Beverly Hills Unified School District Takes to the Internet to Fight for Subway Stop
Opponents of a Metro proposal to build a Subway Station at the intersection of Avenue of the Stars and Constellation Avenue in Century City are taking their argument to the Internet. A recently opened website and Facebook Page are pushing the idea that an alternative subway stop on Santa Monica Boulevard. Honestly, the information on the website and Facebook Page, taken on their own without hearing the other side of the debate, make a compelling case that the it makes sense to scrap the “Constellation Avenue Station” and stick with an earlier proposal for the Santa Monica Station.
Of course, it just so happens that the arguments gloss over the fact that the Beverly Hills Unified School District is paying $400,000 for public relations and any potential legal fees to protect their view that a Subway running underneath Beverly Hills High School is anathema to the Board of Education. For the record, the average salary of Beverly Hills school teachers is $48,000.
The Internet campaign is meant to appeal to people hearing about the proposal for the first time and those without a strong opinion on the project’s stop in Century City. Gone are the bizarre arguments that a subway running under Beverly Hills will endanger high school students and residences will slowly deteriorate because of the constant vibrations caused by the Subway. The website team tells Patch that their goal is to educate and empower the community:
“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.
The conversation is pretty one-sided at this point, but perhaps as the Facebook page grows we’ll see more of a back and forth.
Replacing the red-faced exhortations from the outreach meetings are arguments based on ridership and cost. From the Century City Subway website:
Building the Century City subway station at Santa Monica is less expensive — by over $60 million — and faster — it allows a shorter and more direct route for commuters — and will be more accessible to bus riders, bikers, and pedestrians. It has the best location for greater ridership because it provides a link to not only the businesses in Century City, but also those along Santa Monica Boulevard, with over a million more square feet of office, retail, and hotel space within ½ mile than the alternative. These facts alone dictate that it be decreed the Locally Preferred Alternative.
Although this is commonly repeated piece of misinformation, in fact, the EIS/EIR used two different ridership models. The more detailed Demand Ridership Model calculates Santa Monica to have a 5% higher ridership than the alternate. (See EIS/EIR Final Smart Growth Evaluation Report Table 3-1: Estimated Weekday Daily Boardings and Alightings by Station.) Metro has requested more study on the issue, noting that Constellation may have a higher appeal for pedestrians, but Santa Monica may be more appealing for bus riders transferring to the subway.
These arguments are compelling taken in a vacuum, and if you assume that development patterns aren’t going to change at all in the future. Half of the potential real estate adjacent to the Santa Monica Station is a golf course which limits the value of the station. As for the access for bus riders, there’s no reason to believe that bus service can’t, and shouldn’t, be re-routed to support a subway line and the Transit Oriented Development that it should bring.
Second, Metro is undertaking another ridership estimate for the proposed stations, in response to a motion by Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, so we should have ridership numbers that everyone can agree on soon.
Third, Metro has been raising alarms about the subway route that would serve a Santa Monica Boulevard location running to close to an earthquake fault, which would make any of this debate over routes irrelevant.
(An earlier version of the story stated that the $400,000 was only for public relations. We regret the error.)