Kuehl Earns Courier Endorsement for Opposing Subway Route, Shriver and Duran Respond (Update: Kuehl Touts Transit Bonafides, Says She Will Not Hold Up Subway)

(Update: This is a first. The Courier didn’t get one thing wrong in its editorial, it got two things wrong.

Sheila Kuehl has responded. The full text of which is available at the end of the story. The highlight: “I strongly support fully building the Purple Line and never said anything indicating I would take any action, ever, to stop the project. That’s pure fantasy on someone’s part.”)

This morning, in the announcement of its endorsements of the County Supervisor’s Race in SD3 to replace Zev Yaroslavsky, the austere Beverly Hills Courier dropped a bombshell: both of the supposed leading candidates for Supervisor, former State Senator Sheila Kuehl and Santa Monica City Councilmember Bobby Shriver were opposed to the currently planned subway route under Beverly Hills High School.

Shriver at the  Audi Best Buddies Challenge: Washington, D.C. on October 20, 2012. Photo: ##http://www.zimbio.com/photos/Bobby+Shriver/2012+Audi+Best+Buddies+Challenge+Washington/EALHQNA2_RX##http://www.zimbio.com/photos/Bobby+Shriver/2012+Audi+Best+Buddies+Challenge+Washington/EALHQNA2_RX##Paul Morigi/Getty Images##
Shriver at the Audi Best Buddies Challenge: Washington, D.C. on October 20, 2012. Photo: ##http://www.zimbio.com/photos/Bobby+Shriver/2012+Audi+Best+Buddies+Challenge+Washington/EALHQNA2_RX##Paul Morigi/Getty Images##

Knowing the Courier’s uneven relationship with the truth (run a text search for my name) when it comes to the Subway, we researched the positions of both candidates. For Kuehl it was easy, the specifics offered by the Courier and discussion on social media from some supporters (who asked not to be quoted in this story) made it clear she is supporting the people opposed to a route under Beverly Hills High School, even if it means killing the project, robbing their children, or making accusations in a way that makes everyone giggle. (Update: While the Courier’s editorial certainly made it seem this was Kuehl’s position, she says that is not so. Again, see below.)

And for this (update: imaginary) stance, Kuehl was honored with the endorsement of the Courier. But Shriver didn’t even get that for siding with the subway obstructers. It turns out there was a good reason for that. Santa Monica Next editor Jason Islas contacted Shriver’s office and received the following statement. Shriver is unapologetically not in favor of moving the Subway route to a more dangerous route with lower projected ridership.

Shriver stated in an email:

“My position has always been not to interfere with the settlement negotiations that are part of the current litigation. 

However, in light of the probability of earthquakes in the region, I want to ensure a safe route in the area.

Metro believes it cannot place a stop at Santa Monica Boulevard due to the presence of two earthquake fault lines. Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky is convinced that the safest route is the current route with the Constellation Stop.  I agree with Zev.”

John Duran uses exercise and involvement to combate HIV. Here he's pictured taking part in Lifecycle. Photo:##http://www.wehonews.com/z/wehonews/using-recovery-as-a-guiding-star-john-duran-reaches-for-county-supervisor/##WehoNews##
John Duran uses exercise and involvement to combat HIV. Here he’s pictured taking part in Lifecycle. Photo:##http://www.wehonews.com/z/wehonews/using-recovery-as-a-guiding-star-john-duran-reaches-for-county-supervisor/##WehoNews##

Of course it may not matter what the new Supervisor, who will take Zev’s seat on the Metro Board of Directors, even thinks. The project is approved. The environmental studies are done. The lawsuits against the project have struck out (thus far) in court.

Streetsblog L.A. is planning a longer preview with all of the major candidates for Supervisor District 3 before the primary election on June 3. However, given the explosiveness of this issue to Streetsblog readers, we wanted to make sure to get the best information into your hands for the two candidates quoted in today’s editorial. (Update: and that best information remains that one should not trust the Beverly Hills Courier.)

But while we didn’t reach out to every candidate on this issue, it didn’t stop another candidate from emailing us his position.

John Duran,  criminal defense lawyer and a member of the West Hollywood City Council who was recently endorsed by the Los Angeles Times, writes:

Well, no surprise.  But I disagree with both Sheila and Shriver. (note: this is before Shriver denied the Courier presented his opinion correctly. Update: Kuehl, too)

I do support a line along Santa Monica Blvd someday.  Maybe in the next round of funding and approval of the proposed “Pink Line” to connect Hollywood to the Ocean along the Hollywood Hills.  But that is not the issue before us today.

The Constellation Station is needed now.  It makes sense in building our transit grid to serve the Westside.  The Constellation project also has a project labor agreement which means very important construction jobs right away.  I also think that the Beverly Hills School District should not be spending $3 million in bond money fighting the subway.  The new millennium is here.  Los Angeles County must make the hard decisions and build a transit grid for future generations.

I must admit some surprise to see the subway rise as an issue that is being taken seriously, but it’s becoming clear that Beverly Hills establishment is not ready to give up this fight and it will be an issue for candidates in June and November.

Update: 9:53 p.m.: Here is the full text of the response from Sheila Kuehl

Regarding the Purple Line, and my position on whether it should go forward, here is what I have consistently said:
1) I preferred the route down Santa Monica.
2) I never liked having the line go under the high school.
(That’s as far as the Courier got).
3) I have been told that some folks are seeking a “third way” and have offered to try, with others, to see if anything could be worked out.
4) I strongly support fully building the Purple Line and never said anything indicating I would take any action, ever, to stop the project. That’s pure fantasy on someone’s part.
Nor do I know who the anonymous “supporters” were on social media who were supposed to be speaking for me.
As the author of the bill that created the Expo Line Authority, I have consistently demonstrated, not only support, but leadership, on regional transit issues.
I will do nothing that might slow down, hold up, or otherwise get in the way of, the Purple Line.  We need it.
  • calwatch

    Incidentally, that’s not dissimilar to a lot of other people’s positions, who thought that a deviation to the heart of Century City, away from bus connections on Santa Monica Boulevard, is unnecessary. If the deviations to the Grove and the Beverly Center/Cedars Sinai were nixed due to time constraints, then the deviation to Century City would add a couple of minutes to operation time and not be the most efficient way to serve the area, given the reduced times of the train having to traverse those curves.

    However, at this point, I think that the scientists have spoken, and relitigating the issue is not productive. BHUSD needs to come to a reasonable position, and Metro may need to sign some sort of agreement promising prompt review of high school improvements, and design the subway to allow a three story underground parking garage or a 20 story building to be built on top of the route in order to not foreclose BHUSD’s property interests. But the continual lawsuits are not really good.

    Still, one should reach out to the campaign and not rely on unofficial people speaking not for attribution. Damien should have waited until Monday to get an official response since he got those from Duran and Shriver.

  • No, Damien did exactly what he should have. He would not have gotten any response from Kuehl without having published this.

  • Kuehl speaks with forked tongue. She said she ademantly opposes the route under BHHS to the Courier, then says she “never liked it” to SBLA. The Expo Line was only green-lit as a way to hopefully relieve any need for the extension of the Subway, but then along came Measure R, $4/gallon gasoline and car-shunning millenials and the Subway came back to life, despite the best efforts of Westside politicians wanting to once again avoid having “transit people” accessing their turf.

  • And it is shameful that the route will avoid Cedar Sinai given that about the only industry with any job growth potential in Los Angeles is medical care. Too bad it is too late (or is it?) to route the tunnel up to there and then run it non-stop to Century City. If Beverly Hills doesn’t want rapid transit (see status of Wilshire BRT inside the BH City Limits), Metro ought to oblige them by dropping the stop at Rodeo Drive.

  • LAifer

    I’m not sure I see Kuehl as challenging the Courier’s take on her position. She stated in her clarification that she “never liked” the line going under BHHS. But she never stated afterward that she’s changed her mind or realized at any point that the currently-planned alignment is the best one, just that she won’t stop the project. So what? That’s beside the point. What’s concerning at this point is that she would seem to be willing to forego sound policy for the concerns of a few wealthy, connected constituents. And while that’s likely not going to be an issue for the Purple Line anymore (so we hope), it does raise questions about her commitment to good, transit-oriented development along future lines.

  • DarrellClarke

    “The Expo Line was only green-lit as a way to hopefully relieve any need for the extension of the Subway”

    Kuehl proposed her bill in 2003 to create a dedicated Expo construction authority, following the model of the Pasadena line, when it appeared that Metro was not moving the project forward following its approval of the phase 1 Final EIS in 2001. She was very serious about getting Expo built – I still vividly remember meeting with her about that. Extension of the subway – the detour to Pico / San Vicente, don’t forget – was already dead, and Expo was the one chance for Westside rail.

  • Sylvia Plummer

    Interesting statement by Shriver:

    Metro believes it cannot place a stop at Santa Monica Boulevard due to the presence of two earthquake fault lines. Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky is convinced that the safest route is the current route with the Constellation Stop. I agree with Zev.”

    Yet it’s okay to go thru 4 earthquake faults to built the SR-710 tunnel

  • Kenny Easwaran

    The Purple Line also goes through several earthquake faults. The issue is that you don’t put a *station* at the fault. If a fault ruptures, pretty much anyone who is currently exactly at the fault is going to die. If its on the track that’s likely to be no one. If it’s on the freeway, that’s probably a few people. If it’s at a station – that’s probably dozens or hundreds of people. It makes sense to accept some earthquake risks, given that we live in an earthquake zone, but it also makes sense to mitigate others, by not putting extremely sensitive facilities (like subway stations) right at faults.

  • But why did Kuehl not also or instead assist Tom LaBonge in attacking the legal blockages that were preventing study, funding and construction of the Wilshire Subway Line?
    http://www.friends4expo.org/mta022405.htm
    Was it because that was Waxman’s and Yaroslavsky’s line-drawn-in-the-sand and she, being a good (demurring) foot soldier in the Westside Democratic Party establishment, did not want to upset her chances for “earning” the position she now should (had things gone as planned) be running un-opposed for?

  • DarrellClarke

    I don’t know what Sheila Kuehl did or didn’t do to support the process that led to Waxman removing the ban on tunneling in the methane zone. But at that time Expo was the approved rail line to the Westside, and until Measure R passed in 2008 there was no funding for a subway extension.

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