Celine Rezvani, staff writer
Guy Ginsberg, sports editor
As part of the school board’s efforts to curb the construction of the subway beneath Beverly, KBEV has been commissioned by the Board to film an informational video warning against the dangers of construction.
The School Board’s battle with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) began in 2010 when the MTA decided to alter the planned route of the subway from below Santa Monica Boulevard to below Constellation Boulevard. This alteration was problematic for the Board because not only does the newly proposed route cost $200 million more to construct, it also requires the train to travel directly beneath Beverly.
What further created problems for the Board was the MTA’s claim to have found active faults beneath the Santa Monica location, which would make it unsuitable grounds for the passage of a metro. However, when the Board took matters into their own hands and conducted seismic testing of the ground, they found no such results.
Board Member Lewis Hall, who has participated in this ongoing conflict and is helping create the video with KBEV, feels strongly against the MTA’s decision to publish the report.
“I think Metro expected that because it was complicated, we would not do our own investigation, which we did,” he said. “We found that their science was all bogus.”
The new route under Constellation is seen by the Board as burdensome to Beverly because it will cause the historic building to rattle and shake, along with severely delaying set plans to reconstruct the campus.
“We’re willing to do whatever we can to stop it [the Metro] from going under the high school, due to safety reasons and the fact that we can’t do the construction we want to do,” Hall said.
Hall made it clear that the Board has no intention of succumbing to the MTA. The video’s purpose is to draw attention to the Metro’s actions over the last several years.
“The video covers three things,” Hall said. “Why we are fighting the metro on building the subway beneath school, the seismic report that Metro came out with, and our questioning of Metro’s motives to put [the] station under Constellation.”
Audio engineer Amir Mowlanezhad is working tirelessly on the video to bring attention to the cause he feels deserves a lot of attention.
“We’re really trying to raise awareness about the dangers of having an active subway tunnel under BHHS,” he said. “We’re trying to prevent the MTA from placing the students and teachers in danger by causing huge traffic jams for a long period of time.”
Mowlanezhad also doesn’t agree with the MTA’s proposed timeline.
“They claim [construction] to be six years, but I believe it’ll take at least 10 years, which is way too long,” he said.
The video crew expects the production will be a success and gain attention quickly.
“I believe that it [the video] will gain a huge amount of popularity even on the first days of its release,” Mowlanezhad said.
Hall anticipates the video will gain recognition not only in the Beverly Hills and Los Angeles areas, but also on a national scope. Because most of the Metro’s funding comes from the national government, the videos have potential to create an impact.
“We want this to be looked at nationally. We want the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times to be looking at it,” Hall said. “If the federal government sees how Metro has been acting, and sees their devious means, then it’s less likely they’ll fund it.”
The conflict with the MTA is especially problematic for the Board because they are not opposed to the idea of the Metro.
“It’s just difficult for us because we do want the subway, just not under this route,” Hall said.
Hall has set ambitious goals he hopes to achieve by producing the video.
“I always have really big goals. It’s the way to achieve excellence,” Hall said. “The goal is to embarrass MTA to change the route, and to show them they’re being exposed by high school students.”
To learn more about the Board’s struggle against the Metro, read the Board members’ letter to the editor of the Los Angeles Journal.