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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.

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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.

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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