Waxman's Letter to MTA About Westside Subway

The 30th District of California representative for the U.S. Congress is requesting careful consideration of the Century City location.

The following is a letter Rep. Henry A. Waxman sent to the Metro Board, dated April 12.

Mr. Arthur T. Leahy
Chief Executive Officer
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority
One Gateway Plaza
Los Angeles, California 90012

Dear Mr. Leahy:

As a strong proponent of the Westside Subway Extension, I write to request the Metro Board's careful consideration of the Century City station location as it reviews the Final Environmental Impact Statement/Report for the project.

As you know, subway safety has been a top priority of mine. I have heard a great deal of concern from the Beverly Hills community about the proposed Century City station at Constellation Boulevard, because of the possible safety risks involved with tunneling under Beverly Hills High School. The City of Beverly Hills and the Beverly Hills Unified School District have commissioned independent studies and made a strong case that the route poses safety risks and would be less desirable for cost, speed and ridership. These concerns must be weighed carefully alongside the study commissioned by Metro, which identifies serious seismic concerns for alternate station locations on Santa Monica Boulevard.

I appreciate your assurances that safety is Metro's number one consideration. Safety should remain the top concern as the Metro Board evaluates the EIS/EIR and the Century City station. I would urge the Metro Board to only chose a route that would require tunneling under the school if there is a definitive conclusion that it is the safest alternative.

With kind regards,


Henry A. Waxman
Member of Congress 

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John Mirisch April 13, 2012 at 05:53 AM
The implication being, of course, Joe, that "Time is science and science is time." Interesting.
centurycitysubway.org April 13, 2012 at 12:49 PM
Carol To the contrary, there is a major difference between Beverly Hills High School and homes, temples and businesses in Westwood. Besides the fact that BHHS houses thousands of students on a daily basis, it must also comply with the Field Act, which imposes strict limitations on the construction of public school buildings in the state of California. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Field_Act). The Field Act does not apply to homes, temples or businesses. What's more, it is a fact that no public school buildings in the state of California are located above subway tunnels. (see http://centurycitysubway.org/storage/Tunnels%20under%20Schools%20web.pdf)
John Heidt April 13, 2012 at 01:45 PM
Carol Spencer (commemt above) is exactly correct. Then there is the issue of who set back, by 30 years, heavy rail to the Westside and is responsible for the horrible gridlock we encounter at rush hour everyday on the Westside due to legislation, Henry Waxman. On the other hand, we can thank Mr. Waxman for repealing that legislation! He is likely the only person who could have gotten that done. I think without a doubt everyone wants the safest and most efficient route.
Joe Parker April 13, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Who got to Henry? I suspect it was a combination of things: the many letters written by the community, and the work of Venable, the lobbying group in Washington that the school district has hired. Plus, it doesn't hurt to be on the side of right, and Waxman is smart enough to know that.
Carol Spencer April 13, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Alan, The Constellation route that goes 50-70 feet beneath grass a soccer field and a newer building #B on the BHHS campus is the SAFEST ROUTE. It is so far below the surface that it will not affect any of BHHS building plans.
Bart Hayes April 13, 2012 at 04:11 PM
What a joke. Beverly Hills' own experts agree with Metro's conclusions, i.e., there is now a definitive conclusion that tunneling under BHHS is the safest alternative. What a tremendous waste of time, emotion, and money lie ahead for all of us because of the intransigence of the privileged few in Beverly Hills.
centurycitysubway.org April 13, 2012 at 05:58 PM
@ LAofAnaheim Your post is a flat out lie. The peer review studies commissioned by the City of Beverly Hills do not agree with Metro. You point to a single reference in the Shannon & Wilson report that is taken of context, and you completely ignore the Exponent study. Not to mention the fact that BHUSD is awaiting the results of its own studies, which will contain new data from trenching. Shannon & Wilson, which strongly recommended that Metro conduct additional studies to determine the best and safest location, based its findings on data provided by Metro and its paid consultants from Parsons Brinckerhofff. If that data was wrong, which it may be, then that conclusion is also incorrect. We encourage everyone to read the studies for themselves so that they can form their own opinion. The full reports mentioned above are available at www.centurycitysubway.org.
Simon April 13, 2012 at 06:04 PM
Mr. Mirisch, A comment on a web story is not a hissy fit. And let's be real here--a politician needs financial support to get reelected. You know that. This subway does not need the financial support of a developer to get built--it already has Measure R funds. You also know that. Also, it defies logic to think Metro would build an unsafe subway station or tunnel, opening themselves up to injuries and lawsuits, just to placate a developer.
centurycitysubway.org April 13, 2012 at 06:39 PM
@ Bart Hayes You are incorrect. Beverly Hills' experts did NOT agree with Metro's conclusions. The Shannon & Wilson report strongly recommended that Metro conduct additional studies to determine the best and safest station location. The Exponent report clearly stated, among other things, that it is too dangerous to tunnel under BHHS. Both of these studies were peer reviews and relied on data provided by Metro and its paid consultants from Parsons Brinckerhofff. That data may have been wrong. That is why the BHUSD commissioned its own studies to collect new and better data from trenching. BHUSD is awaiting the results of those studies. Please visit www.centurycitysubway.org for additional information.
Bart Hayes April 13, 2012 at 06:41 PM
Beverly Hills sure can afford a lot of sock puppet shills to spew its falsehoods. All us regular folks who just want a safe and effective subway soon have to step up our participation so that Beverly Hills and its band of hired guns don't shaft us again.
LAofAnaheim April 13, 2012 at 07:27 PM
A "flat out lie"? Are you kidding me? The report clearly acknowledges the subway can safely travel under BHHS without endangering development. You cannot even argue that point. Yes, the reports ask for "additional studies" but that's just a cover your behind type of response just to appease Beverly Hills. Shannon & Wilson and Exponent will not throw their reputation under the bus to just agree that SM boulevard is safer than Constellation a claim that your organization has continously made for years and is proved WRONG Metro studies and the studies by your commissioned reports.
LAofAnaheim April 13, 2012 at 07:57 PM
Mr. Mirisich..the accusation of "bought off developers" at Constellation is a big lie. The reasonable and sane citizens of LA know that Constellation is the Center of Century City. You cannot even dispute this claim. Reasonable LA citizens are pushing for Constellation; but apparently you don't include us as "Constellation boosters". You just like to put the blame on those "big bad developers".
LAofAnaheim April 13, 2012 at 08:02 PM
Alan, all the reports (including the BH funded reports) have stated that Constellation appears more favorable. CenturyCitySubway and John Mirisich are spreading misinformation and twisiting the report verbage.
Minoter April 13, 2012 at 10:47 PM
If you feel strongly, Bart, show up at the Metro Board Meeting early morning on April 26th, to voice your opinion. I'm sure hundreds of BH folks will be there to express their views.
frances bilak April 13, 2012 at 11:09 PM
Reality still lies in the fact that there are approximately two thousand children attending the ONLY high school in all of Beverly Hills, and if one life is lost because of this metro tunneling underneath it, because of "well funded century city developers" or " greatly endowed comstock-westwood community activists", then all of this bickering about Rep. Waxman's true concern for the safety of the route, will be for naught, as there will be one, or several families who will be grieving as those of you who wanted to jump so quickly to Disney Hall or the ocean, just didn't care to wait a little longer to see all the results of the EIR and other reports. We are talking about real people, real, concerns and real emotions. As a resident of Beverly Hills I want high speed transportation, just not under the only high school we have. Why start a precedent here, where California has never had one before, of putting a metro underneath an existing public high school, in a community where there are no other high schools for our children to go to? I applaud you Rep. Waxman and hope your efforts to get all the information before making a true and honest and complete decision works.
Carol Spencer April 13, 2012 at 11:25 PM
Frances, I would imagine that Metro would bore the tunnels during vacation periods – when no children are present - from what I have heard, on prior Subway builds, residents living above the tunnel never knew when the machine went thru. No problems - I sympathies with your concerns, however the residents of Westwood also have children and you seem to say that it is OK to put our children in jeopardy. Just not Beverly Hills children! I am a resident of Westwood and I have faith in Metro and the Metro Board to get all the information and to do it right!
Minoter April 13, 2012 at 11:45 PM
Dear Frances- No one expects children to lose their lives because of yet another subway in another City. Have you heard of other deaths from tunneling? But I must also take issue with your remark "greatly endowed comstock-westwood community activists." It's actually quite funny since you BH folks are spending hundreds of thousands on Sitrick's PR and Wash. D.C. Lobbyist Venable. Our Comstock Hills activists pay $35 a year for dues, yet none of it goes into the effort to make sure we don't have an unsafe location for a subway station on SM Blvd. You folks are the well endowed ones, not us.
Simon April 13, 2012 at 11:55 PM
So a subway can run under skyscrapers and homes in LA (which have operated safely since the 90s) but not BH's high school. Wow, talk about elitist mentalities.
LAofAnaheim April 14, 2012 at 12:07 AM
Frances.....there are countless of schools around the United States and the world where subways travel (heck, I went to the Universidad Complutense in Madrid with over 25,000 students and a subway below).....guess what..nobody dies! What you are hearing is lies and inconvient truths by Mr. Mirisich, Lisa Kobotov and centurycitysubway. Please educate yourself and you'll see Metro's studies as well as Exponent and Smith & Wilson (funded by BH's mind you) all come to the conclusion that Constellation and drilling under BHHS is actually safer than Santa Monica boulevard. By the way, schools around the world don't have oil wells actively drilling.........that's actually more dangerous than a subway underneath. Read the facts before screaming at Metro, which already has the Red/Purple Line travel under dozens of office buildings under Los Angeles with children daycare centers. By the way, it's not "big bad developers" who Constellation, its the reasonable and sane people of Los Angeles who know what the true center of Century City is. This is not about developers v. BH. This is about reasonable LA residents v. looney BH politicians riling masses with loose facts.
John Mirisch April 14, 2012 at 02:58 AM
Whether a snarky comment on a web story or standing up to government malfeasance is a hissy fit will be something everyone can decide for him or herself. But your points are not well taken. Nobody is suggesting that the CC developers are giving money to the subway. However, they are funding "grass roots" organizations, and the financial connection between the Century City developers and Metro board members was well established by the LA Weekly. In other words, some of the decision-making politicians who are Metro insiders. It does not defy logic at all to suggest that LA has often been a City for sale and is well-known to be "pay-to-play." It's not necessarily a question that Constellation is unsafe, but that Metro conveniently found SM to be "unsafe" in order to "justify" their pre-ordained conclusion. I wrote about this almost a year ago, it was so obvious. As for Congressman Waxman, there is perhaps no politician in California who so little needs any financial support to get reelected as he. With no major competition, he could likely win re-election without spending a dime. Again, very ironic that you are blind to how developments get entitled in LA, but think that a Congressman who questions the wisdom of tunneling under a school when there may be alternatives is "bought and paid for."
John Mirisch April 14, 2012 at 03:02 AM
How is anybody suggesting it's OK to put children in jeopardy, just not BH children? Do you hear anyone in BH suggest it's OK to tunnel under any other school anywhere else? Interesting that you trust government bureaucrats to such a degree. Very ironic, considering that the overdevelopment which has led to the traffic misery that besets the entire Westside, including BH, has been wrought by the politicians and bureaucrats you seem to have so much faith in.
John Mirisch April 14, 2012 at 03:13 AM
For all we know LA is on Metro's payroll (or that of an adjunct organization, some of which are funded by the developers he seems so fond of). Beverly Hills is not LA. It is not Anaheim. Difficult for you to accept, I get it, but perhaps unsurprising that you don't want to/can't/are incapable of understanding our Community's concerns. At least try to open your eyes and see the world before declaring yourself "reasonable" when your position is anything but consistent and you express such blind faith in an agency which would use such deplorable bait-and-switch tactics and which is unwilling to tunnel under a cemetery with dead people but doesn't have a problem with tunneling under a school with real, live children when there are other viable alternatives. Finally, as stated before, if you have such faith in Metros "science" and such concerns about the safety of Santa Monica Boulevard then at least be consistent and use your considerable writing talents to convince the City of LA that skyscrapers on SM Blvd are unsafe and that -- par pitié -- LA shouldn't entitle the 37 story skyscraper on the corner of SM and Moreno, not to mention that they should do something about those poor, unfortunate souls who risk their lives daily by entering all the other skyscrapers along Santa Monica Boulevard..
Carol Spencer April 14, 2012 at 04:09 AM
Mr Mirisch, What makes you think that a tunnel beneath a school will put children in jeopardy any more than a tunnel beneath a private home with small children. Remember, many homes have been safely tunneled under and many homes with small children will be tunneled under in Westwood no matter what the route is.
frances bilak April 14, 2012 at 05:05 AM
So if you truly want to make sure that ALL the facts are properly presented and looked at, and that metro really does respond to the exponent report, and that metro actually looks at Santa Monica by trenching, not just by making a few coring holes, then why not take a little longer in deciding the proper route? I don't believe under the high school is appropriate. The citizens of Beverly hills never agreed to it and shouldn't have it rammed down their throats. We agreed to a Santa Monica route, why the bait and switch?
John Mirisch April 14, 2012 at 08:01 AM
Ms. Spencer, please feel free to google "Field Act" and "DSA." While you're at it, also feel free to google "CDE" and what their guidelines are for the acreage for a school of BHHS's student population size. Then perhaps you can explain how unnecessarily restricting the ability of the School District -- essentially forever -- to make the most out of its limited property will in any way benefit the children it's supposed to serve.
Ken Goldman April 14, 2012 at 07:01 PM
First--About Constellation being in the center of Century City. OK, but it is only ONE BLOCK (OK, a long block) away from the station originally proposed by Metro. People in NY, Paris, London, SF, DC, etc etc would be laughing at us if they knew this rukus was all about walking ONE BLOCK. Moving it to Constellation would also leave out all the office buildings along S.M. Blvd. (if you buy into Metro's logic that people will only walk one block) and would leave out all the employees and visitors at the Hilton! To Metro's cool aid that it is completely safe: There have been 5 fatal subway construction accidents (Cologne,Sao Paulo, Korea and China) in the past few years. And in Hollywood, the contractor built subway walls at HALF the prescribed thickness for several hundred feet. And in Boston's big dig, just a few years ago, the tunnel there collapsed. Accidents happen. Why put the High School in danger when there is an acceptable alternative route (other than the exaggerated seismic risk for a fault that last moved seriously some 3,000 years ago)!!!! Beverly Hills first backed the Westside extension--until Metro pulled its bait and switch and changed the route to go under the High School. There is a reason there is no school in all of California that has a subway under it. And, NO that it would only go under a soccer field and new building. It would go directly under one of the original high school buildings, right down the middle of the campus. Ken Goldman
RTL April 15, 2012 at 10:01 PM
There is comparatively little danger of subways collapsing with earthquakes. The most dangerous thing is panic. Even if there is a blackout, trains run on to the next station by inertia. Emergency lights will go on as well, so keep calm and follow the staff's instructions. Beverly Hills is looking foolish throughout this process. Grow up Beverly Hills! The subway is safe and necessary.
Beverly Hill April 17, 2012 at 08:30 AM
Waxman is actually only asking to be assured that the subway itself is "safe", he voiced no concern what so ever over the impact the subway project may have on the high school or upon the families who depend on BHHS. It would not seem unreasonable to request such an inquiry when something so vital to the community of Beverly Hills is at stake.
cutop April 19, 2012 at 01:59 AM
I am a Beverly Hills resident who has no problem with the tunnels running under the high school. My only concern is that the high school wishes to do major construction on its campus. To build safely on top of the tunnels, the high school would have to build costly "bridges" over the tunnels. I think a great compromise would be for MTA to pay those costs when the high school proceeds with its construction plans.
Bart Hayes May 03, 2012 at 01:51 AM
Thank god someone is thinking about the children. The children! Will no one think of the children?


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