With Legal Challenges Completed, What’s Next in Beverly Hills Subway Drama

Late Friday afternoon, I was already at a dinner meeting when I heard the news. Metro announced that the most recent, and likely last, lawsuit against the Purple Line Subway Extension under Beverly Hills has been completed.

We agree. Pull quote via ##http://bhweekly.com/##Beverly Hills Weekly Issue 808##
We agree. Pull quote via ##http://bhweekly.com/##Beverly Hills Weekly Issue 808##

Despite some testy language against the transit agency and the Federal Transit Agency which approved the project, the ruling is a clear victory for Metro. The FTA’s record of decision, already upheld by one federal court, stands and the agency can move forward with securing funds to complete the project. The agency will have to redo some of its studies, but it should not impact the final timeline. Beverly Hills interests may appeal, but in the meantime, Metro can award contracts and get construction underway.

Metro wasted little time declaring victory at its news outlet The Source and vowed to continue its work on the project. The future for Beverly Hills is a little more uncertain.

In a case of bad timing, last week the Beverly Hills Unified School District voted to place a bond measure on the fall ballot to fund new construction at its high school. The current bond measure has not resulted in as much construction as originally promised, in part because the District’s legal expenses are among the highest in the U.S., on a per-student basis. From Beverly Hills Weekly (Issue 880):

According to research conducted by Board of Education Vice President Mel Spitz last December, comparative school districts spend $65 per student on legal fees, whereas the BHUSD spends $478.

BHUSD legal fees for the 2015-16 fiscal year totaled $3.2 million.

It also seems unlikely that Metro will be forced to pay for BHUSD’s legal fees, as boardmembers for the School District had promised in previous years.

Nearly two years ago I pleaded with the City of Beverly Hills and its School District to stop its public relations campaign against the subway, noting the pickle the bureaucracy would find itself in if and when it lost the lawsuit that it just lost.

How can the School District and the city itself convince parents that their high school is safe after spending years literally telling people that subway construction would make the school explode? (See video above.)

Currently, the Purple Line extends from Wilshire and Western in mid-town to Union Station in downtown L.A. The Purple Line Extension will extend westward about nine miles with seven new stations. It will provide a high-capacity, high-speed, alternative to the slow moving car traffic on Wilshire Boulevard. Hopefully we are near the end of the legal wrangling phase, and ready to build a first class project. It is a project that will benefit all Angelenos, including people who reside in Beverly Hills.

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Preliminary Federal Ruling Sides With Beverly Hills Against Metro Subway

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Last week, United States District Judge George Wu issued a ruling [PDF] in Beverly Hills’ legal battles against Metro’s plans to tunnel the Purple Line subway beneath Beverly Hills High School. The Beverly Hills Courier portrayed the ruling as a victory for Beverly Hills in that Judge Wu chided subway proponents for “not properly considering the environmental effects […]