The Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce has weighed in on the debate over the location for the Wilshire/Rodeo Subway Station North Portal.
“After careful consideration, the Chamber supports the North Portal option on North Beverly Drive (just north of Wilshire),” Todd Johnson, President and CEO of the Chamber, announced in a Sept. 30 statement.
The City of Beverly Hills released a Draft Environmental Impact Report on Aug. 21, which laid out three proposed locations for the North Portal. In addition to North Beverly Drive, the EIR floats the use of Canon Drive or the Canon Drive staging yard, which Metro currently uses for storing equipment and construction machinery.
“This option will be the most centralized location to access our business district, provide a convenient location to utilize the subway and provide a great amenity for our community,” Johnson said about the North Beverly Drive location.
All three options would include two elevators, one stairway, and one “up” escalator, all enclosed within a translucent glass exterior. The Canon Drive staging yard location has the possibility to add a second escalator by expanding into an adjacent parcel, although that would necessitate acquiring more land by the City.
Beverly Hills Historical Society Founder Phil Savenick, who spoke about the Draft EIR at a Sept. 16 Special City Council meeting, told the Courier that any station would have to include a place to safely pick-up and drop-off riders without ensnaring traffic, somewhere for security to monitor the station, and bathrooms.
“The three choices for the North portal, none of them solve any of those problems,” he said. The proposals in the EIR, by Savenick’s appraisal, don’t even constitute a station. “The three choices are to put a partial portal, which is just an elevator shaft and an up escalator, directly in the sidewalk next to traffic. There is no station. There are no bathrooms. There’s no place for security. Their only answer to dropping people off and picking them up is to take away all the parking.”
The Chamber made four recommendations for the portal that go part of the way in addressing Savenick’s issues, suggesting that the City add an additional escalator, include bathrooms, either create a shared southbound right turn lane at North Beverly Drive and Wilshire or remove the right hand turn lane altogether, and create new transportation options like a shuttle bus to shepherd Metro Purple Line-Riders to destinations throughout the City.
“These provisions are important to make sure a North Portal is as effective and attractive as possible for residents, businesses and visitors traveling to and from our City,” wrote Johnson.
The downside to the Beverly Drive location, Johnson noted in his statement, is that construction would result in a “multi-year closure” of the street between Wilshire Boulevard and Beverly Canon Gardens.
“Careful consideration should be given to how the business community can work together to manage the impacts of both the pandemic and construction,” cautioned Johnson. “Therefore, the Chamber would like to explore ways, in partnership with the City and partner organizations, to mitigate the effects of such a closure.”
The public will have the chance to review and comment on the Draft EIR until Oct. 8. While California law normally requires a 45-day review period, the City extended the window by three days after reports of technical issues with reviewing the document. The City will then compile the comments and its responses in a Final EIR. The City Council is scheduled to certify the Final EIR and select a portal location on October 27, Lauren Santillana, Public Information Coordinator for the City, told the Courier.