Metro Staff Report Says Subway Under BHHS Is Still the Best Way to Go

Despite arguments from experts hired by Beverly Hills city and school officials, a report released by the MTA for an upcoming meeting on Thursday sticks with a proposal to tunnel under Beverly Hills High.

Metro staff are standing by their recomendation for a Westside Subway station at Constellation Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars after geologists hired by Beverly Hills officials said other alternatives would be safer.

In a report released Tuesday, the staff for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority affirmed the agency's position that it would be safe to tunnel under Beverly Hills High School to reach that intersection. Consultants for Beverly Hills contend that there are no active faults under Beverly Hills High or Santa Monica Boulevard.

Their assessment is at odds with testimony presented last week by geologists hired by the city of Beverly Hills and the Beverly Hills Unified School District.

"Metro staff have considered the views presented by Beverly Hills along with the reports and conclusions of their own consultants and experts," a blog post from Metro reads.

"We looked at the material from last Thursday's public hearing and all additional reports that came out of the city of Beverly Hills and the school district, in conjunction with our own data and we think that our recommendations are solid," said Dave Sotero, Metro spokesman.

Earlier Tuesday, a lawyer representing BHUSD on the subway-stop placement, and that it set up a meeting of geologists to discuss seismic activity in the area. School board President Brian Goldberg said he hoped the Metro Board of Directors may reach a different conclusion than Metro staff.

"I'm not surprised that the Metro staff and their consultants continue to ignore the science and data that BHUSD has provided," Goldberg said. "I'm optimistic that the full board of the MTA directors will give our science fair consideration in making their determination, hopefully, at the very least, going out to do more seismic studies at Constellation and Santa Monica Boulevard."

Goldberg said he hopes the board will order more seismic studies and allow the California Geological Survey to oversee the process.

"The best option would be for Metro to take we presented, which would be a win-win for everyone," Goldberg said. "That would be the best outcome. But the least that I hope the MTA Board of Directors does is get this thing right, and take the few extra months that this would take and avoid years of litigation, time and money."

The Metro board of directors is scheduled to meet Thursday at 9 a.m. at its downtown Los Angeles headquarters at 1 Gateway Plaza. The public comment period that started at last week's hearing is set to continue on at the Thursday meeting. The board is also scheduled to consider other Westside Subway Extension stops west of La Cienega Boulevard to Beverly Hills, Westwood and the Veterans Administration, according to the Metro blog post.

Here are the findings the Metro staff prepared for the board:

Proposed Decision and Findings

Based on the professional opinions of MTA’s internationally recognized experts in the field of seismology, geology and tunnel construction, staff recommends that the Board adopt the following findings and render its decision to locate the Century City Station at Constellation Boulevard/Avenue of the Stars:

1. Tunneling can be safely carried out beneath the Beverly Hills High School (BHHS) campus;

2. Tunneling would not prevent future development of the BHHS campus;

3. Tunneling would not impact the use of the BHHS campus as an emergency evacuation center;

4. Vibration and noise levels are within the FTA requirements and tunnel operation is not anticipated to have adverse impacts. The tunnel construction may cause some low levels of noise and vibration for a day or two;

5. Tunneling can be constructed and operated safely in gassy ground;

6. Oil wells do not pose an unmitigable risk to tunneling. Should they be encountered, procedures will be in place for their safe removal and reabandonment;

7. In Century City, Constellation Boulevard is a viable option for a station location, but Santa Monica Boulevard is not due to unacceptable seismic risk;

8. Tunneling through fault zones can be done safely;

9. MTA’s approach to risk management is correct;

10. Further site investigations will be conducted and measures will be implemented to reduce risks to levels that are as low as reasonably practicable;

11. MTA and its engineering consultants have expertise designing and building tunnels and subway stations in Los Angeles; and

12. The Constellation Station will attract more riders than the station locations along Santa Monica Boulevard.

What's your reaction to Metro's latest recommendations? Tell us in the comments section below.

Joel Epstein May 22, 2012 at 09:39 PM
The time has come for the Metro board to put to bed the children on the Beverly Hills School Board and City Council. The City should stop buying its lawyers' hogwash that there is merit to a case against the agency. No self-respecting judge would do other than the right thing by sanctioning Beverly Hills for bringing such a meritless lawsuit. In the interests of the region's millions of commuters, the handful of Beverly Hills opponents of Metro's recommended route should pull up their lawn signs and join the overwhelming majority who support the subway extension with a station at Constellation and Avenue of the Stars. - Joel Epstein
John Mirisch May 23, 2012 at 03:45 AM
Spoken like an individual who really knows where his bread is buttered. What else could we expect from someone who's noshing on the Metro Gravy Train and who hopes, Baby, that the good times will continue to roll on? Undoubtedly, the Metro Board will vote in favor of staff's recommendation (Insider information from Joel Epstein? Remember, folks, you heard it here first from someone on Metro's payroll). But whether that puts us kiddos to bed is another question entirely. And so is the question about the courts. It remains to be seen what the legal system will say about a process which has been compared by one of Metro's own board members to a professional wrestling match. Lucha va voom! While we can spend hours going back and forth about the lack of integrity in the process, Joel Epstein perhaps needs to be reminded that not everybody, even other mass transit supporters who have far more experience with subways than he does, shares his "Metro über alles, Baby!" motto. But then not all of us can partake as freely of the largesse of a multi-billion dollar taxpayer-funded agency.
George Vreeland Hill May 23, 2012 at 04:00 AM
I am NOT surprised by the news. I would have been surprised if Metro gave up their BHHS tunnel plans. I fully expected this. Metro continues to ignore real warning signs and proven data that says it is safer to put the tunnel elsewhere. When this matter goes to court (and it will go to court), Metro's incomplete reports will be brought to full light and the City of Beverly Hills will prove before a court of law that a tunnel under BHHS is unsafe and that it is safe to go under Santa Monica Blvd. By the way Mr. Epstein, there are a LOT more than a handful of us against this tunnel going under BHHS.
Tom Pease May 23, 2012 at 04:56 AM
Dear Joel- Those of us with actually use the system might like it to connect with the transit lane the MTA had designed into Santa Monica Blvd. back when the "center of the center" was apparently there. I might add that that lonely. bereft portion abutting the Country Club would be considered by us daily users "shade". It night be nice if in future the MTA designed it into their stops..
Carol Spencer May 23, 2012 at 03:35 PM
Tom, why do you need 'shade' when you ride the subway? Last I heard the subway is underground with NO SUNSHINE! Also, Constellation Blvd has been considered since 1968 as the best location for the Century City subway station.
Joe L May 23, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Is the sky blue? Beverly Hills says it's green! Surely both sides are equally valid, so let's convene a panel of experts and spend another year and millions of dollars to determine what color that darned sky really is! Metro has already done a thorough scientific analysis which has been made public. It's case is solid, and no judge is going to disagree. Beverly Hills politicians love to point to supposed money connections between Metro, "Century City developers", respected geologists, the media, Joel Epstein, etc., etc. Meanwhile, they conveniently downplay the tons of money Beverly Hills is throwing at the small army of lobbyists, lawyers and discredited hacks it is has propped up as "experts". - Joel 2 (Covarrubias, not Epstein), private citizen and transit rider, with no political or financial connections to anybody
Tom Pease May 23, 2012 at 07:52 PM
Carol- Because the subway doesn't go to Santa Monica, so I have to transfer to a bus. Those are aboveground, last time I checked.
Jake May 23, 2012 at 09:59 PM
It's a lot easier to re-route a bus than it is to re-route a subway. Maybe Mr. Pease should hit up his own city for infrastructure enhancements, since local municipalities like Beverly Hills, not Metro, are responsible for enhancements to bus stations.
Jake May 23, 2012 at 10:08 PM
At some point, Vice Mayor John Mirisch needs to stop the ad hominem attacks and address the underlying issues, except that when he does, he lies and misrepresents the facts. It's ironic that somehow the Vice Mayor of Beverly HIlls blasts someone for taking money from a "multi-billion dollar taxpayer-funded" agency considering the over $30,000 Vice Mayor John MIrisch receives in compensation from the taxpayers of Beverly HIlls. Although it's unfortunate that Beverly HIlls insists on going to the legal system and delaying things further, only then will this finally be put to rest, so I look forward to the day in court. I am not a Metro "insider," but I'd rather be a Metro über ally than a backwards Beverly HIlls Vice Mayor. I feel sorry for the taxpayers of Beverly Hills whose money goes to support this frivolous lawsuit or who have been misled by electeds such as Vice Mayor John Mirisch.
Tom Pease May 23, 2012 at 11:35 PM
Jake- I'm specifically referring to Century City on Santa Monica Blvd. Specifically that desolate, lonely stretch backing up on the Country Club where I transfer to the 704 to go to Santa Monica. A very long wait. As for buses being rerouted, why when they redid Santa Monica did they spend millions to make a dedicated busway? Wasn't the "center of the center" Constellation then as well? Oh and Jake, since you do me the courtesy of referring to me as "Mr. Pease" perhaps you could provide us with a last name so we could do the same. At the very least, if you see me on the bus do say "hello"..
cutop May 23, 2012 at 11:47 PM
I am a Beverly Hills resident, and I am upset that our tax dollars are being wasted on a lost and pointless battle, which was conceived by the Beverly Hills Southwest Homeowners who feared lower property values with a subway running underneath them (the same group that lead the charge against the development of their neighbor, the Beverly Hilton and its adjacent property) and propagated by the Tea Partier, owner/published of our local tabloid – The Beverly Hills Courier. Together, they made this about the defenseless high school students, when in reality it is about the Southwest Homeowners' property value and the failed-oil-man-turned-publisher Cliff Smith's desire to thumb his nose at the construction unions. Once they began applying pressure, scaring the local folks, it wasn't long until opportunistic politicians jumped on the bandwagon. Now, here were are, millions of dollars of our city and school's money wasted, and a boycott on our local businesses by the rest of L.A. My discontent will be voiced in our city's next city council and school board elections. P.S. Ascribing "über alles" to a subway is rather ironic in the literal translation. Though, to our Veep's credit, he probably didn't mean it literally; more of a sly attempt to associate Metro proponents with Naziism. Mr. Mirisch, how do you ever find the time to come up with all of these clever ad hominem responses, while at the same time being our diligent VP and a "working stiff" to boot?
Joel Epstein May 23, 2012 at 11:52 PM
To the handful of opponents of a station at Constellation Blvd & Avenue of the Stars, I hope that after tomorrow's vote in support of the recommended route we can all once again come together in support of expanded public transit options for Los Angeles, including the subway extension.
Jake May 23, 2012 at 11:56 PM
It's also a lot easier to add or remove dedicated bus lanes than it is to build a subway. As I recall, Beverly Hills opposed the Wilshire bus lane through Beverly Hills, or we'd have a dedicated bus lane there. But this isn't a debate about the bus. You don't build the arteries to match the capillaries. If you wish to advocate for improved intermodal accessories, you have my full support! Mr. Pease, I'm not a public figure so I see no need to post my full name and social. I also don't hide behind centurycitysubway.org like the "litigation and crisis management" team that Beverly Hills hired and I don't pretend to be something that I'm not. I'm not a member of any government or in any way affiliated with Metro or Beverly Hills, the media, or anyone in this story. I'm sick of Beverly Hills' hysteria and lies to its citizens about the subway.
Tom Pease May 24, 2012 at 03:18 AM
Jake, Los Angeles opposed dedicated bus lanes as well, which is why they aren't going to be there from the Country Club through Westwood despite Wilshire being far wider there than it is in Beverly Hills. FYI, I'm not part of city government. I volunteer in my commission and I am not paid to do so. I don't think that qualifies me as part of BH government. I want what I feel is best for daily riders like me, and I don't think the Constellation stop is it. As for arteries and capillaries, Santa Monica is an arterial street. Constellation isn't. http://cityplanning.lacity.org/EIR/10k_SantaMonica/FEIR/issues/FEIR.pdf I'm not hiding behind anything either, like the J&B funded "We Do Our Part LA" which keeps insisting to their mailing list that Beverly Hills is working to stop the subway. How can they be working to stop it, yet hog all the stations as posited by Carol Spencer's letter to the editor? Since the next #14 to downtown LA according to NextBus is in 74 minutes, I guess I'll have some time to ponder that conundrum..
John Mirisch May 25, 2012 at 01:28 AM
Jake Anonymous, I’ve addressed the underlying issues in countless and extensive articles in the Huffpost, Jewish Journal, LABJ, etc. While you may not (or, better said, obviously do not) agree with my conclusions, I have not misrepresented that fact. It is perfectly legitimate to consider potential financial motives of individuals making statements, especially those who have not disclosed their financial interests in the past, but purport to be “objective” observers. You call it “ad hominem,” but to others it’s simply letting the sunshine in. Furthermore, if you read through everything I’ve written, I have never discussed safety issues in detail, other than to use my Gretzkian argument that while “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take,” there are some shots you don’t want to take. My monthly salary from the City is, I believe, $785 a month, and the obvious difference between myself as an elected official and Mr. Epstein as a hired PR maven is that he’s paid to represent the company line, yet is not disclosing his financial connections to Metro in his postings. Beyond perhaps serving one day in Stockholm’s kommunfullmäktige, I have no political ambitions and no ulterior motives other than to do right by my City, my Community and my Home. Having been in the thick of things, I can most certainly say that BH has been misled by the Metro machine and the entire process gives a taste of what things must have been like in the good ole Soviet days.
John Mirisch May 25, 2012 at 01:41 AM
Cutop, not sure if you're just attempting to AJitate a bit, but if you mean to malign the German people and language by associating it only with the horrors of the 30’s, may I remind you that German is also the beautiful, poetic and literary language of Heine, Goethe, Schiller, Torberg, Roth, Zweig and, yes, Franz Kafka -- very appropriate in the context of any discussion of Metro -- not to mention Guildo Horn and Hermes Phettberg. At the risk of invoking Godwin’s law (and I remind you, I wasn’t the one to bring Nazis into the discussion), I have been very open that my preferred analogical adjective of choice for this entire rigged process is “Soviet-style,” not Nazi. Now that you mention it, though, the electoral process in Zimbabwe also inexorably comes to mind.
John Mirisch May 25, 2012 at 01:53 AM
Joel, thank you for having the decency to use your own name. Respect. But there’s a slight difference between the “follow the money” parallels you’re trying to draw between Metro, Century City developers and BH. BH has no moneyed interest in any of this. Yes, we’re spending money, but there is no pot at the end of the rainbow for us. We’re doing so simply to protect the integrity of our only High School and in opposition to a completely rigged, Soviet-style process. You yourself have seen just what influence a well-heeled developer wields, and I’m not referring to the Constellation station. I’m talking about the Fairfax station, which under cover of darkness suddenly became the “Orange Grove” station because it benefits a developer, rather than the actual riders. Add to that the refusal to do appropriate ridership studies because Metro didn’t want to tunnel under a cemetery, the resulting “UCLA/Westwood” station which is the better part of a mile from the UCLA campus, two stations which are closer to the VA than to UCLA and a station on the leafy VA grounds rather than, say, Wilshire and Barrington, and you have just a few symptoms of a flawed process. Considering the lack of institutional controls or checks and balances on the massive Metro bureaucracy, we in LA County are neither getting the value for our taxpayer dollars nor the kind of mass transit system we deserve.
LAofAnaheim May 25, 2012 at 02:16 AM
Proof that We Do Our Part LA is funded by J&B? There is ample proof that CenturyCitySubway.org is funded solely by BHUSD. Oh, and if you work in Century City, what intersection has 4 corners of activity? Constellation or SM blvd?
cutop May 25, 2012 at 06:57 AM
Mr Mirisch, I am grateful for all of the time you have to attempt to impress us with a list of German people you read about in your Bulldog days. Perhaps I am AGitating you because I have revealed some inconsistencies in your anti-subway argument. Keep building scarecrows and boogie men, and avoid the points I've made... Points about the subway and the motivations of the Southwest Homeowners and the Courier's self-appointed publisher. Please move along. This fight is a losing battle and a waste of our city's money. It is safe to dig a tunnel under BHHS. It is safe. If it is safe to dig a three story parking garage under the school, it is safe to dig a subway tunnel. I know you are politically invested in this fight deeply, but it's up to you to stop it. Please. A lawsuit... Beyond being a huge waste of our tax dollars, will further harm our city's image.
John Mirisch May 25, 2012 at 08:31 AM
Uh, like maybe their website, Neel? http://wedoourpartla.com/?q=partners And if you work in the Miracle Mile, what intersection has 4 corners of activity? Fairfax or Orange Grove? And if you work west of the 405, which area has more activity, the VA or Barrington and Wilshire?


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