Los Angeles Business Journal

Chamber Needs to Dig Deeper for Subway Facts

OP-ED By LISA KORBATOV Monday, August 15, 2011

Talk about tunnel vision: The Century City Chamber of Commerce’s op-ed arguing for a subway stop closer to the heart of Century City (“Subway’s Tunnel Vision,” Aug. 1 issue) ignores facts and makes up new ones in the chamber’s campaign to shake down taxpayers. The chamber favors a Westside subway station that will cost more to build, serve fewer riders and stick it to schoolchildren – just to fulfill the whimsical desires and plans of a few well-connected developers.

Advocates for a station at Constellation Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars never want to acknowledge or talk about the actual facts and findings contained in the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Draft Environmental Impact Report. That’s because that document concludes that a station one block away at Santa Monica Boulevard – less than a three-minute walk from the Constellation stop – would cost at least $60 million less to build and serve about 5 percent more riders, all without having to take the unprecedented risk of tunneling under a high school!

Get more for less. If we learned anything from this summer’s debt-ceiling standoff in Washington, it should be that government at all levels must stretch every dollar collected from taxpayers. It would cost an additional $5,000 per inch to move the station 1,000 feet south to Constellation from its long-planned location at Santa Monica, without any legitimate justification for doing so. The only thing being stretched in this case is credibility.

Because the facts don’t support a Constellation station – Metro’s analysis also finds more jobs and commercial space closer to Santa Monica – the chamber ignores them and touts studies it commissioned that, not surprisingly, reach different and obviously erroneous conclusions. The chamber also dusts off 43-year-old studies from the archives to make the case that Los Angeles County taxpayers should be thrilled to help finance the high-rise ambitions of private developers. Southern California has changed a lot in 43 years, and Metro’s current studies reflect that.

What has not changed, though, is that Beverly Hills High School remains the only public high school in Beverly Hills – a badly outdated campus in desperate need of renovation and expansion. The route Metro proposes for the Constellation station would tunnel directly under classrooms, and jeopardize a voter-approved building and renovation program because the tunnels would run at relatively shallow depths under the school as well as the only land on campus available to build.

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