Thu, Aug

Beverly Hills Rejection of Century City Station: Embarrassing and Tiresome

TRANSPO LA - What were you thinking when you let your mayor write Metro [link] basically threatening to pull the city's support for America Fast Forward if the public transit agency decides to build a Century City subway station at Constellation Blvd and Avenue of the Stars?

I take it as a given that you are sensible people who recognize that the fight over the station location has gone too far and come unhinged thanks to the obfuscation of a handful of opponents of a Constellation Blvd station. The mayor's letter is unfortunate but there is still time for you and the city of Beverly Hills to join with the rest of the region in endorsing the preferred choice of a Constellation Blvd station.

It is true that you are surrounded and outnumbered, but in a good way. Most Angelenos recognize that the overdue to-be-built Wilshire subway extension will best serve the tens of thousands of Century City commuters when the station is located in the heart of the business center rather than in Century City Station Adjacent.

Yes, there are other station location options, but like the cheap Garment District knockoffs of Rodeo Drive bling, these choices are pretenders to the best station location throne.

By now, you have no doubt heard the incessant din of the handful of opponents of Constellation Blvd led by the Beverly Hills School Board, that the subway tunneling required to build Constellation will endanger students and destroy the community. Why? Because there is oil and gas underground and an ever-present risk of terrorism, yes, terrorism! How could anyone miss the sensationalist distractions that these folks and their paid operatives have ginned up?

But hopefully by now you have also heard the true reason the School Board doesn't want Metro tunneling under the school property, regardless of how much better the Constellation Blvd option is than the alternatives.

The Board wants to build a parking garage under the property and doesn't want that opportunity to be scuttled by Metro's endlessly vetted proposed alignment. And for good measure Constellation's opponents have thrown in the region's favorite not in my backyard canard that Metro is doing the real estate developers' bidding in plugging for Constellation.

Ignoring the fact that we can surely have both a school parking garage and a well-located subway station that will better serve commuters, does the School Board take us for fools?

And come now, is this any reason to let the Board take hundreds of thousands of dollars out of the education budget to keep their lawyers, lobbyists and PR flacks happily sucking on the public teat? If this were taking place in an addiction treatment program, the therapist would say you are enabling the Board, indulging its addiction to headlines.

What started as a healthy questioning of Metro's plans, long ago turned into an embarrassingly tiresome folly consuming far more time, energy and money than any self-respecting city should tolerate.

As residents of Beverly Hills maybe your first step should be to recall the School Board and the councilmen who have cast their lot with the tyranny of the minority. As for your generally sensible mayor, he should be encouraged to put a stop to the badgering of the public and Metro with fear and lies about the evils of the subway extension.

Under the circumstances, here's hoping you do the right thing and cut off the fiscal spigot that is funding the School Board's waste of taxpayer dollars and trying LA's patience.

(Joel Epstein is a communications and public affairs consultant focused on transportation, development and other urban issues and a CityWatch contributor. This column appeared first at huffingtonpost.com) –cw

Tags: Beverly Hills, Century City, subway station, Constellation Blvd, Los Angeles, Rodeo Drive, Wilshire Subway, Constellation Blvd, lobbyists

Vol 9 Issue 53
Pub: July 5, 2011