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Beverly Hills News – City Council to Consider MOAs for Metro Utility Relocation

Posted Tuesday, July 29 – 11:14 AM

By Victoria Talbot

The Beverly Hills City Council will consider a Memorandum of Agreement between Metro and the City of Beverly Hills for the Utility Relocation Phase of the Westside Subway Extension at the formal meeting this evening.

Construction of the La Cienega Subway Station under Wilshire Blvd. between La Cienega and San Vicente Boulevards requires the relocation and rearrangement of underground utilities and facilities. Metro has a pending permit application lot relocate the City’s water, were and storm drain systems and Southern California Edison’s electrical system in the La  Cienega station area.

The work is scheduled to begin in late August, after which other permit applications will follow. They include gas and communications facilities. This phase of construction will take approximately 30 months to complete.

“The size and scope of this project is unprecedented in Beverly Hills. We are taking our time to evaluate carefully the MOA and  any permit requests from Metro for subway construction done in our City. The most important thing is that the impacts on residents and businesses from noise and from disruptions to parking and traffic be minimized significantly,” said Beverly Hills Mayor Lili Bosse.

At the July 1 study session, the City Council reviewed the first draft of the MOA and made significant changes. However, the staff believes that there are several issues that merit further discussion between the City and Metro. Thus, this is not expected to become the final agreement and it is anticipated that this item will also be on the August 5 agenda in a completed form.

Some of the issues between the City of Beverly Hills and Metro include oversight, complaint communications and resolutions, noise control, pedestrian access, “betterments,” City businesses’ impacts and business assistance programs to protect businesses, and construction delays.

Mitigation and enforcement are significant issues. Metro has agreed to an “independent mitigation monitor” to oversee compliance and violations, and the City has set up a tentative schedule of fines for violations to be applied to mitigations.

Metro is expected to comply with the City’s noise standards – however, they are applying the same “5-Step Noise Control” plan that has been so unsuccessful everywhere it has been applied. The plan allows Metro to take an average noise level measure every 15 minutes. This means that there can be enormous spikes in the noise level followed by quieter times – as long as the average is within compliance for a 15-minute period. In the event that the work is at night, this can make a significant impact on a sleeping resident who would have no recourse to complain of a violation.

Another contentious issue has been complaint resolution and significantly, the City’s demands that Metro establish a 24-hour hotline dedicated to responding to complaints. The City has called for a live human being to answer all calls and to provide immediate response to complaints.

The City has taken issue with Metro’s 24-hour complaint line that records a message and may or may not return the call or respond to the issues. Metro has pushed back on this issue, repeating that they have a complaint line in place.

The “business mitigation assistance” during the work can include advertising for the local businesses affected, parking programs, public outreach, cleaning sidewalks, buildings, windows, graffiti and the construction site, public outreach and urban design and business assistance projects.

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. tonight at Council Chambers in City Hall and the public is welcome.


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