The Boring Company secures tunneling permit from city of Hawthorne, CA

In response to an article stating that Los Angeles city officials were “not digging Elon Musk’s plan for underground tunnels to L.A.”, Musk tweeted that The Boring Company had already secured the necessary permits to dig in Hawthorne, California where SpaceX headquarters resides.

The Los Angeles Business Journal article included an interview with the City Manager of Santa Monica, California Rick Cole, who was clearly skeptical of The Boring Company’s plans to build a network of underground tunnels.

Cole put his response in no uncertain terms stating that “We would laugh them out of our office.”, adding “It’s a completely absurd pipe dream.” His perspective is not an isolated one with many leaders expressing doubts over the viability of the colossal task of securing the necessary approvals from the hodgepodge of cities and regulatory agencies that would be required for a Los Angeles tunnel system.

“The level of complexity and permitting and environmental review – and opportunity for environmental litigation – would stretch this out for decades,” said Cole.

The Greater Los Angeles area is admittedly one of the more complex areas in the world that Musk’s The Boring Company will have to navigate when it comes to regulatory approval. The densely packed cities, powerful residents, fears over instability of the ground in the event of an earthquake, and concerns over what would happen to upwards of 30 tunnels in close proximity in an earthquake contribute to the problem.

Musk has never been one to shy away from problems that many would deem impossible. In fact, hearing that boring under Los Angeles is extremely complex, bordering on impossible may even fuel his excitement to bring his new hobby to the residents of Los Angeles. City Manager of Culver City John Nachbar, has also spent time thinking about the proposed Boring Company route and finds it anything but boring.

“This is so novel. No one would probably automatically know how to handle it. There’s no cookbook for this.”

Underground tunneling projects are typically approached as public projects that are executed by private companies. The Boring Company pushing to bore tunnels of its own under public land is a bit of a no man’s land with no solid precedent set for how cities should approach it. If Musk’s track record is any guide, our money is on seeing The Boring Company churning out new tunnels under Santa Monica before too long.

The Boring Company secures tunneling permit from city of Hawthorne, CA
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