On Tuesday, October 9, the Board of Education adopted a resolution unanimously opposing Measure J (see full text of resolution below), which is on this November's ballot. Measure J would extend the � cent sales tax increase passed with Measure R for an additional 30 years, generating up to 90 billion dollars for transit projects in Los Angeles County. Many people might be fooled by the messaging the supporters of Measure J have been using regarding job growth, but this is another example of government run amuck that will negatively impact the students and staff of Beverly Hills High School as well as the residents of Beverly Hills.
I urge you to vote NO on J. To learn more about how you can donate and support the No on J effort visit No On Measure J For a lawn sign opposing Measure J please send an email to Lawnsign Requests and provide your address.
I want to be very clear why I am personally opposing Measure J, after supporting and voting Yes on Measure R in 2008.
- As a trustee for the Beverly Hills Unified School District, I have an obligation to the current students, staff, parents, and community, as well as to safe guard the rights and assets of the District for future generations.
- Passage of Measure J will speed up the timetable for MTA's plans to tunnel under instructional buildings at the High School and interfere with current and future plans to develop the High School site for today and the future needs of our students and community.
- If Measure J passes, we will be in essence funding the very project that threatens our one and only high school in the District.
- Let me be clear, Metro has turned a deaf ear to our concerns regarding mitigation of methane gas and our requests to go deeper and/or reroute the tunnel to avoid noise and vibration under instructional buildings that students will be learning in.
- In addition, the current depth and route will severely limit future development on the campus.
If my words do not convince you of serious safety concerns that will impact our students, read what Congressman Adam Schiff (D) wrote in a letter date September 21, 2012 to the MTA Board (Congressman Adam Schiff (D) ):
"...These concerns, which echoed throughout the public hearings on the matter, include Metro's intent to use tunnel boring machine (TBM) technology to construct the tunnel. The large and bulky TMB, which can be hundreds of feet long and tens of feet wide, will clog space in residential neighborhoods for years to come as the tunnel construction process can be quite lengthy. Moreover, once the TMB is underneath homes, the daily boring through rock and soil could cause severely disruptive vibrations. The quality of life in the communities surrounding the tunnel path will further be reduced as tens of noisy and polluting trucks will have to be used to remove the tons of rock and soil discharged from the machine."
Why do the MTA's current tunneling plans severely limit current and future plans of the high school?
Answer: Once MTA secures an easement, it is for 100 years. It is not just the tunnels but the zone of influence around the tunnels. MTA must approve any development around or on top of the location of the tunnels; in our case, this equates to roughly a 140 foot zone of influence. The District would be forced to seek the approval from MTA for any plans that encroaches on their zone of influence. In addition, the Department of State Architects (DSA), which also must approve any construction on school campuses, has no precedent for building heavy rail under instructional buildings. We have no idea whether the DSA will approve our plans today with proposed heavy rail under instructional buildings and we certainly do not know if they will approve plans over the next 100 years. State law and codes change on a regular basis. When Beverly Hills High School was built, State Law allowed for an oil well on our High School campus. Today, oil wells on school campuses are prohibited. Can we really afford to take this risk with our only High School in the District?
Why worry about future development?
Answer: I have a responsibility as a trustee to protect the assets of the District and I take my responsibility seriously. In addition, if we cannot develop our High School site to meet the needs today and for the future of our residents, it will impact our property values and tax bases. A 2008 RAND Corporation Study found a direct link between quality of schools and property values. If we cannot meet the needs of our students, families will choose not to live in Beverly Hills and that will impact property values and negatively impact city services that are provided through property tax revenue.
What about being good neighbors and regional concerns?
Answer: The City of Beverly Hills and Beverly Hills residents have been unfairly attacked and ridiculed by a well-funded and well organized smear campaign to disregard our legitimate concerns regarding safety, noise and vibrations by claiming that we are a group of whiny, wealthy, NIMBY's who do not care about the greater good. We have shown in our actions that we support the subway to the sea, but we do not support a blank check for wealthy out of town developers and the rail contractors who stand to make hundreds of millions of dollars from a project that jeopardizes the safety and quality of life for students and residents across Los Angeles County. It is always in the region's best interest to stand up and speak out against government waste, mismanagement, exploitation, and sweet heart deals for developers and political contributors, especially when it comes at the expense of the tax payers and residents of Los Angeles County. We need only look to the front pages of our local papers to the scandal surrounding the Los Angeles County Assessors Office. The assessor and several staff members are under indictment for trading campaign contributions for reduced property tax bills. It is not difficult to see the corrupting influence money has in politics and how well connected political donors and their large political contributions can harm the residents of Los Angeles County. Why do we think it would be any different with the MTA?
Again, in the words of Congressman Adam Schiff (for full text CongressmanAdamSchiff (D) ):
"...Finally, the community has rightly expressed profound concerns over the cost of the project. While the project was originally estimated to cost approximately $1.5 billion, a 2011 study estimated it would cost $2.8 billion and now the Measure R extension expenditure plan believes it will cost $5.6 billion. How costly will it be in another year? Or two? Or ten?"
There is a broad based coalition that has come together across the political spectrum to fight Measure J:
- Bus Riders Union
- Los Angeles Community Action Network
- Union de Vecinos
- Crenshaw Subway Coalition
- Northeast LA Residents Against Measure J
- Michael Antonovich, MTA Board Chair & LA County District 5 Supervisor
- Don Knabe, MTA Board Member & LA County District 4 Supervisor
- Sam Pedroza, Claremont Councilman
- Doug Tessitor, Glendora Councilman
- Mayor R. Rex Parris of Lancaster
- Mayor Jim Ledford of Palmdale
- Bernard Parks, Los Angeles City Councilmember, 8th District
- Mark Ridley Thomas, MTA Board Member & LA County District 2 Supervisor
- Congress of Racial Equality-CA
- John Mirisch, Vice-Mayor, Beverly Hills
- Lili Bosse, Beverly Hills City Council
- Brian David Goldberg, Beverly Hills Unified School District
We have a rare opportunity to send a clear message to MTA and wealthy out of town developers and contractors that enough is enough. We have a rare opportunity to say NO to government waste, inefficiency, and disregard for the safety and legitimate concerns of the residents that are impacted by these decisions. Join me and a broad based coalition of groups, citizens, and your Beverly Hills Board of Education in Opposing Measure J.
Full Text of BHUSD Adopted Resolution:
BEVERLY HILLS UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
BOARD OF EDUCATION
IN OPPOSITION OF MEASURE J
WHEREAS, Measure R was approved by the voters of Los Angeles County in 2008;
WHEREAS, Measure R requires a one-half cent sales tax for a period of thirty (30) years to finance new transportation projects and advance projects already in the pipeline;
WHEREAS, Measure R is not set to expire until 2039;
WHEREAS, In June of 2012, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Board authorized placing Measure J on the November 6, 2012 Ballot for the purpose of extending the half-cent transportation tax for another thirty (30) years, until 2069;
WHEREAS, Metro asserts the additional funds will be used to sell bonds which will allow it to accelerate the construction of transportation improvements, including seven rail and rapid transit projects and up to eight highway projects;
WHEREAS, Measure J allows transit and highway funding priorities to be shifted between projects within sub-regions of Los Angeles County, if approved by a two-thirds vote of the Metro Board;
WHEREAS, Measure J would enable Metro to bond against future Measure R revenue and build transportation projects much sooner than originally contemplated;
WHEREAS, Metro asserts that phases of the Westside Subway Extension will be accelerated by Measure J;
WHEREAS, The Beverly Hills Unified School District Board of Education has previously opposed Metro's plans for the Westside Subway Extension to the extent that said plans call for tunneling and tunnels under the heart of the prime building area on Beverly Hills High School, which tunneling and tunnels impact the current and future uses of the high school site and the District's educational mission;
WHEREAS, To the extent that Measure J would speed up construction and therefore impact on Beverly Hills High School, Beverly Hills Unified School District Board of Education opposes Measure J.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Beverly Hills Unified School District Board of Education formally opposes Measure J on the California November 6, 2012 Ballot.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we hereby authorize the listing of the Beverly Hills Unified School District Board of Education in opposition of Measure J.
PASSED AND ADOPTED this 9th day of October, 2012 by the following vote: Ayes __6___ Nays __0___Absent
Brian David Goldberg, Ph.D. Gary W. Woods, Ed.D.
President, Board of Education Superintendent of Schools