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.

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