Start the Countdown to a Court Date. Trenching at Beverly Hills High School Reaches the End

The scene at Beverly Hills High School. Photo: Joel Epstein

During yesterday’s Metro Board Meeting, CEO Art Leahy reported that the Beverly Hills Unified School District would not allow Metro’s experts to take advantage of the ongoing trenching studies going on at Beverly Hills High School, which are scheduled to end this weekend, without paying a cool $500,000 to the School District.  The trenching process is part of a study being conducted on behalf of the school district to respond to an earlier geotechnical study by a team of experts paid for by Metro that found that the safest place to run the Westside Subway was under a portion of the Beverly Hills High School Property.

“We’re not going to do that,” Leahy said of the $500,000 entrance fee.

The request for access was made over the phone to the School District’s lawyer by Metro staff who responded with the funding request.  Neither side has an audio copy of the conversation, and given that the trenching ends this weekend there is no paper trail connected to the request.

For its part, the School District contends that because they had to complete this expensive study because Metro’s report was “so flawed” that Metro should help bear the cost of the trenching if they want to send in their own experts.  A statement from the School District reads:

“The Beverly Hills Unified School District is very concerned about purported faults under Beverly Hills High School, and has spent a considerable amount of time and money investigating Metro’s claims.  The school board was open to allowing Metro consultants access to the trenching at Beverly Hills High School, as it did to other experts including staff from the California Geologic Survey.  However, because the significant costs incurred were a direct a result of a suspect Metro study, the board asked that Metro offset some of the cost.”

The latest war of words between Metro and the BHSD only reinforces our position from the last time we wrote about the Westside Subway fight in Beverly Hills.  The debate over where to run the subway won’t be decided by planners or Metro Staff, but by a judge.

  • lalins

    Just asking…..what did the “other experts” incuding the staff from the Caifornia Geologic Survey pay to take their look?

  • Greg

    Just go around Beverly Hills.  Please.  We don’t need them.  Have the stop at La Cienega and Wilshire, then go south around Beverly Hills to Century City.  Please. 

  • Joe Parker

    lalins, my understanding is that the trenches have been full of unbiased geologists (CGS and USGS scientists) and there wasn’t room for more. To keep the trenches open for MTA scientist to come in would cost the school district (i.e. the students) even more money in supervisor fees, but MTA was unwilling to offer compensation, which should tell you something about their lack of concern for safety in their tunneling process.

  • Jon

    Money money money moneyyyyyyy……moneeyyyyyyy….. tha is what BHUSD wants……

  • John

    Joe, really, “unwilling to offer compensation”?  That’s some pretty darn expensive supervisin’!  This was a political maneuver.  BHUSD didn’t want an outside opinion, and they didn’t want Metro in their trenches.  BHUSD asked for $500,000 for one reason, they knew it was too much.  Their tactic was to kill two birds with one stone – both to feign cooperation and to deny access by making an offer that Metro had to decline.  I don’t see how any reasonably unbiased judge would fall for this.  Yes, It’s going to come down to a courtroom he said/she said battle of the reports, but please don’t insult us with your bogus rationalization of BHUSD’s $500,000 pay-to-play sham.  It’s kind of a leap don’t you think to claim that because an agency doesn’t want to participate in a shake-down that they are thus unconcerned about safety?  Trust me, there are a lot of us out here who see that is clearly non sequitur.

  • John

    Greg, I’m with you, but realize that several Beverly Hills businesses do want the subway and are not supporting this battle over the BHUSD property.  I’d hate to throw the baby out with the bath water.  Also, to reach the Constellation/Avenue of the Stars sweet spot of Century City, preliminary engineering already ruled out a north/south alignment, rendering your suggestion of tunneling around Beverly Hills moot.

  • Joe Parker

    I don’t think BHUSD wants money. They want the best schools for the students and this means future students as well. I’m sure they would much rather stop spending money on this stuff and focus exclusively on educatipn.

  • Joe Parker

    John, did MTA make an offer to BHUSD to allow MTA to bring their scientists into the trenches? I honestly don’t know. But it seems reasonable that the MTA should pay something, especially since the extensiveness of this trenching would not have been necessary if MTA had released their data, and which BHUSD had asked for and was refused. Don’t you agree?

  • Gandalf the Grey

    Anyone else think that “Joe Parker” is a shill for BHUSD?  Joe, does it take $500K to “supervise” geological experts in a trench?  If they wanted to stop spending money on this and focus on education, they’d stop spending money on this and focus on education, not pay lobbyists in DC to try and derail the entire project!  Joe, do you have the names of the geologists in the trenches?  If not, how do you know who they are?

    Also, MTA has released every speck of their data.  Both the raw data and the conclusions, free of charge, to the public.  Its on their website!  How else would the BH City Council’s firm have been able to draw their own conclusions?

    As for the stuff they were refused, do you mean the stuff that A JUDGE said they didn’t have to release until their own experts formed a conclusion?  I guess MTA buys judges as well?

    And the only reason trenching was done at BHHS was because BHUSD didn’t allow Metro more than a few days to do work on the campus because it was cause disruptions to the students (while I guess a massive trench for months didn’t cause any disruptions whatsoever)

  • Joe Parker

    I have empathy for BHUSD. I care about the interests of the present and future students there. This has more to do with fairness, and the safety and preservation of the school.

    I don’t know what it costs to supervise more geologists in the trenches and to keep the trenches open. I was asking if anyone knew if MTA had made an offer. It seems unreasonable that BHUSD should incur more costs from MTA.

    I understand that trenching or at least some geological studies had to be done before the modernization of the high school. But due to the MTA report, more work than normal was required in order to placate the State geologists. Maybe that’s what BHUSD was hoping to recoup from MTA. Shouldn’t MTA pay what they would have had to incur if they had trenched themselves?

    After the “experts” had formed a conclusion, the raw data was not released. Has it been released now? If so, why the delay?

    I don’t know the names of the geologists. I just heard that A LOT of them were there and I read that some came from the California Geological Survey, the US Geological Survey, and universities.

  • Gandalf the Grey

    So Joe, you’re saying that you think it costs $500K for supervisors to watch geologists enter a trench.  And, MTA has been formally asking to have outside experts view the trench (and I’m sure they would have compensated for ACTUAL incurred expenses), but were rebuffed numerous times until they got a call to pay $500,000 (which almost sounds like extortion).

    Why should BH try to recoup money it was going to have to spend (according to your comments)?  Did the MTA report find things under BH?  In fact, didn’t the MTA study show that it was safe to build under BHHS?

    The raw data has been on the MTA website since October/November.  http://www.metro.net/projects/westside/westside-reports/  See?  Now don’t you feel like a fool?

    I haven’t heard public mention of any of the team that BHUSD put together — but I know MTA had a pretty good team too: http://www.metro.net/projects_studies/westside/images/thumbnail_bios.pdf

    Their people included 3 USC Profs., an SDSU Prof., a U of Illinois Prof., a PG&E Director for Geosciences, a CalTech Prof., a Chief Scientist at USGS, and a Cornell Prof.

    So who did BHUSD hire again?

  • Anonymous

    Isn’t this a school that has an oil well on its premises? Sounds to me they don’t care much about “the children” as much as they care about robbing Peter to pay Paul. Typical government for wealthy people – have the entitlement mentality of someone on welfare and have the power to take more and more and more.

  • Anonymous

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