Beverly Hills Unified School District Demands Metro Come Clean with Facts on Westside Subway Extension
School Board Says Transit Agency Refuses to Disclose Seismic Studies at the Same Time it Uses Data to Make Decisions about Century City Station without Public Input
The Beverly Hills Unified School District (BHUSD) today called on the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) to make more of its deliberations over the Westside Subway Extension public and criticized the transit agency's unilateral decision to drop one of the sites being considered for a Century City station based on information that it refuses to make public.
Without notice or public input, Metro last week dropped from consideration a long-planned station at Santa Monica Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars based on its assertion that it would not be safe because of a purported earthquake fault. According to Metro's Draft Environmental Impact Report, which was previously made public, the Santa Monica and Avenue of the Stars station would have served more riders and cost at least $60 million less than an alternative station at Constellation Boulevard favored by some developers and several Metro board members.
A Constellation station would require the unprecedented step of tunneling under Beverly Hills High School, and would severely restrict BHUSD's ability to implement a voter-approved construction and modernization program at the historic campus.
"This is another example of Metro's bait-and-switch tactics as it attempts to steamroll anyone who opposes its profligate plan to spend taxpayer dollars to benefit a handful of politically-connected developers," said BHUSD Board of Education President Lisa Korbatov. "Metro's own data showed a station at Santa Monica and Avenue of the Stars would benefit more people for less money, but it didn't comport with the plans of private developers. So now Metro claims vague safety issues related to a fault and, voila, a superior station that had been planned for years and supported by the people of Beverly Hills disappears without so much as a public hearing."
In quietly nixing the Santa Monica/Avenue of the Stars station, Metro bureaucrats cited seismic studies that the agency refuses to release to the public. Instead, Metro will consider a seemingly less desirable station at Santa Monica Boulevard and Century Park East. The agency disclosed the switch in a posting to its Facebook page, with no other notice to the public or opportunity to provide input.
"The irony is that Metro steadfastly refuses to release any of the seismic data it used to kill the station, saying it's incomplete or inconclusive," Korbatov said. "Yet the studies were apparently complete and conclusive enough for Metro to decide to eliminate the Santa Monica/Avenue of the Stars location. If Metro has nothing to hide, it should immediately make public the research and reports it used to exclude this station from consideration.
"Metro must stop operating in the shadows so taxpayers can know their money is being spent wisely to build a subway that puts riders ahead of politics and preserves the ability of public schools to serve children today and in the future."