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BH Files Separate Westside Subway Lawsuit

The city of Beverly Hills has filed a CEQA challenge against Metro separately from its school district.

The city of Beverly Hills filed a lawsuit Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, , asking a judge to set aside the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's . 

The lawsuit says the project's Final Environmental Impact Statement/Report (Final EIS/EIR) violates the California Environmental Quality Act, a statute that requires state and local agencies to identify significant environmental impacts potentially caused by their actions, and how they plan to avoid or mitigate those impacts. 

The Final EIS/EIR calls for tunneling under to reach a subway station on Constellation Boulevard in Century City, which  due to safety concerns.

Beverly Hills' lawsuit argues that Metro should not be allowed to move forward with the extension, :

The certification of the Final EIS/EIR must be set aside due to Metro's failure to comply with certain requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act ("CEQA")... a result of decisions that are not supported by substantial evidence, but that are the result of insufficient, incorrect and conflicting information and a rush to judgment that risks ... the health, safety and welfare of Petitioner's residents.

The city's lawsuit deals with the potential impacts the subway could have within Beverly Hills' municipal boundaries, while BHUSD's lawsuit pertains to the school district's property.

The controversial Westside Subway Extension is a $5.6 billion expansion of the Purple Line to Beverly Hills, Century City, Westwood and the Veterans Administration Medical Center.

At a public hearing requested by the city of Beverly Hills, attorneys hired by the city presented the Metro Board of Directors with  for reaching a station on Constellation Boulevard that did not require tunneling under BHHS. 

To read Beverly Hills' CEQA challenge against Metro, see the PDF file attached to this article. 

Do you support the lawsuit filed by the city of Beverly Hills? Tell us in the comments below.

Simon June 01, 2012 at 06:13 AM
@CabinBoy: Hahaha. Beverly Hills' new motto should be: "Starve the schools and feed the lawyers (and publicists)!"
John Mirisch June 01, 2012 at 06:16 AM
How much time would the SMB station save riders? Let's say it's 30 seconds each way. Let's say there are 40,000 people who pass the CC station each day. That's 20k collective minutes of time, or some 333 hours, being saved each day. In a year, that's 121,545 hours or 5064 days. If the effective life of the subway is 100 years, that's... well, you get the point: in transit terms seconds and minutes add up and are not insignificant. As for ridership, well, yes it is logical that SMB could have higher ridership because it is a "transit parkway" (as Comstock Hills HOA member Carol Spencer wrote). Certainly, the it seems reasonable that the ridership would be comparable -- Constellation might have more end-destination pedestrians, while SMB would have more transit passengers. The golf course will not add passengers, of course, but major arterial SMB will, and that's where much of the ridership will come from. If you want to look at an area of low density (your golf course argument seems to suggest that low density is an intuitive reason not to have a subway station), then look no further than the leafy VA campus, hardly a hub of urban activity. Why have a station there rather than, say, Wilshire and Barrington, which is along the same arterial?
cutop June 01, 2012 at 07:04 AM
The children, the children was a refrain of the No on Measure H crowd. As was it's just to damn big. You know this well, John. I remember your blog. In both cases, it was about protecting the property values of the neighboring Southwest Homeowners. And it's the same anti-development, anti-progress homeowner association who started this huge waste of our city's precious resources. This started out being about their property values and they misdirected our community once again by making it about the children.
John Mirisch June 01, 2012 at 07:53 AM
Cutop, I worked on the No on H campaign and "It's just too big" was the main slogan and rallying cry. I can't tell you whether any people used "The children, the children" on the No side, but it was certainly not the thrust of the campaign, which was development-run-amok. And, indeed, the Yes on H side sent out slick mailers with apples and pencils (not to mention shiny police cars and fire trucks) suggesting that the project would provide untold riches for the schools. In other words, "the children, the children" argument was much more prominent in the "Yes on H" campaign. We both know that "It's just too big" was the main point of the No on H campaign (and my blog postings): it was the slogan on the lawn signs and the URL was "justtoobig.com" not "thechildrenthechildren.com." I think one needs to distinguish between protecting property values and protecting the integrity of a Community and the quality of life which makes BH special. And there is a huge difference between "anti-development" and "anti-overdevelopment" stances, the latter which advocates for sensible, respectful, Community-appropriate development, the former for the kind of development which simply seeks to squeeze every cent out of a piece of property without regard for impacts, short- or long-term, on Community character or the residential quality of life. While greed-fueled "it's all about me" development very well might decrease property values, sensible development should have the opposite effect.
centurycitysubway.org June 01, 2012 at 12:54 PM
Joseph Heston: Beverly Hills High School was built more than eighty years ago when Century City consisted of little more than a single barn.
centurycitysubway.org June 01, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Cabinboy: To answer your question, I'm having so much fun proving jokers like you are absolutely full of it that I'm posting here gratis. It isn't costing the BHUSD a dime. We know who I am (a proud alum of both BHHS and El Rodeo who has lived and worked in the Century City area nearly my entire life). Perhaps you can share who you are. My guess is that you won't, probably because you are just another paid schill for JMB and the other Century City developers. Or perhaps you work for one like LAofAnaheim. As for the golf course, Century City is a walled city with impassable barriers to the North at the golf course, to the East at Century Park East, to the West at Century Park West and a steep slope and bridge over Olympic, which has virtually no foot traffic. Santa Monica Blvd, next to the golf course, is a major thoroughfare that would be accessible to those outside Century City. Constellation is only two blocks that DEAD END at both a Century Park East and Century Park West, which would be very difficult for anyone outside of Century City to reach, among other things.
centurycitysubway.org June 01, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Cabinboy: We didnt cause JMB to spend millions and millions of dollars to influence the Metro board. They did that all on their own. The fact remains that JMB is funding the major advocacy groups supporting Constellation (WeDoOurPartLA and the Century City Chamber of Commerce and its "newspaper" Century City News), that they've given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Metro Board members' political campaigns, as reported by the LAWeekly and they've spent millions of dollars on lobbyists and lawyers to try to persuade the Metro Board to choose Constellation.
John Mirisch June 01, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Spokker, yes, the goal is to eliminate risk. Yes, it's not possible to eliminate the risk associated with tunneling under the High School 100% -- unless you tunnel elsewhere. And while any tunneling will have its own risks, tunneling under a public right of way would seem to have reduced risk vs. tunneling under a school. As for your "let's ban driving because there are risks associated with it" argument, we do take many steps to reduce the risks associated with driving, both for motorists and pedestrians. We now require motorcyclists to wear helmets; we require child seats for children; we have red-light cameras to increase safety and reduce risk; we have strict penalties against drunk driving. If in configuring an intersection, there is a way to avoid a possible risk, then we do (or should) take the less risky option. In such cases objective risk analysis should be performed. So while your point that "everything has risks" is a valid one, that's no reason not to mitigate or avoid additional potential risks. Assessing risk is not a zero-sum game, and in this case incremental risk could be avoided without going to the extreme of "just not building mass transit." Of course, the answer is finding another, less risky alternative by fully exploring all other options -- something which was not done by Metro.
John Mirisch June 01, 2012 at 02:35 PM
One other point about "the children, the children." Surely, you will remember that this was indeed the refrain (in spirit, if not in letter) of the campaign in BH for Measure E, which was financed by Karen Christiansen, associated companies and bond underwriters, all of whom had skin in the game if the bond passed. I opposed Measure E (and literally wrote the opposing ballot statement) not because I begrudge "the children, the children" anything, but because the bond seemed to be a boondoggle as written: it was opportunistically written with no real transparency and no real accountability. It felt like it was going to be a blank check for construction managers and their cronies, all in the name of "the children, the children." As we see what happened until the new Board majority got serious about shining some real light on the insider goings-on at the District, our fears were well-founded. Even though I'm a strong supporter of our schools with skin and DNA in the game, it was the right thing to oppose Measure E as it was presented. This is the exact reason why the Forever Tax extension of Measure R should be opposed, even by those of us who are strong supporters of mass transit. Metro can't get the money from DC so they propose duping the voters of LA County into giving them a Forever Blank Check, borrowing against revenue more than 30 years into the future. Hopefully, BH voters (and all of LA County) will take all they've learned about Metro on board this time around.
JenniX June 01, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Dear Beverly Hills, Thanks for making yourselves look stubborn and childish. Mwah!
Warren June 01, 2012 at 06:09 PM
"The lawsuit says the project's Final Environmental Impact Statement/Report (Final EIS/EIR) violates the California Environmental Quality Act, a statute that requires state and local agencies to identify significant environmental impacts potentially caused by their actions, and how they plan to avoid or mitigate those impacts." I'm sure the MTA held a few meeting to discuss the environmental impacts and how it would mitigate those impacts. So, the court will combine the two lawsuits so they can be heard together. I'm sure the City of BH would accpet $$$ to settle the suit. I'm unsure about BHHS. Seems like BHHS really doesn't want to subway under their property.
JT June 01, 2012 at 06:21 PM
Brian: You repeat this again, so I assme you didn't get the message I posted yesterday. For the benefit of the readers, let me try again. If you do some checking, it would appear that the Cologne failure was unrelated to the tunnels, but was instead associated with (inadequate) construction of an underground chamber, which was constructed after the tunnels were bored. This is quite different than the picture you paint. If it helps, the following is a link to additional reading material on the subject. http://www.geoprac.net/geonews-mainmenu-63/38-failures/464-cologne-tunnel-collapse-investigations-focus-on-tiebacks-and-groundwater http://www.imia.com/downloads/guest_presentations/GP19_2010.pdf I'm not saying that Metro's construction should not be done carefully. Clearly, the Westside project has challenges, which deserve due caution, and with the help of your watchful eye, I'm sure the project will get plenty of oversight. In addition to isolated failures, tunnels around the world have many success stories to tell. If that were not the case, underground construction would have ended long ago. A more balanced portrayal of the project, wherever it may go, would be so much more credible.
centurycitysubway.org June 01, 2012 at 06:42 PM
JT: What Brian may be trying to say is why take the risk of tunneling under a school with more than 2000 children in classrooms when there are other alternatives, including a potential station at SM/AOS (less than 1000 feet from Constellation) that Metro determined would have a higher ridership, cost $60-100 million less and be faster.
cutop June 01, 2012 at 07:50 PM
John, I can't believe that you are denying that "the children, the children" was a rallying cry of the "No on Measure H" crowd. A quote from the campaign to help jog your memory: "Residents, school children and personnel at El Rodeo School are directly across the street. When the toxic air quality reaches dangerous proportions, who will notify and protect all these people? Is this Hilton expansion project so important that it justifies putting at rise so many of our people to these serious adverse environmental impacts?" The main opposition group to Measure H at the start was the Southwest Homeowners Association... out to protect their property values using school children as a wedge issue. The same group was the main opposition to the Constellation route at the start for the same reason – to protect their property values; fearing that tunnels beneath their homes will cause noise and vibrations every time a train passes beneath their homes – but again using school children as a wedge issue. Amazingly, all three alternative routes to Constellation which our city council and BHUSD proposed avoid going under these homes completely and rather opt to make a series of tight, awkward turns around that neighborhood. Had any of these alternatives eased off from Wilshire, passed under some of these homes, and headed straight for Constellation, I may have been less suspicious. But now it's clear whose interests you're really looking out for... and it's not the children.
John June 01, 2012 at 07:53 PM
If building the subway would endanger the students due to the possibility of methane gas and abandoned oil wells in the area, the underground parking structure that the district is planning underneath the school should not be considered for the same reason. Therefore, the subway cannot possibly have any effect on future plans of development for the campus.
Tom Culp June 03, 2012 at 04:41 PM
True John and lets not forget wasting $50,000 per parking space for high school students.
Tom Culp June 03, 2012 at 04:48 PM
Haha....too funny to true:)
lisa korbatov June 03, 2012 at 06:19 PM
steve in rancho park, i am so worried now .... i realize you are a premier ceqa/eminent domain attorney.. you have tried countless trials on this very issue.. why didn't we hire you? Yes, you went to the law school of "nimby" and you wrote the book on "frivolous lawsuits" and you teach a course in "biggest losers". Steve, leave this to the experts. We have a track record of winning. we aren't going to let developers and corrupt politicians decide the fate of our school district.
lisa korbatov June 03, 2012 at 06:38 PM
Really Simon, Just ask Ron Tutor about how our very own supervisor Zev waged a legal battle on Tutor- Saliba and in the end LOST! Yes , and thanks to Dear Leader Zev, the county paid out nearly 38 mm dollars on legal fees and other costs. Metro and that Board is run and run into the ground by Zev and his tools Richard Katz and all the other Mayoral appointees. I have no idea why Zev went to the mat for JMB or the Mayor . but he did. Wonder what is in it for him.. Time will tell. He strong arms his friends and his opponents even more so. He sat next to Supervisor Gloria Molina at the board meeting and after she was done listening to him.. she got up and disappeared and never returned to take a vote. Yes, leadership at it's finest. Then Zev goes on to say that Dolan/Parker/Jones were not at the hearing so as to give BH as much time as they needed. And who set that limit of 3.5 hours... Metro did. That was an arbitrary time limit set by the powers that be at METRO. This has been a dog and pony show from day one. The courts will have their say, and they don't take orders from METRO or Zev. I have no idea why they gave a vanity station to JMB but they did. I have no idea why they hire experts who aren't licensed in our state, but they did.
lisa korbatov June 03, 2012 at 06:47 PM
Simon, Actually, METRO's mantra can give pointers to the Kremlin. Lull a community to sleep, do a bait and switch, demonize a community that many have come to over and over for campaign donations.. happy hunting grounds at BH for money. i guess Zev and the Mayor did not mind taking our money and comments then.. then goose ridership numbers, create a boogey man fault system on a public right of way, and they wage a war against a school district. Yes, Putin could take pointers from these folks at METRO. Yes, considering how Zev burns through money taunting everyone to "Sue Us"... using the public's money to do it..so who is starving the kids and paying the lawyers. and nobody has a bigger PR machine on the public's dime than METRO. Simon, amazing how myopic your view finder is.
John Mirisch June 04, 2012 at 05:34 AM
Cutop, millions -- literally over $5 million -- were spent trying to suggest that the Hilton expansion would be great for "police, fire and schools." In other words: "the children, the children" on steroids. The concerns you mention -- air quality from construction across the street -- were concerns which the Hilton itself took seriously, as well as promising to to demo work (along with 9900 Wilshire) during the summer. Actually, those are reasonable concerns, reasonable enough to be taken seriously. Or do you mean to suggest that the welfare of school children is not a reasonable goal and that construction impacts and air quality are red herrings and alibis? On the other hand, the main argument in favor of a project which sextupled (approximately, at least) the City's General Plan which has a height limit of 3 stories and 45 feet, was the dough that would be provided to the City and schools, including extra money promised to the BHEF. And this was backed by a multi-million dollar campaign.
cutop June 04, 2012 at 05:50 AM
John, thanks for now admitting that "the children, the children" was a rallying cry used by the No on Measue H crowd. That the Hilton had to spend so much money to sell the city on the expansion was a direct result of the hearts and minds the No on H campaign won over with such wedge issues as "the children, the children". Which all goes back to the Southwest Homeowners Association impetus of wanting nothing more than to protect their property values – a point I've notice you have not refuted. It's the same strategy from the same playbook being made by the same players when it comes to the No on Constellation coalition — use children as a wedge issue to win over the hearts and minds of the people when in reality it's not about the children but homeowners trying to protect their property values (again, a point which you have not denied). Guess we are done here.
JT June 04, 2012 at 03:09 PM
John and tom: This 'danger to students' thing should have been put to rest a long time ago. Just like the tunnels, underground parking can be built safely. There are plenty of examples of basements along Wilshire that have been safely constructed, and in areas that are more hazardous that near BHHS. Although underground parking for a high school may seem a bit over-the-top to some, and it comes at a premium price, if BH folks are willing to pay that price, great. Still, it would seem that there is a depth at which underground parking is no longer affordable (or needed for that matter). It would seem easy to define that depth, and then have Metro make sure the tunnels are adequately deep to avoid a conflict (could it be that this has already been done?). I have to think that BH and Metro tax dollars are better spent on coordination and engineering, rather than political and legal battles.
Tom Culp June 04, 2012 at 03:58 PM
JT, I agree and BHUSD would be better to stop creating or getting involved legal battles. The district should be focusing on earthquake safety if they are so worried about the “children”and buildings falling down. We had the money and they have wasted it and continue to do so. The schools are also for the community to use for shelter in case of major emergencies like fire or earthquakes. Won’t do us much good if the school collapses in an earthquake. Earthquake retro fitting should have started 3 years ago when we voted on it. The district has admitted the schools aren’t safe and still drag their feet. I think half of Beverly Vista was vacant for 11 or 12 years before they got around to fixing it. BHUSD is KING at poor choices.
Joe Parker June 04, 2012 at 04:45 PM
Tom, my understanding is that the school district is very focused on earthquake safety. They were ready over a year and a half ago to do the geotech work on the campus to comply with the Department of State Architects (DSA) when MTA asked to run tests on the property. Thinking this would save costs and with MTA's assurance that the District would have immediate access to MTA's data, the District delayed their own tests. But MTA did not immediately release the data and instead released a report a year later that stated active faults were running through the campus. (I heard a rumor that some MTA Board members bragged that they no longer needed to pay the District anything to run a subway beneath their buildings because MTA had proved the land to be worthless.) Anyway, this required the school district to do extensive trenching to prove that these faults did not exist and provide the needed evidence to DSA that modernizing the school would be safe, complying with the Field Act. But how did MTA respond? Less than three weeks ago, they revised their reports and moved their fault locations so they fall in the gaps where the school district did not trench. No wonder the school district AND the City of Beverly Hills are taking this to court. And I'm surprised that the people of Los Angeles are putting up with this quasi-government organization called the MTA. I would be putting a lot of their actions under the microscope.
JT June 05, 2012 at 02:35 PM
Joe: Although expensive and disruptive, the trenching that has been done by BHHS is not (in my opinion) "extensive", and does not completely prove the lack of active faulting across the entire BHHS campus area. Additional subsurface work will be needed, and unfortunately it will be difficult due to all the existing structures. I picture this location (near where two faults intersect) as being more structurally complex, and thus more difficult to evaluate for fault rupture, as compared to many sites that are located along a generally straight fault trace, away from such intersections. There may be one or more primary fault traces, but I won't be surprised that it is eventually shown that the area is underlain by several small-displacement faults, some of which may not meet the "active" criterion. If so, this presents a tricky problem when it comes to recommending building set-back zones for the BHHS campus. In the end, this could require a major change in where new buildings are located. The bottom line for me is that BHHS should save $ to pay for the geologic/engineering studies needed to support the campus upgrade. And when BHHS studies result in a map showing active faults that extend under neighboring properties, be prepared to be sued.
Joe Parker June 06, 2012 at 03:21 AM
JT, I read your two articles, and I still think Brian is correct when he calls it a tunneling accident. This would not have happened if the tunnel had not happened, correct? In the first article, it says: "There doesn't appear to be much information available to the public yet" and the other article says "the collapse of the archive is not the result of a typical tunnel risk." Typical or not typical, you cannot deny that there are risks to tunneling and the risks are amplified when going under school buildings and through unmapped oil fields where methane gas deposits likely exist. What is distressing to me is that Metro has not done any risk assessments before determining that going under the high school and the Constellation station would be the chosen route. Please explain what makes this okay and why the school district and the City of Beverly Hills should not object?
Joe Parker June 06, 2012 at 03:39 AM
JT: "extensive" might be the wrong word, although I'd like to know if another school district has ever done this much seismic work on a school. BHUSD trenched 90% of the width of the school property covering all the supposed active faults that Metro's consultants had said existed. This sounds fairly extensive to me. Better than using the word "exhaustive", which Dr. Dolan used a number of times when describing his seismic work, yet he never even trenched. And please explain how the school district can save money by forsaking the geological/engineering studies to support the campus upgrade when they cannot do the upgrade without these studies.
JT June 14, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Centurycity and Joe: It seems pretty clear to me that Brian is saying that tunneling under the school is too risky because a failure happended elsewhere in world. My point is that if you look at the specifics, it appears that the failure Brian points to does not apply to what Metro proposes. So this this is a weak argument. And as far as risks go, tunnel construction (under the school or elsewhere) has been evaluated by Metro and Shannon & Wilson (consultant for BH). Both entities say that tunneling can be done safely, as long as appropriate design and construction techniques are used. So, it seems the only ones saying construction can't be done safely are folks that are not experts in the field, and Exponent consultants (who actually are not experts in the field either). If risks can be properly managed, why should anyone object to where ever the tunnels go? Isn't it better to focus efforts (and $) on making sure that appropriate methods are in fact used, and that the tunnels are sufficiently deep so as to not adversely affect structures along the way, or future (resonable) BHHS development plans?
JT June 14, 2012 at 04:23 PM
Joe: A similar problem exists at the campus of San Bernardino Valley College, which is crossed by the San Jacinto fault. Yes, hard to believe a school would be built over an active fault, but it was, and so was a portion of the 10/215 interchange, which was fortified to avoid collapse in the event of a future fault rupture. Seems like about 10 yrs ago, lots of trenches were excavated within the campus to establish the location of the faults. As I recall hearing, one fault trace crossed right under one of the buildings (I think an admin building). And I think that building was eventually demolished and rebuilt elsewhere. So, yes, this type of thing has happened elsewhere. Perhaps if someone wanted to build a tunnel nearby, the school would have saved some $ on fault investigation costs. (sorry couldn't resist...)

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