Debate Erupts as Metro Begins Study of Third Option for Beverly Hills/Century City Subway Stop

Yesterday, Metro announced that in addition to the two stations already being studied for a Westside Subway stop in Century City near Beverly Hills.  The reaction from readers, both at Curbed and The Source was pretty overwhelmingly negative with accusations that Metro was selling out and a heaping of venom for the Beverly Hills NUMBY’s.  Of course, it’s not the Metro staff who’s in charge of selling out, that’s the realm of the Board of Directors.  They won’t have their chance for another couple of months.

A look north across Santa Monica Boulevard at the intersection with Century Park East. Image via Google Maps

The new proposed station, at the intersection of Santa Monica and Century Park East, appears to be terrible from a ridership standpoint.  Like the already-being-studied stop at Santa Monica and Avenue of the Stars it also is adjacent to a golf course, limiting the number of people who will access the stop.  However, Metro staff hopes that it will be farther away from the Santa Monica fault.  Regardless of ridership and politics, it is out of the question to drill a new subway tunnel near the fault.

So, if the already-being-studied station at Constellation Avenue and Avenue of the Stars still appears to be a superior stop in terms of ridership to the newly proposed one, why is Metro studying that option?  Assuming that the reason is not a sellout, the ongoing threat of lawsuits from Beverly Hills has to be a factor.

Having been sued several times over the Expo Line, and after taking heat from some Board Members for the amount of money Metro spends on lawsuits, the agency is going to want as strong a hand as possible.  If the Santa Monica/Ave. of the Stars stop is dismissed because of the fault line, Beverly Hills would have a stronger position that not every alternative had been studied in front of a judge.  This is speculation on my part, nobody I talked to at Metro has even mentioned the threat of lawsuit as a reason to study a third station location.

Of course, Metro is sticking to a safe answer when pressed as to why they’re studying this station.  Westside Subway Extension Project Director David Mieger tells The Source that, “We want to ensure that we have fully evaluated all viable options.”  Jody Litvak, in charge of public outreach for the project uttered almost the exact same phrase over the phone to me earlier.  Regardless of the reasons, it’s not necessarily a bad thing to study more locations, as long as the best one gets picked in the end.

It’s staffs job to recommend the best location to the Metro Board, but it’s the Board’s job to make sure they do the right thing for everyone.

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