NEWS ANALYSIS: WILL COURIER, FAMILIES FORCE BEVERLY HILLS CITY COUNCIL MAJORITY TO SUE METRO?
Will political pressure building on Mayor Willie Brien finally force him to stand with the Beverly Hills Unified School District against the Metropolitan Transit Authority and its planned tunnels under Beverly Hills High School?
Brien, who has refused to take strong positions against Metro, is reported to be increasingly concerned that his pro-Metro, pro-regional interest positions are seriously hurting his chances for reelection on March 5. The Courier has received reports that his closest political advisors are trying to convince him to take stronger positions against Metro. In his recent interview with The Courier’s editorial board, Brien alone among all candidates refused to commit to opposing the subway if the route now chosen by Metro remains. Metro’s board ignored Beverly Hills Unified’s protests and voted to put the tunnels under Beverly High. The final Metro decision was controlled by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and his appointees, plus Third District Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. Brien recently appeared with Villaraigosa at a Metro subway groundbreaking and praised the project, even though it now means tunnels under Beverly High.
The Beverly Hills Unified School District filed suit weeks ago in federal district court under the National Environmental Policy Act asserting that Metro’s environmental impact report is defective. The City of Beverly Hills so far has failed to join the School District. The District filed a parallel lawsuit in California Superior Court under the California Environmental Quality Act. The City filed its own CEQA lawsuit. School District lawyers for months tried to form a joint defense agreement with the City, but that agreement was blocked by the council majority of Brien and councilmembers Barry Brucker and Julian Gold. The council majority demanded control of the litigation, even though the property affected is under the jurisdiction of the School Board, not the City.
If the City files a federal lawsuit, it will mean that Brien has finally admitted he must take action against Metro. He recently led a vote on the City Council to retain “fast tracking” of Metro permits to drill, core and excavate in Beverly Hills for the subway.