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Latest Subway Conspiracy Theory: Developer Is Behind Route!

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It was inevitable that the national media would eventually pick up the Beverly Hills vs. Metro battle regarding the placement of the route near Century City--it contains all the LA clichés that journalists love (celebrities! rich people! LA's traffic and dysfunctional public transit!). This weekend's story, from the Associated Press (which mentions that Angelina Jolie and Nicolas Cage attended Beverly Hills High), looks like it could very well have originated with Sitrick & Co., the pricey PR firm that the Beverly Hills Board of Education hired to help plead its case for a station on Santa Monica Blvd., which, unlike the alternative Constellation Blvd. stop, would not require tunneling under Beverly Hills High School. Geology experts recently found that a station on Santa Monica Blvd. would be too close for comfort to active earthquake faults and that a stop in central Century City, at Constellation and Ave. of the Stars, would be safer, but the AP quotes BH school board head Lisa Korbatov saying those findings are "very heavy in assumption." The real reason Metro wants a station in central CC, according to Korbatov, is not safety or increased ridership, it's to help a developer.

JMB Realty is planning a 37 story, Johnson Fain-designed office tower at Constellation and Ave. of Stars and the AP says JMB has sunk a lot of money into Mayor Villaraigosa's "political ventures" (Villaraigosa is chairman of the Metro Board of Directors). While anything's possible, it seems unlikely that the mayor would be able to convince the entire Metro Board and a group of geologists to push the Constellation station. And is a station right at Constellation/Ave. of the Stars. that important to JMB? "It's also worth noting that no matter where a station in Century City is located, there are commercial properties that would benefit," writes Steve Hymon on Metro's Source blog. "And, in my view, all would benefit because the station locations under consideration are within walking distance of one another." Would JMB really get involved in this mess just so their tower is a block or two closer to a subway station? File this one with "what about terrorists?", "what about earthquakes?", and "what if we want to build?" as Beverly Hills's latest tack against tunneling under BHHS.

Meanwhile, the kids of BHHS are singing a different tune: "Justin Blaylock, a 17-year-old senior, said he supports expanding public transit and would welcome the chance to avoid the city's dirty, crowded buses. 'It makes me just want to walk,' he said."
· BH Bids to Halt Subway Tunnel at School [AP]
· Westside Subway Archives [Curbed LA]