LA Times Op-Ed: Beverly Hills Won't Derail Subway

The Los Angeles Times published an editorial Wednesday saying a legal challenge from Beverly Hills would be a lost cause.

An editorial in the Los Angeles Times says any legal challenge Beverly Hills or its school district mounts against the Westside Subway Extension would fail to stop the trains from tunneling under Beverly Hills High School.

The article, published Wednesday, calls the a "short-lived victory," since the Metropolitan Transportation Authority approved plans to tunnel under Beverly Hills High School to reach a station at . It also says the money necessary to sue Metro should be spent on Beverly Hills students.

The tunneling machines aren't expected to make it to Beverly Hills for about a decade, giving ample time to resolve lawsuits or federal challenges while working on earlier segments of the line. And even if the school board prevails in a lawsuit, it has little chance of forcing a change in the subway route; a more probable result would be to mandate more engineering studies. Meanwhile, the school board would waste money on litigation that would be far better spent on education.

The editorial also says putting a subway station on Santa Monica Boulevard is "geologically unfeasible." At its public hearing with Metro, under Santa Monica Boulevard. Beverly Hills also to Constellation Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars that do not involve tunneling under the high school.

To read the complete editorial, click here.

Do you agree with the editorial? Would you rather see Beverly Hills sue Metro or drop its case? Tell us in the comments below.

BJToepper May 30, 2012 at 10:09 PM
Beverly Hills should ask itself whether it has a reasonable chance of winning a lawsuit, and if it does, what exactly it will win. I'm sure city officials realize that they can't sue to move the tunnel; rather, they can only sue to determine whether the various environmental reviews meet legal standards. This means, in turn, that the best they can do is stop the project, probably only temporarily. City officials presumably also have the power to prevent Metro from putting stations in Beverly Hills. However, exercising that power means shooting ourselves in the foot, as Metro has many possible alternatives in surrounding neighborhoods. Metro is the big dog in this fight. I'd much rather see the city use the threat of lawsuit to gain concessions from Metro (like help with the school's parking garage) than to sue and get nothing at all. All this said, I'm also not sure whether a compromise position is politically viable now. The Council has largely taken an all-or-nothing stance, perhaps goaded on by vocal community response. To adopt a new tack might look like capitulation to Metro. A new council, unencumbered by its past statements and positions, might be needed.
Brian David Goldberg, PhD May 30, 2012 at 11:05 PM
The District has many options available to ensure a fair hearing on the both at the State and Federal level. Like most issues politics play a role and we should avail ourselves of those options as well. What most people do not realize is that our schools, like all public schools, are owned by the State and entrusted to a locally elected school board to manage the state's asset for the specific purpose of educating the community. This is not about a public taking of private property for a public benefit. This is about a hybrid County entity trying to "take" rights from the State. This is not your usual case and anyone who tries to predict what the outcome will be does not understand the legal issues involved.
Donna Flade May 31, 2012 at 12:26 AM
Yaroslavski said, "So Sue Us"...so, okay!
George Vreeland Hill May 31, 2012 at 12:38 AM
The Los Angeles Times is on Metro's side. They run Op-Eds that reflect that fact. The L.A. Times ignores the facts and truths the same way Metro has. The Times also knows that most people are in favor of a tunnel under BHHS because most people do not live in Beverly Hills. The Times will often side with a majority because of sales. The City of Beverly Hills has a legitimate case and Metro knows it. That is why Metro's reports have very often been incomplete. That is why Metro has hired people who are not licensed to perform vital jobs that relate to this matter. Metro knew that If they hired the proper people, then they might be told that Beverly Hills is right and that is something Metro can't afford to let happen. It has been proven that putting a tunnel under Santa Monica Boulevard is safe and that there are no active faults there. Metro looks the other way. As a result, so does the Times. Metro is trying to bully its way through Beverly Hills because they can't do it the right and legal way. By ignoring the facts, the L.A. Times is doing the same thing.
Christopher Jack May 31, 2012 at 01:21 AM
I really don't think LA Metro should be able to do whatever they want. I ride the Red Line almost everyday, live in North Hollywood and don't even have a car. It would be amazing to have the Purple Line extended, even to Fairfax, let alone someday to Santa Monica. But it has to be done right. If there are options that are suitable to Beverly Hills, then use them, it is their city. Does anyone think Any authority has he right to do whatever they want?
Simon May 31, 2012 at 04:10 AM
Mr. Goldberg, the LATimes editorial is absolutely correct--what a disservice to Beverly Hills's children this lawsuit is. Guess you couldn't stand up to the hysteria whipped up in your community. How sad.
Simon May 31, 2012 at 04:12 AM
Oh, and how Mr. Goldberg, what exactly is Metro "taking" from your school? Your ability to build an 10-mile long underground bunker at BHHS? What a joke.
Gabrey May 31, 2012 at 04:29 AM
Why does one city have a right to hold a whole region hostage, limit the possible ridership on the purple line extension (which would limit the Fed funding) and suddenly act so concerned about BHHS students safety when THEY BUILT AN OIL WELL ON THE CAMPUS?!? There are plenty of schools, businesses and homes that the subway (and subways around the world) travel under, but sure, this one is unacceptable and Beverly Hills should definitely be kow-towed too...
John Mirisch May 31, 2012 at 05:07 AM
BJ, I believe the Council's position has always been one of support for the BHUSD in this issue. If the BHUSD is satisfied with the outcome, I believe they will have the support of the Council (which does not mean approval of Metro's bait-and-switch tactics or inability to listen to our Community in the face of politicized special interests). The schools have repeatedly told Metro that rerouting the tunnel to under the field (rather than instructional building) or digging significantly deeper could be part of a potential solution. Of course, these overtures have fallen upon perennially deaf ears. Perhaps the true solution lies in a new Metro Board, unencumbered by past statements and/or cronyism. The City does not have the power to prevent Metro from putting stations in BH, as I understand it. However, for the ridership required, I don't believe that Metro does have many viable alternatives in surrounding neighborhoods. As I understand it, the ridership is already marginal for federal transit funding, so any further reduction could endanger the entire project. Metro is the big dog, no question about it. That's exactly the problem. It's an über-bureaucracy without adequate checks and balances. Whatever happens as regards this specific issue, there should be a governance overhaul of the agency to ensure that local neighborhoods -- and not just politically juiced developers -- are actually listened to, be it BH or Leimert Park.
John Mirisch May 31, 2012 at 05:14 AM
I have complete trust in Dr. Goldberg's ability to look out for our schoolchildren, including my own. Certainly more trust than the LA Times, which hasn't bothered to get all the facts before writing their misinformed screeds (it actually might have helped if the editorial board had bothered to read the stories logged by their colleagues in the news department). The taking Dr. Goldberg is referring to is the inability of the school district to develop their property in the future, unburdened by the restrictions a tunnel would create -- the same consideration, by the way, which Metro wants to grant Century City developers, as they have cited future development as a reason they are unwilling to look at alternative routes which would not go under BHHS. As I understand it, Metro would need to approve all new construction above the tunnels. Furthermore, any construction could cost millions more because of additional measures which would need to be taken to build around the tunnel -- that is, of course, if DSA approves any of it, no sure thing, by any means. Why should the BHUSD be on the hook to pay for this? If any and all future construction and build-out of the school is no problemo, why hasn't Metro offered the BHUSD a covenant to perpetually pay for any incremental construction costs associated with the subway for any and all future development at BHHS?
Marie Cunningham May 31, 2012 at 08:06 AM
Just a note to those who reference the oil well on the Beverly Hills High School campus: The Beverly Hills City Council passed a permanent ordinance banning the drilling of oil in Beverly Hills when the current lease with Venoco Inc. expires. The oil was discovered there more than 100 years ago. The city has taken steps to stop pumping oil on school grounds. http://patch.com/A-m1lh
JenniX May 31, 2012 at 02:47 PM
When BHUSD admits that they don't care two toots about the school's architecture, historical significance or exceptional location, it becomes obvious that the only real reason they're concerned about this subway is that they won't be able to sell it to a skyscraper developer, and the BHUSD been expecting to eventually cash in on the sale of that plot.
cutop May 31, 2012 at 04:12 PM
"Dr." Goldberg? Really? I mean, he's a doctor, so his ability to look out for our schoolchildren must deserve our complete trust, as VP Mirisch states. And I remember Goldberg's campaign signs during his first election... "Dr. Brian David Goldberg". Well, I was suspicious of that then so I looked up his degree. He has a PhD in political science. Hmmm. He does seem extremely politically savvy, in the media every chance he gets. But while commendable that degree alone doesn't earn my complete trust in him to look after our schoolchildren. It's a pet-peeve of mine, but I prefer to reserve the "Dr." title for healthcare professionals with degrees that warrant such a title. As for "PhD", I find that people who wield that around so bluntly feel inadequate and are just out to impress others. Things like this give me a peek into a candidate's psyche and helps me to decide if they earn my trust. But maybe now that's just my degree talking. If you go back and check past posts on Patch, you will see that I and others had suggested to you that BHUSD should get Metro to pay for construction costs associated with subway tunnel mitigation. This was weeks ago while Beverly Hills still had a shred of sympathy from the average Angeleno. We had some leverage. Now that we've acted like little bitches, whining and threatening (and now filing) a lawsuit, we've totally lost our leverage. We warned you about this. Maybe with his PhD in Poli-Sci, Goldberg still has some tricks up his sleeve.
cutop May 31, 2012 at 05:31 PM
P.S. I just read Rudy Cole's editorial in the Weekly. He nails it. Beverly Hills squandered the goodwill and sympathy of the neighboring communities. We also did a disservice to ourselves by not condemning those in our community with loud voices who used this debacle as a chance to publicly settle political grudges with the likes of Yarovslovsky and Villaraigosa. Our politicians approached this with no political tact and turned it into an all-out street battle which we will have no chance of winning. A calmer, more rational approach would surely have been more effective. This was the original strategy of Mayor Brucker before he was politically goaded into joining the hysterical (there I said it) antics of those with less political acumen. Rudy Cole briefly touched on the Southwest Homeowners Association and their role early on in this fight. Originally, they came out against the subway route because it went under their homes and there was a fear of loss of property value. The same motivation behind their assault on the Beverly Hilton and Robinson May reconstruction. And just like in that battle, they quickly shifted their public motivation to be about the schoolchildren. Remember? It became about the kids at El Rodeo breathing in dust from the construction. Once again, they've used schoolchildren to create a wedge issue in order to garner support for their position which is always about protecting their property value.
Brian David Goldberg, PhD May 31, 2012 at 06:11 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
cutop May 31, 2012 at 06:36 PM
Refusing to identify themselves? Using profanity? Welcome to the Internet, Brian. You can never guarantee 100% safety for anything. So that argument is ridiculous. I mean, can you guarantee100% that no children walking to school will be killed by a motorist? If not, then you should be fighting against walking to school and allowing cars to drive through our city in the morning and afternoon. That's just silly. Can you guarantee 100% that building a 6-story underground parking lot under the BHHS won't cause a methane explosion which could incinerate the school? No? Then you should come out against all underground construction at BHHS. And if you're so concerned about safety of subway tunnel construction, then why allow one to be built in our city at all? I mean, a collapse in the middle of Wilshire or Santa Monica during traffic would be just as tragic. I understand that you want to protect the schoolchildren. I trust that you don't have ulterior motives. But wake up, man. You have been manipulated by the Southwest Homeowners Association into protecting their property values and goaded on by the Beverly Hills Courier to help settle political scores for Clifton Smith. Don't let your legacy be the wasting of all of our Measure E funds on a losing lawsuit. You've already spent over a million bucks – it's gotten us nowhere. It would be more prudent to use that money to improve our education facilities... you know, the reason we approved the bond in the first place.
Simon May 31, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Go cutop!! Couldn't have said it better. This is all about people (irrationally) worried about their property values. Basically, the ME ME ME crowd who not only don't care about anyone else, but are now lying about their motivations. Gross.
JT May 31, 2012 at 11:50 PM
Brian: Nice try. I guess the video backfired, so another tactic is now to be tried. With the benefit of Google and a computer, one does not have to be too technically inclinded to learn that the ground failure you refer to in Cologne was not related to the tunnel boring machines, as you suggest. Instead, reports indicate the failure was related to inadequate ground support and/or lack of groundwater control during the excavation of a cross-over structure (which is essentially a large underground box - as opposed to bored tunnels). Clearly, construction (not just undergound) needs to be done carefully to avoid such problems, and the Westside project certainly deserves adequate oversight to avoid problems. However, this would appear to be another attempt at distraction and to create fear in the less informed. I think your time and money is better spent toward engineering studies so that the tunnels and school expansion will be compatible. Also, to support whatever school expansion may be needed, I think you haven't seen the end of the faulting studies, so you need to save some money for that as well.
John Mirisch June 01, 2012 at 06:47 AM
OK, so by saying "you can never guarantee 100% safety for anything," you're essentially repeating the Gretzkian argument I've been making. The Great One once said "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." Well, this is a shot we don't want to take when there is a viable option. That seems pretty logical. Metro has been studiously trying to rule out any other viable option, finding excuses to say "no" rather than reasons to say "yes." But if 100% safety can't be guaranteed, then shouldn't Metro have performed adequate risk analysis? This was one of the very points of Exponent's criticism of Metro's methods: that they simply failed to do the proper risk analysis. You're making statements such as "the science proves it's safe (to tunnel under the high school)." But in light of your statements here, that's not what you're really saying. You're saying: It probably is safe to tunnel under BHHS; it's possibly safe to tunnel under BHHS; it's likely safe to tunnel under BHHS; if everything is done correctly, without any human error like in Köln, then it will be safe. Ultimately, you're saying: It's safe if it turns out to be safe. JT's statement here about the Köln accident involving TBM's is the construction-based equivalent of "Guns don't kill people; people kill people." Whether Dr. Goldberg wins or loses the suit, his legacy will be one of a dedicated public servant trying to do the right thing for his City and his City's schoolchildren.
John Mirisch June 01, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Jennix, architecture, historical and cultural significance are finally "in" in BH. Maybe you haven't heard, but the City's Cultural Heritage Commission had its inaugural meeting last week. Can't speak for the school board, but I believe that our residents see the historic BHHS campus (as well as Hawthorne, El Rodeo, Horace Mann and Beverly Vista) as integral parts of our Community and want to preserve the significant links to the past, while gearing up for the future. Under the principles of historical preservation, it can be done. I don't think that the BHUSD has any plans to sell the campus to a developer. First of all, they would need to find 45 acres or so in BH on which they'd need to relocate the campus. And second of all, if they sold the property, the City's underlying zoning would apply. And that means keeping the low-rise, garden-like nature of the City with a General Plan that limits buildings to 3 stories and 45 feet. If you're interested in historical preservation, please get involved. There are a lot of Community members who are thrilled that we -- better late than never -- finally recognized the irreplaceable value of our history and historical architecture and now have an ordinance which can serve as an example for other cities.


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