Yaroslavsky Looking for Subway Alternates That Avoid Beverly Hills

Readying for the big meeting.  Photo: Los Angeles Times
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?

  • I’m praying that this is a token gesture to the NUMBYs and that it has no real teeth to impact the subway moving forward in a timely manner.

  • Isn’t this something really to legally cover the behind of Metro in case of future lawsuit.

    Waxman wanted one of these studies to prove that tunnelling was safe before he helped repeal the subway ban in Congress. It’s really a C.Y.A. maneuver, isn’t it?

    Everyone can at least say, “see. this is fully studied and it is safe.”

  • So, would people opposed to monorail be NAMBY’s?

    Personally, I think Metro should propose an at-grade alternative through Beverly Hills. You can keep the project as heavy rail though.

  • joe

    I think if BH does not play nice we should move the subway to a place that wants to play nice. There are tons of people in this city that would burn down BH just for the chance to have rail transit through their hood.

  • @ Ichabod: Nah, people opposed to monorails would have common sense :)

    Unfortunately, “No Gadget Transit In My Back Yard” would be a messy acronym.

  • KateNonymous

    I just came up with the solution: Name the station after Yaroslavsky, but ONLY if it is in Beverly Hills. You know he can’t resist that!

  • Damien,

    Where did you find that photo of Zev?

  • I ran a search at http://images.google.com

    I don’t remember the exact parameters I used last night, but if you search for “Yaroslavsky UCLA” it’s on the left about two clicks down.

  • The Holy Ghost

    Henry Waxman and Zev Yaroslavsky have done more to cripple public mass transit through the west side of Los Angeles than any two human beings. Their continued slavish dedication to a small, but rich and powerful neighborhood group has condemned virtually everyone else in Los Angeles to impossible gridlock, gagging smog and huge carbon emissions from idling cars. In every other city on this planet, underground subway systems are built safely and efficiently and only here are we saddled with two idiots who have consistently thrown up roadblocks at every opportunity and drastically pushed downward the quality of life for everyone living in the Los Angeles Basin. The next time you sit in traffic on Wilshire, Santa Monica, Olympic or Pico Blvds, thank these two fine figures of stupidity.

  • Erik G.

    May this be the dying gasp of the classist and racist attitudes that have strangled transit in L.A. and in turn the entire Westside.

  • Even tunneling 100 feet below the property could impact the school’s ability to drill another oil well right above the line. They would have to move the well head at least 50 feet away from the tunnel.

  • Also, did anyone hear the rumor that Beverly Hills High School is against the highest ridership subway alignment because they want to keep Los Angelenos addicted to the oil they profit from? It seems like a more plausible explanation of their opposition than “fear of mitigated risks.”

  • “I just came up with the solution: Name the station after Yaroslavsky, but ONLY if it is in Beverly Hills. You know he can’t resist that!”

    Well in that case the Methane Gas Pockets Waxman (sponsored by BP) station should be next in line. Just make sure there is a Ross Store within walking distance of the station.

  • Jerard

    Actually the Zev Motion is harmless because there are already another alingment study that is an option for the subway called Santa Monica Blvd.

  • Fred


    Today (Wed.) is the LAST DAY to comment on Metro Board Meeting’s vote on the Westside Subway Extension.

    PLEASE Email westsideextension@metro.net and request that they vote for

    THE SUBWAY TO THE SEA Alternative #3 to Santa Monica,

    otherwise it will end in Westwood!!!!

    or fill out the comment form and request “Alternative #3 to Santa Monica”


  • Mike

    Sometimes I am so embarrassed to call LA home. All the big cities in the US laugh at us because we just can’t seem to get our act together. If this line gets axed, I’m out of LA once and for all. A guy can only take so much elitism. I’ve tried for years to convince my friends that LA is not full of snobs. I might have to concede.

  • kj

    yep noticed bhusd’s asking bev hills to pitch in $100,000 to help ’em derail project.

  • joan

    As far as that photo of Zev from a few years ago, the joke goes that when he’s thinking of running for Mayor, he works out and starts waxing his moustache.

    Maybe this is catering to the NUMBY crowd is a way to silence them in advance of such a possible run? Look what they did to the last guy who proposed an Olympic-Pico partial one-way scheme. Which was initially proposed by Zev, who distanced himself from the idea as soon as there was opposition. He only jumped on board the Subway to the Sea idea and into the appearance of driving the caboose after that train left the station and already had lots of momentum, but now is ready to jump off again at a moment’s notice or to push it onto a different track. That’s how he stays around, keeps reinventing himself, relying on the public’s gnat-like attention span.

    The commenters here seem among the few that have enough institutional memory to remember what Zev and Waxman have really done to derail the rail plans. If they hadn’t we’d have had it built already. Still, I think it IS true that if a thorough study isn’t done with full EIR’s and CEQA or whatever, this NUMBY bunch will sue like the CD5 NIMBYs always do, so it’s CYA.

  • Roadblock

    Beverly Hillbillies….

  • Wanderer

    Can somebody sic the Westwood, UCLA, and even Santa Monica people on Beverly Hills? Those folks really want the subway.

  • Erik G.

    Again I raise the question:

    Why does L.A. County council still only have 5 members (“supervisors”)?

    It has got to be the least amount of representatives per citizen anywhere and allows for someone like Yaroslavsky to govern on a whim, without any need to worry about re-election.

    Each L.A. County Supervisor “represents” two million people, meanwhile each member of the U.S. House of Representatives “represents” between 500,000 and 800,000 people.

    Now, on the other extreme, if L.A. County had the amount of people per member as the citizens of New Hampshire do in their state House of Representatives, we’d have over 3000 supervisors!

    When are we going to see a reform in county government? It isn’t 1850 anymore!

  • Erik,

    I agree with that fully.

    Instead of being governed by a Board of only five people, we should have a County Executive and County Legislature.

  • kg

    Just build the subway under their homes. People in NY, Boston, SF, and DC have all these rails right by their homes…can’t feel a thing…screw what BH says…

  • Roger Christensen

    Couldn’t there be a 2-portal Century City Station aligned near Santa Monica but having a portal near Constellation?

  • Erik G.

    I sure hope we don’t find out in any Legal Discovery, that there is a a major sewer or water tunnel under this part of Beverly Hills, or the apparent “terrorist target” BHHS, that has been drilled/built in the past, say, 30 years.

    Because those aren’t much smaller in diameter.

  • Erik G.

    Y’know, if 20th Century Fox’s Cleopatra had made more money, this would not be an issue because Century City might still be the Fox Back Lot.

    @Roger Christensen:

    Why not convince Westfield that having the station empty into their shopping center might mean more pedestrian traffic enroute to Constellation?

  • Yet Another Fred

    @Dan Wentzel:

    It wouldn’t matter what form of county government we have. There is no need to grow it.

    The real problem, in Los Angeles, is that we have one party rule. The districting is rigged, the incumbents fear nothing, and the one party chooses the candidates. We have professional politicians, not Mr. Smith, and they rule as elites, occasionally treating us to bread and circuses.

    We’re discussing the fate of subway tunneling to the Westside … bowing to the same very two culprits who voted for the bans, before they voted against them. Creating more seats won’t change anything.

    Campaign finance reform that handicaps incumbents (spending limit declines with length of term in office) would be the most effective counter to the power of name recognition enjoyed by current office holders. Unfortunately my idea doesn’t pass constitutional muster, yet. Maybe with some nuance.

  • “It wouldn’t matter what form of county government we have.”


    I couldn’t disagree more.

    We need campaign finance reform and electoral reforms like ranked-choice voting as they use in San Francisco, Ireland and Australia.

    But the fact that we have only five people making decisions for a county of millions and millions of people does matter.

  • Matt

    Erik G and Roger Christensen, the SM Blvd station box would be under SM Blvd. running East-West. Your suggestion of having a Constellation portal might only work if the station box was in a north-south configuration, which is impossible given that where the line is coming from and going to. Even if the station box were north-south it wouldn’t reach all the way to Constellation which is nearly 1/4 mile away so in any scenario it wouldn’t be plausible.

  • Yet Another Fred

    @Dan Wentzel

    Clearly, you see things through a different prism, if you’re citing San Francisco as a role model for civic structure.

    Ranked balloting, at-large elections, open primaries – any which way you slice it, it doesn’t matter how many people you elect, if you only end up with a political machine with a stranglehold on power, which is what we’ve had in LA County for 30 years.

    When there is no competition, when the system is rigged, your candidates have no incentive to act in the public interest.

  • What’s not been remarked on in this debate is the oil derrick that continues to pump away adjacent to the High School. High School students and their supporters in the community in the past have made a bunch of hay about it, but there it stands – draining the substrata of oil and, one might expect, wreaking some subsidence havoc for that very high school-area neighborhood now complaining about their homes.
    What of the possible subsidence from the oil operations? We can recall that subsidence from oil drilling undermined Long Beach and Bakersfield – two towns that arguably lost much and have not fully come back.
    At the Metro hearing in Roxbury Park, just a few blocks from the High School, the meeting was packed, the parking spaces full, but nary a bike was seen (besides mine and Damien Newton’s).
    Better Bike Beverly Hills is pressing for policymakers to consider new ways of approaching our petrol-dependence, at least to the extent that they can through planning for cyclists here in town.

  • Scott Zwartz

    This entire Subway is a multi-billion dollar scam. It will serve less than 10 sure miles and will not reduce traffic congestion. Voters were led to believe that the subway would substantially reduce traffic but the draft EIR admits that it will not.

    Los Angeles is run to make money for mega-developers — those who make billions from building subways and those who make billions more by building high-rises near the subway route. The City of Los Angeles recently tried to impose Kelo eminent domain on the entire city — so that any developer could Kelo any property he wanted.

    In order to use a subway, your start point and your destination has to be within 1/2 mile of a subway station. That is why they are fighting over the Century City stop. If you move subway station 1/4 mile north, the subway will serve only the northern part of Century City. The area to the north of Century City is a Country Club.

    Subways are horribly expensive to operate and unless they can mega-densify all the land near subway stations, this subway will be a perpetual drain on taxpayers forever. Because the Governor vetoed AB 2531, the City of Los Angeles cannot Kelo land near the few subway stations. Bev Hill will not allow any of its land to be keloed.

    Right now they plan for a subway station at the eastern edge of Bev Hills at San Vicente — where all the high rises will have to be on the Los Angeles side — provided they can convince people to voluntarily agree to sell. The next stop is Beverly/Rodeo — skipping all the Wilshire Offices in between (including mine at Doheny).

    To the extent Bev Hills is NIMBY and NUMBY to multiple billion dollar frauds and destruction of residential neighborhoods, Bev Hills has the right idea.

  • Mr. Zwartz has been complaining about subways leading to development on Huffington Post too.

    Note: We already have development that supports this subway.

    2nd Note: What Mr. Zwartz really needs is a time machine so he can go back to Sam Yorty’s automobile-only Los Angeles.

    No one is entitled to a low-density, automobile-based lifestyle in the middle of a metropolitan area. If he wants a traditional low-density suburban lifestyle, he should move to the actual suburbs. Century City is NOT a suburb, nor is Hollywood or even Beverly Hills.

  • Scott Mercer

    Mr. Zwartz:

    Los Angeles will continue to have development. There is nothing you can do to stop it.

    The question is, what kind of development?

    Clearly, the suburban model, one level home on a small lot model is dead. Sprawl and big box stores, and SUVs, and gated communies in fringe exurbs along with it.

    We need to build upward. That’s the only way to continue to meet the demands of population growth. The rate of population growth may have stalled, but it is still going up.

    Los Angeles is going to have to start looking more like Manhattan, and less like Valencia. That’s just the march of time, dude. Sorry.

  • Scott Mercer

    Plus, Mr. Zwartz, you can easily walk from Doheny to Rodeo to take the subway, if you’re still working at Wilhsire and Doheny when the thing is running.

    I used to work two blocks further east than Doheny, and I used to walk down to Rodeo all the time to eat dinner or get drinks or catch the Metro Rapid bus. It’s not that far.

  • Matt

    Mr. Zwartz is completely wrong about subways being horribly expensive to operate. Actually, the current subway is much less expensive to operate than the bus system on a per passenger mile basis and is less expensive than light rail as well. This info is publicly available through the MTA’s budget.

  • Alek F

    @ Mike – ditto!!
    I just came back from visiting New York City and Washington DC, and… LA indeed is sooo behind… not even remotely close to other major cities in the U.S. I am very embarrassed as well.

  • Alek F

    @ Scott Mercer – I totally support your views!!
    Plus – those who are calling this urban development “Manhattanization” don’t even know what they’re talking about. Los Angeles will never EVER be like Manhattan. What L.A. will be is simply a reasonably high, developed urban place, but still (unfortunately) with a suburban feel, due to overwhelming number of single-family houses and old 2-story apartment buildings, all over LA County. So – those who are afraid that Los Angeles is becoming like Manhattan – don’t worry, this will never happen. ;-)
    Meanwhile, let’s get the show on the road, build a subway, and construct some nice buildings and mixed-use development projects, with pedestrian-friendly areas, so people can finally get out of their cars and start walking and taking transit!

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