What you need to know about Century City Subway
On March 19, 2012 Metro released the Final Environmental Impact Report for the Westside Subway Extension. This report recommends a station in Century City at Constellation Avenue and Avenue of the Stars, which would require tunneling directly under Beverly Hills High School. Although the City of Beverly Hills and the Beverly Hills Unified School District supports the Westside Subway Extension as a whole, we believe it is neither safe nor necessary to tunnel under a community’s only high school when there are other available options.
- Read the Executive Summary of Metro’s Final Environmental Impact Report
- Read How Tunneling will affect Beverly Hills High School
- Read the Exponent Hazard Assessment Study criticizing Metro’s analysis
- Read Shannon & Wilson, Inc.’s review of Metro’s studies, which presents multiple other options for a station that wouldn’t require tunneling under BHHS
- Read our summary of Schools and Subways in California
- Beverly Hills supports the Westside subway, but has legitimate concerns about safety and the proposed location of the Century City station.
- Metro wants to put the subway tunnels directly under the high school.
- Nowhere else in California does a subway run directly under permanent public school buildings.
- Metro has other options for where to put the subway. Beverly Hills High School has nowhere else to go.
- Both the City of Beverly Hills and the Beverly Hills Unified School District have commissioned independent studies to evaluate Metro’s findings and perform their own research.
- The studies have found flaws in Metro’s methodology and have raised significant safety concerns.
- The Metro Board should not approve the Final EIR as is. They should wait until they have all the facts – including Beverly Hills’ studies – before making a decision.
- We only have one chance to build this subway and get it right. The Metro Board must take a close look at Metro’s recommendations and find a solution that will work not just now, but for the next century. Beverly Hills High School is an important community resource and there’s no need to rush this decision.
Got more questions? Check out our most frequently asked questions below. Have a question we didn’t answer? Send us a message on Facebook.
Common Questions About Century City Subway
- Why shouldn’t Metro run a subway under Beverly Hills High School?
A subway tunnel could have numerous negative impacts on BHHS. Independent studies have determined that there are a potential safety issues, and a future heavy-rail tunnel could have a devastating impact on plans to modernize and expand the campus. The independent studies have also shown that Metro’s data, findings and methodology were flawed and that Metro has other options for where to put the subway.
- Don’t subway tunnels run under schools all over the world?
Although this is a commonly repeated misconception, the rest of the world is not comparable to public schools in California. Because of earthquake safety issues, California enacted the Field Act, which holds certain types of buildings, such as schools, to a much higher standard of safety than regular construction. It is a fact that no subway tunnels run directly under a permanent public school building in the state of California. (See our summary of Schools and Subways in California.)
- What are the safety issues?
BHHS is more than 80 years old and is located in the middle of a seismic zone. No one really knows what impact a heavy-rail line will have on such a structure. Many of Metro’s statements about safety appear to be based on assumptions, not facts. Recently, independent studies commissioned by the City of Beverly Hills highlighted serious questions about Metro’s analysis and highlighted significant safety concerns related to seismic issues, methane gas, abandoned oil wells, soil irregularities water damage and various structural issues.
- Why is Santa Monica Boulevard a better option than Constellation?
Building the Century City subway station at Santa Monica and Avenue of the Stars would be less expensive — by over $60 million — and faster — it allows a shorter and more direct route for commuters — and will have higher ridership due to its greater accessibility to bus riders, bikers, and pedestrians. It provides a link to not only the businesses in Century City, but also those along Santa Monica Boulevard and in Beverly Hills.
- Didn’t Metro say there is a fault along Santa Monica Boulevard, which makes it even more unsafe to tunnel there?
In October 2011, Metro released two reports – the Century City Area Fault Investigation Report and the Century City Area Tunneling Safety Report for the Westside Subway extension reports. The Fault Investigation Report claimed to have “have identified two active fault zones in the Century City area: the northeast-southwest trending Santa Monica fault zone and the northwest-southeast trending WBHL.” As a result, Metro’s experts recommended the Constellation station.
In fact, neither of the two faults is rated as “active” under a statewide safety system used to restrict future construction. In January 2012 the California Geological Survey wrote a letter to clarify that, when it performed studies in 1978, there was not enough evidence to determine whether or not the Santa Monica fault was active or inactive. Furthermore, experts only “inferred” that the WBHL (West Beverly Hills Lineament) was active but, as the studies above show, those inferences were made on incomplete data.
- Didn’t Metro say the Constellation station would have higher ridership?
Metro’s Final EIR may be misleading because the “Santa Monica” option in the Final EIR is not the same one as originally discussed in the Draft EIR. Metro shifted the proposed Santa Monica station to the northeastern corner of Century City, away from key employment centers and transit hubs at Santa Monica and Avenue of the Stars.
Metro’s Draft EIS/EIR used two different ridership models. The more detailed Demand Ridership Model calculates Santa Monica and Avenue of the Stars to have a 5% higher ridership than Constellation. (See EIS/EIR Final Smart Growth Evaluation Report Table 3-1: Estimated Weekday Daily Boardings and Alightings by Station.)
The Santa Monica Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars option as originally proposed has over six times more bus riders than Constellation does. It has more retail, office, and hotel space within ½ mile of the station than the alternative, making it more attractive pedestrian commuters who might want to take the subway to Century City and then walk to work or the mall. Putting the station at Santa Monica Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars allows for a faster, more direct connection to Westwood, and numerous studies have shown a connection between faster travel time and increased ridership. All of these factors together lead us to believe that Santa Monica Boulevard will have a ridership just as high or higher, than the Constellation location.
- How does the Santa Monica Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars station compare on cost?
Both the Draft1 and Final2 Environmental Impact Reports agree that a station on Santa Monica Boulevard will cost millions less than the Constellation location.
- How does the Santa Monica Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars station compare on travel time?
Both the Draft and Final EIR agree that the shortest run time is achieved by utilizing a station on Santa Monica.3 Between Century City and Westwood, travel time from Santa Monica Boulevard to Westwood is shorter by 6%4 than from Constellation to Westwood.
- How does the Santa Monica Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars station compare to the alternatives on ridership?
Although Metro’s Final EIR claims higher ridership at Constellation, this is because the “Santa Monica” option in the Final EIR is not the same one as originally discussed in the Draft EIR. The ridership analysis contained in the Draft EIS/EIR indicates that the Santa Monica and Avenue of the Stars station would have approximately 5% higher ridership.5 In fact, in an FAQ published by Metro very clearly states that while a “station under Constellation Boulevard would be... approachable by large numbers of pedestrians… the Santa Monica Boulevard Station may be more convenient for auto and bus passengers who might wish to transfer to the subway.”6
- How does Santa Monica Boulevard compare with the alternatives for bus riders?
While both Santa Monica Boulevard and Constellation connect to LA Metro Bus Lines 16, 28, 316 and 728, along with Santa Clarita bus lines 792 and 797,7 with nearly 50,000 estimated weekday boardings, Santa Monica Boulevard would connect the subway with 34,750 more bus riders a day -- almost six times more than the alternative -- due to its connection with LA Metro Lines 4 and 704, plus LA DOT Commuter Express #534.8
- How does Santa Monica Boulevard compare with the alternatives for local residents?
Putting the station at Santa Monica Boulevard requires the least tunneling under and disturbance to residential properties. The city would have to tunnel under fewer properties and build fewer permanent underground easements than the alternative.9 Unlike the alternative, the Santa Monica location does not require tunneling under Beverly Hills High School or other historic properties and districts.10
Common Questions About This Website
- What is the point of this website?
This website was created as a resource for residents, workers and others in the Century City and Beverly Hills communities — as well as commuters in other communities affected by the alignment — who are interested in learning more about the Westside Subway Extension.
- Why does the Century City stop need its own website?
The location of the Century City stop has been a hotly debated issue. There are strong opinions on both sides, and there is a lot of rhetoric and misinformation out there. The Westside Subway Extension is a huge, multibillion-dollar project with thousands of pages of documentation. It can be hard for community members to get the information they need. This website attempts to sort through publicly available information to help inform interested parties about the alternatives available in Century City. Once the station is built, there is no moving it. It is our duty to ensure that the best location is selected to benefit riders and the wider community.
- Is Beverly Hills opposed to the Westside Subway Extension?
The City of Beverly Hills and the BHUSD has and continues to support the Westside Subway Extension. The Westside Subway Extension will decrease commuter travel time, increase accessibility, and make the city greener in the future. But in order for the subway to be successful, it must be built with safety in mind and located where it will be used and where it best serves the needs of the people, the riders, and the residents – not the developers who want to make a profit. Based on all the facts we’ve provided and the reasons we’ve listen here, the Century City subway station should be located on Santa Monica Boulevard.
- Isn’t Beverly Hills just trying to create confusion to avoid having the subway built underneath Beverly Hills High School?
No. The Beverly Hills Unified School District feels strongly that the Century City subway station can be built without Metro tunneling under Beverly Hills High School. The facts support this position.
- What does Beverly Hills oppose?
Beverly Hills Unified opposes excess spending for a station that will not fully serve all riders. BHUSD also opposes any plan that requires tunneling under Beverly Hills’ only high school when there are other options.
- Where does the information on this website come from?
All of the information on this website is taken from public sources available on Metro’s own Westside Subway Extension website and expert studies available online. The facts presented here come directly from the Draft and Final EIS/EIR reports, Metro’s public presentations, and independent reviews of those studies by nationally recognized experts.
- Who created this website?
This website was created by the Beverly Hills Unified School district as part of an educational campaign about the available options for the Century City subway station.
- Who is funding this website?
This website is funded by the Beverly Hills Unified School District.
- How much did this website cost?
Because this website is sourced entirely from publicly available information, the Beverly Hills School District is able to provide this resource to the community for a modest cost. This subway will affect our neighborhood for many years to come and we believe that supporting an accurate, open discussion of our options is well worth it to find the best possible location for the subway.
1 Draft EIS/EIR Chapter 7 Page 12↩
2 Final EIR Chapter 7 Page 12↩
3 Final EIR Chapter 7 Pages 9 and 13↩
4 Draft EIS/EIR Final Smart Growth Evaluation Report Page 20 Table 3-1↩
5 Draft EIS/EIR Final Smart Growth Evaluation Report Page 20 Table 3-1↩
6 Metro.net Westside Subway Extension February 2011 FAQ (via the Internet Archive)↩
7 Draft EIS/EIR Chapter 2 Pages 46-47, Figures 2-30 and 2-31; see also the Transit Impacts Assessment Report, especially Table 3-2 for more information↩
8 Based on existing ridership numbers given in Draft EIS/EIR Chapter 3 Pages 7-8, Table 3-2↩
9 Final EIR Chapter 7 Pages 11 and 14; see also Draft EIS/EIR Chapter 4 Page 41↩
10 Draft EIS/EIR Chapter 4 Page 241↩