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Posts from the "Beverly Hills" Category

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New Video: Metro Will Blow Up Beverly Hills High School

As debate continues at Metro headquarters over the Westside Subway, the Parent-Teacher Association of the Beverly Hills High School released the above video on YouTube. The video graphically illustrates their concerns. Sometimes a video is so clear that commentary from Streetsblog writers is not necessary.

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Bev. Hills Requests Hearing on Subway, Times Swats at Their Concerns

(Update, Dave Sotero, a Metro spokesperson responds to the story via email: The Beverly Hills hearing request was received. The Westside Subway Extension Project is still on the board’s agenda for Thursday. The Board of Directors will discuss the hearing request at that time.)

It was a good news/bad news sort of weekend for Metro and backers of the Westside Subway thanks to the Los Angeles Times and the Beverly Hills City Council.

 

In a comment on Patch, Bev. Hills Councilman Barry Brucker worries that at some point in the unknown future the state might pass a low restricting future construction of schools existing on top of subways, thus the city needs to oppose the subway route under the high school. No such law exists anywhere in the world.

Patch reports that the Council voted unanimously to request a public hearing with the Metro Board to discuss the Westside Subway and the potential routing of the Subway under the Beverly Hills High School Campus.  State law allows municipalities to request such a hearing if a transit project will have a direct impact on their community.  The timing of the request means that Metro will not be able to approve the final environmental documents for the Subway this week as originally planned.

A date and location for the hearing hasn’t been scheduled.  State law gives the agency between 15 and 60 days to hold the hearing.

Throughout the debate on the route of the future Westside Subway extension under Beverly Hills is how the media rallied to support Beverly Hills.  Television stations give the claims of the Unified School District and the City Council equal weight to that of Metro, the region’s second largest print publication, L.A. Weekly, as well as the city’s largest paper, the Beverly Hills Courier, are both hostile to the MTA’s planned route under the high school.

On Saturday, the Paper of Record unleashed a long editorial calling for Metro to advance the Westside Subway, even referring to it as the Subway to the Sea, and blasting Beverly Hills to get out of the way.  The Times gave the benefit of the doubt to Metro’s seismic and geological experts over those hired by the city, brushed aside concerns over routing and even noted the location of the two potential ending stations, the one proposed by Metro will have thousands more riders every day than the one preferred by Beverly Hills and the BHUSD.

But the strongest statement was saved for the argument that tunneling under the high school is unsafe for the students. Read more…

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As Metro Wraps Up Public Outreach on Westside Subway, Beverly Hills Readies for a Fight

A "protest sign" via Century City Subway/Facebook

Last week, battle lines were drawn between the City of Beverly Hills, the Beverly Hills Unified School District and Metro over the location and routing of the Westside Subway. While Metro held a series of public meetings to show the results of their environmental studies, the last of the three hearings turned into a sort of rally against the project in Beverly Hills. For those scoring at home, Streetsblog has the highlights from last week.

A Tale of Two Studies:

In short hand, journalists often refer to opposition “from Beverly Hills” when discussing opponents of the current proposed route for the Westside Subway.  In truth, there are two government bodies, Beverly Hills Unified School District and the City of Beverly Hills (City Council, Mayor and staff,) that are waging separate campaigns against the tunneling project.  There does appear to be some coordination between the two, but they are also acting independently.

The Beverly Hills Unified School District paid for their own “deep bore” study of faults underneath the Beverly Hills High School.  The conclusions of that study will be unveiled in the next two weeks.

The City of Beverly Hills paid for a pair of reports analyzing the Geological studie by Metro that states that a station at Santa Monica Boulevard in Century City is unsafe and one at Avenue of the Stars and Constellation Avenue is not.  The second route requires tunneling under a portion of the Beverly Hills High School Campus.  One report is by Exponen, the other is by Shannon and Wilson.  Metro has copies of both reports and is “working on a response.”

The first report, by Shannon and Wilson, questions Metro’s methodology, but basically says that tunneling under the high school shouldn’t be a problem.  This report was not released with a lot of fanfare:

Tunneling Beneath Beverly Hills High School – The proposed tunnel crown is approximately  50 to 70 feet below the existing ground surface along the BHHS campus. The tunnel is therefore  not likely to directly impact the campus facilities (as we understand their current use). The  proposed BHHS underground parking garage could be constructed above the tunnel to a  maximum depth of about 30 to 50 feet below grade, leaving at least 20 feet of undisturbed soil  above the tunnels. Risks associated with ground loss during construction, vibrations during  construction and operation, and hazards from methane and other gasses should be mitigated by  the design and plans and specifications for the project.

The Beverly Hills Courier announced the results of Exponent’s review in its understated style, blaring “Complete Exponent Review of MTA Study – Independent Experts Rip MTA as “Simplistic, Inadequate, Failed.”  The Exponent Study, available here, goes through Metro’s reports and repeatedly asks further questions and calls for longer and greater study of the risks involved tunneling under a high school or anywhere near fault lines.  Here’s a quick sample of the report: Read more…

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Metro Unveils Final Environmental Documents for Westside Subway

Once built, riders will be able to travel from Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles to the Westwood/UCLA station in 25 minutes. More than 78,000 daily trips are projected on the new line. Click on the image to see a larger copy.

“This is a project Los Angeles has been talking about for fifty years,” Jody Litvak, Metro.

The first public meeting I ever went to in Los Angeles was held in a movie theatre on Wilshire Boulevard.  The Southern California Transit Advocates were making a presentation on the “Subway to the Sea,” a fanciful plan to extend the Purple Line all the way to the Ocean.  The sparse crowd was mixed between true believers and skeptics.  At the time, the entire project seemed something of a pipe dream.

Today, that dream is well on its way to some sort of resolution.  While the phrase “Subway to the Sea” has vanished from the promotional materials, the idea of extending the Subway all the way to Westwood has made major steps forward.  Today marks another milestone, as Metro unveiled the Final Environmental Study for the project.  Public meetings are scheduled for next week and the documents will head through the Metro Committee process this April and could be approved by the Board of Directors at their April Board Meeting.

There weren’t a lot of surprises at today’s media briefing.  The documents point towards putting a station at the corner of Constellation Avenue and Avenue of the Stars and tunneling under Beverly Hills High School.  The documents don’t guess on an opening date, with the funding picture in Washington D.C. still somewhat unclear.  The documents don’t call for any stations west of Westwood at this moment.

Of course, there is the little matter of the opposition from the City of Beverly Hills and the Beverly Hills Unified School District.  The City sent Metro a report outlining their concerns about tunneling under the high school by consulting firms , Exponent, Inc. and Shannon & Wilson last Friday.  The report is not yet available online, and its findings were not incorporated into the final document.  Metro is also “eagerly awaiting” the results of the tunneling studies completed by the Beverly Hills Unified School District earlier this year.  The Beverly Hills Unified School District released a statement earlier this afternoon:

Read more…

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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: Read more…

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Bev. Hills Experts Cast Doubt on Metro Report

Beverly Hills Civic Center

(Note, the Beverly Hills Courier points out that they had the story first on Thursday evening despite my call that Patch broke the news. You can read their coverage, here. – DN)

Last Friday, word broke on Patch that a review of the geological studies on the Westside Subway commissioned by the city government of Beverly Hills came to different conclusions than the conclusions authored by Metro’s team of experts.  Exponent-Failure Analysis Associates concludes in the executive summary that:

Streetsblog will feature ads for the Regional Connector Final EIS/EIR throughout the public comment period.

In summary, it is Exponent’s opinion that additional effort is needed to accurately identify,  quantify, rank and mitigate the potential hazards posed by the proposed Westside Subway  Extension Project before one of the two presented alternatives, or a third alternative, are selected  for implementation.

A more detailed analysis of the 70 page study (available here) can be heard at tomorrow’s “Study Session” of the Beverly Hills City Council.  Those that don’t want to wait for tomorrow’s presentation can seemingly engage with City Councilman John Mirisch on the validity of the study by commenting on the Patch article.

Predictably, any action by either side in the on-going grudge match between advocates of the Westside Subway and government representatives in Beverly Hills was met with praise from one side and scorn from the other.  As both sides attempt to work through the other sides’ writings here are a few suggestions.

First: Let’s Agree That Neither Metro’s Experts nor Exponent Consulting Are on the Take Read more…

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Breaking News: Metro Can’t Complete Trenching Studies in One Weekend

(Update: Metro was actually on campus for seven different days doing studies in 2011: 2/19, 2/26, 2/17, 3/5, 3/6, 3/12, and 3/13. On some of the days, poor weather prevented them from getting good samples, but we should note they were there longer than one weekend.)

Here we go again.

The publicity wing of the Beverly Hills Unified School District, known as the Beverly Hills Courier (pgs. 1 and 24), is using the new tests being completed by the School District in an attempt to discredit the seismic tests completed last year by Metro.  Apparently, Beverly Hills’ paper of record isn’t done it’s groundbreaking reporting on the issue of “Beverly Hills vs. Metro” as this story follows their expose on Metro sending secret mailings throughout Beverly Hills that you could also download off Metro’s website.

To read the Courier's full coverage, or any of the excitement from last week's issue, just click on the image.

For those of you just joining this debate, studies unveiled October by a team of Metro paid for geologists and seismologists revealed that faults that run running underneath Santa Monica Boulevard made planning the Westside Subway along the route too dangerous to try.  After implying that Metro’s team was lieing, the Beverly Hills Unified School District announced that it was hiring its own team to determine whether it is safe to tunnel under their high school.

Fair enough, although I’m not sure what the end goal is here for the School District.  Do they really want to prove that it’s dangerous to do more development on school property?  Wouldn’t such a finding also endanger the same expansion plans that might be endangered by the subway?

Once the Beverly Hills Courier realized the School District was doing different studies than Metro, and doing more extensive studies at that, they wrote an editorialfront page article declaring that Metro’s studies were deficient.  Most damming of all, a statement by Metro showed that the agency even conceded their study was lacking.  Thus the headline at the Courier, “Metro Admits Santa Monica Blvd. Seismic Work Not Adequate.”

It’s little wonder that the article was authored by “Courier Staff.”  I wouldn’t want my name attached to that reporting either.

First, Metro admitted no such thing.  In fact, the statement that they provided the Courier, helpfully posted at The Source, barely mentions Santa Monica Boulevard and says the opposite of what the Courier says it says:

Metro’s initial fault investigations focused on the Santa Monica Fault on Santa Monica Boulevard and were appropriate for subway planning at this stage. Urbanization, including the presence of subsurface utilities, traffic and permitting precludes trenching in that location.

In other words, Metro can’t trench on land it doesn’t own without a permit which would be inappropriate at this stage of testing.   As for the big reveal that the BHUSD tests will be more accurate than the one’s completed by Metro’s team, Metro doesn’t argue this point, even conceding that “Trench information is useful because a continuous “face” can be mapped to more accurately locate the fault(s).”  So why didn’t Metro trench for its studies?  The BHUSD wouldn’t allow them to, giving Metro staff only one weekend to complete their work compared to the weeks of work access given to their team for trenching.  While Metro staff was allowed weekend access to the campus for studies, weekday access was more guarded presumably to allow students a better atmosphere for their studies.

Some other notes from the Courier article: Read more…

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Bev. Hills Courier’s Big Scoop: Metro Does Mailings

Century City Mailer for Web

The Beverly Hills newspaper of record, the esteemed Beverly Hills Courier, has been doing its best to rile the residents of the 90210 against the Westside Subway route that would take the Subway under Beverly Hills High School The paper all but declared the Mayor a traitor to the city for trying to negotiate with Metro. More recently, the paper has slandered the professors and other experts that weighed in on the geotechnical issues facing the subway.

But today, the paper has a big scoop, Metro mailed some fact sheets to people living near the tunnel area. From the Courier:

The Courier has learned that the Metropolitan Transit Authority will mail to each resident of Beverly Hills a four-page color brochure summarizing its case for a tunnel under Beverly Hills High School for its Westside Subway Extension. The Courier obtained an advance copy.

Must have been some cracker-jack journalism involved to discover that Metro had done a major mailing the day before. Or is it two days before? It’s hard to tell when a story is posted on “Thursday, November 18.”

The nefarious piece of Pravda propaganda is readily available on Metro’s Westside Subway website, but to make it really easy to find we’ve also embedded it above.

The pamphlet itself is pretty bland. It provides a summary of the two technical reports presented last month to the Planning & Programming Committee, notes that copies of the technical reports have been placed in the Beverly Hills and Westwood public libraries and also informs the public where they can find the reports and other information online.

This is the 13th fact sheet for this project since environmental planning began in 2007 and the 4th fact sheet produced during the current Final EIS/EIR phase. It is, however, the only fact sheet that covers a specific geographic portion of the alignment. Due to the interest in the results of the technical studies regarding the findings, Metro chose to complete this mailing in the impacted area to get their version of the story in the news.

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Rest In Peace: Santa Monica Blvd. Subway Station

Image via The Source

(Steve Hymon reviews the geology and presentation from a scientific standpoint at The Source.  I’m considering this an unofficial companion piece looking at how today’s presentation changes the politics.  Angelenos Against Gridlock were also updating their website throughout the presentation. – DN)

Earlier this afternoon, the Metro Board of Directors Planning Committee held a wake for the Westside Subway Station at Santa Monica Boulevard. The Station had been on life support for some time now, but the testimony of two teams of geologists finally put the beleaguered proposal to rest.

Testifying that a station anywhere along Santa Monica Boulevard would be dangerous because it would lie in an active fault zone, Dr. James Dolan of USC, Dr. Lucy Jones of the U.S. Geological Survey and the California Institute of Technology, Dr. Harvey Parker, an engineer and former President of the International Tunneling Association, and Dr. Paul C. Jennings, a Professor of Civil Engineering and Applied Mechanics, Emeritus, at the California Institute of Technology all agreed that it would be irresponsible for Metro to build a station along Santa Monica Boulevard. Their studies also showed that a station at Constellation Avenue and Avenue of the Stars would fall outside active fault zones.

According to these experts, the best route for the Subway is underneath the south wing of Building B of the Beverly Hills High School. The experts all agreed that there is no reason to believe that the deep trench tunnel, running 70 feet underground, will endanger students or any planned development for the high school including an underground parking garage.

Despite the well funded organizations that have longed pushed for a subway stop on Santa Monica Boulevard (remember the “Century City Subway” website?), this should mark the end of the campaign for a Santa Monica Station. After all, even if the team hired by Beverly Hills Unified School District comes up with different conclusions than the pair of teams hired by Metro, it is wildly unlikely that Metro would every build a station at a location deemed unsafe by teams contracted for by Metro. Read more…

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Brown’s AEG Bill Could Help Westside Subway Avoid Lawsuit Delays

I know I promised that we weren’t going to cover the fight over the Westside Subway routing debate until there was actual news, but the Subway won a huge victory earlier this week, and almost nobody noticed.

Changes to CEQA to protect Farmers Field from lengthy environmental challenges will also apply to the Westside Subway.

In paragraph 7 of the Daily News article on the signing of new CEQA legislation, Senator Alex Padilla (D-Van Nuys) notes that a new law will allow for expedited legal review for any lawsuits filed against the subways environmental documents.

That’s right, Assembly Bill  900, the companion bill to  SB 292 which gives Farmers Field protection against legal chalenges, provide the same protection to ANY project costing more than $100 million.  Thus, any lawsuit filed under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) against the Westside Subway will go directly to the Court of Appeals and be heard within 175 days.  I’m sure the Expo Construction Authority is jealous.

“The subway is a natural from a job-creation standpoint, from an investment standpoint, from an emission reduction and air quality standpoint,” said Senator Alex Padilla, the author of SB2 292, to the Daily News.

The reaction of the Beverly Hills School District, which has filed lawsuits concerning public records request before the environmental documents are even released, was not a happy one.  The School District has been gearing up for a legal challenge against the Subway’s environmental documents because they assume the Environmental Impact Report will claim that a route running underneath Beverly Hills High School will be safer and carry more passengers than a route that doesn’t run under the high school. Read more…