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Beverly Hills News

Courier Allegedly Misreported Subway Extension
Posted by Daniel Antolin on May 8, 2011 - 4:15:55 AM

BEVERLY HILLS—On Tuesday, May 3, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transport Authority maintained that the Beverly Hills Courier reported inaccurate and misleading information in a recent news story relating to the transportation agency's ongoing Westside Subway Extension project.

IMGP0458ALWilshireSubway2.jpg
Wilshire Boulevard Subway. Photo by Jocelyn Holt
The Beverly Hills Courier published the unsigned news story in its April 29 print edition, which stated that the MTA was strongly favoring tunneling underneath Beverly Hills High School and multiple homes in order to create a subway station at Constellation Boulevard in Century City as part of the transportation agency's ongoing efforts to extend subway service from a Purple Line station, located at Wilshire Boulevard/Western Avenue, to Westwood. If approved, the Constellation subway station would be one stop along this extended route.

In total, the subway extension project would include seven new stations.


Beverly Hills residents and the Beverly Hills Unified School District have vocally opposed the MTA tunneling underneath their homes and the local high school out of a concern for safety.

"The final environmental impact report of the Metropolitan Transit Authority strongly favors the proposed route under Beverly Hills High School and 78 Beverly Hills homes according to a summary document obtained exclusively by the Beverly Hills Courier," a PDF copy of the April 29 print edition shows as the first paragraph of the news story. This paragraph is missing from the news story that is currently live on the website.

Nowhere else in the news story is the document specifically identified as the project's final environmental impact report, though it is identified in the headline as "Final EIR," "Westside Subway Extension Final EIS/EIR ”“ Century City Station Analysis” in the body and “Final EIS/EIR” in the Beverly Hills Courier's response on its website to the MTA's allegations of misreporting.

MTA Public Communications Officer Dave Sotero requested on the same day that the Beverly Hills Courier retract its news story and publish a correction clarifying that the final environmental impact report for the Westside Subway Extension project is not complete, that the summary document is not part of the final EIR and that the agency is "under no circumstances" considering tunneling underneath 78 Beverly Hills homes.

In fact, the fifth page of the document in question shows that the MTA extension toward the proposed Constellation subway station would take place underneath four residential properties. The MTA extension would only take place underneath 77 homes from the Constellation station in Century City toward
Westwood.

Picture1-31-2.jpg
Two proposed Century City subway stations. Map courtesy of MTA Los Angeles.
"The route under Beverly Hills High School property remains under consideration, but other routes are also being analyzed," a post by Sotero on The Source, the MTA's official blog, shows.

One route being analyzed as an alternative to the proposed Constellation Boulevard/Avenue of the Stars station includes one at Santa Monica Boulevard/Avenue of the Stars. MTA is investigating shifting this station alternative toward Century Park East because it might avoid the Santa Monica Fault.

Construction would not take place underneath homes if the MTA ultimately chooses the possible Santa Monica Boulevard/Avenue of the Stars station or one that would be shifted to Century Park East.

Legal action is not being taken by the MTA to further pursue the retraction of the news story beyond the blog post request, Sotero told Canyon News.

"We can't force a publication to make the correction," Sotero said.

In response to MTA's request for a retraction, the Beverly Hills Courier posted on its website that the MTA released an email alleging that the news story "might be read" to imply that a final decision had already been made.

"The Courier has posted the entire MTA document online at bhcourier.com so that readers can decide for themselves," the website response further shows. "The Courier stands behind its story as published."

An individual at the Beverly Hills Courier, who asked not to be named, declined to comment on Canyon News' specific inquiries regarding the disputed news story.

MTA expects the Final EIR/EIS to be released sometime toward the end of this coming fall season after the transportation agency's board of directors decide whether to approve recommendations for the extension. This is about the same timeline included in the Beverly Hills Courier news story as it pertains to when the board of directors will make its final decision about where to build the disputed Century City station toward Westwood.

"Westside Subway Extension Final EIS/EIR - Century City Station Analysis," which provided the basis for information presented as facts in the Beverly Hills Courier news story, is not the final environmental impact report for the Westside Subway Extension project. Rather, it is a PowerPoint presentation comprised of 20 slides presented as a video, which lasts about two minutes, placed above the news story's online edition.

The 20 PowerPoint slides, which present issues being studied for the project's environmental impact report, are not new or exclusive to the Beverly Hills Courier in that they have been presented by MTA officials to local residents at more than 60 community meetings and they represent information that was gathered within the course of the last three and a half years.

Displaying art of a man wearing a backpack and a woman holding a UCLA bag while standing next to a subway bound for Westwood on the cover page, the PowerPoint presentation provides a general assessment of the proposed subway station. Aside from basic information, the slides also show proposed station maps, route evaluation progress and decision criteria, in addition to technical details about past and present subway construction as it relates to tunneling near or across fault lines and associated sounds and vibrations.

Canyon News cannot determine based on this information, which Sotero said represent facts, whether the MTA was favoring one tunnel construction path against another.


 

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