UPDATED: Metro Votes To Move Forward With Westside Subway
Barry Brucker, Vice Mayor of Beverly Hills, does not want a subway to stop under Beverly Hills High School. Like many other Beverly Hills residents, he voiced support at Thursday's Metro Board meeting for a different subway stop serving the Century City area, just a block away.
The problem, however, with the other stop, at the intersection of Santa Monica Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars, is that it is not as close to the center of Century City, where more jobs and businesses are.
"We realize that our very valuable support staff, our waiters, and bus boys and office support staff, are walking several blacks to work," Brucker said. Still, he argued that this one extra block would make a negligible difference to them.
"Here in L.A., we have near perfect weather each and every day."
It rained in L.A. last week.
But the debate over the Century City stop didn't really matter, at least for this Metro Board Meeting. Metro approved plans this morning to research the impact of a 9.5-mile, $5 billion subway route that would extend the Metro Purple Line to the VA Hospital in Westwood with seven new stops.
The route that Metro approved for research today was one of five routes that they had once considered for the Subway.
The approval of this particular route means this subway, once often referred to as the "Subway to the Sea," will not actually reach the sea. There is simply not enough money to fund a subway that goes all the way to the ocean, Metro officials and the mayor have said. But many commenters at the meeting were at least happy that the Subway would reach the Westside.
Planners still need to do more research before making a final decision on the intersection to be used for the Century City stop. That stop wasn't even on the agenda today.
Yet public commenters spent a combined total of over an hour debating this one point.
Beverly Hills residents came to the meeting wearing orange stickers, with the logo "No Subway Under BHHS."
"No subway to our knowledge, was built under an existing school in Los Angeles," Brucker said. Others Beverly Hills residents cited safety concerns, and the fact that the high school doubles as a shelter for residents in emergencies. They worried about the impact on the community if there were problems with the tunneling.
Some were simply worried that the noise from the subway would disrupt the school's students and teachers.
And one resident had a more sentimental reason for opposing the stop; Jimmy Stewart fell in the pool at Beverly Hills High School while shooting the famous scene of "It's A Wonderful Life."
"What are you going to do if they say, 'Hey, we gotta move the pool?'"
But speakers at the meeting who weren't from Beverly Hills said the stop under the high school was the much more convenient choice.
"I'm going to say something that none of the people from Beverly Hills said. I took Metro to this meeting this morning," said Jeffrey Jacobberger, the Board Vice-Chair of the Mid City West Community Council.
"You talk about how hard it is to walk one long block," Jacobberger said. "I'm walking to work everyday. And I'm not a bus boy. And the people of my community aren't bus boys. You should build a transit system that serves transit riders and be responsive to the people who rely on transit."
Carol Spencer, a Westwood resident, attacked the logic of Beverly Hills' residents fears of the construction process. "If tunneling is not safe for Beverly Hills high school, it's not safe for Westwood homes," she said.
The environmental study that Metro approved is just a draft, meaning that more public debates over this stop are likely to come.
At Thursday's meeting, the Metro Board also approved the fully underground alternative for the Downtown Regional Connector, which could help train and subway riders make less transfers when traveling north-south and east-west.
If both projects stay on schedule, the subway extension construction would begin in 2013 with the regional connector breaking ground a year later.
Reach reporter Amy Silverstein here.
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