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Westside Subway

Yaroslavsky Looking for Subway Alternates That Avoid Beverly Hills

10:16 AM PDT on October 27, 2010

Readying for the big meeting.  Photo: Los Angeles Times

You have to hand it to the Not Under My Back Yard (NUMBY) contingent in Beverly Hills.  They really know how to make a lot of noise without a lot of facts.

Today's Huffington Post contains an editorial by John Mirisch defending Beverly Hills' residents who are terrified of having a subway run 100 feet below homes and high schools in one of America's richest municipalities.  In his editorial you'll read a lot about fear and conspiracy theories, but not a lot about whether or not there's any scientific proof that either residences or a high school would be in any danger because of either the tunneling for or operation of the Westside Subway.

Cue County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, a man who has done more than anyone to halt the timely construction of the Westside Subway.

As if tomorrow's Metro Board Meeting didn't have enough twists and turns, a motion by Yaroslavsky would order a "full exploration" of the risks of tunneling under Beverly Hills to construct the Westside Subway.  The Metro Board of Directors will vote on a Locally Preferred Alternative for the Subway, but will not decide whether or not the Subway will run beneath the Westside enclave or Santa Monica Boulevard.  That decision will wait until after the full environmental study is completed.

While I understand Yaroslavsky trying to take up for his constituents, I'm not sure what the actual impact of his motion would be.  On the Board Agenda, it reads:

Yaroslavsky Motion that during Final EIS/EIR preparation, staff fully explore the risks associated with tunneling under the high school, including but not limited to the following:  risk of settlement, noise, vibration, risks from oil wells on the property, impact to use of the school as an emergency evacuation center, and overall risk to student, faculty and the community; and

Further moved that staff continue to work closely with the community and the City of Beverly Hills and provide them information from these analyses as soon as they become available.

Directed staff to analyze the possibility of moving the subway tunnel in order to avoid all school buildings and avoid impacting any future plans to remodel Beverly Hills High School.

I have to admit to being a little confused as to the real-world impact of this motion.  Given that Beverly Hills groups are threatening a lawsuit before the final analysis is completed unless they get their way, it would be an amazing mis-step not to complete a full study routes in the area and the potential impact.  Also, I have good news for the Supervisor.  Staff has already found a way for a Beverly Hills' route to "avoid all school buildings and avoid any future plans to remodel Beverly Hills High School."  They're proposing to build the Subway between fifty and one hundred feet below those buildings!  Everyone wins!

And if the motion is purely to pacify the NUMBY's in Beverly Hills, how would his constituents along Santa Monica Boulevard feel, especially since the proposed route along the Boulevard would run near an active fault?

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