Beverly Hills Unified School District Takes to the Internet to Fight for Subway Stop

From the ##http://centurycitysubway.org/##Century City Subway Website.##

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.

and later:

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.)

  • LAofAnaheim

    The whole “better bus connection” at Santa Monica boulevard is a dumb point. The only buses to not use Constellation when going to Century City is the Metro Local 4 and 704 Rapid. That’s it. Othewise, the Metro 16, 28, 316 and 728 all go to Constellation. AV Express, LADOT Commuter Express 534, Big Blue Bus 5 and Culver City 3 go to Constellation. So, don’t get fooled by their “better bus integration” arguement. The Big Blue Bus 1 will already connect Santa Monica boulevard with Westwood station in Santa Monica. the 4 and 704 already connect with the subway at Santa Monica/Vermont.

  • LAofAnaheim

    It says “non profit organization” on the Facebook page. Can the PR firm be sued for slander?

  • I think the Santa Monica Alignment makes sense. Think about all the Richies that want to take the Subway to the ultra exclusive Los Angeles Country Club to play some golf. I bet Metro can make sure they have Golf Club storage on the trains and even can have a fleet of golf carts waiting at the station.

    I can see the marketing poster now:

    Subway to the Greens – Let metro drive you to the Tee !

  • I made a map of the ideal alignment based on this idea of Subway to the Greens. It puts all of the stations within walking distance of all of the private golf clubs and to the private jet friendly Santa Monica airport.

    http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?hl=en&safe=active&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Century+City,+Los+Angeles,+CA&gl=us&t=h&msa=0&msid=212757995606634905590.00049fb955898fdb20f38&ll=34.026628,-118.455963&spn=0.024115,0.055189&z=14

  • Subway to The Greens! Well done Dude.

    Hey, isn’t Beverly Hills High most notable for having a working oil well on campus? Maybe BHUSD worries about the subway cutting into their oil profits.

  • Daylight Saves What?

    Are any of you posting any of this commenting magic on their website? Make sure to say hi for me.

  • Whatever your views are on the Subway, the Century City station, or wherever else you post comments, I invite you to participate so that your thoughts can be part of Metro’s planning process. Please go to our website (www.metro.net/westside) for public information about the project including meetings where you can speak to us directly. Go to “Contact Us” to send us your thoughts or questions and to let us know how to contact you so we can let you know when there is subway news. You can also communicate with us and each other on our Facebook page (www.Facebook.com/WestsideSubwayExtension).

    Jody Litvak
    Metro Westside Subway Extension Team

  • Carlton Glüb

    Having looked at the issue more, I’ve come to the conclusion that the amount of noise coming from this debate is totally out of proportion with the difference in merit between the two stations. I personally think the Constellation alignment has the greater amount of advantages, but a stop at Santa Monica Blvd. wouldn’t be the end of the world. I’m sure both would be heavily used.

    The most disappointing thing is that this whole debate started with a handful of Beverly Hills residents throwing some seriously unfounded bombs — like accusing a Constellation supporter of being willing “to play Russian Roulette with [BH] kids,”* based on non-evidence and preposterous fears of some kind of terror attack in a moving subway perfectly timed under BHHS.

    NOW, BHHS wants to walk the rhetoric back, after they lawyered up and ratcheted the rhetoric up to code red hyper-stressful levels. The whole thing is so aggravating you kind of have to just roll your eyes…

    And then tell everyone you know to email Jody Litvak in support of the best choice for the Century City station.

    *http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Lisa_Korbatov/why-constellation-blvd-av_b_770651_64776280.html

  • The fact that the 4 and 704 go on Santa Monica Boulevard is a big caveat. When you combine the added cost of through passengers to go through the S curves needed to use Constellation, the additional cost of tunneling those S curves, and the lack of additional seven day a week uses near Constellation, the Santa Monica Boulevard alternative is just as valid. A better collector/distribution system for Century City in keeping with the mid-20th Century motif would be a Las Vegas-style tram or PRT to stop in the middle of each of the superblocks that make up the area, which could be implemented just as easily with Santa Monica as Constellation.

    Santa Monica was the original location of the subway stop in the early planning days, and Damien doesn’t note that although you can reroute buses to the subway station, it is better to be on the way and avoid precious Revenue Service Hours doglegging in and out of the station. With 15 peak buses an hour on Santa Monica Boulevard, an added four to six minutes making all those turns to stop in front of a Constellation station adds up.

  • Dan W.

    I absolutely agree with this. One bus alignment uses Santa Monica Blvd., and all of the others use Constellation. We should be routing our buses to the stations, not building our stations for bus lines. And no one is a bigger supporter and advocate for improved Line 4/704 service than me. Build this on Constellation..

  • Dan W.

    Those of us who support the Constellation stop can use the internet too.

    We should be routing of bus lines to serve rail stations, not building rail stations to serve reroutable bus lines. Also, I am the biggest public advocate out there for improved transit on Santa Monica Blvd., it is clear that this whole area would be better served by Constellation. Fox Studios and the businesses along Pico would attract more walking traffic from Constellation than Santa Monica Blvd. It is not one short block, it is one long block’s difference between the two stations.

    While the 4/704 use Santa Monica Blvd. only, the 28/728, 16/316, BBB5, CCB3 all currently use and can use Constellation easily.

    Beverly Hills should be careful for what is wishes for. If the station does end up being on Santa Monica Blvd., it will only be a matter of a few years before the golf course would be redeveloped into a Century City north, adding even more traffic to the entitlement-paved streets of Beverly Hills.

  • The models and metrics show that there isn’t much of a difference between Constellation and Santa Monica Blvd. What’s lost in these models and metrics is the human experience.

    For those who have been to Century City, when you are on foot, where would you rather be, on Santa Monica or Constellation? The majority of riders are going to be workers arriving in the AM or leaving in the PM, on foot.

    Santa Monica is this 170 foot street with cars going much too fast. Avenue of the Stars is about 90 feet, with cars going a little slower. From my experience, this street is filled with people trying to figure out how to get to the hotels, slowing down cars in the right hand lane. Constellation is about 65 feet.

    I don’t doubt Santa Monica Blvd. has more jobs and office space, per Metro’s own report. But those jobs appear to be more accessible to people in a car. Constellation is a prime spot for foot traffic.

  • The comment system on their gold-plated website seems to be down, so I’ll cross-post here for the interim.

    Welcome to the Century City Subway site, which is being launched as a resource for people and organizations interested in spending public transit dollars wisely.

    Thank you for holding yourself to a higher standard than the BHUSD school board members by actually making (somewhat) factual arguments. Although, it is pretty ironic that this site claims to advocate spending public dollars wisely while wasting $400,000 in education money for PR that has no material benefit for BHUSD students. $400,000–that’s 10 teachers that could have been in Beverly Hills classrooms instilling logic skills that seem to be missing among the City’s political leadership.

    We believe – and the facts support – that Santa Monica Boulevard is the best place to build a Century City station for the Westside Subway Extension. It costs less, will attract more riders and reduce travel time between Century City and Westwood.

    Congratulations: you read a many thousand page document and came up with three talking points. World-class PR work here. At least we’re finally not talking about terrorist attacks.

    In the coming months, the Metroplitan Transportation Authority will conduct research, hold hearings and ultimately make a decision about where the station should be built. Throughout that process, we will be there to check facts and clarify data to ensure that Century City gets the subway station that serves the highest number of riders in the safest, most efficient and cost-effective way possible.

    I can’t wait to hear what happens when the new updated ridership studies confirm that Constellation has higher potential ridership. Will you change your tune? Already you’ve distorted the bus transfer argument by ignoring that all but one of the Century City bus lines currently serve Constellation. Only the 4/704 line is restricted to Santa Monica Boulevard–is one bus line worth basing a subway station location on?

    Furthermore, future ridership is a function of potential for development. Unless you’re OK with replacing the golf course with TOD, it does not make sense to write off half of a potential station service area as undevelopable.

    Stay up to date with all the latest news by following Century City Subway on Facebook and by adding your name and email address to our mailing list in the form on the left.

    Billions of dollars will be spent to build the subway. Let’s work together to ensure that money is well spent.

    I wish the BHUSD general fund was held to the same standard.

  • In the coming months, this must be fought, and this must be fought hard. Constellation is the right alignment.

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