In the 90210, the newest horror flick is ‘Subway’
Déjà vu 90210.
The scariest movie in town isn’t at the Cineplex, it’s the one that has been crafted at the behest of some parents of Beverly Hills High School students who don’t want the Metro subway to go under their kids’ school.
There have been movies featuring that school before, notably “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Clueless.” But this video runs to 5 minutes and change, and was produced with intercut images of happy schoolkids, green lawns, lovely building, and dire predictions of disaster, up to and including fireballs.
There are legitimate concerns about subway construction at every step of the way in L.A. because this is earthquake country, and oil well country, which also means methane country. Matter of fact, Beverly Hills High famously has cohabited for years with an oil pump sucking fossil fuels tirelessly and profitably out by the sports fields. (Some former students sued over health risks like benzene, and a first group of plaintiffs had their cases dismissed; they are on appeal.)
According to the story my colleagues Martha Groves and Dan Weikel wrote, Metro approved the environmental review for the subway to go ahead under the school. Transit principals on the other side have said they will sue.
As some comments on Martha’s and Dan’s story suggest, if the school has already been known to be so dangerous even before the subway plan, why not shut it down and build elsewhere?
(Any day now, I’m expecting to see a counter-film showing other perils of life at BHHS, starting with that Haagen-Dazs ice cream dispenser in the school cafeteria that’s shown in the anti-subway-route video.)
Last I heard, property values in Beverly Hills are suffering less than in other places, when they’re hurting at all. Parents are anxious to live there to get their kids into B.H. schools, and parents who don’t live there were livid when B.H. ended a voucher program that allowed their nonresident kids to go to school in Beverly Hills.
This isn’t the first time that Beverly Hills has virtually laid down on the transit tracks.
In the 1950s, the city killed a plan for a Beverly Hills Freeway that would have passed through the city to connect the 2 and 405 Freeways. In November 1962, a residents’ petition to that effect was presented to the City Council, bearing names such as Rosalind Russell, Lucille Ball, Vincente Minnelli and Soupy Sales. And some officials insisted that, if a freeway did get built, it wouldn’t have any on- or off-ramps in the city itself -- just at the city limits.
Like South Pasadena’s recurrent fight against being divided by a 710 Freeway extension, Beverly Hills had some good reasons not to want a freeway dividing a community.
Yet what was the acceptable alternative to a freeway that the city’s Municipal League suggested in 1963?
Subways run beneath cities with some of the most glamorous neighborhoods in the world, like Park Avenue, Belgravia, Faubourg Saint-Germain.
There will no doubt be compromises coming, mostly, I expect, on matters like extra safeguards -- solutions considered, solutions arrived at. But Beverly Hills needs to live down its obstructionist reputation and be a team player for a transit system of benefit to Angelenos and visitors alike -- even, as a decade or two of subway ridership will show, to Beverly Hills itself.
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