Late Friday afternoon, I was already at a dinner meeting when I heard the news. Metro announced that the most recent, and likely last, lawsuit against the Purple Line Subway Extension under Beverly Hills has been completed.
Despite some testy language against the transit agency and the Federal Transit Agency which approved the project, the ruling is a clear victory for Metro. The FTA’s record of decision, already upheld by one federal court, stands and the agency can move forward with securing funds to complete the project. The agency will have to redo some of its studies, but it should not impact the final timeline. Beverly Hills interests may appeal, but in the meantime, Metro can award contracts and get construction underway.
Metro wasted little time declaring victory at its news outlet The Source and vowed to continue its work on the project. The future for Beverly Hills is a little more uncertain.
In a case of bad timing, last week the Beverly Hills Unified School District voted to place a bond measure on the fall ballot to fund new construction at its high school. The current bond measure has not resulted in as much construction as originally promised, in part because the District’s legal expenses are among the highest in the U.S., on a per-student basis. From Beverly Hills Weekly (Issue 880):
According to research conducted by Board of Education Vice President Mel Spitz last December, comparative school districts spend $65 per student on legal fees, whereas the BHUSD spends $478.
BHUSD legal fees for the 2015-16 fiscal year totaled $3.2 million.
It also seems unlikely that Metro will be forced to pay for BHUSD’s legal fees, as boardmembers for the School District had promised in previous years. Read more…