By John Mirisch, December 11, 2015
MUSING WITH MIRISCH --The Jewish Journal's quote of the week of Nov. 26,
in reference to Beverly Hills's conflict with Metro, was former county
supervisor (and Metro macher) Zev Yaroslavsky's zinger: "Fighting Metro
is not a construction project, it's a destruction project."
is so much arrogance and ignorance rolled up into Yaroslavsky's
statement, it could easily give rise to a new portmanteau word to
describe the chutzpah: arrogrance.
It is hard to know
where to begin, though correcting a major deficiency in the article from
which the quip was lifted would probably be a good start. Beverly Hills
is not trying to stop the subway.
Beverly Hills has never
tried to stop the subway. The sole issue for the City of Beverly Hills,
along with the school district, has been the routing, which was
originally planned to run down Santa Monica Boulevard, but which
mysteriously was re-routed to Constellation under the city's only high
school when a well-heeled developer and a major political donor snapped
its fingers and the Metro Board, led by Yaroslavsky, asked "how high?"
once famously described the county board of supervisors as "Five Kings"
but the lack of factuality, transparency and logic behind his statement
regarding the entire Purple Line extension seems more befitting of the
Politburo. Trying to make sense of his statement is neither a
construction project nor a destruction project, but rather a
The JJ's article rehashes Metro's argument
that a fault along Santa Monica Boulevard makes it unsafe to build a
subway station at the original site on Santa Monica and Avenue of the
Stars. Seismologist-to-the-stars, Lucy Jones, is quoted suggesting that
evidence of a fault on Santa Monica Boulevard is "compelling." One must
ask if this citation is pre- or post- the trenching which the school
district performed. Of course, trenching is considered to be the gold
standard of seismological evidence and the trenching the school district
performed along putative fault sites turned up absolute bupkes.
Jones is also serving as LA's "earthquake czar," and if, despite the
new evidence provided by the trenching, she truly believes a dangerous
fault impedes the ability to build along Santa Monica Boulevard, one
needs to wonder why she hasn't sounded the alarm about the 40 story
condo tower at 10000 Santa Monica Boulevard currently under construction
right next to the high school, or the major Westfield Mall addition on
the other side of Avenue of the Stars, also directly on Santa Monica
What the article also leaves out is that last year the
school district, the City of Beverly Hills, the FTA, the Department of
Justice, and key Metro staff members entered mediation in an attempt to
achieve a global resolution of the conflict. In fact, after a full day
of negotiations, all sides actually agreed on a mediated settlement,
which would have addressed the school district's concerns, while
allowing Metro to keep the revised route -- despite the fact that it
will cost the taxpayers hundreds of millions more than the original
Santa Monica alignment, add to travel time, and result in reduced
Importantly, the mediated settlement would have
included additional trenching along Santa Monica Boulevard, which would
have provided the major public benefit of ending speculation, once and
for all, about any potential existence of a fault.
while the deal was recommended to the Metro Board by Metro staff, it was
Yaroslavsky himself who took the lead in killing the mediated
settlement, which had been brokered by a retired superior court judge.
Being a "king" evidently has its privileges.
While it's true that
many members of the Beverly Hills community, including myself, have been
concerned with some of the financial decisions made by the current
school board, the concerns are much broader than funds spent on lawyers
in the Metro case. Newly elected board members Mel Spitz and Isabel
Hacker, both of whom oppose Metro's route under the high school, rightly
pointed out, for example, the former school board's much graver fiscal
mistake in linking the district's teacher salaries to Beverly Hills
Metro now has a new CEO and new board members,
and it is to be hoped that the institutional bullying which is
Yaroslavsky's legacy will soon be a thing of the past.
in addition to the hundreds of millions of wasted taxpayer dollars on
the Century City station, that legacy includes the so-called
"UCLA/Westwood" station which is not in the "center of the center" of
Westwood, but actually closer to the Purple Line's terminus at the VA
than to the UCLA campus itself. Sad that UCLA will have a station in
name only, but nice, I guess, that the VA will effectively get two
Of course, it would be even nicer if Metro would
actually finally get the VA's permission to place a subway station on
its property - something which never happened under Yaroslavsky's reign,
but which hopefully can happen now.
Who knows, with the possible elimination of arrogrance,
we may even find Metro looking to the future and embracing the
revolutionary new transit opportunities provided by automated vehicles;
heck, we may even finally get a Green Line which actually connects with
And wouldn't that just be a mechaya?
(John Mirisch is the Vice Mayor of Beverly Hills and an occasional contributor to CityWatch.)