Beverly Hills High School as part of the Westside Subway Extension.

Officials for the Beverly Hills Unified School District and the city of Beverly Hills affirmed Thursday that they will pursue legal action to prevent the Metropolitan Transportation Authority from tunneling under the city's high school to reach a subway station on Constellation Boulevard in Century City.

The Metro Board of Directors voted 7-2 during its Thursday meeting to  of the Westside Subway Extension, which involves tunneling under Beverly Hills High School. The project is an expansion of the Purple Line to Beverly Hills, Century City, Westwood and the Veterans Administration Medical Center. 

The officials said their legal action could include filing lawsuits under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), challenging the accuracy of the reports and data in the subway project's Final Environmental Impact Statement/Report (FEIS/R).

"The next steps are very clear," BHUSD school board President Brian Goldberg told Patch after Thursday's Metro board meeting. "We have a CEQA challenge to the FEIS/R reports that were approved by the Metro board. We also have a NEPA challenge at the federal level.

"We're going to exercise all of our rights regarding the insufficiency of the FEIS/R. We're going to challenge the data, and we'll have our opportunity in court," Goldberg said.

Beverly Hills Mayor William Brien said he was disappointed Metro did not consider  that the city had proposed at a . Those proposed routes would not require tunneling under BHHS.

"We are very disappointed that Metro proceeded with its decision without seriously considering the excellent scientific data and alternate routes presented by the city,” Brien said in a statement released Thursday afternoon. "Although we have no desire to pursue legal action, the board's decision leaves us very little choice."

Many Beverly Hills civic leaders and residents support the subway but are , while others in Century City and Los Angeles have of Metro's planned route, which calls for the subway to run under the school.

The Metro board approved plans in late April for the first phase of the Westside Subway Extension, but  so it could consider Beverly Hills' objections.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich and Duarte Mayor John Fasana dissented on the Metro board vote. Antonovich offered a motion calling for more study on alternative subway routes to the Century City station, which Fasana seconded. That motion failed by the same 7-2 vote.

"I think we would have benefited by having some more study to really see if there were other options that were mutually beneficial to the city of Beverly Hills and to Metro as well," Fasana told Patch.

Metro board member Richard Katz told Patch that he supports the experts who say the subway can safely travel under BHHS. He said the project is going to be a positive addition to all communities

"I thinks it's unfortunate that, at a time when Beverly Hills schools are facing cutbacks, the school board, for political reasons, is spending millions of dollars on a lawsuit that makes no sense," Katz said.

* * * * *

Do you think the city of Beverly Hills and the school district should file a lawsuit to stop Metro from tunneling under the high school? Tell us in the comments.

George Vreeland Hill May 24, 2012 at 11:21 PM
I believe a lawsuit needs to be filed in order to protect our interests here in Beverly Hills. Metro has tried to shove this whole tunnel project down our throats with incomplete reports, rushed judgements, untruths and on and on. Now there are reports that Metro hired people to perform studies who are not licensed to do so. You bet a lawsuit is coming. The City of Beverly Hills will not stand for this nonsense. George Vreeland Hill
Stu May 24, 2012 at 11:27 PM
F*** no!! Get out of the way of progress you NIMBY's!!
Chris Loos May 24, 2012 at 11:30 PM
Still signing your comments, are ya?
Joseph Heston May 25, 2012 at 01:10 AM
If it was up to me, I would make it a 4-track tunnel just to tick-off the NIMBYs. NIMBYs really love stagnation. When you get right down to it, a city as big as L.A. should have a subway system larger than New York's.
Simon May 25, 2012 at 01:25 AM
It's sad that money is being taken out of the BHUSD to fight this nonsensical, losing battle. Someone should really wake up the sensible citizens of BH to the fact that their officials are wasting millions of their tax dollars on this mess. For shame, Brian Goldberg--what a tarnished legacy you're going to leave.
John Mirisch May 25, 2012 at 08:46 AM
It is truly sad that BH and BHUSD is spending money in opposition of this attempted violation, and I say that without an ounce of irony. However, the cause needs to be put firmly at the feet of the Metro machine which has caused this entire mess by refusing to listen. Ultimately, it's even sadder that billions are being spent on vanity projects to appease the egos of politicians and on a mass transit system which is not providing the taxpayers with the best value for money. Considering that Metro is a massive governmental agency with a severe deficiency in democratic process and without adequate checks and balances, we should probably not be surprised. But when it comes to an extension of Measure R and the proposed Forever Blank Check which Metro is proposing to feed the beast, it is to be hoped that the voters of LA County will remember this pearl from George W. Bush: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice... you're not gonna fool me twice." And as for Brian Goldberg's legacy, it is and will continue to be one of achievement in the service of our children, starting with the focus on academic excellence that he and the Board majority have brought to the District. Dr. Goldberg is one of the best public servants we have ever had in this City, something recognized by the voters who swept him into office by a landslide. Well done, Brian, and keep up the great work!
LAofAnaheim May 25, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Metro listened to LA voters and taxpayers who wanted Constellation. To continue to say Metro is not listening is a lie. The majority of Angelenos wanted Constellation, of you stepped outside your BH bubble. Plus, Constellation has been on the Metro map since 1968, so you and BH should have been aware it was an option. I'm glad Metro listened to the people today and not a loud vocal minority who refuse to listen to geologists/science. Go Metro!
Mott Smith May 25, 2012 at 03:22 PM
I am an alumnus of Beverly Hills High School. In fact, I was a student there in the 1980s, when the City of Beverly Hills demonstrated extraordinary leadership, fighting to keep the L.A. subway project alive as it was being challenged by homeowners in L.A. I am so deeply disappointed in my alma mater and in the BHUSD. When school boards in other small towns ban textbooks whose science conflicts with their ideology, we shake our heads in disappointment, comfortable that we know better. It is a sad day when Beverly Hills -- a community with more intelligence and means than most could ever hope to have -- opts to spend public dollars to fight our region's transit evolution just as the State of Tennessee squandered so many public resources defending their right to deny biological evolution. As someone who up to now was proud of his public education in Beverly Hills, the school district's anti-intellectualism is an utter embarrassment.
Eat Shjut May 25, 2012 at 04:41 PM
Well I'm sure the lawyers will be happy to spend the city's money. Subways coming, better get used to it -- maybe a move to Kansas is in order for some people?
Simon May 25, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Mr. Mirisch: Metro has listened. For years, they've listened. Listening does not always equal getting your way. And are you serious about quoting W? He couldn't even remember the end of the idiom. Hopefully this is in the vein of your humorous posts.
Joe Parker May 25, 2012 at 05:36 PM
I was there when BH presented their case to the Metro board. Villariagosa had to appoint a temporary Board member just to meet a quorum, and then the mayor himself left halfway through the presentation, and many board members and staff who were left chatted among themselves while important information was communicated by BH. Sorry, LAofAnaheim, to say that Metro listened - THAT'S the lie.
westwoodwolf May 25, 2012 at 07:07 PM
I was present at the Beverly Hills High School presentation to the MTA board. The one real argument BHHS was making was that they would be restricted from building enough underground parking for possible huge future buildings on campus. Obviously they think two or three levels are not enough. They claim they want to go six, and maybe more, levels underground! What they did not mention is the enormeous parkin structure they could be building under their athletic field. UCLA has done that. Their field has two underground garage levels with room for 1,484 cars! Beverly Hills High School could do the same. All other arguments regarding safety were gratuitous.
John Mirisch May 25, 2012 at 11:18 PM
Well, Simon, I suppose you're right, Metro has listened: the question and issue is "to whom?" In this case they have listened to the political patrons of powerful Board members rather than to an entire pesky Community, whom they feel they can simply blow off. If, as many people are suggesting, a Constellation station was a possibility since the 60's, why didn't Metro mention it at all in their intensive discussions with the BH Mass Transit Committee? Listening at least means engaging in meaningful dialogue -- not literally ripping the microphone out of the hands of an elected official asking uncomfortable questions about the EIR. It means good faith efforts to try to address a Community's concerns, not well-orchestrated blow-offs involving the services of a circus of "trained seals" (this is a direct quote, by the way). Never happened here, and it shouldn't be surprising considering Metro's sad and sorry history of bad, politicized decision-making. By the way, I find "W" highly quotable, much like film mogul Sam Goldwyn, and have even used a Bushism to encapsulate the effusive effluvium of effervescent enconmia which have flown off the shelf in Metro's direction since their decision, Zimbabwe-style yesterday, to damn the schoolchildren, full speed ahead: "Heckuva job, Brownie -- whoops, Metro!"
John Mirisch May 25, 2012 at 11:20 PM
WW, there is the whole issue of DSA which hasn't been addressed either. And as for your comment about the turning radius of some of BH's proposed alternatives, the Constellation station itself requires wonky turns. By far, the straightest, smoothest and quickest geometric alternative would be the original Santa Monica Blvd. proposal.
BHHS Mom May 26, 2012 at 12:32 AM
What's really sad is that John Mirisch and Lisa Korbotov still don't understand the basic underlying facts about subway tunneling or transit planning. All of the science points to Constellation as the SAFEST option that will generate the most RIDERSHIP, and provide greater benefits to all transit users regionwide. John, stop ranting about how you think this is just a conspiracy to generate money for JMB and take a few minutes to explore Century City - go to both locations proposed for stations and look around you. Notice what you see at Constellation/Ave of the Stars: see how there are tall buildings in every direction you look? Now go to Santa Monica Blvd and Century Park East and look around you. Notice the country club/golf course that dominates HALF of the area accessible to this location? That golf course will generate 0 riders. All the buildings to the south, near Constellation, and even further south, towards Olympic and Pico will actually generate riders. The fact that you cannot comprehend this simple fact is baffling and it is amazing that you are still allowed to represent the interests of our city. We do NOT want to waste money fighting science, progress, and a reliable transit system. You know very well that it is a losing battle (just look at Neighbors For Smart Rail). You, Lisa Korbotov, and Brian Goldberg are on the WRONG SIDE OF HISTORY! John Mirisch has clearly demonstrated he has no knowledge or basic understanding of how subway systems work.
BHHS Mom May 26, 2012 at 12:36 AM
Joe Parker: the science from BOTH sides comes to the same conclusions - there is an active earthquake fault along Santa Monica Blvd and you CANNOT build a station there. Meanwhile, cities worldwide, including LA, have shown that it is completely SAFE to tunnel under all types of buildings, including a high school. Since when did science and objective facts become the enemy here? Is this Kansas or California? This is a ridiculous fight and Beverly Hills will ultimately lose miserably - and have to pay all of Metro's legal costs. Focus your efforts on supporting a better future with reliable transit service and an alternative to the congestion we must endure each day. Beverly Hills is ready for the subway and it WILL Be built with a Constellation station. The City will undoubtedly lose any legal challenge (but only after wasting millions of dollars and precious time)
BHHS Mom May 26, 2012 at 12:38 AM
Mirisch: judging from your increasingly ridiculous replies, it seems your mind is clouded with misjudgement - maybe it's the anger over knowing you will lose this ridiculous legal battle and that the subway WILL go under BHHS to reach Constellation? Keep fighting, John, you will only prove to be on the wrong side of history and progress. I feel sorry for you and any future you think you have in politics after this debacle is over.
BHHS Mom May 26, 2012 at 12:40 AM
"Wonky turns"? Wow, Mirisch must be an expert in transportation and subway planning! Mirisch, I trust the engineers, seismologists, geologists, and other experts over YOU and your silly statements any day.
John Mirisch May 26, 2012 at 04:12 AM
Ms. Anonymous "BH Mom": I'm not a politician, so why should I be concerned with any "future in politics"? I do have an interest, however, in the integrity of my Community, which also happens to be my home. I do have an interest in doing the right thing, and, yes, I will "fight on" (like a Trojan, in fact) for the interest of our children, for good government and against the abuses of massive government agencies with no accountability and no transparency. Sorry that you think standing up for one's Community is "ridiculous" and being "on the wrong side of history," but I guess that simply proves the old adage: "It takes all kinds." Rest assured, your definition of progress and mine evidently differ greatly and I wouldn't want either myself nor my children to be on your side of "history". It would be both too embarrassing and shameful. By the way, I'm not really angry: more disappointed and bemused by the predictability of it all, which has simply added to the Nostradamus bona fides of all of us that called almost every element of this charade.
John Mirisch May 26, 2012 at 04:20 AM
Well, Anonymous "BHHS Mom" (pardon us, if we doubt the moniker), I know it's very difficult to look at a line and see if it's straight or not, but we actually do teach geometry at BHHS. I believe we also offer adult ed, so if you're not exactly sure about the basics of geometry, you may want to check out the website: http://bhas.bhusd.org/. j And, of course, you'd see that the Santa Monica alignment is a lot "straighter" and more direct than the DPA (developer preferred alternative), which means reduced travel times as well as tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer savings. You trust the "experts." BHHSM? That's gonna be a tough one: which experts do you trust? Metro's "trained seals" (as they were described by a Metro Board member)? Now, why am I not surprised....
Robert Chang May 26, 2012 at 07:08 AM
Unfortunately, the MTA board is a disaster at listening to people, because this is no one's real job. Everyone else would like to be somewhere else. That is why they roll in late, leave during public comment (or even fail to show up to listen to other Board members), phone in from vacation, etc. I agree that all of this is an exercise to go to court. Since there was no plan to begin the subway construction for some years, and if the ultimate destination is court, then you might as well move to the next stage.
John Mirisch May 26, 2012 at 04:00 PM
I wasn't aware that Metro's initial ridership studies, which showed that Santa Monica Blvd. would have a higher ridership than Constellation had been displaced by new, modern, scientific methods. I see that BHHS Mom has developed the revolutionary "look around and see if there are tall buildings" theory of placing subway stations. I'd heard of the Yaroslavskian "let's draw a circle to find 'the center of the center'" method of subway station placement, but never this new, cutting-edge "tall buildings ridership model." BHHS Mom, you may be on to something: then again, you might want to tell your buddies at Metro to go to the VA campus and see where your "tall buildings" ridership theory leads them.
James Walker May 28, 2012 at 06:10 PM
I agreed, with BHHS Mom because she is using the old (and apparently lost) commonsense, nothing more than simple commonsense. If you do not master your commonsense, please do not offend others.
JT June 12, 2012 at 04:08 PM
I find it interesting that when faced with a need to produce new 'science' to fight Metro, BH selected Exponent as their expert. Unfortunately, Exponent has essentially zero experience in underground construction, and not much experience in fault studies. So, they lack a good basis for most of their conclusions. Was BH simply looking for someone to say what they wanted, or did BH simply get 'fooled once' ? Either way, it doesn't reflect well on how public money has been spent, and does not reflect well on BH's overall arguments against Metro. Another thing that seems odd is the idea that more than 2 or 3 floors of underground parking are needed at BHHS. Is BH experiencing a development boom that will cause student population to dramatically rise? It seems that both BH and BHHS need better advice on how to formulate solid arguments against Metro, if there are some. I have to wonder if it is better to negotiate than litigate. Isn't it really a question of how much Metro will pay for the route they believe is best? Seems like this is an expensive gamble for BH/BHHS (w/ public money), and that the 'return on investment' for all this fighting could be pretty low. Maybe it is best to spend public money where the return is a sure bet, like in doing the required site studies. And then get on with improving the campus, to a degree that makes sense for the community.

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