By Adrian Glick Kudler, December 10, 2014
The Beverly Hills Unified School District has spent more than $3 million of school construction bond money fighting the Purple Line subway, which is already under construction just *inside Beverly Hills city limits (from Western in Los Angeles to La Cienega in BH), and will eventually travel under their high school for destinations in Century City and Westwood, as decided after years of study by Metro and its geologists. BHUSD, sometimes with the city of Beverly Hills, has hired a lobbying firm, filed lawsuits, warned of terrorist attacks, and otherwise done everything in its power to keep this public good from being built (or, as they say, to keep it from being built in the way the experts at Metro thinks makes the most sense, which involves keeping it from being built). And apparently they've exhausted themselves, because now they've hired teens to do the work for a while.The school board has, according to an article in Beverly Hills High's student newspaper,
commissioned the BHHS television station to create three anti-subway videos called, collectively, Why We Fight. (Which name they lifted from a series of propaganda films the US used to urge its citizens into World War II. Frank Capra directed many!) According to the Beverly Hills Courier, the adults came up with the ideas and left the school kids to actually make the videos: Lewis Hall, the Board of Education member who stars in the videos, "worked closely with BHUSD consultant Tim Buresh to help shape the videos, which were entirely produced by BHHS students."
The videos star Hall, who, accompanied by scary music, outlines every potential problem with the Purple Line plans that Metro has spent years studying and finalizing. He runs through the same anti-subway messages the BHUSD has been making throughout their fight, focusing on Metro's decision to put the Purple Line's Century City stop on Constellation Boulevard, which means the route has to run under Beverly Hills High.
BHUSD says that it makes more sense and would cost less money to put the CC stop on Santa Monica Boulevard, but Metro's studies find both that there's a fault under SMB that would make it dangerous to send the line that way, and that the Constellation stop would be more useful to riders, since it'scentral and close to many office buildings (the SMB stop is by a golf course).
BHUSD and the new videos both claim that there is no fault on Santa Monica Boulevard, while Metro's geological studies found that the proposed stop there "lies within an extremely complex zone of faulting." The videos also warn of methane explosions and building collapse and say that the Constellation route will cost $200 million more than the SMB one, as if Metro is looking to waste money building a bad subway for the sole purpose of one day destroying Beverly Hills High School. (Actually, BHUSD has a conspiracy theory that it's all so Metro can make a big payoff to a real estate developer, which is about as plausible.)
Beverly Hills and BHUSD have filed four separate lawsuits trying to stop the Purple Line project, at a cost of $4.1 million, the LA Register reported last spring. Some of the lawsuits have already been thrown out; the remaining suits go after the federal funding for the project. (At least $3 million of BHUSD's anti-subway money has come from Measure E school construction bonds; while they believe that use is legal, the Register wrote that "none of the concerns about the subway line appear to fall under the stated goals of Measure E.") BHUSD for some time was also employing a DC lobbying firm at $15,000 a month.
But with all that money, so far the only people they've won over are their own students, who they've now brought in to help fight their losing battle. One of the kids who worked on the video, quoted in the Courier, doesn't seem to have been taught the lesson of the whole thing: "Our school district has spent millions of dollars for seismic work, attorneys and consultants fighting this issue, yet Metro still wants to tunnel under our school."