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Letter to the Editor: Lawsuit against Metro’s Purple Line Extension justified

By Deborah Termeie

Feb. 22, 2018 10:51 p.m.

As a parent of two students in the Beverly Hills Unified School District and a lecturer at UCLA, I disagree with the opinion column titled, “Opinion editors: Beverly Hills Unified’s incessant lawsuits are at Angelenos’ expense” published in the Daily Bruin. The column argued BHUSD’s lawsuit against the Purple Line Extension project, which involves expanding Los Angeles’ subway line to run from Koreatown to Westwood, is a waste of time for Angelenos.

I do not oppose the Purple Line Extension project. In fact, I would love to be able to take advantage of the line to go from my home to UCLA without having to deal with traffic and parking. But, I have very serious questions and concerns about the current alignment of the subway which runs directly under the Beverly Hills High School campus, as well as the supplemental environment analysis of this project.

BHHS is currently undergoing modernization and improvements. There is an oil well right next to the high school, which has recently been decommissioned. There are other alignment options that were considered long before the Federal Transit Authority decided the Purple Line should be allowed to run through the heart of the high school. It is not morally appropriate for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority to keep its current alignment, which will inevitably divide and disrupt the center of our campus and create an uncertain and potentially harmful environment for our students and staff.

As a press release from BHUSD puts it, the district is not against a compromise, and there is still time for the FTA and Metro to make adjustments to the Purple Line project.

“The future of our students, staff and the next generation is paramount and we must continue to be active in our litigation and resolve for compromise,” the release added.

As Lisa Korbatov, president of the BHUSD Board of Education, said in a press release, BHUSD’s lawsuit against Metro is critical to protecting students and the community.

“The FTA’s and Metro’s decision to build subway tunnels beneath the heart of our high school’s campus and to conduct substantial construction activity on the westerly fence line of the high school campus, which faces the walls of classrooms, endangers the health and education of our students,” Korbatov said. “It also puts at risk the high school’s historic buildings, its present and planned recreational facilities, and its ability to expand to meet the needs of Beverly Hills’ growing community.”

Jennifer S. Recine, BHUSD’s lawyer and a partner at Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP, added to this in the same press release, arguing that Metro’s supplemental environmental analysis for its Purple Line Extension does not fairly or adequately assess how the project affects the health and safety of BHHS and its students.

“(FTA and Metro) failed to properly consider and adopt reasonable alternatives to the alignment under the high school and the staging area next to the high school, which is contrary to federal law,” Recine added.

The Daily Bruin’s Opinion editors’ column states that “numerous other affected neighborhoods have few qualms with the Purple Line Extension.”

But these other districts don’t have a subway running under their high schools where there is a serious safety concern. I don’t appreciate the idea that because people live in a more affluent area they should stop acting like an “irascible, entitled toddler” – an argument the column makes – when all we want is for our children to be safe.

Deborah Termeie

UCLA lecturer

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