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Yesterday afternoon must have been surreal for Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. At noon, he delivered remarks to an audience of 1,200 of L.A.’s elite at the Westin Bonaventure as part of the Center City Association’s “Treasures” awards. Jokes about the lackluster performance of the Lakers in the past couple of days were contrasted with the upbeat feelings some have about the suddenly hot Los Angeles Kings and the soccer champions with the Los Angeles Galaxy. The Mayor avoided having his picture taken with newly minted “treasure” Hugh Hefner.
But the real contrast came an hour and a half later when the crowd of 1,200 cheering Angelenos was traded for several hundred skeptical and irritated residents of Beverly Hills who traveled to Metro headquarters to hear the last effort of Beverly Hills’ seismic experts to convince the Metro Board of Directors that the safest and best route for the Westside Subway will not take it under Beverly Hills. Instead of hanging out with Hef, Villaraigosa was waiting for Metro Board Member Mel Wilson to call in to a hearing, and when that didn’t work out had to appoint a temporary Board Member to meet quorum.
For those of you just joining us, officials and residents from Beverly Hills are waging open war on the preferred Westside Subway expansion route that would take the subway under the high school. The Metro Board of Directors was poised to approve the route at last month’s board meeting, citing seismic and geological reports conducted on behalf of the agency until the Beverly Hills City Council requested yesterday’s hearing at an emergency meeting held days before the scheduled Metro Board meeting.
Early reports from the yesterday’s hearing hint that the three hours of testimony didn’t change many minds. Supervisor Mike Antonovich told the Times that the Beverly Hills’ experts made a good case and chided Villaraigosa for trying to “shove the route down their throats.” Richard Katz, a Villaraigosa appointee to the Board, sounded more skeptical.
Whether the lack of change is a result of Beverly Hills not proving its scientific point, or because the Metro Board had as much of a chance to understand the science as I did, or whether the fix really is in in Metro headquarters will most likely be determined by a judge. Representatives of the hills wasted no time clarifying that if and when the Board approves a route that goes under the high school, that a legal challenge under the state’s CEQA environmental law would soon follow. Read more…