Beverly Hills Files Legal Complaint Against Metro Over “Public” Documents

We know its going to Westwood, but what about the stop before that?

Yesterday, the Beverly Hills Unified School District (BHUSD) filed a petition asking the State Superior Court to issue a Writ of Mandate forcing Metro to release thousands of pages of documents relating to the Westside Subway expansion and the station locations being studied in Century City.  A copy of the petition is available on Streetsblog, here.

For those just joining us, BHUSD is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to advocate for a subway route that would avoid any tunneling under Beverly Hills High School.  To that end, BHUSD has asked Metro to hand over thousands of pages of studies and technical documents so BHUSD consultants can comb through them.  The end goal is to prove that a route running under Beverly Hills with a stop at Constellation Avenue is inferior to a route running under Santa Monica Boulevard and stopping at Avenue of the Stars.

““Time is running out to submit comments to the MTA and there are still too many unknowns. The data so far support building the Century City station along Santa Monica Boulevard so it’s a mystery to us why anyone would want to spend more money to serve fewer riders – particularly when it cripples the school district’s ability to do what’s necessary for our students,” school board president Lisa Korbatov said in a press release.

Korbatov’s statement is bound to cause controversy with advocates for the Westside Subway.  First, the idea that a station on Santa Monica Boulevard will have more riders than one on Constellation Avenue is far from settled fact.  The ridership numbers for both station are being re-studied as the Avenue of the Stars Station is more attractive for pedestrian traffic and the Santa Monica Station is more easily accessed by drivers and bus passengers.  Of course, it would be easier for Metro to re-route buses to serve Avenue of the Stars than it would be to build over the golf course that makes up the Northern border of the Santa Monica Station.

A second is the issue of whether or not “time is running out.”

Members of the Beverly Hills School Board present a motion asking for a Santa Monica Boulevard route/station at a public hearing in September.

Metro will host one more set of Station Area Advisory Group meetings sometime in June and anticipates another set of Community Update meetings prior to the release of the Final EIS/EIR.  Once the FEIS/EIR and it is approved from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), it will be released for public review.  From there, it will be at least another 30 days before it goes to the Metro Board Directors.  With this schedule, it is unlikely that a decision will be made before the September meeting of the Board and could go on for much longer.  BHUSD wants to see the study documents before the Final EIR is released so they “can provide meaningful comment” before the EIR is published and sent to the FTA.

Regardless of the timing of the petition, the issue is whether or not Metro is providing BHUSD with all the documents that it is required to under state law.

In an April 14th letter to the agency that is included with the petition, BHUSD outlines 32 different public record requests made to the agency.  The catch?  BHUSD doesn’t just want information from the studies but the methodology that collected and created the data.  For example, BHUSD doesn’t just want to know speed profiles for the different routes that could connect the Century City Station to the Westwood Station, they also want the supporting rules and variables used to generate the formulas that created the data.

And there’s the rub.  Despite the California Public Records Act,  Metro, or any other government agency, can withhold documents if they are deemed proprietary information of the agency’s consultants.  In other words, Metro is arguing that they can’t be forced to turn over information that could endanger the livelihood of their consultants.  For their part, BHUSD is arguing that they can’t analyze and comment on environmental documents without knowing how the data was created.

Metro released another batch of documents last week to BHUSD, but has released in full about 10% of the documents BHUSD has asked for.  The agency has given itself until May 20th to decide whether or not to release the rest of the documents.  When either the court or Metro reach their decisions, Streetsblog will let you know.

17 thoughts on Beverly Hills Files Legal Complaint Against Metro Over “Public” Documents

  1. It is time to take the bullhorn away from the misguided handful of opponents of a station at Constellation Blvd. The people of Beverly Hills are not stupid. There is a growing rift between the ill informed School Board and the rest of Beverly Hills and I predict backlash against the Board’s continued wasting of precious education dollars on lawyers, lobbyists and PR flacks to fight a losing battle. Most Beverly Hills’ residents and City Hall itself sees through the lies that the School Board is telling. http://bit.ly/krIZDU

  2. According to the web site they set up for this, it states the following:

    “the bhsd opposes…route under high school among other reasons, it would severly restrict a voter-approved expansion and modernization plan for the campus. ”

    Now i’ve seen spin befor, but that reasonIng is pure BS.

    Unless they are planning to build an underground bunker to store all their gold!

  3. Regarding this quote:

    “Time is running out to submit comments to the MTA and there are still
    too many unknowns. The data so far support building the Century City
    station along Santa Monica Boulevard so it’s a mystery to us why anyone
    would want to spend more money to serve fewer riders – particularly
    when it cripples the school district’s ability to do what’s necessary
    for our students,” school board president Lisa Korbatov said in a press
    release.

    Would this whole process have been so contentious if BHUSD had tried to argue this on the merits from the get-go? We’ll never know, but it’s a real shame that Korbatov in particular had to make such inflammatory and baseless accusations, only to realize later that it wasn’t going to earn her any credibility or friends
    in her community or anywhere else.

  4. Well, I believe it was underground parking, but unless they’re planning to build 10 stories of it, then it shouldn’t be a problem.

  5. Well, I believe it was underground parking, but unless they’re planning
    to build 10 stories of it, then it shouldn’t be a problem.

  6. dont they have kids to educate with that money they are blowing on this stupid crap. i’ve never seen a school in the US be flush with cash even in wealthy areas.

  7. dont they have kids to educate with that money they are blowing on this stupid crap. i’ve never seen a school in the US be flush with cash even in wealthy areas.

  8. A very altruistic statement, but we all know politics has everything to do with infrastructure design.

  9. They’re worried about a subway tunnel 100 feet below the school but they’re not worried about an underground parking garage directly beneath the school? Doesn’t anyone at the School Board not see the hypocrisy there?

  10. What the hell is wrong with BHUSD? There is simply no problem with having a deep bored tunnel under a school — they’ll never even NOTICE it.

  11. kinda funny wasn’t that long ago that BHUSD had turned down the BH Couriers request for emails from 2 former employees who are now involved in a criminal case. In the end, they had to release the emails.

  12. interesting how the district’s out of money & having to lay off teachers, close programs yet they’re ready & funded ($400-500,000) to take on the metro project.

  13. Spending almost 1/2 million dollars when no decision where the station is going to be located in the first place. The attorneys must be smiling from ear to ear. How many teachers would this hire and how much school supplies could be provided to the kids?

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