Beverly Hills Remains Steadfast Against Tunneling Under Homes, High School

Public officials and residents favor the Santa Monica Boulevard route at a MTA community meeting this week, while people from outside the city counter that the other proposed station would draw more riders.

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.”

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Joel Epstein April 02, 2011 at 03:44 PM
Here's the compromise. The handful of Beverly Hills opponents of a station at Constellation Blvd pack their bags and go home and read to their children. The gross disservice done to the students of Beverly Hills and the people of Los Angeles by this groundless fight over the tunneling has gone beyond foolish. Constellation Blvd is the best location for a station in Century City. Metro will tunnel with utmost care under the small number of homes and high school property just as they have done in building the Gold Line extension to east LA. The time has come for the School Board and Council to salvage the City's dignity by ending the threatened lawsuit against Metro. Perhaps the money that BHUSD has not already wasted on PR and legal fees can be directed where it should have gone in the first place - to education for the City's students.
Brian David Goldberg, PhD April 02, 2011 at 04:24 PM
Mr. Epstein and I agree that money being spent to fight MTA is taking important resources away from the classroom but it is greedy Century City Developers and their paid mouth pieces like Mt. Epstein who are wasting our resources with their personal attacks and misinformation campaign. When you cannot argue the law or the facts you just throw mud. That is what Mr. Epstein continues to do on behalf of who? The school board is charged with care of 4700+ students and nearly 500 employees. We will continue to clear the record and point out the facts based on the MTAs own data. Call us names, misrepresent the facts write in your blogs it does not change the facts: Constellation route benefits a handful of wealthy developers at the expense of students and staff.
Joel Epstein April 02, 2011 at 05:40 PM
With three college tuitions to pay, show me and my bank account my Century City developer clients and I will be a happy camper. I have no business with ANY Century City developers. Nor do I work for Metro as either an employee or consultant. Should any of this change I will let readers know. The handful of opponents of a station at Constellation, the best location for a station in Century City, appear incredulous to the idea that thinking people like myself could actually advocate without skin in the game for the best location for the station. I wish the same could be said of Sitrick & Co., the crisis communications firm that is charging the Beverly Hills School Board an arm and a leg for a campaign that is a loser for not just the handful of Constellation Blvd station opponents but for all Angelenos. Regrettably, PR flacks of this ilk, as well as (speaking as a lapsed lawyer) the law firm lobbying for the School Board have no shame. The Beverly Hills school board should know by now that the PR flacks and lawyers will bleed them dry leaving students to fend for themselves. That is indeed the tragedy of this pointless and costly fight over the correct location for the station at Constellation Blvd.
Brian David Goldberg, PhD April 02, 2011 at 05:54 PM
Stories like this prompted the BHUSD to launch wwws.centurycitysubway.org Vigorous debate is productive, but that debate needs to be based on the actual facts rather than fear, spin and misinformation. Every fact on our website is supported by the EIR, which is put together by the MTA itself. And many of those facts flatly contradict the unsubstantiated statements in this story. For example. The ridership analysis contained in the EIS/EIR indicates that the Santa Monica station would have approximately 5% higher daily ridership than Constellation. (See Pages 20, 22 and 23 in the Smart Growth Evaluation Report. The additional cost of locating a station at Constellation is clearly noted in the EIR: “Because it increases the length of the alignment … a station at Constellation would increase the overall capital cost by $60.4 million.” While the geographic center of Century City is at Constellation and Avenue of the Stars, the jobs and population center clearly is -- and will continue to be -- along Santa Monica Boulevard. (See Page 11 in the Smart Growth Evaluation Report: The amount of commercial space within a half-mile of a Santa Monica Station is 1.2 million more square feet than within a half-mile of Constellation. This is a significant public policy decision that should be based on facts so we end up with a station that is cost-effective and used by the most number of riders. Based on the facts, we believe that station is along Santa Monica.
John Heidt April 02, 2011 at 07:35 PM
How does a Los Angeles Country Club Station on Santa Monica Boulevard next the the south course 16th tee box and fence serve more people than a Constellation and Avenue of the Stars station? How is that possible? Additionally how can it be that the subway is dangerous to Beverly Hills High School students and teachers? What exactly what are the concerns? Yesterday from 9:30am until Noon I took time out of my work day to ride the subway under all different kinds of properties. I found the ride to be smooth, the stations to be mostly well conceived, some were better than others and all were people friendly. The time between stops was exponentially faster than the time a car or bus would take. If people that fear the subway would take the time to ride the subway currently built in Los Angeles and check it out, I think they would be better informed and very happy. I was!
John Mirisch April 04, 2011 at 06:07 AM
How can the VA station, with its lack of major offices, building density and any other Century City-like attributes be one of the stations with the highest ridership? Yet, according to Metro, it will be. Much of the ridership at that station is not the result of limited trips to and from the VA, but the transfers that are expected to occur there. Similarly, since Santa Monica is a major thoroughfare, significant transfer ridership can be expected, and the concentration of jobs and trips generated in Century City is closer to Santa Monica. By the way, don't expect any additional growth in Century City beyond what is planned. Century City has a maximum number of trips allowed and they have almost reached the ceiling. The attempt to move the station -- which has all the makings of a classic "bait and switch" tactic -- is an attempt to reduce car-based trip counts in Century City so that developers can build more high rises and further densify with no net improvement in the regional traffic. Whether it makes sense for taxpayers to spend at least an additional $60 million on Constellation so that rich developers can increase their profits is the true question, especially when there are also major CEQA issues which would arise from this planned densification. A subway station on Santa Monica makes more sense due to cost, travel time, ridership and respect for local control. The real problem is the "UCLA" station which is almost a mile from campus.
John Mirisch April 04, 2011 at 06:27 AM
Joel Epstein may not work for Century City developers, who will benefit most from a Constellation station -- which may in fact be necessary for some of them to build at all because of trip count limits in CC. But while he technically may not work for Metro either directly or as a consultant, his disavowal above is somewhat disingenuous as he has done work for organizations closely associated with Metro. His own website touts his work for Move LA, which has close ties to Metro and is actively lobbying for 30-10: http://www.joelepstein.com/JoelEpstein.com/Services.html. Clearly, if he'd like to take on future assignments, Epstein's vigorous lobbying on behalf of the politically popular Constellation alignment (popular, that is, for politicians with deep ties to rich Century City developers) is not exactly calculated to be bad for Geschäft.
Chris Loos April 05, 2011 at 05:48 PM
You guys are too much. Is it just unfathomable to you that someone could be pushing for the right choice for the CC subway location simply because they want to see Metro succeed, and not because they have some financial motivation? If that's what you see in people, then that says a lot about your own character. Build the station at Constellation because it makes the most sense. You build metro stations in the heart of activity centers because it maximizes ridership and convenience. That's it. Its awesomely simple rule that is followed by transportation planners the world over. All the dithering about higher ridership at Santa Monica Blvd is a lot of BS and everyone knows it. Its very telling that the ridership argument only came up after BHUSD hired Sitrick & Co. to spin the issue. Before they came on board, BHUSD's argument was all about how tunneling under the school would put the students in danger of a terrorist attack. Clearly Sitrick & Co. let the school district know that that argument didn't hold much water and did their best to change the conversation. So now, much like the global warming deniers that pay for their own studies to muddy the waters and create a "controversy" where there is only scientific consensus, Sitrick & Co., on behalf of BHUSD is attempting to create a controversy over ridership numbers where there is none. Not a bad tactic, but I think everyone will see through it in time.
Dotson April 05, 2011 at 07:23 PM
I find it hard to agree with the “rich Century City developers” argument when the people opposed to the Constellation station are rich Beverly Hills residents. Are we talking about millionaires vs. billionaires? Do any of the higher-ups at Sitrick & Co. actually ride the Metro? If the “real problem” involves the UCLA station, then why doesn’t Sitrick & Co. make a Westwood/UCLA subway website? “The school board is charged with care of 4700+ students and nearly 500 employees.” How is the Santa Monica Station supposed to take care of the students/staff exactly? I mean in regards to safety, not projected ridership numbers. Also, there’s the idea that perception is reality and what this seems like is a PR firm trying to spin BHUSD’s fear of potential terrorist activity to concern over projected ridership numbers.
Matt1 April 05, 2011 at 10:50 PM
Somehow as a resident of the City of Los Angeles, I think our voices need to be heard as to our preferences for the station. I deeply resent Beverly Hills residents trying to pit this as a decision between Century City developers and Beverly Hills residents. What about residents of the City of Los Angeles, where this station will actually be located? I know I prefer Constellation. When I have gone for business to Century City, a station at Constellation would have been more convenient and closer to my destination in about 90% of my travels.
Carol Spencer April 07, 2011 at 06:56 PM
The Smart Growth report in the Draft EIS/EIR is based upon projections - many persons take issue with the methodology used by the industry consultant on which the administration's demand analysis was based. Our Forefathers, the Leaders of Los Angeles, created the original Santa Monica Blvd subway location, way back in the 1950's. Cities evolve and population centers change - to continue to insist upon a plan over 60 years old in this age of technology advances is questionable. I hope that each person has read my rebuttal to the BHUSD social media website that appeared in last Saturdays Beverly Hills Patch and originated in 3-31-11 issue of the Westwood Century City Patch posted in the Opinion section: BHUSD's Century City Subway Website Called 'Misleading'
John Mirisch April 09, 2011 at 05:01 AM
"All the dithering about higher ridership at Santa Monica Blvd is a lot of BS and everyone knows it." The great and powerful Chris Loos has spoken. Guess Metro's own facts don't mean much anymore. They could have saved us all a lot of money by simply asking Chris Loos the "true path" from the get-go. Unfortunately, the Loosian truth which by intuition claims to "know" -- just to know -- that Constellation would give higher ridership, ignores Metro's own projections that the VA will have one of the highest riderships on the line. Nothing at all like CC. And, no, it doesn't really fit with the Loosian intuition, but there you have it. In none of my articles have I discussed "terrorist attacks" as an argument against the Constellation alignment. I have, however, discussed cost, suitability of SM as a transit hub (hence the ridership figures mentioned in the website) and respect for the LPA, as well as a distaste for "bait-and-switch" tactics. And, yes, I believe the reason for the bait-and-switch is intimately tied in with the interest of rich Century City developers. If that reveals anything about my character, then it would be that I'm somewhat of a realist. And if you truly "you build metro stations in the heart of activity centers because it maximizes ridership and convenience," then you should be hopping mad about the proposed UCLA/Westwood station which is far away from the UCLA campus and not "in the heart of the activity center" of Westwood Village.
John Mirisch April 09, 2011 at 05:06 AM
Mr. Dotson clearly displays an ignorance of Beverly Hills by accepting the stereotype as fact. While parts of Beverly Hills -- far away from the subway station, I may add -- are indeed wealthy, Beverly Hills is by no means an enclave of the super-rich. 6% of the residents, mainly seniors, are under the poverty line and some 55% of residents are renters, rather than wealthy villa owners. This is not about supposed terrorist activity, this is about avoiding massive waste of taxpayer dollars, respect for the LPA, ridership and travel time. The question isn't why Sitrick doesn't make a Westwood/UCLA website. They're not getting paid to do so. The question is why people who object to a one block difference in alignments in Century City are not up in arms about the location of the UCLA/Westwood station. The answer can be found in two words, of which the first is "double" and the second is "standards."
John Mirisch April 09, 2011 at 05:11 AM
This is about politicians putting developers before residents, a common theme throughout the history of Southern California. Don't fault Beverly Hills residents for standing up and taking action. For the better part of a decade, the residents of BH were "sold" on the idea of the subway along the Santa Monica alignment. The only thing that has changed since then is the desire of a few developers to be able to densify in other parts of Century City. While you may prefer Constellation, there are others who prefer Santa Monica, not the least of whom are bus riders who don't want to do a loop-de-loop around Century City just so some people don't have to walk a block. As the BHUSD site says, it's about cost, travel time, ridership, as well as respect for the LPA.
Carol Spencer April 09, 2011 at 05:24 AM
Don't fault Westwood residents for being upset that the political lobbyists of Beverly Hills pushed to create a second Santa Monica Blvd subway station location that is on unstable ground just as bad as the original location on Santa Monica Blvd that was directly on top of an earthquake fault line. The Beverly Hills City Council is now considering the RICH BEVERLY HILLS DEVELOPERS requests to redevelop the intersection of Santa Monica Blvd and Wilshire Blvd. The issue is the SAFETY of the persons riding on the subway for many years in the future and positioning the subway station in Century City to serve that area and not service the Rich Beverly Hills Developers.
John Mirisch April 10, 2011 at 04:41 AM
Clearly Ms. Spencer has no experience with land use issues and how they tend to get resolved in SC. The Santa Monica alignment was the one proposed and propagated by Metro for the better part of a decade -- until politicians and rich Century City developers aligned their interests. Nothing else, absolutely nothing else has changed since the original proposal which focused on SM. Ms. Spencer's statements are also divorced from such irksome things as facts. Just look at the kind of development in Century City -- a true example of development run amok -- vs. the kind of height and density one finds in BH. Beverly Hills developers stand to gain nothing from a Santa Monica alignment, in direct opposition to CC, which is encumbered by trip count limits, the ceiling of which has been (or soon will be) reached by all the overdevelopment allowed by LA planners. Unfortunately, Ms. Spencer's comments do nothing more than undermine her own credibility. Ironically, where BH residents were faulted for being Chicken Little with safety concerns about tunneling under the high school, it seems there's now a case of role reversal. Ms. Spencer is now concerned about potential faults -- as if she's just noticed that we happen to live in an earthquake zone -- despite Metro's assurances that subways can be safely built in earthquake zones. Again, I'll point out that Ms. Spencer should devote her energies to getting a UCLA/Westwood station that actually serves UCLA.
Carol Spencer April 10, 2011 at 04:59 AM
Let us stick to the facts - and wait for the FINAL EIS/EIR - The subway was originally planned over 50 years ago. Times change, Cities change, Plans change - Our World is evolving. Metro asks for comments at each presentation. The Draft EIS/EIR was the time for written comments that will be responded to in the Final EIS/EIR. A social media website prepared by lobbyists only offers one perspective.
joninla May 09, 2011 at 02:51 AM
YOU KNOW ..... Sometimes ..... GREEDY RICH DEVELOPERS WHO WANT SOMETHING FOR THEIR BENEFIT .... IS ALSO THE SAME PREFERENCE/DECISION THAT WOULD BENEFIT OTHER NON-BUSINESS, NON-PROFESSIONAL, LOW-INCOME, FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN AND EVEN SCHOOLS THEMSELVES (Hello Beverly Hills High - I thought everyone was breaking the law to try to get into your school BECAUSE IT HAD BETTER (I.E. SMARTER) EDUCATORS. The sole BENEFIT, INTEREST, DESIRE AND TOTALLY SELF-SERVING DESIRE OF EVERY INDIVIDUAL LIVING IN BEVERLY HILLS .... ESPECIALLY EVERY CHILD GOING TO BEVERLY HILLS HIGH SCHOOL OR ANY OTHER B.H. SCHOOL .... IS TO GET AS MANY CARS OFF THE STREET THAT WOULD OTHERWISE NOT BE THERE BECAUSE THERE IS A SUBWAY LINE WITH A STATION LOCATED WHERE THE MOST PEOPLE (especially including those people who think those very large office building as so large and out of proportion, that in reality the "One Block Walk To Santa Monica Blvd" ... is actually a VERY LONG AND TIME CONSUMING WALK . CARS ON THE ROAD ARE ONE OF THE BIGGEST DANGERS TO THE LIVES OF CHILDREN. THE FEWER THE CARS, THE SAFER. BHH - YOU WANT THE CONSTELLATION STOP - YOU JUST DON'T SEEM TO BE WISE ENOUGH TO REALIZE IT. It not a "Subway For You" ... It's a "Subway to keep those other people out of B.H., off your streets, away from your children - and how many burglars take a subway to rob a home? (I don't feel this way, but many BH residents are that way ....) Those of You WANT the subway.
Joe April 13, 2012 at 04:40 AM
You are far too logical and rational for this place - go to somewhere like San Francisco where people actually give a hoot about public transportation, and leave our town for the NIMBYs who will stop all progress
Joe April 13, 2012 at 04:41 AM
NIMBYs forever! Subways never! NIMBYNIMBYNIMBYNIMBY!!!!
Joe April 13, 2012 at 04:42 AM
I love these guys - the city's own paid consultants say its probably safe to tunnel under BHS (you know, that place from which they pump oil, because they so care about the children) - yet still they resist. I wonder why nothing in this city can ever get done.
Joe April 13, 2012 at 04:43 AM
Duh - why would anyone want to get off in the heart of Century City when they can get off at the southern tip of a private golf course across from a major thoroughfare? Think like a NIMBY for once, would you?
Joe April 13, 2012 at 04:45 AM
Oooh - exposing undercover Metro spies. I wonder what CenturyCitySubway.org has to say about this - they must be an independent voice of reason on this subject - after all, they have Century City and Subway in their website name
Joe April 13, 2012 at 04:48 AM
Won't someone think about the poor, poor residents of the BH and stick it to those evil Century City developers for once? (I'm guessing the "evil Century City developers" meme emerged from hours of brainstorming with their P.R. hacks as the most sympathetic argument to the "common man", so that is what they are going with)
Joe April 13, 2012 at 04:49 AM
Cars hit people in the road. Cars are dangerous. Let's get rid of all cars Brought to you by BH logic


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