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BHUSD Files Suit to Block Westside Subway Route

The action could prevent Metro from routing the subway under Beverly Hills High School.

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

The lawsuit argues that the MTA should not be allowed to move forward with plans for the extension, , because it 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 to avoid or mitigate those impacts. 

The project's Final Environmental Impact Statement/Report calls for tunneling under Beverly Hills High School, which  due to safety concerns.

According to a statement released by BHUSD's legal team:

Metro failed to comply with CEQA “due to a rush‐to‐judgment” in locating the Westside Subway Extension station in Century City at Constellation Boulevard. The lawsuit alleges that the Metro board made its decision without considering the full and complete information about alternatives needed to adequately make an informed choice.

"It is unfortunate that the MTA has turned a deaf ear to our concerns and forced the district to go to court in order to get a fair hearing," BHUSD Board of Education President Brian Goldberg told Patch. "We are pleased that the process is moving forward and we will finally have an opportunity to present our data, witnesses, and cross examine witnesses—something that we were denied by the MTA board at the ."

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 BHUSD's CEQA challenge against Metro, see the PDF file attached to this article. 

Do you support the lawsuit filed by the Beverly Hills Unified School District? Tell us in the comments below.

LAofAnaheim May 31, 2012 at 02:17 PM
John is the only person who cares about tunneling under cemeteries.
JT May 31, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Westwoodwolf: correct. And John Mirish has identified a solution to the problem - BH and BHHS just need Metro to get out it's check book and pay up. Who would have guessed it was that simple?
Gary Gorlick May 31, 2012 at 03:30 PM
Ad hominem attacks reveal so much of these commentators. Why don't they stick to the issues? Can you guess?
Joe Parker May 31, 2012 at 04:13 PM
I strongly suggest that all of you read the lawsuit, which is attached to this article. In particular, item #9 which reads, "In January 2012, BHUSD discovered that nearly a year and a half earlier, and before its [MTA's] release of the Draft EIS/EIR, Metro staff submitted documents to the FTA to justify New Starts funding that only included documentation for the Constellation Station alternative -- not Santa Monica Boulevard. It appears that Metro staff had long before selected the Constellation alternative and that all of the reports it prepared and issued since were a slanted, post hoc rationalization for that decision."
Brian David Goldberg, PhD May 31, 2012 at 06:20 PM
It is very telling that those attacking the BHUSD and City from exercising our rights under the CEQA Legislation refuse to identify themselves and resort to name calling and profanity to make their case. Here is a link to a tunneling accident in Germany using the same tunneling equipment MTA proposes to use under 80+ year old structures with unmapped abandoned oil wells, sewage, utilitiy and water lines. While nobody wants an accident to occur, accidents do occur, I wounder what risk is acceptable for people when dealing with someones children, 1%, 2%, 5%, 10%? The MTA reports state that they believe they can mitigate potential risk but they cannot eliminate risk, rather than avoiding the risk of endangering students, staff and community members by moving the station less than 1,000 feet they want to tunnel under instructional buildings of a High School. While it may be easy to attack Beverly Hills and call us names, every parent, grandparent and school district in the state should be concerned about the precendent that the MTA is trying to establish by tunneling under Beverly Hills High School, just substitute Beverly Hills with Lakewood, Glendale, Culver City, Inglewood, Santa Monica, etc. Read the story below http://www.geoprac.net/geonews-mainmenu-63/38-failures/456-subway-tunnel-collapse-in-cologne-germany
Simon May 31, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Guess what Mr. Goldberg, accidents happen on Santa Monica Blvd. And Wilshire Blvd. Maybe we should shut those streets down? And sorry you're so sensitive when people are critical--you're a public official who's standing in the way of jobs and transportation. What did you expect? Love notes?
Brian David Goldberg, PhD May 31, 2012 at 07:04 PM
Those are public right of ways, not buildings that have been and will continue to house students for the purpose of education. I will remind you that Beverly Hills has two stops planned within the City and will be tearing up our main business district to support the subway to the sea and the fact that Beverly Hills was the highest yes vote in the County for Measure R, the funds that will pay for this extension, but hey let's not let facts get in the way of a good sound bite. Trying to make Beverly Hills the bad guy and repeat the tired and untrue claim that using the original route will cost jobs is ridiculous, Using Santa Monica Blvd. will create just as many jobs and actually have higher ridership according to the MTAs draft EIR For the facts on MTA visit www.centurycitysubway.org
LAofAnaheim May 31, 2012 at 07:30 PM
"precendent that the MTA is trying to establish by tunneling under Beverly Hills High " - you do realize that you are trying to create a new precedent that would affect EVERY TRANSIT AGENCY in the USA? NYMTA will probably be watching this case as well as CTA, SEPTA, BART, etc... You are saying a new precedent is being created under BHHS, which is absolutely false. There are subways under schools in the USA. By saying Beverly Hills is more special than any other school in America, is elitist. The subway runs under the Pentagon! Also, there is more methane under downtown LA and the Red Line runs safely there. What about those children in daycare centers and apartments where existing subways run under, are they less special than BHHS students? So you have no case. Your only possible win would more studies needed, but you will not overturn the will of the people who want a Constellation station and not a station bordering a golf course (SM boulevard).
LAofAnaheim May 31, 2012 at 07:34 PM
Can you show us that SM boulevard was the original route? Constellation has been an option since 1968. During the Alternative Analysis in 2008, when Measure R was voted on, there were two routes for the subway to Century City, so anybody who went to Metro meetings would have seen that Constellation was an option. It didn't come out of thin air. There is no bait-and-switch, your school district should have been more aware about the alignment in 2008. More info on Constellation in 1968: http://centurycitynews.com/local/constellation-station-on-track-with-the-facts/
Raptus Regaliter May 31, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Mr. Mirisch, for somebody who doesn't claim to be a politician, your non-answers are certainly spoken like a politician. So let me try again. Do you think that the path of the planned subway underneath Wilshire Blvd. in Westwood should be changed to the path that you support under the Los Angeles National Cemetery?
Simon May 31, 2012 at 08:30 PM
I'm not visiting the website that you paid for, which takes money from Beverly Hills' schoolchildren. And LAofAnaheim is right, but let's not let facts get in the way of a good sound bite.
Chris Loos May 31, 2012 at 08:38 PM
No one has to "try" to make Beverly Hills the bad guys. You guys have done a great job of that on your own. http://www.salon.com/2012/05/26/when_the_1_percent_say_no/
Brian David Goldberg, PhD May 31, 2012 at 08:49 PM
Sticks and stones...www.centurycitysubway.org has the original documents from the MTA. You can spin, and misrepresent but that does not change the facts. The original LPA on Santa Monica Blvd. has higher ridership, costs less money and is faster according to the MTAs own assessment. The City of Beverly Hills presented viable options that avoid tunneling under the High School and still get to Constellation and JMBs property but dismissed it without properly studying those options. It is not just the City of Beverly Hills and the Beverly Hills Unified School District that does not value the "science" regarding Santa Monica Blvd., the City of Los Angeles dismissed those studies as well when they entitled a 39 story building at 10000 Santa Monica Blvd. in February. It is disappointing that you are willing to endanger the safety of students for a misguided believe that Constelation is the center of the center.
centurycitysubway.org May 31, 2012 at 09:34 PM
LAofAnaheim: The Division of the State Architect has never approved the construction of a public school building above a subway tunnel. Therefore this would create a new precedent. There is nothing elitest about this fact. The fact that you are attempting to create some type of class warfare about this issue is appalling and pretty pathetic. Neel, this type of tactic is beneath you and you should reconsider what you are doing.
Simon May 31, 2012 at 09:35 PM
"Sticks and stones"--are you serious? It's disappointing that you would put thousands of riders at risk by pushing for a station at SMB, which numerous experts, including ones you paid for, state is unfeasible. And don't lecture me about spinning when you have your PR firm leaving comments on this board.
centurycitysubway.org May 31, 2012 at 09:40 PM
LAofAnaheim: Please refer to the Draft EIR which listed SM/AOS as the primary station location and Constellation as the "optional" location. Your reference to a letter written by Susan Bursk, a paid representative of the Century City Chamber of Commerce, which like many other entities in this dispute is funded in large part by JMB Realty, is not very compelling.
centurycitysubway.org May 31, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Simon: Are you a member of the Metro Board of Directors? Or is it just a coincidence that you are choosing to emplyoy the same tactics that most of the directors took when they chose to ignore and disregard certain facts and documents presented by the BHUSD?
Brian David Goldberg, PhD May 31, 2012 at 09:49 PM
We do not hide who we are, what our positions are, or what our goals are. All the original documents are available at www.centurycitysubway.org Our goal has been and remains to get the facts out and protect the students of Beverly Hills High School and the State of California from this run away train. You refuse to look at the facts and documents provided that respond to your posts. The documents exists you need only read them at www.centurycitysubway.org
centurycitysubway.org May 31, 2012 at 10:07 PM
Simon: "Don't lecture me" and "disgraceful" are pretty strong terms and indicates that you feel a strong sense of authority and gravitas. What makes you worthy of such respect?
John Mirisch June 01, 2012 at 07:33 AM
Actually, JT, that's exactly what eminent domain laws imply: the agency doing the taking doesn't get to take property for free. If Metro's actions create additional construction requirements which will add additional costs to future school construction, then Metro should have to pay for this -- not give the school cash -- but pay for the incremental costs. And that would be wrong, JT, exactly why....? Perhaps it would be appropriate at this juncture to remind you that this is the US of A, not the Soviet Union. And, no: it's not that simple. We have no idea if DSA would even approve of construction over tunnels, even if Metro would agree to a covenant which would make the BHUSD whole.
JT June 06, 2012 at 04:09 PM
John M: I would think that there is a depth at which a subsurface parking structure is no longer affordable, and which would be sufficient for BHHS needs. Surely that was figured out long ago. And I would think that Metro tunnels can go sufficiently deep below the bottom of planned BHHS structures so that there is no impact to BHHS building plans. So then if BHHS building plans are not constrained, and if Metro incorporates designs and construction measures that mitigate vibrations, etc, is there any real impact to BHHS or any other structures along the route? Does it then become tough to put a high price on underground space that is effectively unusable to BHHS and anyone else?
Joe Parker June 06, 2012 at 07:16 PM
JT, You seem to have missed or ignored the last sentence in John's post. "We have no idea if DSA would even approve of construction over tunnels, even if Metro would agree to a covenant which would make the BHUSD whole." This is crucial. The school district has no idea what the DSA will require in 5, 20, 100 years. Or the County might be bankrupt. No one knows. The school district is looking out for students not just today but in the future, and they have no other location for the high school.
John Mirisch June 07, 2012 at 04:45 AM
Raptus, I can't answer your question because there isn't sufficient information available: Metro refused to perform advanced ridership studies because they didn't even want to consider tunneling under a cemetery. But hopefully you'll be satisfied with this hypothetical: if Metro had done advanced, non-rigged ridership studies which had shown that a station in the middle of Westwood ("center of the center," Baby) would better serve the entire area, including UCLA, and would have had significantly higher ridership (and assuming all other factors would have been equal such as travel time and costs), then, yes, I would be in favor of a subway alignment which tunnels under a cemetery. And presumably so would every individual who decries a Santa Monica Blvd. station because it's "next to a golf course." (Whoops, forgot they don't really care about the actual ridership numbers...). Where's the problem, Raptus? For those Patch readers who never had the pleasure of reading Asterix in Latin, Raptus Regaliter roughly translates to "royally screwed": for some the very definition of an entire Community which is about to be violated by the results of a massive, government bureaucracy's bait-and-switch tactics and rigwork. Oh, irony of ironies. Perhaps a better handle would be: Ixnay on Etrosmay Utzpahchay Oyvay.
John Mirisch June 07, 2012 at 04:59 AM
JT, I wasn't referring to construction of underground parking, but of any potential new construction which takes place in the cones of influence above the tunnels: it all needs to be approved by Metro, not to mention DSA. Some above-ground construction, for example, could require a "table" construction whereby a massive table is built over and around the subway tunnels because foundations can only go to a certain depth. Joe is right. The BHHS campus is undersized and will have to serve the needs of the District for hundreds of years. It is simply impossible to know what those needs will be -- and it's unreasonable to expect the District to act as seers decades into the future. The point is, they'd be on the hook for the incremental costs -- and I'm suggesting that if Metro covenanted to pay for at least the real, incremental costs of whatever kind of construction future School Boards decide are necessary to serve their core mission, then this would at least be a way to make sure that the District would be made whole. It would be the least Metro could do. Notwithstanding this, the District has, in fact, let Metro know that they could live with a tunnel which was significantly deeper in order to limit restrictions on future development (Metro is studiously avoiding tunneling under parts of CC so as not to restrict future commercial development). Metro has categorically refused to consider locating the tunnels deeper... because of the cost.
Raptus Regaliter June 07, 2012 at 06:53 AM
Congratulations John, you figured out how to search the internet for the Latin meaning of “Raptus Regaliter”. That deserves a golf clap... the kind of half-hearted sentiment you’d occasionally hear echoing off the empty expanses of the golf course that sits to the north of Century City. You might want to rethink your support of tunneling under the Los Angeles Federal Cemetery. This isn’t any ordinary cemetery. This is where we bury our veterans. The thought of changing the location of the subway tunnels in Westwood to run beneath the graves of American soldiers to satiate politicians like John Mirisch is a bit sickening. Talk about royally screwed.
Joe Parker June 07, 2012 at 08:40 AM
Raptus, it's stupid that you would have such thoughts, and then get sick over them. I'm sure the veterans and their families wouldn't mind if the motive for tunneling under the cemetery was to better serve thousands of UCLA students now and in the future. But then, does Metro care about students? Certainly not those in Beverly Hills.
Robert Tinker June 11, 2012 at 06:30 PM
WOW U GUYS GOT WHAT YOU WANT WOW U GUYS CRY ABOUT EVERYTHING BIG BABYS
David Keene Leavitt July 20, 2012 at 11:46 PM
Is it really possible that the United States is fuil of subway tracks that do not go under high schools? How long has it been that any or us have read or heard of a subway collapse anywhere in this country - or anyplace else in peacetime - absent terrorist activity? Having lived in Beverly Hills for 60 years, and remembering the demise (under the auspices of legislator Tony Bielensen and his friends) of the Beverly Hills Freeway in the 1960s - which was a never-ending loss to our city when it might have cost a small fraction of today's expenses - I favor building the subway wherever the owners think best, in the absence of convincing evidence of danger which, so far, we do not have. The Beverly Hills lawsuit does more damage to the residents and businesspeople of our city than to anyone else. It should be abandoned. David Keene Leavitt.
Lewis Hall July 23, 2012 at 04:50 PM
California schools are under the auspices of the Field Act and the Dept. of State Architects that have done an amazing job of ensuring safe schools in this state. Since 1936, not one K-12 school has been substantially damaged during an earthquake, even when it's sat on the epicenter. But no public school has ever been built over a subway tunnel in California. Even if DSA allows the school to be built, a "bridge" will need to be constructed over this shallow tunnel and that could cost millions. The simple solution is to move the tunnel 1,000 feet north, but this is not what the rich developers in Century City want. That the proposed route under the school runs through active and inactive oil wells raises serious safety concerns compounded by the fact that Metro has neither done a qualified nor a quantified risk assessment of the routes.
Simon July 25, 2012 at 06:34 AM
@Lewis. Please cite your evidence for your "bridge" reference. And moving the stop 1,000 feet north is not a "simple solution" as you untruthfully claim. That area sits on top of an earthquake fault that experts--unpaid by Metro--say is unsafe. You may not ride the subway but the millions of people who will deserve a safe station, as well as one that is convenient to the job center. Thanks for your spin, though!

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