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Joel Epstein

Even in this city known for spin, the truth should still matter in some quarters. Take for example the battle over the location of a future subway station in Century City.

Opponents of a station at Constellation Blvd and Avenue of the Stars are not fighting fair in their zealous effort to kill the idea of the station where it will serve the most riders. While Metro has bent over backwards to make the station selection process as transparent as possible, a handful of misguided opponents of a station at Constellation Blvd has been playing fast and loose with the facts.

To date, the Beverly Hills school board, which is driving the "No on Constellation" campaign, has committed over $400,000 to a double barreled lobbying and PR effort to defeat the Constellation option. The truth about the limited scope and low risk of subway tunneling that would be required to reach Constellation, does not make it into the Board's press releases, talking points and Century City subway website. How and why the taxpayers of Beverly Hills have allowed the Board to spend education dollars on a PR campaign against a subway station is also unclear.

To Angelenos who do not ride Metro's trains and buses, where a Century City station is located is of little importance. But to those who do, and to the many more who might give Metro a try if the station and service were convenient, it is all about location, location, location. Choosing the best address matters because it translates into more transit riders who might otherwise be driving alone to work.

The school board has been careful to state that they are not against the Wilshire Subway Westside Extension. Regrettably none of that same caution has gone into the board's effort to be truthful about Constellation. Shameless in its ongoing campaign to discredit Metro's engineering and outreach, the board has been shameful in its personal attacks on Metro staff and the agency's motivation and sincerity in seeking the best location for new stations. Given the importance of the outcome of this fight, here are some of the facts omitted from the school board's Century City station sales brochure:

  • Metro is considering building a station at Constellation Blvd because it is projected to serve the highest number of riders out of three station locations being considered.

  • Subway construction to reach the Constellation Blvd option would require tunneling under a portion of the Beverly Hills High School property and a small number of homes in south Beverly Hills.

  • Tunneling, regardless of the station location selected, will be conducted in a manner that minimizes risks to the public. The Beverly Hills tunneling is no more difficult than countless other subway construction projects that have been successfully undertaken around the world in recent years.

  • Constellation Blvd is not a bait and switch tactic designed by Metro to win a station location the agency had in mind from the start. The location suggestion came out of the transparent community outreach process which included a series of community meetings in Beverly Hills and elsewhere along the proposed route.

  • Metro is not doing the Century City developers' bidding in proposing a station at Constellation.

  • A subway tunnel under a portion of the Beverly Hills High School property will not increase the risk of a terrorist attack on the school. A subway that passes under the high school site will not pose a danger to students and staff at the school.

The time has come to set the record straight on the risks and benefits of building a station at Constellation Blvd.

Joel Epstein is a Westside resident, Metro customer, and strategic communications consultant focused on transportation and other critical urban issues. Website

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