The Beverly Hills Unified School District's effort to oppose a is kicking into gear just as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority plans additional public forums on the topic.
The MTA will hold three “community update” meetings this month, including one Jan. 31 at the to discuss work on the final environmental impact report of two possible routes for the Westside Subway Extension. One route would entail tunneling under the high school and the Beverly Hills Unified School District office, while the one favored by the school district and city officials would go under Santa Monica Boulevard.
BHUSD officials and many residents feel that the MTA has unofficially decided in favor of the route under the high school because of an alleged fault line under Santa Monica Boulevard.
“The Beverly Hills board of education plans to continue to demonstrate that viable alternatives exist and hire our own experts to refute the false seismic claims being advanced by the MTA experts regarding tunneling under the original and locally preferred route, Santa Monica Boulevard,” board Vice President Brian Goldberg said last week in an e-mail to constituents.
As part of these efforts, the BHUSD board voted 5-0 on Thursday to hire national law firm Alston + Bird to oppose any decision to tunnel under the high school. Alston + Bird specializes in environmental and land development law, as well as public policy issues, according to its website. The firm has nine offices, including locations in Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C.
The board is also likely to hire a lobbying firm, President Lisa Korbatov told Patch in an e-mail. Under consideration is Englander Knabe & Allen, the same firm behind efforts to put —a two-hour free parking proposal—on the March ballot. Englander has offices in Los Angeles and also Sacramento, where BHUSD wants state officials to become involved.
Meanwhile, the subway issue is becoming front and center in the upcoming City Council elections. All three candidates running for council seats oppose the proposal to tunnel under the high school. Two of the three— and Councilwoman —specifically mentioned the issue at their Jan. 9 campaign launches.
Patch urges readers to attend one or more of the three upcoming MTA community update meetings. The first is Jan. 24 at LACMA West on the fifth floor, according to the MTA's website. The next meeting will be Jan. 26 on the third floor of Westwood United Methodist Church, 10497 Wilshire Blvd. The last one will be Jan. 31 at the Roxbury Community Center.
The meetings begin at 6 p.m., with the public comment period from 7:15-8 p.m. Those planning to attend the Beverly Hills meeting are advised to get there early, as prior MTA meetings held at Roxbury were that an overflow room was needed.