Bel-Air Wants To Stop A Subway For A Monorail

Plans to alleviate the 405 at the Sepulveda Pass with a subway could be derailed by LA's wealthiest

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Photo: David McNew (Getty Images)

Plans are being finalized to supplement one of Los Angeles’ busiest freeways with a new subway line. Though, one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the city has other ideas. Through the Bel-Air Association, Bel-Air residents want to stop a subway tunnel beneath their luxury homes. They also would like a monorail built in the subway’s place around Bel-Air. Yes, a genuine, bona fide, electrified monorail. Say it with me, monorail.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) is considering options for a public transit link through the Sepulveda Pass linking Westside Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley. The link would alleviate traffic on the infamous stretch of Interstate 405 through the pass. Metro evaluated four options; three of those options involve tunneling a subway line underneath Bel-Air. The Bel-Air Association favors the fourth option, a monorail that would travel along the 405’s right of way.

None of the proposed subway options include a station in Bel-Air. The Bel-Air Association opposes a subway tunnel out of fears of ventilation shafts dotting their properties. The association details its concerns in an insane tirade on its website.

“METRO IS A BUREAUCRATICALLY INCOMPETENT AND INEPT ORGANIZATION THAT IS FISCALLY IRRESPONSIBLE—AND IMPERVIOUS TO ANYONE’S OPINION OTHER THAN THEIR OWN—AND TOTALLY RESISTANT TO NEW TECHNOLOGY. IT’S FILLED WITH TUNNEL DIGGING ENGINEERS WHO ARE CLUELESS HOW THE WORLD IS CHANGING.”

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No, I didn’t make its text all-caps. The page also claimed that trains would run through the tunnel every two minutes, a ridiculously high frequency. It even includes sounds of a subway train going through a likely cut-and-cover tunnel as an example of what residents could go through. The example is incredibly inaccurate because Bel-Air sits on the southern slope of the Santa Monica Mountains. The tunnel would be so deep that homeowners wouldn’t hear or feel a single subway car.

There is no reason to be won over by the gadgetbahn rantings of a mansion owners association. While the elevated monorail would bypass Bel-Air, it would go straight through the more densely populated San Fernando Valley. The subway is better than the monorail by every measure. Every subway option has at least 20 percent more capacity than the monorail. The subway line would carry a minimum of 120,000 people every day; less than 10,000 people live in Bel-Air.

The tunnel also has excess capacity to remain a valuable public transit artery for decades to come. The will of a wealthy few shouldn’t override the needs of hundreds of thousands of commuters on both the 405 and the potential subway line.