Metro Silences Beverly Hills
During yesterday’s Metro Community Open House at Temple Emanuel in Beverly Hills, Councilwoman Lili Bosse was denied the opportunity to publicly question Project Manager David Mieger about the Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR).
In fact, while asking Mieger about parking near the proposed Westside Subway Extension stations, a Metro employee grabbed the microphone from Bosse and told her that she, and everyone else in attendance, needed to ask questions at the individual tables designed to focus on specific areas.
“I had many questions from the EIR to talk about all the specifics and apparently they didn’t want those questions publically discussed,” Bosse told The Courier. “I think the whole process [was] an insult to our community.”
It was shortly after Bosse stated there is no unpermitted parking within a quarter mile in any direction of the proposed Beverly Hills stops, that the microphone was taken away and the questioning was forced to end.
“I’ve read all their documents and I’m just asking questions on their information and their statistics,” Bosse said. “The fact they were unwilling to answer questions on their EIR is a big concern to me.”
Bosee told The Courier she was going to have the City submit her questions to Metro and would share the answers with the community as soon as she receives them.
Board of Education President Brian Goldberg said he felt Metro has already made up its mind.
“Unfortunately, [the Community Open House Meeting was] another example of a dog and pony show from Metro,” Goldberg said. “They’re not allowing any public comment, just an opportunity to see their PR spin. I’m disappointed in Metro.”
Once Bosse was silenced, the majority of the 150 to 200 residents who were present at the open house left and gathered outside the Temple.
Boardmember Lisa Korbatov encouraged residents to “blanket the City with lawn signs, have buttons and T-shirts,” and said the district would be putting banners up at every school site.
Korbatov also encouraged attendees to call County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky at 213-974-3333 or Representative Henry Waxman at 310-652-3095
“Every call counts,” she said. “The fight has just begun and we’re going to win.”
The release of the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s final EIR confirms its intention to tunnel under Beverly Hills High School despite the report’s failure to address any risk or issue raised by the Beverly Hills Unified School District of the city of Beverly Hills’ experts. Those risks and issues include failure to make adequate safety provisions, poor investigation of alleged earthquake faults, inadequate engineering, failure to consider existing oil wells, failure to safeguard Beverly Hills High School and its students, teachers administrators during construction, and defective methodology in assessing the geology of the area. Despite these failures, the final report will go before Metro’s Board on April 26 for approval.
The crux of the dispute between Metro and Beverly Hills is the transit agency’s determination to tunnel under Beverly Hills High School. That route was chosen despite higher ridership projections by Metro itself for a station proposed one block north in Century City, leading experts to contend that the decision was made to benefit developers in Century City.
The newest Metro studies now contend this Santa Monica Boulevard station would have lower ridership than previously projected. No reason was given for the sudden change in ridership projections by Metro. Federal funding is heavily contingent upon projected ridership.
Yesterday’s so-called “community open house” – ostensibly to allow concerned citizens an opportunity to speak directly with Metro representatives – contradicted the nature of what an open house is by not allowing public comments. Despite the rigged nature of the public relations event, leaders of the Beverly Hills community including Board of Education member Lisa Korbatov and reform City Council Members John Mirisch and Lili Bosse, joined by dozens of community members, demanded a chance to speak.
Metro claims that “earthquake faults” along Santa Monica Boulevard require locating the Century City subway station on Constellation and Avenue of the Stars, not on Santa Monica Boulevard as long-planned. Experts for the Beverly Hills Unified School District have been conducting extensive trenching in the areas affected – trenching not done by or for Metro – which so far have contradicted Metro’s findings.
Experts hired by the City of Beverly Hills, Exponent and Shannon & Wilson, even relying on Metro data suggest Metro could safely build on Santa Monica if the station was moved slightly west. They also reveal that the proposed Constellation Station location was not thoroughly studied. Methane gas explosions were reported in the vicinity of the Constellation station location during previous construction in Century City. City of Beverly Hills experts called for additional studies to ascertain whether Constellation Avenue is affected by faults or methane.
Not discussed was property acquisition and easements. If the subway were to tunnel through Beverly Hills, 75 homes and 21 businesses would suffer permanent easements for the tunnel. To build a station at Wilshire/La Cienega, Metro would need to purchase six properties including a six-unit apartment building at 111 Gale Dr. To build a station at Wilshire/Rodeo, Metro would need to obtain seven properties including New Pacific Realty at 9397 Wilshire Blvd. and Ace Gallery at 9430 Wilshire Blvd. Metro’s own explanations — published in today’s Courier — call for open trenches along nearly the entire length of Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills to build the stations for the subway. Construction would last between five and seven years. Stations are not tunneled but are built using “cut and cover.” In other words, the entire underground area is excavated from the surface, the station is then built and the entire excavation is covered up again.
Metro will hear comments at its Planning Committee meeting on Wednesday April 18 at 1 p.m. or at the Metro Board of Directors meeting on Thursday, April 26 at 9 a.m. Written comments can be mailed to David Mieger at Metro, One Gateway Plaza 99-22-5, Los Angeles, CA, 90012. Online comments can be submitted at www.metro.net/westside, or by e-mail to WestsideExtension @metro.net. All written input should be received by April 23.
The Metro Board will consider approval of the final EIR/EIS following the public review period at its meeting on April 26.