The Metropolitan Transportation Authority held its last March community meeting at the Roxbury Park Community Center this week and attendance was noticeably lower than at previous MTA forums held in Beverly Hills.
“There are fewer of our residents here,” City Councilman John Mirisch said during the public comment period of the Tuesday meeting. He said it was possible that more people stayed home because “they don’t feel they’re being heard or taken seriously. I hope that’s not the case.”
The MTA is in the final phase of the environmental analysis for the Westside Subway Extension, which is an expansion of the Metro Purple Line from its Wilshire/Western station to the Westwood Veterans Hospital. Estimated to cost $5.1 billion if completed by 2022, the project calls for seven new subway stations that together are projected to serve 50,000 riders daily.
The route extension will travel through Beverly Hills to proposed stops at Wilshire/La Cienega and Wilshire/Rodeo, then onward to one of two proposed stops in Century City. The first proposed Century City stop would require a route that goes under Santa Monica Boulevard to Avenue of the Stars. The other calls for one that travels under Lasky Drive to Constellation Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars.
Many Beverly Hills officials and residents favor the Santa Monica route and have shown frustration with the MTA’s exploration of the Constellation Boulevard option because the latter would require tunneling under homes and Beverly Hills High School. Metro officials say the Constellation route would place the Century City station close to the town’s center and in an area of high pedestrian traffic. Many who reside outside Beverly Hills agree.
“Having the stop at Constellation ensures that everyone can go to the mall, everyone can go to the hotels around the area, everyone can use it to commute from all over,” University of Southern California student Nick Leathers said during the public comment period. “Especially for my generation…convenience is the top priority for mass transit and by having a stop at Constellation Boulevard, it’s the most convenient option and choice for anyone riding the subway.”
Hollywood resident Alexander Friedman also spoke out in favor of the Constellation route.
“I’m disappointed with the city of Beverly Hills because they showed their N.I.M.B.Y attitude,” he said, referring to the acronym that stands for the phrase “not in my backyard,” which is used to describe people's opposition to proposed development close to their homes. “Subway systems all over the world go under major public properties, schools, residences, etc.”
Before the Constellation Boulevard option came into consideration, the Santa Monica Boulevard route was the starting point for Metro’s evaluation of where to tunnel between Beverly Hills and Century City. That route would place a subway station in a low-density residential area at the northern edge of Century City adjacent to the Los Angeles Country Club golf course.
However, Metro contractors are still conducting geotechnical tests to determine whether tunneling under Santa Monica Boulevard is safe due to its close proximity to the Santa Monica fault.
“Neither the city, the school district or the homeowners in Beverly Hills are opposed to the Westside Extension,” said Ken Goldman, president of the South West Beverly Hills Homeowners Association, who spoke out against the Constellation route during the public comment period. “Indeed the Beverly Hills mass transit committee unanimously supported the extension when we were told [by Metro] that the stop would be at Santa Monica Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars. Metro knew about the earthquake fault—the seismic issues—years ago.”
Aside from the debate over where to place the Century City stop, several attendees expressed concern over the lack of multiple entryways to the new stations.
“Subway entrances, just quite logistically and logically, there’s several of them,” Mirisch said while addressing those at the meeting. “That should be something that Metro should be looking at and focusing on, because you simply don’t want to have people unnecessarily having to walk across large thoroughfares.…I understand there are financial considerations but you’re also talking about thinking long-term.”
Westside Subway Extension Project Director David Mieger said constructing multiple entrances for a single subway station was possible in the future. Currently, only stations located in Downtown Los Angeles have more than one portal.
“We’re proposing to build one for each [Westside Subway Extension] station and then we may have other entrances that get developed over time.”