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L.A. Times Calls Beverly Hills PTA Subway Video 'Dramatic'

The video was paid for by Beverly Hills' umbrella PTA organization as part of their fight against routing the Westside Subway Extension under the city's high school.

A Los Angeles Times article quotes an engineer featured in a Beverly Hills PTA Council YouTube video depicting flames engulfing the city's high school as "over the top."

The video titled  was posted in late April. It warns viewers of the possibility of methane gas explosions at Beverly Hills High School should the Metropolitan Transportation Authority tunnel under the campus, which sits on an oil field. The Times article quotes an engineer hired by the Beverly Hills Unified School District who is featured in the video:

"I don't think having the big explosion [in the video] is as helpful as it could be," said Tim Buresh, the district's lead engineer on the subway issue. He said that when he agreed to speak for the cameras, he did not know that special effects would be used.

The PTA Council video has more than 6,000 views as of Monday. At the end of the video, viewers are asked to sign a petition to  from going under BHHS. The ability to leave comments about the video on the YouTube site has been disabled. 

To watch No Subway Under BHHS, click here.

To read the Times article, click here.

Chris Loos May 08, 2012 at 12:10 AM
In addition to the article mentioned above, the LA Times also just published an opinion piece. http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/opinion-la/la-ol-subway-beverly-hills-20120507,0,734718.story
Bruce Margolin May 08, 2012 at 02:38 AM
Would the LA Times find any of these stories to be "dramatic"? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_Archive_of_the_City_of_Cologne http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,613209,00.html http://www.geoprac.net/geonews-mainmenu-63/38-failures/456-subway-tunnel-collapse-in-cologne-germany
Simon May 08, 2012 at 03:41 AM
Wikipedia as a source--definitely more solid than geologists. And please tell us all how if the subway collapsed that would affect BHHS? Would the whole school come crashing under? Guess we're comfortable putting skyscrapers over subway tunnels, just not high schools. Honestly, you're really grasping at straws here. Please end this before another PR firm has to be hired to erase this nasty NIMBYism from the public's memory.
John Mirisch May 08, 2012 at 04:02 AM
Guess we're also comfortable putting skyscrapers on supposed fault lines, as LA's recent entitlement of a skyscraper in the "danger zone" would suggest. The diction mistake in connection with the usage of the word "NIMBY" is duly noted.
Andrea Fine May 08, 2012 at 05:07 AM
This is embarassing for BH PTA to have produced and funded this outrageous shock video. Do they really think PTA moms and dads are that impressionable and naive to not see the sensationalism. Also, did the Superintendent not see a draft prior to authorizing the video. It is clear that many are distancing themselves from this video like the Council and Board of Ed. Why hasn't Tim Burnesh the School District's expert not explain why he said that the subway tunnel will go "thru the classrooms". Was he serious or does he think we residents are that stupid to not buy that manure.
Lewis Hall May 08, 2012 at 06:13 AM
Although the video does not “represent” me as a Beverly Hills resident nor as a member of the school board, I think it serves an important purpose in raising consciousness on this issue. Besides serious safety issues that the Exponent Report has pointed out and Metro ignored, the subway should not/cannot go under the high school as it will inhibit, if not prevent, needed expansion of the school. And not just in the near future, but in decades to come. The video brings to mind Jonathan Swift’s essay, “A Modest Proposal,” written in 1729. In the essay Swift suggests that the Irish sell their babies as food to the rich, and so doing he highlights society’s insensitive and uncaring attitude toward the poor. Likewise, Metro’s insensitive and uncaring attitude toward the District’s concerns has prompted this film. The Federal Transportation Administration slowed down its review of the project to include new data from Beverly Hills. The District pleaded for Metro to do the same. But, no, they went ahead and certified a flawed EIR and if it were not for our clever City attorney, they would have approved it. The video got this coverage tonight: http://www.nbclosangeles.com/video/#!/news/top-stories/video-override/Scare-Video-is-Latest-Tactic-in-Subway-Route-War/150533845 And not just from NBC, but from CBS and KTLA as well. The video serves a purpose and for the most part the residents understand. We shouldn’t forget that this is an intelligent community.
Simon May 08, 2012 at 06:19 AM
Your "clever" city attorney is simply delaying the inevitable. And how many times do you have to be told that you can expand your high school even with the subway?
Deborah Blum May 08, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Mr. Lewis Hall has posted a brilliant comment. BEFORE the video, this community of Beverly Hills residents were apathetic and oblivious; AFTER the video they are awake to the serious issues at hand. The video did its job!
Simon May 08, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Uh, ok, Deborah. I would hope that most people in Beverly Hills aren't so gullible and ignorant about the topic at hand. Especially now that greater Los Angeles is laughing at this hysteria and lowest-common denominator fear tactics.
Chris Loos May 08, 2012 at 05:49 PM
The video has indeed gone viral and is getting a lot of people to recognize the issue, but is probably not having the effect that the PTA intended. The reactions seem to be falling into 2 categories: "The video is so dramatic and propeganda-like that BHUSD must have something to hide, and most likely isn't in the right." "There's a network of oil wells under the campus?! That school has no business being there! Move those students to a new facility immediately! The metro issue is moot because the students won't even be there."
cutop May 08, 2012 at 08:13 PM
Mr. Hall, perhaps you can help answer a question which none of my fellow residents or elected officials in Beverly Hills have been able to yet. If it is truly dangerous to do subway construction under BHHS, then isn't it also dangerous to do underground parking construction under BHHS? In short, why is there a double standard? I don't think that your Swift reference is entirely apt. Mr. Swift was knowingly proposing something ironically outlandish for dramatic effect. In the case of our PTA, they don't seem to know that their proposal is outlandish. They fail to see the irony, and that's ironic. That is why the video continues to be subjected to so much ridicule. Unfortunately this ridicule is being cast onto Beverly Hills as a whole. The general public doesn't know the difference between the platforms of the PTA versus the school board versus the city council versus the individual resident. All of this is further damaging the relationship Beverly Hills has with our neighbors. And that can have devastating consequences across the board. So please speak your piece on May 17th, but if that doesn't change Metro's plans, I urge you to drop it. The fight would be lost. Pursuing legal remedies will only continue to make us look like sore losers, elitists, and xenophobes to those outside our village. And within our village, know that people like me are becoming increasingly upset about how much of our tax dollars are being squandered on this lost battle.
Lewis Hall May 09, 2012 at 11:53 AM
@cutop To attempt to answer your question, there is concern for any work done in the ground at BHHS. When we were trenching, we had trained experts continuously testing the ground as we were digging. Even though we were not digging under a building, we were always being careful. We will do the same for any excavations. This is different with Metro who plans to tunnel directly under our buildings. And they have the reputation of NOT being careful. The fact that they certified their EIR without addressing the Exponent report, which the city commissioned at considerable expense, is evidence that their disregard to safety has not changed. The objective of the PTA's video was to bring the issue to the forefront of people's thought. In this sense they have been very successful. Hopefully, the evidence we present at the May 17th hearing will change Metro's plans, but if it doesn't, I will continue to fight for what is best for our current and future students irregardless of how this might appear to those "outside our village."
cutop May 09, 2012 at 06:05 PM
Thanks for the response, Mr. Hall, and the attempt to answer my question. Good luck on the 17th. Hopefully by then you've come up with a better answer than "it is safe for us to do massive construction under BHHS but it is not safe for Metro to do". I don't think that argument is very sound nor persuasive. As far as your charge that Metro didn't respond to the Exponent report, I'd like to make you aware of their very detailed response: http://thesource.metro.net/2012/04/10/metro-responds-to-report-commissioned-by-beverly-hills-on-seismic-and-tunneling-safety-issues/. That this very thorough response was given just after Metro certified the EIR is NOT "evidence that their disregard to safety has not changed"? Perhaps it is it evidence of a growing disrespect for Beverly Hills, but not of disregard for safety. We've already shot ourselves in the foot, to continue the fight after May 17th will be effectively shooting ourselves in the other foot... and then we won't have a leg to stand on.
bvbulldogmom May 09, 2012 at 08:19 PM
Mr. Hall, You seem like one of the bright minds and I am glad you distanced yourself from the PTA video and had the guts to say so. But, can you in plain language answer the following: 1. Does the School Board endorse the PTA Video? Did your Superintendent authorize its release and him being filmed without Board approvals? 2. If there are concerns regarding methane gas explosions and safety during the subway tunneling, why is everyone including the PTA so silent about the upcoming Measure E construction. It seems like this is akin to saying "don't eat the chocolate chip cookie for it will rot your teeth but the sugar cookie is ok? 3. Tim Buresh the Schools hired consultant was stated in the PTA film that the subway tunnel "won't go under the classrooms but through the classrooms". Now really, do you think that we residents sincerely believe that the tunnel will go thru the classrooms? His credibility is zero with that comment...don't you think? 4. With all the talk about not knowing where the abandoned oil wells are and the fear of the tunnel cracking one...don't we have the same concern when we do building construction? Please Mr. Hall, no spin on the answers just the facts.
Hans Laetz May 10, 2012 at 03:48 PM
Have the good citizens of Beverly Hills also seen "Battle Los Angeles" and are they rushing to their panic rooms as a result?
Lewis Hall May 11, 2012 at 05:51 AM
@cutop I think if anyone is shooting their own feet it is Metro. As far as I'm concerned (and I can only speak for myself), the onus is on Metro to prove that tunneling under our high school is safe. So far I haven't seen, heard, or felt it from their words, actions, or attitude.
Lewis Hall May 11, 2012 at 06:26 AM
@bvbulldogmom I did not distance myself from the PTA video, I simply said that the video did not represent me. I'm made films myself and I would have included more reasons why the subway under the high school is not a good idea and explain why this new route was chosen by MTA. But I know the film was made quickly with the main objective of raising the community's consciousness on this issue. And as such it achieved its objective brilliantly. As for your questions, they seem more provocative than sincere. So I'll reply with something CS Lewis once wrote (I'm paraphrasing): Sometimes we ask the wrong questions. The question that you should ask is why hasn't Metro made any effort to allay the concerns of the City of Beverly Hills or the school district? They started all this last summer with "If you don't like it, sue us!" And since then we have received flawed reports, poor methodology, and lots of arrogance. Three and a half hours to present our case on May 17th? Seriously? This was scheduled without consulting us. To show them our science would require a day and a half and that is with a lot of condensing. And what about time to ask questions of their so-called "experts"?

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