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Westside Neighborhood Council Backs Constellation Subway Station

The panel votes to support the stop rather than one proposed for Santa Monica Boulevard.

The Westside Neighborhood Council voted Thursday to support building a subway station at Constellation Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars as part of the Purple Line extension.

Nine council members favored the Constellation stop as opposed to a station proposed for Santa Monica Boulevard. Three members abstained after hearing the proposal from Susan Bursk, president of the Century City Chamber of Commerce.

Bursk told the council that more than 27,000 employees work within a one-quarter mile radius of the proposed stop on Constellation Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars. That's about three times as many people who work within a quarter mile of the proposed Santa Monica Boulevard station, Bursk said. Constellation Boulevard is one block south of Santa Monica Boulevard.

Bursk acknowledged that the proposed station would likely require digging a tunnel under Beverly Hills High School, an option the Beverly Hills Unified School District strongly opposes.

“The tunnel will be located so far underground that no building or modernization project will ever come close to it,” she wrote in a packet given to council members.

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In other business, the council voted 11 to 0 with one abstention to support WNC member Mike Eveloff’s request to ask the city attorney to study the feasibility of implementing a borough system in Los Angeles. Eveloff said the city might benefit by dividing into smaller, mostly autonomous boroughs. 

“There’s a lot to this,” Eveloff said. “This is not something you study in a week.”

The council also voted 8 to 0 with four abstentions to ask Metro to make the proposed bike path along the Exposition Corridor rail line more friendly for riders by raising it above street level when possible.

Resident Jonathan Weiss said that, under the current plan, the bike path drops to street level at some intersections, even when the train crosses on a bridge. He asked that Metro consider building bridges for riders for safety reasons. 

“It’s hard for bikes,” he said. “It’s going to be at least as bad for cars. It’s not going to be pleasant for anyone.”

Also on Thursday, the council heard from Lisa Mowery, acting chief financial officer for the Bureau of Sanitation. Mowery warned about the city’s antiquated sewer system. She said the bureau would require a rate increase of about $32 annually per household for each of the next 10 years.

Barbara Broide August 12, 2011 at 01:27 PM
It is important that the location of the Century City station reach the highest number of riders. Given the fact that much of the area to the north of the Santa Monica Blvd. stop location consists of the LA Country Club's golf course which will generate little to no riders, it would seem common sense to seek a more central location for the stop. And, in fact, a station on Constellation will do a much better job in attracting riders who work and live in the southern portions of Century City where most of the residential community is located and there are large commercial entitites (Fox Plaza building, Fox Studios). Constellation also does a better job at providing a connection to those on the Pico bus lines. Geologic studies have revealed an earthquake fault that runs along SM Blvd. which would suggest that it is wise to avoid construction and operation of a line along side a fault line. Finally, during the construction of the station, the disruption factor should not be ignored. Constellation is a dead end street within Century City and its prolonged closure(s) will have a very minimal effect on traffic as compared to the disruption and significant delays that all Angelenos will encounter should there be station construction ON Santa Monica Blvd. (which was recently improved at the cost of millions and millions of dollars).
John Mirisch August 13, 2011 at 04:47 AM
Unfortunately, it seems as if the neighborhood council was only told one side of the story. Despite Ms. Broide's contentions of common sense, Metro's own ridership figures suggest that Santa Monica will attract more riders. Yes, many expect that Metro's updates will tailor the results to the political grandees' politically motivated route, but as of not, that would be jumping the gun... Should a serious fault suddenly (and conveniently for Constellation supporters) be discovered on Santa Monica, one would have to question the entitlement of 35-45 story skyscrapers on that street. In light of this new information, perhaps they should not be allowed to be built. Finally, if as Ms. Broide suggests, the disruption factor shouldn't be ignored, perhaps Beverly Hills should rethink its position on having two subway stations directly on Wilshire Blvd., the city's main arterial, in the middle of Beverly Hills (at La Cienega and Beverly/Rodeo). Metro can then go back to the drawing board and figure out less disruptive alternatives through or around Beverly Hills for the Westside Extension. Of course, Constellation IS a dead-end street, which is why it is much less suited as a transit hub than Santa Monica Blvd., should the disruption factor be discounted. Finally, it's a shame that the neighborhood council evidently was not apprised of - or doesn't care about - the full effect of tunneling on Beverly Hills High School.
Joel Epstein August 13, 2011 at 11:48 PM
A breath of fresh air in a dispute that has become a case study in how a handful of misguided opponents of a routine, safely dug subway tunnel can stand in the way of a worthwhile project. It's past time for Metro to start building Constellation and the rest of the Purple Line to the VA or beyond.
Simon August 15, 2011 at 06:01 PM
Mr. Mirisch, Aren't there other issues the City Council can obsess over other than a tunnel that won't affect the school or its expansion plans? I know Beverly Hills is not Detroit, but there must be other issues that deserve your attention. And, of course, you'll argue safety is the number one concern, even though there's a subway running under about 20 miles of LA and the sky has not fallen.
Carol Spencer August 15, 2011 at 06:18 PM
Mr. Mirisch, perhaps you are not aware of the presentation made in May by the BHUSD, Lisa Korbachev, and Timothy Buresch, the BHUSD engineering consultant. The presentation was geared towards sympathy for BHHS primarily by Mr. Buresch who introduced himself as a 'reluctant' engineer. I wondered if he was reluctant to make the presentation. At this meeting Susan Bursch, president of the Century City Chamber of Commerce presented facts. The WNC Board accessed the merits of each presentation as they worked towards their vote.
Warren August 15, 2011 at 07:19 PM
Constellation is the best location so the subway could service the most people.Think of all the attorneys we can take off the roads. This line and station would be a direct route to the downtown court house.
Jocelyn August 15, 2011 at 08:06 PM
John Mirsch has no idea what he is talking about - subway tunnels run under ALL different types of buildings and structures in LA as well as major cities across the globe. He should be ashamed of himself, advocating for a subway stop on the EDGE OF A GOLF COURSE. Mr. Mirsch, when you get a chance, go stand on the corner of Constellation and Avenue of the Stars and wintess the major developments around you. Then, go stand on Santa Monica Blvd. and notice how HALF of the entire ridership area will produce absolutely ZERO riders. You don't build subway stops next to a golf course, how hard is that for you to understand???
John Mirisch August 15, 2011 at 10:08 PM
Such as overdevelopment, inflated salaries and pensions, historical preservation and bike friendliness? Yep, we're dealing with them, too... In fact, it would be great if the political grandees in LA would deal with the issue of overdevelopment, which is one of the leading causes of traffic. Safety is a concern, but so is the ability of the School District to make full use of the campus site for the next 100+ years. Education matters, and the tunnels will impact the ability to develop an already undersized campus beyond the immediate plans. If you're really so concerned about ridership and the "center of the center" you should devote your energy to the so-called "UCLA/Westwood station" which is almost a mile from the campus. Not only does education matter, but so does consistency.
John Mirisch August 15, 2011 at 10:09 PM
According to Metro's own DEIR, ridership would actually be higher at the Santa Monica location, in other words, the Santa Monica location would service the greatest number of people.
Carol Spencer August 15, 2011 at 10:22 PM
To set the issue of the Westwood/UCLA station straight for John Mirisch, If the subway ran closer to UCLA the tunnel would run beneath the VA Cemetery. No subway tunnel or anything else is allowed to go beneath a cemetery in the USA. The location for the Westwood/UCLA station is as close as possible to UCLA. The people of Westwood and UCLA understand this.
John Mirisch August 15, 2011 at 10:25 PM
Actually, ridership is projected to be higher on the Santa Monica station -- according to Metro's own information. Your "method" of determining ridership would undoubtedly lead you to suggest there shouldn't be a station on the VA. Because if you stand there, you'll see hardly any activity. Yet Metro projects that the VA will have a fairly high ridership -- mainly because of all the transfers projected to occur at that location. It seems clear that public education isn't a concern of yours. However, most people in Beverly Hills value the quality education that our school system is able to provide the children of all residents, and we're not prepared to compromise the quality of that education so some people don't have to walk a block. And if you're really concerned that subway stations should be in "the center of the center," you should turn your attention to the so-called UCLA/Westwood station, The center of the center of Westwood is Westwood Village, and that's where the subway station should be. How is it that people can't walk a single (long) block in Century City, but you evidently expect them to walk almost a mile to the UCLA campus which serves tens of thousands of people daily? Yes, a little consistency would be most appreciated...
Simon August 16, 2011 at 07:13 AM
Mr. Mirisch: I don't believe Metro has made an official tally of projected ridership yet (past counts are just that--in the past). Anyway, it doesn't look super professional for a city councilman to get in comment board spats--if your argument is strong enough it'll hold up as the process plays itself out. Sorry, but it ain't looking great right now, especially when you look at the depressing south side of Santa Monica Blvd, at Ave of the Stars.
Simon August 16, 2011 at 07:14 AM
er, north side of SMBlvd...
LAofAnaheim August 16, 2011 at 04:28 PM
@John What's wrong with development? That's economic progress. We live in one of the largest cities in the world, we should expect development; and an adjoining subway to boot! I don't know why BH keeps turning to LA and say "well, what about Westwood station". Westwood station will be located in either Lot 36 or Wilshire/Westwood; both are fantastic "center" locations for office building surrounds. This is apples and oranges. Wilshire/Westwood is not contraversial as there will be foot traffic on all four corners, unlike Santa Monica/Avenue of the Stars. Plus, not all major campuses have train stations in the center (i.e. Berkley with BART). Rail is more effective servicing office clusters, not school campuses.
John Mirisch August 16, 2011 at 07:11 PM
Nothing's wrong with appropriate development. The problem is with overdevelopment which doesn't take impacts into consideration. If one builds a subway to try to make up for lost time and create an infrastructure which should have and would have been built in the first place if the city leaders had been doing their jobs, that's one thing. But it's another thing to finally build that infrastructure and then use it as a justification for more overdevelopment. In fact, that's worse than treading water. I mention Westwood, because the criteria for walkability need to be consistent, if one wants the benefit of logic, rather than just political influence. I take issue with your contention that public transportation exists mainly to provide access to office clusters Of course, if that's the case then there's no justification whatsoever for a station at the VA. UCLA serves literally tens of thousands a day, and a station in the middle of the Village would serve the office buildings, the Village itself and UCLA. This access goes to the very core of what public transit -- costing billions of dollars -- is supposed to achieve. In fact, lot 36 is closer to the VA, the very next subway station, than to UCLA. How does that make any sense? Carol Spencer gives the reason below: Metro doesn't want to tunnel under a cemetery. They don't want to tunnel under a cemetery with dead people, but are perfectly willing to do so under a school with real, live kids. How is that common sense?
John Mirisch August 16, 2011 at 07:15 PM
The available figures are those in the DEIR. Will new ones come which support the pre-ordained decision? As I've written on Huffpost, yes, most likely. By the way, I'm not a slick and polished professional politician, I'm just a resident who ran for office and is trying to represent his City. I had a blog before I was on the Council, and as one of my past colleagues remarked, "Once a blogger, always a blogger." Personally, I think it's better for elected representatives to actively engage in issues rather than simply distance themselves from their neighbors and the community they're trying to represent.
John Mirisch August 16, 2011 at 07:48 PM
So there is more concern about tunneling under a cemetery with dead people than a school with real, live children? How does this make any sense at all? There are all kinds of laws in the US. It's illegal to chain your alligator to a fire hydrant in Alabama. In Chico, CA, you can be fined $500 for detonating a nuclear device within city limits. In Marietta, GA, though it's illegal to spit from a bus or a car, it's perfectly legal to do so from a truck. As they say in Sweden: "If you say A, you have to say B." If it's perfectly safe to tunnel under schools, churches, baseball diamonds and pizza parlors, then why would it be unsafe to tunnel under a cemetery? The UCLA/Westwood station is closer to the VA -- which itself is getting a station -- than the heart of the UCLA campus. UCLA itself likely doesn't want to lose its parking revenue, but the station as planned doesn't and won't serve the campus. If people won't walk a single block in Century City, then how can anyone reasonably expect them to walk a mile in Westwood? As Susan Bursk says, "We have one chance to get it right." A UCLA/Westwood station which is closer to the VA than to UCLA is not "getting it right."
Carol Spencer August 16, 2011 at 07:56 PM
Mr Mirisch, I did not make the law about cemeteries. I merely stated the law. You need to take the discussion up with our forefathers or persons whose dearly beloved are buried in those cemeteries about changing this law.
John Mirisch August 17, 2011 at 09:15 PM
Ms. Spencer, I'm guessing you also didn't make the laws about chaining alligators to fire hydrants, detonating nuclear devices in Chico or spitting from trucks in Marietta either. But you still haven't answered the question about why tunneling under a cemetery is worse than tunneling under a school.
Jolie Jashni August 19, 2011 at 03:20 PM
Regardless of my position on the matter, I appreciate John Mirisch's participation here. Personally, I want to hear from, and hopefully dialogue with, those who have more direct influence on the matter. If only we could have this type of dialogue with more in the government.

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