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School Board Engages Social Media for Metro Fight

The board launches a website as the MTA holds its last community update on the Westside Subway Extension.

The Beverly Hills Board of Education has started a social media campaign to inform the public about the benefits of having a Century City subway station located on Santa Monica Boulevard.

A website, Century City Subway, is being launched this week as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority holds the last of three about the Westside Subway Extension. The meeting takes place Tuesday night at 6 at the Roxbury Community Center.

As Patch previously reported, Metro is considering two possible routes to a Century City stop of the subway extension. One would entail  to reach a proposed station on Constellation Boulevard. The other, favored by Beverly Hills officials and many residents, would go under Santa Monica Boulevard to a station on that street.

"As the district continues our efforts to convince MTA that the original route down Santa Monica Boulevard is the preferable route, we are turning to the power of social media to help get the facts out to as many people as possible," Board Vice President Brian Goldberg told Patch.

The Century City Subway website is being written and maintained by Sitrick And Company, one of the state's premier public affairs firms. Sitrick was hired by the district's law firm, Best Best & Krieger (BB&K), to help communicate the board's views.

Both Sitrick and BB&K are being paid out of the  that the board has allocated for lobbying on the Century City station, Goldberg said.

"Our intent is to create a site where people can have a factual, rational discussion about the subway stop," said Sitrick’s Aaron Curtiss, who helped create the website. Senior Sitrick staffer Terry Fahn, a litigation attorney and BHHS graduate, is also working on the site.

In addition to the website, Sitrick is developing an accompanying Facebook page and will consider other forms of social media to reach out to the public.

This is a crucial time for the school district as the Metro board of directors prepares to make a decision this summer on the subway’s path through Beverly Hills. MTA officials are now conducting the final environmental impact statement and environmental impact report (EIS/EIR) required for the subway extension to receive state and federal funding.

Most of the facts presented on the Century City Subway website are footnoted as being directly from the draft EIS/EIR report. A tab on the homepage titled "Common Questions" gives readers information and background on the issue.

"The Westside Subway Extension is a huge, multibillion-dollar project and the Draft EIS/EIR report is over 500 pages long," reads common question No. 3, which asks why the Century City stop needs its own website. "It can be hard for community members to get the information they need."

This article originally appeared on Beverly Hills Patch.

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