It’s Official, Beverly Hills Takes Position Against Subway Alignment Under Their City

Earlier this week, Metro staff released its recommendations for the Locally Preferred Alternatives for the Westside Subway.  While a proposed spur of the Purple Line through Wests Hollywood and the idea of extending the subway “To the Sea” were shelved for now; the final route for the last leg of the extension, i.e. whether it will have a stop at Constellation Avenue or Santa Monica Boulevard in Santa Monica, was left unresolved for further study.

The issue for Beverly Hills?
The issue for Beverly Hills? They want the northern of these purple lines to be the route.

This is good news for Beverly Hills’ residents that are scared that a subway running beneath their homes and schools will somehow create problems for students and residents.  At a recent City Council meeting following a public hearing on the extension in late September, the city voted to formally oppose an extension that runs below their city with a station at Constellation Avenue and support only the option with a stop on Santa Monica Boulevard.  The Beverly Hills Courier has their full letter to Metro:

Dear Supervisor Knabe:

I am sending this letter on behalf of the Beverly Hills City Council. The City is currently reviewing the Draft Environmental Impact Statement/ Draft Environmental Impact Report for the Westside Subway Extension and will be submitting a comment letter to Metro in regards to the options studied, and on the analysis in the draft report. The City remains very concerned about tunneling under residential properties and especially under the Beverly Hills High School and the forthcoming letter will include comments, among others, on the possible track alignment options between the Wilshire/ Rodeo station and the Century City station. In advance of the comment letter, the City would like to re-iterate its support for the Westside Subway Extension Project and its strong preference for alignment through the City of Beverly Hills and to Century City along Wilshire Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard.

Sincerely,
Jimmy Delshad, Mayor
City of Beverly Hills

Since one of the major concerns expressed at the September 27 hearing on the extension in Beverly Hills was the long-term impacts of having a subway run under their city, I thought we could run a quick StreetPoll to either validate residents’ concerns or put them at ease.

Have you ever felt the current subway run at street level?

View Results

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  • Heather

    Yes, actually–but only directly above the stations/on the vents and it’s not so much the vibration as the air you can feel, if that makes any sense?

  • Chris L

    For those of us who moved here from cities with subways everywhere than run under everything with no issues whatsoever, these people seem especially idiotic.

    Can this actually hold anything up? Seems like the project is still pretty far off anyway.

  • Erik G.

    Anything that will put tremendous pressure on the L.A. Country Club to close and redevelop is A-OK with me!

  • Does our subway even have “vents”? I’ve never seen them. The top of the tunnel is at least 70′ underground, the stations usually have two or three levels of escalator before you can even see a train. I’d be surprised if any noticeable train related air movement makes its way to street level.

    Shallow cut-and-cover systems (like many in NYC and bits of our light rail system) can sometimes be felt at street level, especially around vents. I seriously doubt anyone has ever felt anything from the deep bore lines we have here.

  • Beverly Hills residents are probably thinking of the Marilyn Monroe subway grate scene.

    That said, the issue of subway grates and subway vents in Los Angeles does get a little complicated.

    The tunnel to the San Fernando Valley does have air vents as a matter of safety. (Too long of a distance between stations or something.)

    And the Blue Line subway was built cut-and-cover, so I believe there are grates in that neighborhood. Many of the stations were cut-and-cover, so there may be vents there, as well as emergency exit portals.

    In other words, if you cherry picked the right spots on the Red Line, you might feel some vibration XD

    The key here is to convince enough of BH that their houses will NOT have subway grates.

  • manny

    So lame. I lived under the red line for a while and felt NOTHING. Waiting for the bus at Universal Station I have also felt nothing EVER. Walking down Hollywood Blvd between Highland and Vine I have NEVER EVER felt a thing.
    Sitting in the station on the platform you barely feel the thing as it pulls into the station.

    I wish these people in BH would just be honest and say ‘we don’t want poorer people having even more incentive to spend a minute of time in our town’

    I grew up in Chicago and you would barely feel the elevated trains as they passed by your house if it was a newer building. BH Council’s excuse is a joke.

  • Chris

    @ Manny: You lived *under* the Red Line? Are you the Phantom of the Opera?

  • Erik G.

    If you stand by the CVS that is near the Wilshire/Western Station, you can feel air rushing out of the Emergency Exit Stair vents. Buit you will not feel any rumbles or squeals.

    Now where are those SR2 Beverly Hills Freeway engineering plans…

  • joe

    I say screw Beverly Hills, Cut the thing south at the end of the purple line to meet up with the expo line and call it a draw. While we are at it, Lets remove all the stops that metro makes in Beverly Hills all together. No more bus stops or anything. Let them get their own damn mass transit.

    This shit is silly. For the first time in over a decade we have an opportunity to build something great for this city that will last a century and people are worried about some damn steam.

  • Spokker

    No vibrations here. In fact, the subway saved my life once. Remember when aliens attacked Los Angeles? Thank Christ I was in the subway at the time.

  • I have felt the subway in Boston (Cambridge), but that’s because the line is 15 feet under the street.

  • God damned NUMBYs!

    I can’t blame people for worrying about a subway under their homes. I mean, they’d definitely lose the mineral and water rights to their property for all practical purposes. All their bootleggin’ and gin joint basements from Prohibition would have to go as well, as would underground vaults full of gold dubloons, caves for their entrapped Austrian sex slaves, and dog fighting pits.

    If I were a Beveryly Hills resident, I’d grab my hunting rifle, my old bloodhound, gin up the horseless carriage, and let the mayor or whoever runs this galdarned town know that my land is not for borin’.

  • graciela.

    If they don’t want it underground, does that mean they want it above ground? Somehow that seems more disruptive than some puffs of air. Guess they’re just looking to weasel out of the plan all together.

  • Wayne Akubra

    Good on BH for not being bullied. Any wonder that they’re fighting a tunnel under their only high school when there’s a perfectly viable alternative? This is about a one block move of the station. Interesting that Metro expects UCLA students and employees to walk almost a mile to the campus, but Century City visitors and employees can’t walk an extra block. This is about the greed of big developers and the entwinement between big-money and politics in LA county which will screw the people any and every chance they get. Even Metro admits that the subway will not decrease traffic congestion, yet just watch how politicians will use the subway as a “justification” to densify because it serves the interests of their big-money masters. The subway is much-need catch-up to a city with a non-existent infrastructure. It shouldn’t be an excuse for political payback to developer donors which would ultimately make the city even more unlivable.

  • Wayne, how are we supposed to get anything done if guys like you won’t let our politicians pay back their big financial donors? Advertising a name to get voted into office isn’t cheap!

  • Fred Green

    Beverly Hills is being “bullied”? Are you being serious?

    Metro’s trying to build something for the entire county, part of a countywide transit SYSTEM. Metro should take these peoples’ houses by eminent domain (with a huge payoff, of course). That will shut them up.

    Only, wait…they don’t have to do that, because the construction won’t affect their property in any way. (Check the recent Gold Line subway project…no sinkholes, no damaged buildings, all good, on time and under budget).

    As a matter of fact, property values of residences with mass transit access actually goes UP, though I don’t see how it could go any higher in the case of Beverly Hills and Century City.

  • Fred Green

    And by the way, Wayne, Metro DOES NOT ADMIT that the subway will not decrease traffic congestion.

    If you read the EIR, it says that by 2030, with the subway traffic will go down 1%. Without the subway, it will go UP by 24%!

    THAT’S A 25% DECREASE, MY FRIEND. DON’T BELIEVE THE IDIOT PROPAGANDA IN THE LA WEEKLY.

  • Donk

    My only problem with this is that if Metro caves in to BH, then this will set a precedent for future routes in the county and state. If BH can’t even handle a tunnel under a few homes, how is Metro going to be able to explain why they are allowed run the Expo line, Crenshaw line, or other future lines above ground through less privileged neighborhoods. And what would this mean for CAHSR?

  • Wayne Akubra

    Pardon me for equating a 1% traffic decrease with no decrease. But a 1% traffic decrease for how many billions of dollars? C’mon, Mate! Even by your way of reckoning, it’s only a 25% decrease if the subway is not used as an alibi for more skyscrapers and more density. This is the problem. Because of the pandering to developer dollars — which will be the case here — just watch irresponsible development spread along the subway route like a virus. That is the political reality when Big Brother, aided by Big Money calls the shots.

    There is no real reason to tunnel under a high school when there is another viable option. The only reason, of course, is developers believe a one block move of the subway will add to their coffers. Good on Beverly Hills if they can get Metro to set a precedent to actually listen to the people, and to set a precedent to use viable options that are actually supported by the people who live in the area. By the way, the route supported by Beverly Hills is actually 50 million taxpayer dollars cheaper than the one demanded by the Century City developers. Enough with the government’s telling citizens what’s best for them, and not listening to the people, but only to their deep-pocketed developer patrons.

  • Well Wayne, you have it backwards. Metro is listening to the taxpayers, and we are telling them to put the subway station at Constellation. The opposition to the Constellation route is a classic astroturf issue manufactured by a few people in Beverly Hills who are paranoid. The more you talk about developments in Century City, the more it proves our point that this whole opposition is vaporized crazy talk about stopping a few building projects in Century City and not about tunneling under a few homes and high school.

  • OMG they’re going to increase density in Century City. What will we ever do?

    I love the contradictory arguments we’re seeing from these folks:

    1) The Constellation stop is just payback to developers who want to create further density in Century City, which would apparently be a horrible thing.

    2) The Santa Monica Blvd stop is better, in part, because it will encourage some (apparently non-evil but currently non-existent) developers to buy and build high-density developments on the country club land across the boulevard. This density would obviously be acceptable for some reason or another.

    Of course, none of them will complain when these nice developers replace the quiet golf course next to their houses with a bunch of high-rises. Right.

    It’s simple NIMBYism, and fairly ignorant NIMBYism at that. That they fall back on the “it won’t decrease traffic congestion” canard shows exactly what their motivations are.

    Some math: if congestion in 2030 with the subway would be 99% of current congestion, but would be 124% of current congestion without the subway, then the subway would have reduced projected congestion by 20.2%. That’s a significant reduction, even if it means that congestion remains essentially unchanged from today. And that metric entirely discounts the benefit to actual riders, who will experience a 100% reduction in traffic congestion (until they need to get on a bus), which is almost the entire point of building the thing.

  • Chris L

    “And that metric entirely discounts the benefit to actual riders, who will experience a 100% reduction in traffic congestion (until they need to get on a bus), which is almost the entire point of building the thing.”

    Exactly. I don’t know why everyone is focusing on what the subway can do for auto traffic congestion. How about what it can do for riders??

  • Wayne Akubra

    Crazy talk? Right — so there is no influence of Big Money in the decision-making process? So wealthy donors don’t buy influence in political decisions? So there’s no politically created overdevelopment in LA? What country have you been living in, mate? It’s pretty much up to each community to look after their own garden, and you can fault the local residents in Beverly Hills all you want, but they are taking care of their own business and not eating the spoonfed bs. Nobody is suggesting that moving the subway one block is going to stop overdevelopment; local government in LA is too far gone for that to ever be a possibility.

    What the ratepayers in Beverly Hills seem to be saying is they are not prepared to accept tunneling under a high school for the sake of the financial well-being of developer interests. If the ratepayers in LA think that their own elected officials always have the citizens’ best interests at heart, good on them: let them accept whatever they’re spoonfed by the bureaucrats, but Beverly Hills deserves respect for insisting on the route that was the only one discussed up to a few months ago and is $50 million less expensive. Good luck to Metro getting federal dollars when Washington finds out there is major local opposition and that a local city is getting steamrolled, and a high school being tunneled under — all for developer dollars (then again, maybe those same developers are DC donors, as well).

    But if you’re really so concerned about ridership, perhaps instead of being concerned with a one block move, you should put your energy into having Metro move the Westwood station closer to UCLA, instead of almost a mile away.

  • Chris L

    @Wayne

    If you think USDOT (or “Washington” as you call them) is going to care that there that a ultra-wealthy neighborhood is having a hissy fit over a rail project that stands to benefit the entire population of Los Angeles (a city sorely lacking in public transportation options, I might add) I think you’re going to be disappointed. They’re a pretty progressive bunch, and they’ve been doing transit grants for a long time – they know NIMBYs when they see them.

  • Wayne,

    1) The only spoon-fed B.S. here seems to be NIMBY nonsense about nonexistent tunneling impacts, and BH residents seem to be eating that up. The people in the city who actually intend to use the subway prefer the route that goes to the center of Century City, for obvious reasons having nothing to do with potential development.

    2) So which is it, are you worried about the over-development the subway at Constellation will bring, or is the location irrelevant?

    3) Why is tunneling under a high school worse then tunneling under an office high-rise, or a busy street? Let’s not get into empty “think of the children” arguments here. If you want an effective subway, then you are going to get tunneling under places filled with people.

    4) The Constellation stop alternative has been on the map since the 2008 preliminary alternatives analysis. If you’ve only heard about it in the last few months, that’s your own problem, nobody sprang a trap on you.

    5) Wilshire/Westwood is less than a half mile from Le Conte/Westwood (I doubt they’d put a station further north than that). Also, it’s as much the center of Westwood (which is more than just a college campus) as UCLA is. The latter cannot be said about Santa Monica Blvd. in Century City, though the distance is a bit smaller.

  • Wayne Akubra

    Washington doesn’t know a NIMBY from a brumby, but Washington does know money and they don’t think that it stinks. Certainly wouldn’t be surprising for Washington to blow off what citizens think, and on Nov. 2 we will see the backlash of this insistence that uppity citizens are merely annoying distractions who get in the way of doing the bidding of special interests (unfortunately for those uppity citizens, both parties are equally dismissive). Write off Beverly Hills as a group of spoiled NIMBY’s, if you will. For one thing, it shows complete ignorance of a diverse community and an unworthy acceptance of false stereotypes. Wonder what other stereotypes are acceptable…

    For one thing, NIMBY’s don’t say: we welcome you into and through our town. However, there does need to be some respect for the residents and ratepayers within a community. There is such a thing as local control and independent cities in Southern California are not fiefdoms of Los Angeles.

    In response to Alec Mitchell:

    1)Again, “NIMBY” name-calling does nothing to alter the fact that there is a viable alternative, which is also within the city of Beverly Hills, which is $50 million less expensive than what you are advocating. While some riders may prefer the Constellation alignment, you are naive to suggest that this is the reason this alternative is being pushed by the powers-that-be. There are also riders that prefer Santa Monica. And if you are unable to walk one block, then perhaps you should consider driving, which will get you from point A to point B without having to walk.

    2)Overdevelopment will occur wherever the subway is built — certainly in the Los Angeles portions if the past is any guide (no idea if the governments of Santa Monica and Beverly Hills can resist the bogus reasoning that the subway would justify additional densification, rather than simply help alleviate a pre-existing problem). The entire Westside, including Beverly Hills, has suffered the consequences of irresponsible overdevelopment, including in Century City. The Santa Monica alignment will not change that, as most people are willing to walk a block, and not all would have to, as Santa Monica is close to the Westfield mall, office buildings and already-proposed developments.

    In fact, far from being a case of NIMBYism or an example of not wanting people to travel through “their” city, the Santa Monica alignment will allow easier access for people who want to go to the new (over)developments which Beverly Hills has, in fact, already approved, which strech from the corner of Wilshire and Santa Monica to the LA Country Club.

    3) There is no tunneling under office high rises in Century City. If that were the case, Metro could avoid tunneling under the high school AND have the Constellation alignment. However, supposedly the garages and foundations of these high rises are “too deep.” So rather than have to deal with the effects of overdevelopment, the Metro just decides to ride roughshod over a community which for the most part has resisted the trend, prefering to focus on quality of life. There are no instances in LA where Metro has tunneled under a pre-existing school. Clearly, no matter what an EIR says, there are no guarantees. It is simply wrong to tunnel under a school when there is another viable alternative. Oh, yeah, the “think about the kids” arguments are empty. Sure: let’s reduce our dependency on foreign oil and build nuclear reactors next to or even under schools. No worries. Don’t believe me? Hey, just look at the EIR. It clearly says there aren’t any risks, no matter what the pesky NIMBY’s say or feel.

    Furthermore, tunneling under a high school may not be possible without the approval of the school district. The school is part of a state agency, as is Metro, and it is unclear that Metro can eminent domain an easement under the school. At the very least there could be a long, drawn-out legal battle, which indeed could cause Washington to disburse its funds to other projects and could slow down or stop the so-called 30-10 plan.

    4) The Westside extension has been under discussion for how many years? Support was garnered in Beverly Hills, from what I understand, with the consistent and clear focus on the Santa Monica alignment as the only real alternative under discussion (at one point an alignment down Wilshire may also have been discussed). Getting community support for Santa Monica and then changing to Constellation is a classic bait-and-switch move. Citizens are right to resist bait-and-switch tactics from the government.

    5)The distance in Century City between proposed alignments is one block. Westwood and Wilshire is 8/10 of a mile from the center of UCLA, which has 65,000 students and faculty members each day (not to mention Bruin basketball games, but then again there may not be many these days that want to go to those). Wilshire and Westwood is not the center of Westwood, it’s the southernmost border of the entire Westwood area. Most of the area to the south of Wilshire is residential.

    You’re right that Metro are not looking to put the station to the north of Wilshire and Westwood, but why not? Isn’t sauce for the goose also sauce for the gander? UCLA isn’t the center of Westwood, quite correct. But the center is between UCLA and Wilshire and Westwood. Why no hue and cry about moving the station to the center of Westwood Village?

    Again, the answer lies with the developers’ interests rather than in the need to better serve a public university.

    PS Your calculations about traffic reductions assume no additional density along the route. Since politicians won’t be able to resist using the Metro as an alibi for additional densification, traffic could actually get worse because of the Metro. Don’t get me wrong: this wouldn’t be the Metro’s fault, but the fault of the politicians. But forgive them, for they know not what they do and can’t help themselves. But this isn’t a metric, this is reality.

    Furthermore, the benefit to actual riders — as opposed to reducing overall regional traffic — is an interesting concept. I guess if you’re lucky enough not to have to worry about how to get to a station or don’t have to park at or near a station or only need to move east to west or west to east, the Metro can be useful. But good luck if you need to move north or south. Get ready to walk way more than a block. Clearly, a project of the scope of the Westside Extension needs to benefit more than just the riders. It needs to be an important piece in the creation of an infrastructure which will ease the congestion, traffic misery and transportation problems of the region. But it can only serve that function if the root causes of traffic are also addressed, and it is simply delusional to think that any number of well-meaning public works projects can turn LA into New York, London or Paris.

  • You had to be there at the meeting: packed with a couple a hundred folks FROM THE NEIGHBORHOOD and only a single bike chained up outside. Not a bike-and-transit crowd. The meeting itself was no picnic either. Filled to capacity, it was stuffy with indignation.
    More to the point, few in attendance were interested in the alternative route’s key merit: it’s a quarter-mile closer to employment centers and high-rise multifamily districts nearer to Olympic. Their preferred route puts the station more than a half-mile away, encouraging nobody from the Olympic corridor to walk it. So let’s agree the difference it ain’t no “one block.” Maybe it’s a “Century City block,” which in any planned-for-people universe equates to about five city blocks.

  • Chris L

    These same battles have played out in every city that has built new rail lines in the past 50 years. NIMBYs in the ritzy neighborhood fight the rail station tooth and nail. They win. 10 years later after the transit culture in the city sinks in, they see the utility in living close to a station and they realize their mistake. They spend the next 30 years regretting their decision and pushing for a new station that will never happen. The window of opportunity has passed them by. Just ask Georgetown how not having a Metro station is working out for them.

    You build stations as close to dense activity centers as possible. Its as simple as that.

  • You had to be there at the meeting: packed with a couple a hundred folks FROM THE NEIGHBORHOOD and only a single bike chained up outside.
    ———
    It’s worse than you think. That was my bike.

  • Build it at Constellation/Ave. of the Stars for ALL of Century City, from Pico to Santa Monica Blvd.

    Use the Constellation North or South route.

    Beverly Hills High will survive and in fact won’t even notice.

  • roadblock

    Beverly Hill Billies….

  • Alex

    I lived near the Wilshire/Western station of the Purple Line for 6 months and took the subway weekly. I never felt it rumble above ground.