Flanked by a crowd of supporters, including area homeowners and business leaders, Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz said at a news conference Thursday that he wanted the Century City stop for the Westside Subway Extension to be located in the heart of the area.
"I stand with them in the strongest possible terms," Koretz said of workers and residents who want the station to be built at Constellation Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars, where the news conference was being held, rather than several blocks to the north at Santa Monica Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars.
He addressed a crowd of approximately 60 people, most of whom had gathered to support the controversial location for the stop.
Residents in neighboring Beverly Hills and the Beverly Hills Unified School District have been actively protesting the proposed Constellation station because it would require tunneling under Beverly Hills High School.
BHUSD Superintendent Richard Douglas said at the news conference that financial figures released by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which is building the subway, support moving the station to the Santa Monica Boulevard site, including a $60 million lower price tag and 5 percent higher expected ridership. In addition, he expressed concern that building improvements at the high school would be negatively impacted by the tunneling under the campus.
"That is the only space we have," he said of the school, adding that the MTA does have other options for the subway's route.
However, Susan Bursk, president and CEO of the Century City Chamber of Commerce, said that the numbers Douglas was citing were from an older draft Environmental Impact Report and that the MTA is updating them.
"I don't think the numbers are accurate," she said. "Metro is still analyzing it. I'd like to wait and see what they come up with."
Bursk showed the results of a radius map study done by Gibson Transportation Consulting on behalf of the chamber, which showed a station on Constellation would probably serve more people.
Stephen E. Breuer, president of the Century City Homeowners Alliance, said that the station placement seemed obvious to him.
"Just take a look around you," he said, pointing to the huge office buildings surrounding the intersection. "We have four corners of incredible density."
Misael Martinez, who works in the Century Park building on the southeast corner of Constellation and Avenue of the Stars, came to the news conference with colleagues to show his support for the station location.
"It's a lot of traffic to come into work," he said. "It's better to take the Metro."
Jan Reichmann, president of the Comstock Hills Homeowners Association north of Santa Monica Boulevard, said that she also thought the ridership would be better with a stop in the heart of Century City.
"Those who want it on Santa Monica don't care about the impact on us," she said, citing the five years that local homeowners were affected by the widening and reconstruction of Santa Monica Boulevard. "We're not whining. We're not threatening lawsuits."
She added that even with the proposed Constellation stop, there will still be tunneling under homes in her neighborhood.
During the question period after the remarks at the conference, an unnamed man in the crowd said that lawyers should not be blamed, since many of them work in Century City and would like an easy route to the courts downtown.
David Murphy spoke up from the crowd as a resident of Beverly Hills supporting the Constellation station.
"Obviously, we need to be sure the school is taken care of," he said. But he asserted that commuters would be better served by the Constellation station.