Elon Musk’s Boring Company has been hard at work to create a series of tunnels that, in theory, could create a cheap, alternative mode of transportation around the Los Angeles area. Today, one of the projects Musk had been pursuing is no longer on the agenda. The LA Times reports an environmental lawsuit filed by a Brentwood legal activist has put a stop to a planned tunnel under Sepulveda Blvd.
Last year, when Boring Co. first began digging a tunnel in the parking lot across the street from the headquarters of Musk’s aerospace company, SpaceX, in Hawthorne, he said he hoped a tunnel could be completed from Los Angeles International Airport to the 101 Freeway in the San Fernando Valley in “a year or so.”
Instead, he encountered one of the most familiar elements of a Los Angeles construction project: an environmental lawsuit.
The company moved briskly through the permit process at first, securing a preliminary exemption from California’s stringent environmental review requirements. Officials on the Los Angeles City Council’s public works committee said at the time that the project would not require an in-depth environmental review because it would not carry passengers.
But before the City Council could vote on the issue, a group of Westside advocates — the Sunset Coalition, the Brentwood Residents Coalition and its president, Wendy-Sue Rosen — sued, arguing in court that the Sepulveda tunnel would be part of a much larger planned underground transportation network.
The lawsuit noted that state law does not allow portions of a large infrastructure project to be broken up and considered piece-meal. By pointing to a map of proposed routes Musk had once released, they argued the Sepulveda route was just one piece of a larger plan.
The irony here is that the Sunset Coalition says its goal is to prevent projects that would adversely impact traffic on Sunset Blvd. But the whole point of Musk’s effort was to provide an alternative to surface streets, one that could eventually be used by both cars and pedestrians. Brentwood News published an opinion piece about this back in May when the lawsuit was filed:
Wendy-Sue Rosen is very good at saying what she is against. She has a much harder time, in my opinion, saying what she might be for.
Is she for or against traffic? I guess I’m now confused.
It should be noted that The Boring Company is not asking for public money to build its tunnels.
The same cannot be said for Wendy-Sue Rosen and her lawyer, John Given.
In their lawsuit, there is a request in there for court costs and attorney’s fees. So if they prevail, we, the taxpayers will be on the hook.
Santa Monica’s City Manager approved of the lawsuit, telling the LA Times Musk’s project could undercut efforts to reduce sprawl:
Santa Monica City Manager Rick Cole criticized L.A.’s push for the environmental exemption, arguing that two council members are “trying to ingratiate themselves with a billionaire to promote a misguided approach to transportation.”
Cole, a former deputy mayor to Garcetti, argued that the project will undermine L.A.’s work in discouraging sprawl, considered a major contributor to greenhouse gases. He also warned that the tunneling project could create a new class divide among commuters.
“We’ll have people stuck in traffic on the surface, and this miracle fast lane underground for the people who can afford it,” he said. “It’ll be toll lanes on steroids.”
There’s literally nothing, even a green, private transportation project, which people in LA can’t find some reason to oppose. Here’s a recent news report on Musk’s current progress: