A Beverly Hills Unified School District website says Metro is no longer considering a subway stop at Santa Monica Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars, but Metro officials say the stop has not been dropped from discussions.
Metro officials say they are continuing to discuss two proposed options for Century City subway stops on Santa Monica Boulevard, although a Beverly Hills Unified School District website contends the agency has made a "unilateral decision" to drop one of them. A third option, at Constellation Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars, would require tunneling under Beverly Hills High School, something BHUSD opposes. District officials are concerned that if the Santa Monica Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars option is no longer being considered, the Constellation one, which it opposes, will have a greater chance of ultimately being selected.
"Without notice or public input, Metro last week dropped from consideration a long-planned station at Santa Monica Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars based on its assertion that it would not be safe because of a purported earthquake fault."
The accusation is partially based on information on Metro's website and its refusal to release seismic data on the site to the district, said Aaron Curtiss, a senior executive with public relations firm Sitrick and Company, which has been hired by BHUSD. Language on Metro's website indicates that the board favors the Santa Monica Boulevard stop at Century Park East over one at Avenue of the Stars, according to Curtiss.
A station located under Santa Monica Boulevard at Century Park East, or a station located under Constellation Boulevard at Avenue of the Stars... [FAQ Question #9]
The station location under Santa Monica Boulevard was initially being studied at the intersection of Avenue of the Stars. Metro has now moved it to be under Santa Monica Boulevard at Century Park East to increase safety by locating the station farther away from the Santa Monica Fault zone. [FAQ Question #10]
"In this, it's pretty clear that Metro is saying it's safer there and that's where they're moving it," Curtiss said.
Jody Litvak, Metro community relations manager, said the BHUSD's accusation is false. "We haven't dropped anything," Litvak said.
A statement posted Wednesday evening to Metro's website says no decisions have been made.
"I would say that we are looking at two locations, one under Constellation Boulevard and one under Santa Monica Boulevard. We were originally looking at the Santa Monica Boulevard stop being at Avenue of the Stars and we are also looking at the Santa Monica Boulevard option further to the east to continue to serve Century City from Santa Monica Boulevard and avoid being in an active fault zone," Litvak said.
Litvak also said Metro has considered the stop at Santa Monica Boulevard and Century Park East for months. The announcement was first posted to Metro's blog The Source in February and Litvak said it has been brought up at public meetings since January. A statement posted on Metro's blog Wednesday says the same.
"We've been telling the public at least for the last six months that we've been sliding east to Century Park East to move it out of the fault line and we have maps and diagrams that we've been taking to all the meetings," Litvak said.
The school district is also criticizing Metro for not releasing seismic data for the proposed location at Santa Monica Boulevard and Century Park East. Curtiss said Metro told the district the data were not "complete and conclusive" and not ready for release.
"Apparently they were complete and conclusive enough to move it to Century Park East," Curtiss said. "If they're conclusive enough to make that decision, why weren't they conclusive enough to release that to the public?"
Several options for stops in Century City are under review, including one on Santa Monica Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars, one on Santa Monica Boulevard and Century Park East, and one on Constellation Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars. District officials say the Constellation Boulevard station would be the more likely choice if the option at Santa Monica Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars is no longer on the table.
"I think by eliminating the Avenue of Stars [and Santa Monica Boulevard] location from consideration, Metro has seemingly stacked the deck in favor of Constellation," said Lisa Korbatov, president of the BHUSD board. "It was a locally preferred alternative for Beverly Hills, not just the school district."
A final report is expected later this year. Until then, no decisions will be made, said Dave Sotero, Metro spokesman.
"The environmental review process is still ongoing, so there is no possible way we would make one decision over another," Sotero said.
During the review process, Metro collects information about proposed sites that will eventually be considered by Metro's board when it makes a final recommendation.
"A different location where there's a similar situation is the Westwood stop near UCLA," Litvak said. "We're looking at one on Westwood [Boulevard] and Wilshire, and one under Lot 36. Both are still on the table. We have told the public that because of some things that have happened in Westwood Village, Lot 36 has more challenges."
The post on CenturyCitySubway.org says the announcement was made on Metro's Facebook page. Litvak said she searched the page's history and did not find the announcement.
"I have no idea what they're referring to," Litvak said.
A Superior Court judge recently ruled against BHUSD's claim that Metro violated the California Public Records Act by withholding information about the Westside Subway Extension from school district officials.
"We’re pleased with the court ruling," Metro told Patch in a statement. "Metro will continue working closely with the community to keep residents and others updated on the project’s progress, and will continue making documents available to all just as soon as they are ready."