By Victoria Talbot, August 20, 2014
The City of Beverly Hills and Metro have agreed to a Memorandum of Agreement for the Advanced Utility Relocation Phase (AUR) of Segment 1 of the Westside Subway Extension following a lengthy process of revisions to support the Saban Theatre, the emerging business district surrounding the area and the quality of life for residents directly affected by the relocation project.
Metro has indicated that the work is scheduled to begin in late August and that it will take approximately 30 months to complete. The agreement applies only to the utility relocation phase of the project.
Following the city council meeting on Aug. 5, when Metro returned a draft document that virtually ignored the chief elements of an agreement as proposed by the City of Beverly Hills, Metro negotiators returned with a favorable draft Tuesday night that incorporates significant mitigations for the City.
Revisions include specific noise mitigations, work hours, business mitigation funds, monitoring, disincentives, a 24-hour live hotline, alternate parking and loading zones, compensation for City expenses, and specific mitigations to address the concerns of the Saban Theatre.
Following the meeting Aug. 5, City staff met with Rabbi David Baron of the Saban, Mayor Lili Bosse, council member John Mirisch, City engineering consultants, the Cordoba Corporation and Metro to address concerns with the MOA and develop a framework to move forward.
The approved draft limits construction to daytime hours between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m., with flexibility for nighttime work for service interruptions that would adversely affect residents if performed during business hours, as was decided at the Aug. 5 meeting.
Two main areas of concern included establishing monetary disincentives for violations and business mitigation assistance, especially with the Saban Theatre.
To address this, the MOA establishes an independent compliance monitor as a mechanism for enforcing permit conditions. The monitor will have the authority to halt work if there is a violation of permit conditions or a threat to public health and safety. In addition, if there are more than two violations of a permit condition within a three-day period, a $10,000 contribution will go into a mitigation fund controlled by the City. A third violation in seven days is $15,000.
Metro will be required to respect the City’s municipal ordinances in regards to noise levels and work. A 24-hour public phone line will also be established for residents to speak with a live person with their concerns and complaints.
The MOA has several provisions for the emerging business district and the Saban Theatre. Construction is prohibited on Jewish holidays when the theatre is used for religious observances. Metro is required to maintain access to all the businesses, including pedestrian access, at all times. Signage declaring that businesses are open during construction is also required. Metro has agreed to maintain the full sidewalk width during construction and to maintain access to adjacent parking facilities. Metro is also required to protect the historic Saban marquee from damage due to construction.
A business mitigation assistance fund of $1 million is to be established to include advertising, parking validations, business incentives, public outreach programs and other assistance to facilitate business in the area.
The MOA provides for regular cleaning of the work area, coordination of valet zones and loading zones and alternative overnight residential parking.
Metro will install two cameras on Wilshire Blvd. for 24-hour construction monitoring. The City is also considering placement of decibel monitors for noise monitoring.
The Saban Theatre, the City of Beverly Hills and Metro have agreed to a three-party side letter to memorialize concerns related to future Metro activities. An historic landmark, Rabbi David Baron, Saban founder and Rabbi of the Temple of the Arts, expressed his concerns for the maintenance of the building’s foundations with the subway construction. Several structural issues must be assessed, including subsidence, to determine the historic landmark’s tolerance for the proposed station construction and resulting settlement. An independent geotechnical assessment and architectural assessment of the impact of construction on the building will be performed prior to construction in order to form a plan of action to reduce the impacts on the building.
The Rabbi requested an extra 60-90 days prior to approval to form a plan. The Saban is on the National Register of Historic Places, the State register and the local register. “I still have serious reservations,” said Rabbi Baron. Baron compared the Saban to the treatment of Disney Hall during Metro construction. “I want parity.”
“I want it over and done with,” said council member Nancy Krasne.
“Everything asked was given,” said Mayor Lili Bosse. “We have come a long way.”
Metro’s permit application for the relocation of water, sewer and storm drain utilities and for Edison’s electrical facilities was also approved.