Palo Alto Weekly

News - August 13, 2010

Palo Alto to consider new high-speed-rail station

City would need to make room for 3,000 parking spaces to have a station

by Gennady Sheyner

Palo Alto would have to build parking structures for 3,000 cars — more than the total number of spaces currently in public garages downtown — to become eligible for a local high-speed-rail station, a rail authority engineer recently told a City Council committee.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority previously identified Palo Alto as one of three cities that could potentially host a high-speed-rail station. Under current plans, the high-speed-rail system would have stations at San Francisco, Millbrae and San Jose. The Midpeninsula station, which could be built in Palo Alto, Redwood City or Mountain View, is the only one the authority deems optional.

The Palo Alto council is scheduled to consider in September whether it wants the city to host a station for the controversial rail line, which would stretch between San Francisco and San Jose. On July 29, the council's High-Speed Rail Committee heard a presentation on the potential station from John Litzinger, whose firm, HNTB, is responsible for the engineering work on the Peninsula segment of the proposed rail line.

Litzinger said the authority would build all the stations in the San Francisco-to-San Jose corridor. But it would be up to local communities and private investors to develop parking structures for the new stations, he said.

He said the authority envisions parking structures as private/public partnerships in which investors would charge market rates for station parking.

"The view is that it can be done from an investment standpoint and not necessarily as a city-run operation, unless the city desires to do that," he said.

In Palo Alto, a new rail station would require the parking spots be located within three miles of the University Avenue train station, Litzinger said. Some of these spots would have to be adjacent to the station, while others could be reachable by shuttles.

Deputy City Manager Steve Emslie said at last week's council meeting that a parking structure with 3,000 spots would be larger than the parking lot in the Millbrae train station and "more than all the parking garages we have in downtown right now."

Emslie told the Weekly that the new station's potential size, proximity to a historic site (the present station), and parking requirement will likely be the top issue the council will consider when the council dives into the issue in September.

Cost is another. At $50,000 per space, a new parking structure would cost about $150 million. Councilman Larry Klein observed at the council meeting: "We don't have $150 million lying around."

Though rail officials are still finalizing station designs and identifying potential locations, Litzinger said Stanford Shopping Center could be a viable location for some station parking. If the parking were dispersed among satellite locations, Palo Alto would need about six buildings, each 50 feet high, to contain it.

Litzinger also said that while the rail authority plans to build the basic station, local communities and investors would have an opportunity to upgrade these stations and add features to make them more attractive and potentially profitable.

"It can be a potential complete redevelopment opportunity if the community decided to do that," Litzinger said.

Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner can be e-mailed at gsheyner@paweekly.com.

Comments

Posted by why north Palo Alto?, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 12, 2010 at 11:19 pm

Why does the HSR station have to be in north Palo Alto? There is another Caltrain station on California Ave. and there is lots of space a new parking garage near the abandoned HP buildings just south of the train station. A HSR station on California Ave. will give a nice boost to the existing business district as well as easy access to Stanford University and the businesses at Stanford research park.


Posted by Larry Cohn, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 13, 2010 at 4:26 am

HSR officials, apparently sensing mounting resistance to their project in Palo Alto, have approached Mountain View officials about putting a station there. They basically come in with the attitude of "We're going to put a station in your town whether you like it or not and you're going to have to build a parking structure and provide 3,000 parking spaces". I'm not sure Mountain View city officials have the backbone to stand up to them. There is no word on who would actually pay for all this demolition of historic buildings and construction of new ones.

Web Link

The arrogance of HSR is stupefying.


Posted by A thought, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 13, 2010 at 5:03 am

Actually if HSR is going to come to Palo Alto anyway, the best possible thing would be for Palo Alto to have an HSR station. Why? Simply because it would guarantee that HSR trains would go through town at a much reduced speed (not to mention the advantages of being able to hop onto HSR right here for travel - including to SF).


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Aug 13, 2010 at 5:26 am

A thought states:"Simply because it would guarantee that HSR trains would go through town at a much reduced speed"

Any mid- peninsula HSR station would be a by-pass station for most of the HSR trains and only a very few would stop at such a station. HSR isn't highspeed if it has to make a lot of stops. The majority of the HSR trains would pass through any mid-peninsula station at high speeds without stopping.


Posted by Evan, a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 13, 2010 at 9:57 am

3,000 parking spots would certainly be worth getting a HSR station. Though the city should push the authority to get the limit lowered, as there are already a lot of existing spots near the station.


Posted by Frank, a resident of Ventura
on Aug 13, 2010 at 10:43 am

The parking structure in Millbrae is huge. But I like "A Thought" comment that if we had the station the trains would slow down through town. Peter - actually they would stop if a significant number of customer wanted on of off at that station. San Francisco and Millbrae have certain advantages as passengers can come from the airport and Bart.

Still having commuters driving to the University Ave station down University ave is not good (too much traffic). Now revitalizing the California Ave station is a great idea. There is some room for parking there and Oregon Expressway / Page Mill Road give good access to the station from 101 and 280.

Mountain View could have access from 85 which is somewhat close to the station.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Aug 13, 2010 at 11:12 am

Frank states:" Peter - actually they would stop if a significant number of customer wanted on of off at that station."

No. Most of the trains would be scheduled to bypass the Palo Alto stop. If you wanted to get off at Palo Alto you would have to get on a particular train that was scheduled to stop at Palo Alto - just like CalTrain. There is no way that HSR could maintain their speeds and schedules if every train, one every six minutes, had to stop at every station.


Posted by Toady, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 13, 2010 at 11:21 am

I hope you Crescent Park and Downtown North residents will enjoy the huge increase in traffic. You guys thought because you were further away from Alma that HSR wouldn't impact you?

Reality sets in....


Posted by Bob, a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 13, 2010 at 12:02 pm

@ North Palo Alto

NO NO NO!!! Your suggestion is situationally arrogant!

For all those thinking: Let's not ruin north Palo Alto but let's ruin the California Ave. area instead! Who cares about THAT part of town anyway, right?! And, who cares about all the shop owners and property owners down there?!

Well, the only RIGHT answer to such thoughts should be: We do who love Palo Alto which includes a lot of us in North Palo Alto!

Cal Ave is is the ONLY part of Palo Alto that really has continued to retain it's charm, character, and the sensibility that towns should retain!! The Cal Ave station has also been there for years and should be a historic landmark as well as the University station.

Cal Ave area does NOT need a boast of any kind! Look at what the boast has done to University Ave. area. Horrible.


Only new comers to this wonderful town would suggest such a thing!


Posted by Thetruth, a resident of another community
on Aug 13, 2010 at 12:04 pm

Real smart those that dont want a station stop..no forward thinking
How about asking what Stanford thinks?? There is the real job engine No station for a world class university/medical center because a certain type screams? and yes the 3,000 parking garage needs to go thou a station is must.


Posted by Bob, a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 13, 2010 at 12:10 pm

@ Toady

You are right!
Everyone will be impacted! Whether by the tracks or as far away as possible near the freeway. Financially, everyone will be impacted all over the state!


Posted by Lily, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 13, 2010 at 12:13 pm

To Thetruth:
So easy to make such a comment when it does not directly impact your business, home, or immediate living welfare.

Stanford? We have to accommodate Stanford on too many occasions and issues already! Read up on local politics please.


Posted by Lily, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 13, 2010 at 12:22 pm

To Peter:
Thank you for sharing this ever so basic fact of HSR that everyone seems to ignore!!
That it will not stop where people want it to stop!
All these miopic thinkers need to get to their optometrists before we vote again!


Posted by bick, a resident of University South
on Aug 13, 2010 at 12:25 pm

If HSR doesn't really need to stop in the mid-pensinsula, why not simply run the line along the middle of Hwy 280? Would be far easier, less costly, and less inconvenient to peninsula residents. I see no need to run HSR through peninsula cities if it doesn't stop.

Honestly, this boondogle of a project should go back to the voters get shot down. It's unnecessary and costly. Are there any current petitions?


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2010 at 1:02 pm

What Palo Alto station needs at present is a 10 minute waiting area. At present there is nowhere on the eastside (can't find my way into the westside) to wait for passengers or even to drop them off safely.


Posted by Crescent Park Das, a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 13, 2010 at 1:06 pm

To the poster who asked why Uni over Cal Ave...the 3 nominated locations already have significant transit hub activity - between all the buses and (in Mountain View's case) light rail.

I still say run HSR from SJ to SF along 101 with no stops until either SFO or downtown SF. If someone wants to go to the Peninsula, transfer to Caltrain in SJ.


Posted by jb, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 13, 2010 at 1:10 pm

A parking structure for 3000 cars at Cal Ave. Wonder what it would cost? Wonder how many of those driving in from Fremont, Livermore, Atherton, Menlo Park, Santa Cruz would decide it cost too much and park in College Terrace?

By the way, a high-speed train every 6 min from LA? Even in LA there is not THAT much going on. Or are there that many people fleeing LA to the cool, and cultivated Sf-Peninsula environs?

I just don't get this project. Paul Pitlick had it right a few weeks ago when he suggested the project would be betteer planned on a model of San Diego to Seattle high-speed rail.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2010 at 1:17 pm

Anybody with half a brain asking how 3000 cars a day would get IN to Palo Alto? From Where? Well heres the Answer: From 101.

How?
Well, we'd need to build an OVERPASS from 101 into the HSR station, of course. Shall we build it over Embarcadero? Over university? or over the center of the neighborhoods in between? Who pays for that? Who pays for the eminent domain for that? Who compenstates the city for lost property values from that? for ruined parks, school sites, historical sites, etc?

Is anyone with half a brain asking why the HSR line and the stations aren't being built on 101 INSTEAD of 1 mile inward through residential neighborhoods?

The real thing the PCC should be focused on is FORCING CHSRA to prove why the Peninsula has to put the thing on the Caltrain row instead of on 101. Peninsula is getting SCREWED by CHSRA failing to provide any analysis on a 101 route (elevated or otherwise) from Millbrae to SJ airport. And the PCC is over there nicely asking for tunnels and doing design charades. And they just wasted a whole year ++ on that lame play nice approach (thanks Kishimoto - you're a gift that just keeps on giving.) When everyone was SCREAMING that the CHSRA DOESNT GIVE A CRAP about the 'feedback' they're collecting.

What they care about is pure and simple - land grab in your most valuable downtown, backyards, schoolyards. Period.


Posted by Go Parent, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 13, 2010 at 1:36 pm

To Old Parent,
Right on!


Posted by chris, a resident of University South
on Aug 13, 2010 at 3:16 pm

Many businesses would love to have HSR stop in Palo Alto.

Check back when the HSR station is built in Mountain View and Palo
Alto businesses wither away while Mountain View thrives.


Posted by George Browning, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 13, 2010 at 3:43 pm

An elevated train taking a substantial amount land on either side of its Palo Alto route would be bad enough. Since there isn't enough parking near a Palo Alto/Stanford station, a 3000 (may go as high as 6000) space parking structure would have to find a non-existent plot within 3 miles to build on. If it were somehow created, shuttles and the increased traffic would cripple the downtown area. The word blight comes to mind.

Recently Mt. View has said it doesn't want the station with those heavy parking requirements. Very intelligent.

The HSR funding plan is to get $5 Billion from California cities for track construction. To meet this goal 40 cities would have to contribute $125,000,000 each. Perhaps the bankrupt city of Vallejo could be excused from paying its share. On top of this $150 Million for a parking garage!! Name a city which has this money "lying around" as Mr. Klein said.


Posted by Charlie, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 13, 2010 at 4:38 pm

HSR is like USPS. Unless they are going to ground the air transportation to/from SFO and SJO, HSR will keep losing money and hiking fee on a regular basis due to lack of ridership. Is that right?


Posted by Tim, a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 13, 2010 at 5:10 pm

Palo Alto should be honored HSR is considering building a station here. Instead of trying to derail this project, we should be actively supporting it. Palo Alto is no longer a small, quiet community and never will be, face it. A growing modern city like ours needs to get its head in the ballgame and jump on this opportunity before we get passed by. The train will come through town, I want to be able to get on it instead of going to MV. Go HSR!! YES we want a PA station!


Posted by trainmaster, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 13, 2010 at 5:22 pm

<< Check back when the HSR station is built in Mountain View and Palo Alto businesses wither away while Mountain View thrives. >>

What utter nonsense. No Palo Alto business is going to "wither away" because someone didn't zoom up from Anaheim in 2 1/2 hours to buy their book at Borders or their won tons at Jing Jing. If a business can't make it in Palo Alto without HSR it likely can't make it with HSR.

<< Unless they are going to ground the air transportation to/from SFO and SJO, HSR will keep losing money and hiking fee on a regular basis due to lack of ridership. Is that right? >>

Partially right, Charlie. Not only would they have to ground the air transportation, they'd have to remove all passenger traffic from Interstate 5 and the 101. Hiking fares might be one thing they do; getting taxpayers to subsidize the system is equally, if not more, likely.

OK, suppose they built a parking structure in the vicinity of downtown P.A., say around Stanford shopping center or Hoover Pavillion. Parking structures mean one just thing: automobile traffic. Now how would this glut of auto traffic get to and from the parking structure? It could either wend its way down the idyllic residential part of University Avenue and on to the 101, or it would have to be diverted down El Camino to Oregon Expressway and on to the 101 and a means devised of keeping auto traffic associated with HSR off University.

There is some land adjacent to the tracks around Sheridan and Page Mill road, east of Oregon expressway where Pacific Ready-Mix used to be, where you could place a parking structure and funnel traffic onto Oregon Expwy.


Posted by WHOA, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 13, 2010 at 5:50 pm

@ trainmaster:
Please don't dump Palo Alto's HSR station on California Ave. We opponents have to stick together if we want to stop this disastrous project. Diridon and Kopp are licking their chops watching Palo Altans turn on eachother.
@Tim:
Do you really feel "honored" by the way Palo Altans have been treated by CHSRA?


Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 13, 2010 at 6:04 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

To those who suggest a 3000 vehicle parking structure could be built at the California Avenue station, the current parking lot has fewer than 200 spaces (the spaces are numbered and when I looked a year ago, the highest numbered one one could find was 169). This means you are talking about at least 20-story parking structure--remember ramps need room--and has the false assumption that none of that land would be taken up by the tracks (or the station should it be built there).


Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 13, 2010 at 6:29 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

To those suggesting that local businesses would benefit from having the HSR station in Palo Alto, you are looking at only the benefits, not the costs.

For example, consider a business with 1000 employees which sends an average of 5 people a day to LA. Compare the time savings of their having to drive to Redwood City or Mountain View versus the lost time of everyone else from the increased congestion.


Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 13, 2010 at 6:31 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

Re: amount of congestion from an HSR station

The Stanford Hospital Expansion proposal has 2200 new _jobs_, and it assumes significant public transit use and ride sharing. The HSR station is 3000 vehicles _in_addition_to_ the public transit use. The Stanford Hospital Expansion is projected to cause a number of intersections in the U Ave corridor to degrade to such an extent that they will be rated as "failing", that is, having such high levels of congestion that it _severely_ impacts businesses and residents. If the Stanford study could not find feasible improvements to reduce these impacts, where is the capacity for the HSR station traffic?


Posted by Dan S., a resident of another community
on Aug 13, 2010 at 7:16 pm

All I will say is look at what happened in Spain with the AVE and you will see what the result of HSR stations in small/medium towns and cities will do. It will create more business, grow the city in a good way, people will want to live in your town. HSR brings cities to life, not the doomsday a lot of you stoneage thinkers may think. Don't take my word for it, look it up.


Posted by trainmaster, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 13, 2010 at 7:48 pm

Douglas Moran: That's why I suggested building this station on land on the opposite side of Page Mill Road from the existing depot. Have a look on Google maps and you'll see where I mean.

Really, the traffic problems in Palo Alto will pale in comparison to the bigger problem if HSR goes forward, that California will be drowning in debt. The project should be stopped cold, dead in its tracks, to use a metaphor. I have visions of a high-speed train whooshing up to the depot, the doors open, no one gets on or off, the doors close and the train whooshes on its way, leaving behind 2,999 empty parking spaces at the depot.


Posted by trainmaster, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 13, 2010 at 7:53 pm

Here's another thing I can't figure out: Why is all of this being worked out AFTER the bonds were voted on in November 2008? Shouldn't all of this have been worked out before the election and been part of the EIR and the plan presented to voters? You don't suppose California voters were duped, do you?


Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 13, 2010 at 8:22 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

RE: trainmaster
The "open" land on the other side of Page Mill from the Caltrain station is not currently available -- the property owner is aggressively pursuing a high-density mixed use development (offices and apartments).

As to there being an empty parking lot, the reason that the HSR Authority picked Palo Alto and Redwood City as candidates for the station is proximity to the Dumbarton Bridge--to serve the mid East Bay as well as the mid-Peninsula. Aside: the official figures I found for the Dumbarton are 8.7M _toll-paid_ trips (west-bound) per year (average of 24K/day).


Posted by Earthquaker, a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 13, 2010 at 8:46 pm

So what happens when there is a force 8 earthquake (predicted within 20 years). HSR grinds to a halt and the $340m loss after Loma Prieta (only 7.1) will look like blimp on the horizon.

The trees on Alma are doomed, the houses and apartments on Alma seem doomed, and it is not surprising to see the number of for sale signs up at Churchill area.


Why not have HSR end in Alviso and send everyone up by hydrofoyle. Stops along the way with public transportation to the CALTran.


Posted by trainmaster, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 13, 2010 at 8:59 pm

<< The "open" land on the other side of Page Mill from the Caltrain station is not currently available -- the property owner is aggressively pursuing a high-density mixed use development (offices and apartments). >>

Isn't eminent domain supposed to take care of that sort of thing?

If it's the Dumbarton they're after, how are you supposed to get from University and Alma to the Dumbarton? Through the mansion-lined residential part of University Avenue north of Middlefield and the narrow, business-lined part south of Middlefield?


Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 13, 2010 at 9:06 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

RE: Dan S. "...It will create more business, grow the city in a good way, people will want to live in your town. HSR brings cities to life".

I have to agree. Palo Alto used to be a center of a thriving timber and agricultural industry, but now Page MILL is the only reminder of the former and the last canning plant (on Park Blvd) closed several years ago. The harbor has silted up from disuse. Factories that provided employment have closed or been relocated. There are no jobs for young people and the population of children has declined so precipitously that we are thinking of closing the last few schools and bussing the few remaining children to the San Jose or San Francisco -- the closest cities with schools. Our population is predominantly retired people, many of whom would move away, except that they are unable to sell their houses.

Once Palo Alto becomes accessible via HSR, its low cost of living, abundant cheap housing, and large tracts of open land available for development will almost certainly attract the high tech industry and other knowledge workers, such as financial and legal services.


Posted by GROWUP, a resident of another community
on Aug 13, 2010 at 9:11 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by trainmaster, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 13, 2010 at 9:19 pm

<< Once Palo Alto becomes accessible via HSR, its low cost of living, abundant cheap housing, and large tracts of open land available for development will almost certainly attract the high tech industry and other knowledge workers, such as financial and legal services. >>

I hope you're pulling our leg here. Palo Alto isn't exactly a remote desert island. When I think "low cost of living" and "abundant cheap housing", Palo Alto is not the first city to come to mind. And how will being able to make the trip from L.A. to P.A. in 2 1/2 hours "fix" these "problems"?


Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 13, 2010 at 9:48 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

@Trainmaster:
> "Isn't eminent domain supposed to take care of that sort of thing?"
Eminent domain becomes very constrained and more complicated for public-private partnerships such as what is proposed (California recently passed an initiative that banned the use of eminent domain for private benefit).

> "If it's the Dumbarton they're after, how are you supposed to get from University and Alma to the Dumbarton? Through the mansion-lined residential part of University Avenue north of Middlefield and the narrow, business-lined part south of Middlefield?"
One of the many questions that HSR advocates will denounce you for asking ("NIMBY", naysayer, ...) The first HSR presentation I went to was 5/3/2002 and Diridon's dismissiveness of legit questions was on full display even then.


Posted by trainmaster, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 13, 2010 at 10:46 pm

<< California recently passed an initiative that banned the use of eminent domain for private benefit >>

If CAHSRA took that property by eminent domain, it would be the opposite of what you just described. It would be eminent domain for public benefit.


Posted by Joe, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 13, 2010 at 11:41 pm

@ trainmaster and other emminent domain supporters:

It appears that you have no conern for others' situations. Your cure is emminent domain!?
How about if this wonderful emminent domain were to take YOIUR home?


Posted by trainmaster, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 13, 2010 at 11:56 pm

Joe: You need to read the posts more carefully. The eminent domain I speak of refers to undeveloped land immediately east of the Cal. Ave. depot. Nobody's home is in peril.


Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 14, 2010 at 3:51 am

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

Correction to my earlier post:
The recent initiative on eminent domain -- Prop 99 (passed June 2008) -- covers only owner-occupied residences and the development proposal for the site cited by "trainmaster" is for apartments without a condo map (last version that I heard of) -- meaning that the apartments could not easily be converted to condos, that is, owner-occupied residences.

However, there are two big impediments to the use of eminent domain on the site:
1. Eminent domain is _supposed_ to be restricted to acquisitions that are absolutely necessary. The argument for the parking at that site is only that it is a _convenient_ one.
2. The HSR Authority is proposing having the parking garages being public-private partnerships, likely meaning that the for-profit private partners would not just be the operator, but the partial owners (they are talking about this for the HSR system itself). I am not a lawyer, but I have heard repeatedly that CA law prohibits using eminent domain to transfer property from one private owner to another, and this would seem to me to fall under that prohibition, or at least in a gray area.


Posted by Logical Engineer, a resident of another community
on Aug 14, 2010 at 1:21 pm

Sure would be eye opening if ANYONE would create a train schedule that would show the schedule for HSR and the schedule for Caltrain.
Even better would be an updated interactive map like HSR has
Web Link
but something that would graphically show trains going up and down the peninsula. Then people might realize that, since Caltrain can't even be profitable, the probability that the peninsula can support TWO train lines is even more of a joke. Please, someone prove me wrong. Just Sayin' :-)


Posted by Just don't get it..., a resident of Southgate
on Aug 14, 2010 at 2:55 pm

This whole thing is just NUTS.....PA and most of the rest of the Peninsula area... can't handle the influx of traffic the HSR seems to think will demand the use of their trains. There is simply no place to put these structures. And, while Stanford is working to cram the hospital expansions down our roads what do they have to say??? They don't seem to have the space for housing for all their employees but will give PA millions to build housing....just not sure where!! I find it hard to imagine that Stanford would be happy to give up their land for yet another parking garage and if they do then that is even more nuts!!! Should we rename this town "Cement City"???


Posted by Spokker, a resident of another community
on Aug 14, 2010 at 8:24 pm

"Then people might realize that, since Caltrain can't even be profitable, the probability that the peninsula can support TWO train lines is even more of a joke."

Or you could do the most simple, basic research on both modes of transportation and discover why commuter rail is unprofitable and why high speed rail can be profitable.

Web Link

Web Link


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Aug 14, 2010 at 8:34 pm

Spooker - thanks for the web links.

Here is what the one on HSR states:
"Rail networks, like highways, require large fixed capital investments and thus require a blend of high density and government investment to be competitive against existing capital infrastructure for aircraft and automobiles. Urban density and mass transit have been key factors in the success of European and Japanese railway transport, especially in countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Spain and France."

Case closed.


Posted by Spokker, a resident of another community
on Aug 14, 2010 at 9:11 pm

"Case closed."

Of course it is.

Connecting super dense San Francisco with super dense Los Angeles, both with established and growing mass transit systems, is just a horrible idea.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Aug 14, 2010 at 9:18 pm

Spooker states:"Connecting super dense San Francisco with super dense Los Angeles, both with established and growing mass transit systems, is just a horrible idea."

And he is right, particularly with a gap of almost 400 miles between them which has a very low population density and no mass transit systems.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 14, 2010 at 9:34 pm

Is the the WHOLE Calfornia HSR suggested as a public private partnership? Afterall they suggest much of the funding will come from private investors who will own a stake in the revenue stream as their source of returns.

So wouldn't that count as a public private partnership, and therefore eminent domain prohibited for the WHOLE THING under prop 99? Nice find Douglas Moran, sounds like potential legal avenue... Hope Morris is reading this


Posted by john burrows, a resident of another community
on Aug 14, 2010 at 10:30 pm

How many HSR trains would stop at a Mid-Peninsula station? The CAHSR 2009 business plan includes a sample timetable which shows that during peak hours seven northbound trains and seven southbound trains would stop at a mid-peninsula station: Two northbound and two southbound trains would not stop. Obviously this sample timetable could change.


Posted by john burrows, a resident of another community
on Aug 14, 2010 at 10:36 pm

My previous comment was incomplete: Seven northbound and seven southbound trains PER HOUR would stop at a mid-peninsula location. Two northbound and two southbound trains PER HOUR would not stop.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 14, 2010 at 11:26 pm

Rephrasing.. Isn't the entire CHSR project a public private partnership?

Once they take private investment (as per their business plan), and promise revenue stream as the source of returns, it would certainly appear to be crafted financially as a public private partnership. Especially if some form of revenue or ridership guarantee from the state to the private investors is crafted (getting around Prop 1A). In fact, there is a section IN the business plan that talks about how to attract "P3" funding"

Web Link
"This dedicated and significant revenue stream after full San Francisco-to-Anaheim operation begins will provide the Authority with an opportunity to seek innovative P3s to provide capital funding to help complete the system. The Authority is targeting $10-$12 billion in P3 funding."

and additionally

"The Authority is targeting $4-$5 billion in local support and through public-private partnerships (P3s) such as transit-oriented development, parking concessions and naming rights opportunities."

So according to Douglas Moran's post above, Prop 99 perhaps makes it illegal to use eminent domain for private purposes? IF that were true, could this prevent the CHSRA from being able to use eminent domain at ALL given their financial structure (per busines plan AND per the requirements of Prop 1A. In fact, does this even call in to question the legality of Prop 1A entirely, given the same structure is defined there too.

Their private funding expectations are not just for building parking garages, but for building the whole thing.

Any eminement domain experts out there that can comment?


Posted by john burrows, a resident of another community
on Aug 15, 2010 at 12:00 am

According to the CAHSRA sample timetable you could do the following from a Peninsula HSR station during commute hours:

Take 6 trains per hour to San Francisco----Travel time from 21 to 23 minutes.
Take 4 trains per hour to Millbrae----Travel time 8 minutes.
Take 6 trains per hour to San Jose----Travel time 14 minutes.
Take 5 trains per hour to Los Angeles----Travel time varies depending on number of stops (from 2hr-26 min to 2hr-52min.

This sample timetable used Redwood City as the Mid-Peninsula stop. Palo Alto would be slightly different.

Also my previous comment was incorrect: six trains each way would stop at the Mid-Peninsula location and three would not.


Posted by ODB, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 15, 2010 at 12:48 am

john burrows -

Could you please post a link to this timetable? Thank you.


Posted by Bob, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 15, 2010 at 5:50 am

To Doug Moran:

Doug, re: seizing private property through eminent domain 'for the public good' through a public-private partnership. Didn't the Santa Clara County Housing Authority seize a key piece of property next to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation through eminent domain for the Opportunity Center even though the Clinic wanted it for its own expansion all along that side street. I remember reading that it was a first time occurrence. Wasn't that a public-private partnership? I think you are on to something very significant here. This monster project has to be stopped. Voters all over California voted for something that does not in anyway affect them. And our City Council should stop playing games and just rise up and say NO instead of arguing how to build this thing.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 15, 2010 at 7:17 am

The "Opportunity Center" was built before Prop 99. Can't recall if eminent domain was used or not.


Posted by j, a resident of another community
on Aug 15, 2010 at 4:49 pm

To ODB:

The sample table is from the CHSRA 2009 business plan. If you go to their website, click on LIBRARY, then under heading of (studies and reports), click on (CHSRA Business Plan and Summary Documents), then download page 74 of the 145 page Dec 2009 Business Plan.

Hope this helps.


Posted by James Hoosac, a resident of another community
on Aug 15, 2010 at 7:56 pm

How many trains will stop at mid peninsula will depend on the demand at that time. CalTrain will be electrified. So there may be more people take CalTrain to PA to switch to HSR. Stanford is a big draw. Who knows? a Stanford vs. UCLA game? Passengers from Fremont and other mid/south East Bay cities will naturally come across the bridge to PA for HSR.

Palo Alto may very well be utterly transformed into a much bigger city, and a hub for green transportation. Local bus services may begin to thrive. We may see a future of a public transportation network, centered around Palo Alto, combining HSR, CalTrain, buses, Zipcars, and so on, to enable a large Silicon Valley workforce.

If such things happen, in the long run the houses not only will not lose their value, they will appreciate substantially, for a single family residence will be eligible for a 10-story luxury apartment building. An entire street of 1950's shacks may be turned into a vibrant commercial/residential community of row houses and retail stores.

Of course that means the future Palo Alto will not be recognizable. But that is OK. Fifty years ago who could have imagined what Santa Clara Valley would have become in 2010?

However a train station at Palo Alto will be crucial. If the train station moves to Mountain View, or somewhere else, Palo Alto will suffer.




Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 15, 2010 at 8:09 pm

Nice article from Mercury News:

Web Link


Posted by Al, a resident of another community
on Aug 17, 2010 at 1:52 am

It's nice of CHSRA to dump the parking problem on the cities, but if they insist on an elevated rail system, could they not park the cars under their rail structure?

Anyway, if there were the realization that a car-train would add much functionality to the existing system of planes and highways, then the parking problem would be much smaller.


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