The Unintentional Comedy of “Stop the Purple Threat” Is Actually Kind of Sad

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Anonymous residents of Beverly Hills have organized under the banner of “Friends of Beverly Hills High School” to launch a new web campaign against the Metro Purple Line Extension under the banner of “Stop the Purple Threat.”

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OK… maybe it’s a little funny.

Their first move was to launch a change.org petition arguing that “President Donald Trump and U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao must stop this dangerous threat by withholding federal funds from Section 2 of the Purple Line extension in order to give all parties a chance to evaluate and agree upon other, safer options for the subway extension.”

This latest attempt to derail the subway construction isn’t a “Hail Mary,” to use the term often thrown out to describe a last-ditch effort to change the probable outcome. A better analogy would be, “meeting with the referees after the game to try and change the way the game is scored. And then after they won’t change the outcome, going to another set of referees.”

“Metro received a Section 2 Full Funding Grant Agreement from the U.S. Department of Transportation more than a year and a half ago,” explains Metro spokesperson Dave Sotero, in response to a query from Streetsblog on the status of the project.

“A contractor was hired, and construction of this section is now well underway, with utility relocation, staging yard setup and tunneling preparatory work activities now taking place throughout the project corridor.”

Given the environmental studies and court rulings backing Metro’s current route and the partnership between Metro and the federal government, it is beyond unlikely that the federal government would just change its mind.

In fact, I can find no record of it ever happening at any point in time in the history of USDOT. And I’m not alone.

“Following decades of successful federal funding arrangements, it has long been our experience that, once a funding grant agreement is received, the federal government honors its commitments to local transportation agencies and serves as a critical partner in ensuring that the project is delivered according to its established schedule and budget,” continued Sotero.

Doubtless, the people behind this campaign already know this. So the real question becomes, “What in the world is the point of ‘Stop the Purple Threat?'”

The Beverly Hills Courier thinks it has an answer. In last week’s edition, for reasons unstated, the Courier granted anonymity for one of the people behind the campaign who said, “Hopefully this website will initiate a more robust, independent environmental review.” How it could possibly do that after every independent review has already cleared the current route which, again, is already funded and under construction, is not stated.

Some have posited that this has to do with local school board politics. However, the fall school board elections do not include any of the seats for board members who have a more nuanced position than “stop the subway.” And the current board has not been shy about their opinions. Armed with $15 million in voter-approved construction bond funds, the District has sued (and lost) several court battles.

Having witnessed the lasting damage that has been done to my own community by the attempts to politicize the “Mar Vista Road Diet” debate, I’ve learned that the worst thing that can be done is to give false hope to desperate community activists. In this case, despite the construction of the project continuing, despite the many lawsuits that have been lost, despite the peer-reviewed findings of the environmental documents, someone is still trying to push the idea that there is a path to stopping the train.

Such hope is dangerous when it is false hope. It’s past time for the Beverly Hills community to start accepting and healing from this controversy. The correct time would have been in 2014, when I wrote a piece begging the city and the school district to stop slamming the project. Barring that, the moment they lost in federal court in 2016 would have also been a good time. But instead, the years roll on and the battle continues. The only thing is, there’s no longer anyone fighting back. The battle is lost, and now someone is trying to benefit by peddling false hope.

And that’s not funny. It’s sad.

  • Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be so quick to write this campaign off as a lost cause. Apparently, the woman behind it is on the BHUSD Board and her husband has helped tRump close some real estate deals in the past. We already know that tRump doesn’t give a single iota of care to historical norms and the chance to poke sticks at anything “California” might prove to be enough to get him to take action on their request, despite how implausible it sounds.

  • Richard

    Beverly Hills succeeded in increasing the cost of the Purple Line Phase 2 by 42 million dollars.
    Beverly Hills succeeded in increasing the distance the Purple Line Phase 2 alignment needs to travel by about 1000 feet, slowing the line down and wasting 50 hours of passengers lives each and every day.

    Never say their lawsuits were ineffective or frivolous. They have wounded the population of LA greatly.

  • Some years ago I ran across a Beverly Hills City Hall insider while eating at Izzy’s Deli in Santa Monica. We didn’t get into specifics but I was given to understand many in the city government realized how idiotic this campaign is.

    Picking up on what Damien mentions about false hope in the latter part of the campaign against the Expo Line by some leaders in Cheviot Hills it was clear to me the opponents were trapped by their vehement earlier claims they would kill the project. Going back to followers and admit it was a lost cause would wound their reputations. Better to keep fighting to keep the troops distracted from pondering who was to blame for the defeat.

    The website reeks of hysteria, desperation and denial of the inevitable. Sad.

  • Sadly our region has a history of such costly obstruction and mischief. The Orange Line was forced to stop construction while redoing environmental documents. NOBLAG, Tom Hayden’s Stop the Subway Now and Damien Goodmon’s Expo and Crenshaw grade separation demands are other examples. Then we have distasteful things like ridiculous litigation that resulted in the mind blowing cost of the land for the Gold Line yard, lawsuits by the Bonaventure against the Regional Connector and the hysterics obstructing double tracking in the San Fernando Valley the alignment used by Metrolink and Amtrak.

    As I have been saying for a while, stupidity is America’s new growth industry.

  • Doesn’t Trump own a house in Beverly Hills still?

    As for cancelling a project this far along, it has happened, and recently although not at the USDOT’s behest:

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Access_to_the_Region%27s_Core

  • Eric

    Its not “Anonymous”, John Mirisch is behind this.

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