Once more, with feeling — vote in our latest Westside subway poll!

Wow–almost 2,800 votes in our latest subway poll. At this point, readers are favoring the Constellation station on the Westside Subway Extension. If you haven’t voted yet, please feel free to participate. Here’s an earlier post explaining the Century City station issue.

A couple of readers have emailed and asked what exactly is the purpose of our polls–are they being used to determine the location of subway stations?

The answer is NO, NO and NO.

We recently installed software that allows us to conduct polls on The Source. I like the polls because they’re interactive and they offer a good opportunity to discuss issues facing Metro while giving both us and our readers a chance to get a rough (and anonymous) gauge of people’s opinions on important issues.

But there is a whole other process that determines what-gets-built-where.

To explain briefly, each Metro project has to be vetted as part of a thorough environmental review process under state and/or federal law. In those studies, different options are vetted and analyzed for each project — and that’s precisely what’s happening with the subway project as part of its draft environmental impact study/report that is currently being assembled. While working on that study, Metro has held numerous public meetings to explain what is being studied and people can ask questions, criticize, offer ideas, etc. That’s one way they can influence the process and, in fact, have influenced the process.

Here’s a recent story on LAist about ways that the public has helped shape the ongoing environmental study. The public can also follow ongoing issues with the subway on the Westside Subway Extension’s Facebook page and its Twitter feed.

When the draft environmental impact study/report for the subway is released — that’s scheduled for later this summer — the public will have time to submit their comments on the report and agree with or dispute any findings. Metro staff will then review those comments and issue recommendations as to what they think should get built and where. Of course, even then, there will still be final environmental evaluation and engineering working through many more of the complex detail of this project. That’s another way to influence the process.

Ultimately, it’s up to the 13-member Metro Board of Directors to decide what gets built and where. Meetings of the Board and its committees are open to the public and the public can testify about issues before the Board. Members of the public are also free to contact Board members before they vote on a project. That’s a third way to influence the process.

Again, our polls ARE NOT part of the process. They’re basically an open discussion taking place on the sidelines. I think it’s appropriate because when taxpayers are about to build a $4-billion project, it’s probably best to have more discussion rather than less.

As for our latest poll on the Century City station, I happen to think that the most interesting thing is not the results, but the number of people who have voted on both sides of the issue. Which tells me that there are a lot public concerns that the process still must address.

Have a good weekend everybody, thanks for reading and voting and we’ll have another subway poll on Monday.