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Letter to the Editor: What Will Happen to the Westside if the Subway Never Comes?

Letter to the editor submitted by Carol Spencer, a Westwood resident and member of the Westwood Community Council.

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Letter submitted by Carol Spencer, a Westwood resident and member of the Westwood Community Council.

Each time I read yet another alarming headline in the Beverly Hills Patch or the Beverly Hills Courier, I wonder if the entire dream of a Subway to the Sea will only remain a dream.

Beverly Hills Councilmembers Bosse and Mirisch have stamped their collective feet and said there will be no tunneling under all of Beverly Hills if Metro insists on a tunnel under their high school.  Is this what their business community really wants?  Haven’t they already met to choose designs for the stations at La Cienega and Rodeo?

What will happen to the entire Westside of the City of Los Angeles without the subway? Will those living and working west of Beverly Hills lose the dream of taking the subway to Disney Hall or Staples Center? 

So much for lawyers getting to court on the subway rather than driving through traffic.  So much for the tens of thousands of employees who were looking forward to a quicker way to get to and from their jobs.

Will cut-thru traffic so clog the city streets affecting local merchants' ability to thrive? Will tourists and shoppers alike stay away from the famous Rodeo Drive and nearby department and other shops in Beverly Hills because they cannot easily get there?

Will Beverly Hills become a ‘Yesterday Venue’ with competition taking over that is easy to reach?  Will the rest of the world bypass Beverly Hills?

Will the workers west of Beverly Hills move closer to their jobs in order to get to work on time? This attitude of only having concern for one’s private corner of the world harms everyone.  When even their own experts say it is safe to tunnel under the school, it is still not enough.  It’s like a child so worked up in his tantrum that he can no longer see anything but the tantrum itself.  And the tantrum is fed hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep going until the populace forgets why they’re even worked up.

Has anyone considered the future of Beverly Hills and the Westside of Los Angeles as well as Santa Monica if the Subway to the Sea becomes mired in legalities and ceases to exist?

-- Carol Spencer, resident of Westwood

Minoter April 12, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Mark. It's a pity that you're not on the BH City Council. If only there were a few more forward thinking residents who would speak up. The BHUSD mentality has now completely taken over BH with its fear mongering nonsense. Lily and John continue to hold their collective breaths until they get their way. Bringing brain washed children to demonstrate against a Constellation Station is pretty pathetic. No doubt it's the idea of that really expensive PR company who created their website.
John Mirisch April 13, 2012 at 02:57 AM
Mark, I think we first need to ask ourselves an even bigger question: what kind of Community to we want to be? Do we want to be an independent, low-rise, human-scale Community with our quality of life at the forefront, or do we want to be a throughway from one section of overdeveloped LA to another? Or maybe simply become another section of a faceless, characterless Southland without any real sense of identity? I believe that Beverly Hills is unique for many reasons, one of which is that we value our sense of Community and connectedness. I believe that making the City more pedestrian- and bike-friendly will enhance this sense and add to all that makes our Community special. This is the kind of change we should embrace, and, yes, it is slow to come. But neither is change for the sake of change something we should embrace, because we stand to lose way too much by readily discarding our past. This is one of the reasons I have pushed for our long overdue Cultural Heritage Commission. As a Swede whose other hometown is transit-oriented Stockholm, I can say that Metro's plans are anything but forward-thinking. They are acting with all the zeal of new converts who are missing the bigger picture and refuse to listen to anything but their own echo-chamber. As much fun as train sets may be to play with, there is much more to transit than just rail. As a self-contained Community, BH has the potential to be a great walking/biking City and I openly and completely support this goal.
John Mirisch April 13, 2012 at 03:11 AM
Beverly Hills is a Community which lends itself well to walking and biking, and I agree that we need to do a better job to take advantage of this. While Beverly Hills was never "hip," I do believe we place a significant value on culture, as the recent establishment of the Cultural Heritage Commission shows. Furthermore, we have the opening of the Annenberg Cultural Center to look forward to, as well as discussion of an Arts and Theater District in the Southeast part of town. In short, I think that we already have and will continue to have much to offer residents and non-residents who are culturally interested. And we have more: we have a sense of true Community which is very rare in the megalopolis that has become the Southland. And it is precisely that sense of Community we need to continue to build upon, and provide our residents - more than half of whom are renters - with the quality of life which helps define BH. Let's not forget the source of traffic problems and overcrowding. And let's also not try to apply paradigms which may apply in Boston or DC but don't here. A park-and-ride, for example (along with a bike-and-ride) makes a lot of sense to allow Westside residents additional access to a subway or other transit opportunities. Ironically, Santa Monica, WeHo and CC all have public parking garages, as well (WeHo just built an expensive new parking structure). We need an all-of-the-above approach, and that certainly includes our sweet spot: people-powered mobility.
John Mirisch April 13, 2012 at 03:22 AM
Please note that "Big Shorty" is Jan Reichmann, one of the heads of the Comstock Hills Homeowners Association, of which Carol Spencer is a member. The Comstock Hills Homeowners Association has long been opposed to the Santa Monica alignment of the subway because they are concerned about construction impacts to their neighborhood. While these concerns are understandable, it is more than a bit ironic how quickly Ms. Reichmann is to hurl the epithet "NIMBY" in Beverly Hills's direction. It is also more than a bit ironic how she insults Councilmember Bosse and myself for our efforts to stand up for the principles of local control and to protect our Community against a violation from a massive governmental agency which seems to be drunk with its own power. Whether Ms. Reichmann likes it or not, we will continue to stand tall for our City, our residents and our beliefs that government is best from the ground up rather than from the top down.
Mark Elliot April 23, 2012 at 07:02 AM
Well-said: "...we have a sense of true Community which is very rare in the megalopolis that has become the Southland." I agree. There are many dimensions to Beverly Hills. I appreciate every day our (historically) well-planned city, particularly in the 'flats,' as they say. The scale, the mix of multi-family and small-lot SF, the commercial districts. It makes the city quite unique. I do wish for two things: more of a civic & participatory consciousness; and greater cultural opportunities. I recall not that long ago when we had a Rizzoli on Wilshire near Rodeo. That part of town (north of Wilshire & West of Crescent) now trends toward a cultural monoculture that must not speak to too many residents (especially in my neighborhood). The hipness quotient desperately needs a boost too. And it's not necessarily the housing cost as one might expect. I think it's perception of the city. I hear frequently the city described as that kind of monoculture to which I referred above, with the other dimensions - our renter population, fantastic historic apartments, and diversity (waning, I'm afraid) - not often remarked on.

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