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Beverly Hills School District Takes Purple Line To Appeals Court

Purple Line
The Beverly Hills Unified School District is challenging the Purple Line’s environmental studies in appellate court. (Thinkstock)

A school district in Beverly Hills continues to stand in front of the runaway Metro Purple Line train project that is steaming ahead toward completion, as officials filed an appeal on May 29 challenging a Superior Court decision allowing a subway tunnel underneath the City’s namesake high school to move forward as planned.

Beverly Hills Unified School District (BHUSD) formally filed its appeal against Metro in the Second Appellate District of the California Court of Appeals.

The school district had challenged the validity of Metro Purple Line’s environmental studies, claiming the subway’s planned station at Avenue of the Stars and Constellation in Century City were defective.

However, in April, Superior Court judge John A. Torribio ruled the environmental studies were valid and Metro’s approval of the Purple Line Extension – also referred to as the Westside Subway Extension – through Beverly Hills and into Century City “was based on substantial evidence.”

That decision is now being challenged by BHUSD. The school district believes both it and the public were not properly included in decision-making process of where tunneling would take place in and through Beverly Hills. Accordingly, both the school district and the City of Beverly Hills alleged during the Superior Court proceedings that some potential risks of tunneling underneath Beverly Hills High School were not properly considered prior to approving plans.

It was the hope of the school district to have the Purple Line route slightly altered and have the Century City station relocated to a section of Santa Monica Boulevard.

By moving the station a few blocks north, it could be conceivable the Purple Line’s underground tunnel would not travel under Beverly Hills High School.

In his April 2 ruling, Torribio said the planned station at Avenue of the Stars and Constellation was “stable” and “finite.” He also stated in his ruling that moving the station slightly north to Santa Monica Boulevard would not only be impractical but also move the subway significantly closer to a fault line.

“The [Draft EIR] properly discloses that the Project area lies within a seismically active region, and that the feasibility of the Santa Monica station is compromised by the Santa Monica Fault Zone,” Torribio stated in his ruling. “The Constellation Station is located in the middle of high rise office buildings that house thousands of potential subway riders. SM Station would require these same riders to walk a considerable distance to access the subway. Therefore, substantial evidence supports Metro’s decision to approve Constellation Station as a more viable alternative than [Santa Monica Boulevard] Station.”

Since the April 2 ruling, the federal government awarded $2.1 billion in funding to help complete the Purple Line’s Westside Extension from Koreatown to Westwood.

According to Metro, the Purple Line Extension would add 8.5 miles of subway rail to the already existing east-west route that currently runs from Union Station to Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue in Koreatown.

A three-phase project, the first leg of the subway extension project would bring the Purple Line from its current Koreatown terminus to Wilshire and La Cienega boulevards. The second phase would extend the Purple Line into Century City before the final construction would complete the route through to the Veterans Administration building in Westwood.

Construction is expected to begin later this year and, according to Metro, the first phase of the subway is planned to open in 2023.

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