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High-speed rail station a tough sell in Palo Alto

Original post made on Aug 24, 2010

High-speed trains could glide through Palo Alto within a decade or so, but they probably won't be stopping at University Avenue as they whisk passengers between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, August 24, 2010, 5:13 PM

Comments (104)

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Posted by name
a resident of another community
on Aug 24, 2010 at 6:04 pm

I don't believe Palo Alto council members speak for the community when they say there is a lack of interest for high speed rail. Sounds like they made that up. From what I hear there is an extreme interest in getting this project going.


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Posted by Nonsense
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 24, 2010 at 6:40 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Brown
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Aug 24, 2010 at 6:40 pm

I agree with you. Large parking garages and additional buildings would destroy the beauty of Palo Alto. Thank you for caring about our neighborhoods and the lovely city of Palo Alto.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 24, 2010 at 7:16 pm

resident of "another community" kind of says it all -- it's easy to be interested in destroying another community. Don't think you'd assert community interest if it was in your own back yard. And yes, NIMBY is exactly what I believe to be best for the community I LIVE IN. If you would like the train to divide your community, I'd be glad to support that for you. Perhaps the unscrupulous leaders of the HSR would be willing to accomodate a slight change in plans.


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Posted by put the train station in south Palo Alto
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 24, 2010 at 7:46 pm

The city council thinks that University Avenue is all of Palo Alto, which is of course a big lie.

Use California Ave. for the new train station. This location is close to Stanford and high-tech companies like HP and Facebook. There is plenty of vacant land south of California Ave. A new train station would be a big boost to the local economy and infrastructure.


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Posted by Quasi Moto
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 24, 2010 at 7:51 pm

Good grief, we are going to blow the chance to get a station on the high speed rail line?!? How stupid is that? Walk a few blocks or take a short taxi ride and you are on the train to LA.

Those who are trying to stop change should look at all the teardowns in our community. Palo Alto will change with or without a new rail station. Has anybody noticed how many single family dwellings are being replaced by multilevel condos and townhouses? The demographic also changed greatly as a college town grew into a yupscale community.

It is better to have improved public transit than not as the city grows and evolves. And it will continue to grow and evolve, a guarantee provided by the quest for increased profits from fixed plots of real estate. The NIMBYS may say "Not in my backyard!", but that is irrelevant. Change and growth have already happened, and in your backyard. I dislike the changes of the past 20 years more than most NIMBYS, but realize changes will continue to happen regardless.


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Posted by South PA Resident
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 24, 2010 at 8:03 pm

Mountain View City Council has already said they don't want the station in Mountain View; they don't have the land area to build the number of parking garages that will be needed.

Since I live in South PA I'm glad this station with it's huge requirement for garage space will be built in North Palo Alto - they deserve it!! Maybe the land at Alma and Everett will be available after they've closed the fire house!!


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Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 24, 2010 at 8:11 pm

What will happen to Palo Alto Medical Foundation and Palo Alto High if High Speed Rail and the station also comes to P.A.?


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Posted by Old Palo Alto
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 24, 2010 at 9:40 pm

A train stop would be the ONLY benefit to Palo Alto, as one could walk/bicycle to the stop. Otherwise, we simply have an ugly high speed train running through the city that has no immediate benefit to Palo Alto.


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Posted by Howard
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 24, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Assuming high speed rail is going through Palo Alto (I admit this is a big assumption), then it is a no brainer that there should be a station stop in Palo Alto. Otherwise, the city would suffer all the detriments of HSR without the obvious benefits of the station. One benefit is that, for trains that stop at the station, the spped of approach would be much less than otherwise, with the result of less noise. Also, the new station would be the catalyst for all sorts of improved intermodal transportaion infrastructure in the area. In addition, there would be a significant new business and housing presence in the area that would greatly add to the tax base. It would be crazy for Palo Alto to pass this up. Larrt Klein and his ilk is doing the city a big disservice in opposing a station stop.


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Posted by Burlingamer
a resident of another community
on Aug 24, 2010 at 9:57 pm

You might as well Stanford University that Palo Alto isn't interested in the revenue and publicity that it brings to Palo Alto. I can't believe PA is saying it doesn't want an HSR station. It would bring in a boat load of tax revenue for the city, make it a "walkable destination" and not to mention, its property values would absolutely sky rocket given how Palo Alto would truly become a destination spot for commerce, education and for CA. Even more, with good zoning and attention to city development, you can make this work. Work with change, not against it.


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Posted by PA person
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 24, 2010 at 10:12 pm

I am a home owner and resident of Palo Alto and I support HSR. I think that all the horror stories we have heard are just meant to scare people into rejecting HSR but are totally overblown.

Having HSR in Palo Alto (and a HSR station) will have many benefits, enough to more than outweigh any disadvantages.

Look at what we passed up when the Peninsula rejected BART.

Let's not repeat that mistake.

Yes to HSR


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Posted by James Hoosac
a resident of another community
on Aug 24, 2010 at 10:21 pm

A station will overall benefit PA very much. But be forewarned,
Oregon Expressway will inevitably be walled and converted to
a ramp to connect 101/84 to the station.

The conflicts will be endless...




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Posted by Bernardo
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 24, 2010 at 10:38 pm

I think this rail system is super expensive as it all must be custom made. There will be cost suprises as this system is built, attorney and land purchases. In most other nations there is a robust bus travel industry where competition drives prices down. California lacks such a system. With fabrication, diesel construction equipment and electric power generation emissions added up, I think the overall the air pollutants will equal. And please watch out for who pays for this rail system and who will control it. Take a good look at BART's operation costs as an example.


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Posted by WilliamR
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 24, 2010 at 10:38 pm

If the HSR station will be downtown, what about building a multi-story parking structure on the corner of the Stanford Shopping Center lot where PF Chang's is now, with a pedestrian bridge across El Camino Real?


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Posted by Dumbfounded
a resident of Monroe Park
on Aug 24, 2010 at 10:52 pm

I continue to be amazed at the shortsighted, impulsive reaction our leaders take toward issues which could forever improve our community if properly considered and directed. Larry Klein, a continual "no-growth" drum-beater has no place as the chair of a committee charged with a study like this. His bias will distort any conversation which might occur. The Comp Plan never contemplated this type of multi-modal transportation being available to the residents of our city. Just because it was not imagined does not mean it should not be considered. Trains, Buses, Bart and Airports all being interconnected and the opportunity to access that from the heart of Palo Alto will reduce, not increase traffic. "Building large parking structures around downtown would be a "misuse of land," Klein said, particularly because these types of garages would only encourage more traffic". This couldn't be more incorrect. Controlling where cars go and reducing the traffic to the freeways will reduce the load on major arterials like Page Mill, Oregon and Embarcadero. Kudos to Burt, Shepherd and Price for being thoughtful and balanced in their reaction and response.
We all need to take a look at the 3,000 car garage Stanford Medical Center built at its front door. A huge hole in the ground with no visible cars is concealed beneath beautiful landscaped areas. Below grade connections safely move staff to and from their cars. Parking does not need to be visible or unpleasant.


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Posted by Bikes2work
a resident of Santa Rita (Los Altos)
on Aug 24, 2010 at 11:08 pm

Has anyone considered putting it at San Antonio Station? They could buy the Mayfield Mall site and put the parking there.


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Posted by Georgia
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 24, 2010 at 11:22 pm

Parking garages in Palo Alto today cost about $50,000 per space, and on what land? 3,000 spaces would require massive buildings financed by a risky $150 million-plus muni bond. That is risk Palo Alto voters will not OK.

Add the car trips on already fully loaded Palo Alto streets required to fill up 3,000 spaces every day and you have monumental daily traffic jams courtesy of HSR.

HSR, the concept that just keeps on giving...horrible outcomes.


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Posted by Steve Brown
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 25, 2010 at 7:34 am

Put it in California Ave.


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Posted by Casey
a resident of another community
on Aug 25, 2010 at 8:16 am

Dear Palo Alto: Don't let the Nimby's rule! Enjoy your future high speed rail station. What an opportunity and what a shame it would be to throw it away all due to parochial short-sightedness and fear!!


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Posted by John Markevitch
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 25, 2010 at 9:10 am

Keeping the focus just on the HSR station, here, if you rank all of the infrastructure requirements that face Palo Alto over the next 20 years, is this where you would choose to spend $150 million? That's the guidance City Council needs. It's a trade-off.


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Posted by No Thanks
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 25, 2010 at 9:50 am

@Steve Brown
Put it at Community Center, NOT California Ave.


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Posted by what about 101
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2010 at 10:33 am

Someone above makes an interesting point:

If the HSR people are going to insist that HSR absolutely can't exist without ramming it down our throats on the peninsula (instead of going up the east bay), why not go up the 101 corridor?

It's a lot easier to widen the 101 corridor for rail and car than deal with the logistical problems of widening and changing the existing cal train corridor, and 101 already bisects the peninsula, HSR wouldn't have to destroy our communities (and our quality of life, community property values, and tax base) the way it would with the current plan.

There are a lot more spaces adjacent to 101 that would be acceptable station sites, and it would be easier to link up HSR and the airports (for a real transportation system). Eminent domain is already a fact of life for those along the 101 corridor, that would be a much easier row to hoe for the HSR authority.


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Posted by Frank
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 25, 2010 at 10:47 am

I am appalled at the lack of foresight by Palo Altans. A high speed rail stop is something most cities would love to compete for. It will offer business advantages for Palo Alto that will increase the tax base. It will allow every Palo Altan a really green alternative to travel quickly and conveniently to So. Cal. Airplanes will never be green.


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Posted by Toady
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 25, 2010 at 11:00 am

Give me a break. Neither location (California Ave or University Ave) has enough roadway capacity from 101 or 280 to handle having the entire peninsula board at Palo Alto.

As if people are going to take El Camino Real to the train station.

And don't get me started on our crappy local transit system feeding an HSR station. It is simply impossible to have good local transit in the low density that defines our peninsula.

And we need another $150M anchor on our city's finances like we need a hole in our head.


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Posted by DUH
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 25, 2010 at 11:09 am

What a stupid idea about not wanting a HSR station..think of the future you short sighted "leaders" We will need this long after you have died..so stop making your knee jerk opinions as planning


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Posted by John
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 25, 2010 at 11:13 am

Larry Klein raises a good point: CHSRA has not acted like a community partner in good faith. Why would we want to get into business with a group that is force-feeding one version of an ever-more-unpalatable project.

If it's ever actually built, let Mountain View or Redwood City have the station... better yet, have HSR terminate in San Jose. Tourists are the only people who will be riding HSR anyway.

Who goes to LA anymore?


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Posted by what about 101
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2010 at 11:16 am

I am still for HSR. I am just against stupid implementation of HSR. Why is the HSR authority so hell-bent on putting HSR up the cal train corridor and bisecting our communities on the peninsula?

If you are against this, you should contact your california representatives -- they gave the HSR this detached imperious power, the approval of HSR did not. Give them your concerns about HSR and ask them to consider changing the HSR authority so that this absolute power doesn't lead to the detrimental outcome it currently promises.

I strongly suspect some of the posts above criticizing Palo Altans for not wanting the most stupid implementation of HSR possible -- that will bisect our communities and destroy our quality of life (and frankly, our property tax base -- did anyone at HSR consider that cost?) are troll postings and not actual Palo Altans.

"Toady's" complaint about using 101 makes no sense, it's not even clear what he's saying, but he's apparently locked into some idea about what HSR on the 101 corridor would mean, and it's just not so.

I've never heard the HSR authority legitimately address the 101 corridor option -- all I've heard are off-the-cuff arguments about "liquefaction hazards" etc. (The existing cal train corridor where hsr authority is insisting they must have hsr is all liquefaction hazard through palo alto already, this is not a legitimate reason not to consider the 101 corridor, for example.)

I already go to San Jose and San Francisco to go to the airport, it would not bother me to go to either one to take HSR, especially if the bay area finally got a functioning transportation SYSTEM out of this. (!!!!!) HSR does not have to go up the peninsula, but if the HSR authority insists on ramming it down our throats here on the peninsula, they should be seriously considering the 101 corridor. Different set of headaches, but it wouldn't bisect any communities that aren't already bisected by 101.


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Posted by Sick and Tired of Complainers
a resident of another community
on Aug 25, 2010 at 11:26 am

How about we make it go out and around the NIMBY's towns so they have to commute to use it. Then we can complain about them going through our neighborhoods to ride it.


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Posted by For HSR in PA
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 25, 2010 at 11:34 am


"Nonsense", calling people liars does nothing to help your cause. In fact, it could make people like me, who live and work here, even MORE supportive of the HSR! I'm for it, and I know lots of other people who are also for it, and if you're against it for whatever reason, at least take off your blinders. You don't speak for the entire community!


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Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 25, 2010 at 11:34 am

I do NOT want a HSR to be built during a time when the State of California cannot afford it. Many of us are already taxed beyond our means. Our state is in unbelievable debt...and it doesn't look like we have a way out...but we want to spend more?

Moreover, we have acceptable alternatives to a high speed rail that are safer, faster and cheaper (such as air travel and less expensive fuel compared to the rest of the world) -- most of which aren't as widespread in those "forward-thinking nations" (*cough cough) that utilize such projects.

That said: If this ridiculous project goes forward, we might as well have the station built here. We might as well try to reap some benefit from this unbelievably expensive and unnecessary project.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2010 at 11:35 am

John M makes a good suggestion which I second.

Putting a large garage in Stanford Shopping Center is a great idea. Obviously a parking fee would be required and to stop people using the Shopping Center parking, then a 3 or 4 hour free system would be required for parking there and employees could get a permit sticker for their car.

Of course if there was a station in Palo Alto, the local transit agencies would have to - be compelled to - improve their services in Palo Alto and we would all benefit from that. There could even by a long term parking garage somewhere near Baylands with free shuttles - a similar system that airports already have.

Electric trains are much quieter and the fact that they have to slow down for a stop in Palo Alto is moot. Also, if there are no grade crossings they will not have to use their horns. In other words, HSR will be much quieter than the present Caltrain service, particularly at stations when they clang all the time they are there.



We are already divided by Caltrain and the limited number of crossings. HSR could provide more crossings for the track. This would be a bonus. We are also already divided by Oregon and to some extent Embarcadero and El Camino. Divisions within a City is normal. HSR will not be a new division, but it could actually be a much less unsightly one than we already have there. There can be nothing much uglier than the present tracks with all the weeds, the noise and the smell of the diesel trains.

Instead of grumbling, we should be working together, sharing ideas and coming up with solutions for making this work well.


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Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 25, 2010 at 11:35 am

"Larry Klein raises a good point: "

Anything that Larry Klein has to say at this point can be discounted as worthless. He pushed for HSR in 2008. Yoriko and him wrote the colleagues memo urging the council to support HSR and for the public to vote for the tax measure.
Then he did an about face--did he not know what he was supporting? Apparently not. And this is from a man who is supposed to be a hot-shot lawyer. He claims that he was "misled"--a claim he uses every time he is caught asleep at the wheel (PACT scandal, budget mess, tree cutting, HSR etc).
How a person, like him, who seems to have no idea of the term "accountability" is elected over and over again to the council is beyond me. Of course, that may help explain why Palo Alto is in the shape it is in.


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Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 25, 2010 at 11:40 am

In fact, I would rather scrap the project (for the time being) and spend a tenth of the cost of the HSR to upgrade the terrible roads in California and another tenth (or two tenths) of the cost of HSR to upgrade our schools.

You would think that our state -- the top taxing state in the country -- would just have more to show for it.


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Posted by Train supporter
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 25, 2010 at 11:41 am

I'm going on record to state I'm in favor of HSR and in favor of having Palo Alto as a station stop. Our community is a hub on the peninsula due to world-class university and medical centers and high-tech headquarters. Having a station to quickly make it to SF or to San Jose airport builds our community profile.

To those opponents who cite the Master Plan, why didn't you more vocally object to the expansion of Stanford Medical Center? We have a huge influx of cars to our city every day, but it is for service-type jobs - not jobs producing goods that can be taxed. Palo Alto can't have it both ways - we need a strong tax base, with good transportation, to be able to offer our residents the level of services enjoyed in the past. We can't build more highways through the city so let's take advantage of our train tracks and build a future incorporating cleaner transportation.

I'm continually amazed by the mentality of our residents, embracing liberal attitudes, but when it come a little too close for comfort, the NIMB mentality comes screaming out of the closet.


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Posted by Toady
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 25, 2010 at 11:47 am

""Toady's" complaint about using 101 makes no sense, it's not even clear what he's saying, but he's apparently locked into some idea about what HSR on the 101 corridor would mean, and it's just not so."

Your interpretation of my posting makes no sense.

Maybe you should understand what 3,000 car parking means.

It means that people will be driving to the HSR station. VTA and Samtrans can't provide cost-effective transit to a peninsula HSR station that would give customers a viable alternative to driving themselves or taking a cab. We simply don't have the density on the peninsula. Period.

I hope you Crescent Park, Downtown North and Community Center folks enjoy that nice drive down University Ave once it's finished. It'll make that 10-day traffic jam in China a walk in the park.


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Posted by Let's get practical
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 25, 2010 at 11:52 am

Wow. What emotional reponses.

Let's just look at it practically. 3,000 parking spaces in a built-out downtown? Would they exercise eminent domain to create all of this parking? This would require ACRES of land. Which businesses and existing housing would be razed to make way for HSR?

It still is not entirely clear to me that HSR will allow Caltrain to operate and grow as needed. (Frankly, I think Caltrain is more important than HSR to our community and the Peninsula, so we should be looking at how HSR will affect Caltrain service VERY closely.)

Klein is correct that a station would draw a LOT of new car traffic (and, unlike Caltrain, would not reduce local car trips). Does our existing street system have capacity to carry all of those new trips downtown? Having looked at intersection data recently, I'd say probably not. Who would be responsible for paying to increase auto capacity on our streets...and wouldn't that sort of project contradict policies and goals of our Comp Plan?

HSR has recently said they would have to take some of Alma Expressway to make room for the new rail system. That should make local north/south crosstown travel "interesting." Was this impact carefully studied in the HSR Final EIR? I haven't had a chance to check yet. Has our local press investigated this? Get on it, please, Weekly. This is a big issue.

These are just a few practical problems that pop into my head immediately.

Before you point the NIMBY finger, you really should look carefully at the problem set. A station in Palo Alto is highly unlikely--unless it's in the California Avenue area. Even there, it presents enormous thorny problems that may be unsolvable.


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Posted by Marian S
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 25, 2010 at 11:59 am

I support high speed rail as well as the denser housing and parking near the station the city would agree to build. I hope we have representation on the City Council supporting this position. A high speed rail stop would help maintain the vitality of Palo Alto. We already have El Camino as a commercial strip, and that strip could absorb denser development to aid the tax base. I think we could have subsidized teacher housing and allow the medical foundation to build rentable research space to bring in income and minimize their dependence on charitable donations.


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Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 25, 2010 at 11:59 am

I don't like the term "NIMBY" (as in "Not In My Back Yard)").

Many of those who are opposed to the HSR aren't just opposed to it running down the center of Palo Alto. Rather, many of us don't think that the State of California should fund this while the State remains in a terrible economic predicament AND while taxes/fees/tolls are already so high.

We are going to fund an extremely expensive HSR system that is slower, more expensive and less safe than air travel? Not only will it cost an extremely large sum of our tax dollars to initially build, but the prices of one-way HSR tickets are already estimated to cost more than a round-trip plane ticket!

We should wait until we have a more complete plan for this...at a time in which are state is not $XXX Billion in debt. The tax/fee/toll burden (state and local) is already too high in this state. What would it hurt to wait until our State actually had the money to build such an expensive project?

NIMBY? How about calling us NOT NOWs?


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Editor - I hope you are removing posts from the trollers here who are posting multiple posts under different names. Are you?

Its OBVIOUS that all of a sudden the CHSRA train foaming army has shown up to make it look like Palo Alto residents are suddenly miraculously overwhelmingly in favor of an HSR station. Yet, take a look at the previous threads on HSR (and better yet, go talk to actual Palo Alto residents - schools are a great place to find them). There is no support for HSR on Caltrain ROW in this town. (HSR down 101 - different story perhaps - but barely.)

There is overwhelming ANGER about the unsrupulous CHSRA authority, their current plans to destroy our city, and the politicians who are letting this thing trample over our city.

The train foamers posted this link in their blog - so their minions can make it look like some big outcry of support.


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Posted by Toady
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 25, 2010 at 12:03 pm

"That should make local north/south crosstown travel "interesting." "

Excellent observation. The obvious relief valve would be Middlefield Road. It will be the new Alma. Hope you folks living near Middlefield will like this. The Midtown folks are always open to more vehicle traffic on Middlefield.

</sarcasm>


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Posted by South PA Resident
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 25, 2010 at 12:04 pm

By the sound of it Caltrains will have gone into bankruptcy about the time HSR is being built; so it may make sense for HSR to use the Caltrain's corridor because there won't be any Caltrains.

Georgia says: "Parking garages in Palo Alto today cost about $50,000 per space, and on what land?

"On what land". We need to close a fire house, so there will be City owned land available at Alma and Everett. How about the space above our reserve water supply at El Camino Park (Stanford owned land). How about above the bus turnaround near McArthur Park. Just think we could charge $5 per hour, $50 per day times 3,000 spaces - Palo Alto will make a fortunr!!! Still glad it's in North Palo Alto.


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Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 25, 2010 at 12:05 pm

"That resolution, based on a memo from council members Larry Klein and Yoriko Kishimoto, called high-speed rail a "safe, timely, reliable mode of transportation.""
(Web Link)


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Posted by commonsense
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 25, 2010 at 12:20 pm

3000 spaces is more than all the parking downtown currently. It's does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that if HSR is popular these cars will turn our town into a freeway - people from all over the peninsula and east bay coming to PA = more eminent domain, widening every major corridor. Why not take Caltrain to Mountain View and to to LA from there? This is a potential absolute disaster. Give the station to Mtn. View!


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Nayeli, I take your point about the funding/cost issue. Is that your only disagreement with HSR?

I think it is true to say that there will never be a time when California can afford to build HSR which means that it will never get built if we wait until such time as the money is there.

We have to look at HSR as an investment for the future, for the future residents of California and the future economy of our State. This will cost money of course, but so will any investments made in the future whether it be roads, airports or even improving the ridiculously poor public transits we already have. The future is going to be a population that will depend less on independent vehicles as young people are already proving. Most college students in our metropolitan areas do not own cars, and many residents of condos in San Francisco. Many two people family condo residents near Caltrain and other good transit options only possess one car. Zip car and other car rental options are becoming an alternative for each individual owning their own car. Good transit and HSR will add to this.

To get good funding for HSR and local transit, we need to increase taxation to some degree, but taxing gas, airport use, and perhaps highways such as I5 would be methods which would produce funds and get people to use public transit alternatives to pay for HSR.

Also, we do need to get federal government grants. The feds can give money where they like and instead of funding NASA and moon exploration, we should be spending the money here on Earth for transportation.

Yes, our State is in financial dire straits, but remaining in the 20th Century instead of looking to the future is not going to help us get out of it. If we are not carefuly, we are going to find many of the high tech and other large companies moving out of the State because they can find better situations in other States, or even in other countries. To keep California and even Silicon Valley at the forefront of business success, we have to sort out our problems. Transportation is key for these successful businesses and any investment made in improving that will provide unseen benefits. The benefits may be invisible, but keeping successful business within the State is crucial to future economic growth. Losing businesses if they move elsewhere would cripple us even more.

Yes, our roads, our schools, our individual city services, are all struggling and need more money. All of these need to improve and need money to do so. But robbing Peter to pay Paul has never worked. Taking money away from improving transportation to pay for other things will only make this State more behind the times transportationwise than it already is. Other countries are way ahead of us and as has already been stated many times, we are beginning to look like a 3rd world State. Getting us out of this situation before it becomes any more of embarrassment is crucial to keeping big business here. Getting transportation fixed is just one problem. Getting schools, roads, city services, etc. fixed are others. We have money budgeted for transportation and we must use it for transportation. We have to spend the money here and now to invest for the future or the future just may never happen.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2010 at 12:35 pm

Of course 3,000 cars could not park beside a downtown station. The parking structure can be built near 101 with free shuttles to the station, just like at airports!! A smaller structure which is for short term parking could be built downtown.


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Posted by Real Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2010 at 12:40 pm

To all who want HSR and a station in Palo Alto - good luck with all the traffic, all the new condos, parking structures and taxes to foot the bill for Diridon and Kopp's egos. Good luck with the years of construction, closed roads, destruction of homes and neighborhoods and massive equipment needed to built 15 foot structures over all the intersections. Say good-bye to El Palo Alto, after all who needs a dumb old tree when you can have green trains zipping along at 120 mph. Don't forget to supply yourselves with earplugs and dust masks and don't forget some for all those kids at Paly. Take some photos of Palo Alto today for the memories because after HSR comes through, Palo Alto will look much more like NY. And don't worry about hearing "I told you so" you won't be able to over the noise of the trains.


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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 25, 2010 at 12:41 pm

Assuming 2010 prices, a parking structure for 3,000 vehicles would cost most likely $150M. However, the bond financing costs would double this amount to $300M. So, who is going to pay? The HSRA is saying it will not, so who then? Remember--it's the Taxpayers who get the bill for this monstrosity, not the Voters. Anyone who has the slightest insight into what is likely to occur here, is that all sorts of assessment districts, transportation districts and parcel taxes will, in time, emerge to fill in the revenue shortfalls for this system, and all of the transportation infrastructure that will be seen as "necessary" to make this a "complete" system. All of these taxing agencies will ultimately increase our cost-of-living, and our cost-of-doing business here, just to subsidize the HSR passengers, and system employees.

There also is the issue of whose property will be taken by the HSRA to locate the parking structure. It's hard to believe that this structure will not be tax exempt, so both the School District, and the City would lose some of its tax base, with very little in terms to new taxes to replace the homes/businesses displaced by the parking structure.

The City has already authorized a $250M downtown transportation hub. Whether this would fit into the HSR "vision" of Palo Alto, or not, remains to be seen. Taken together, these two structures comes to about $800M (2010 prices).

Moreover, all of these structures (the hub and the parking garage) involve secondary and tertiary support activities (externalities), which would require more City personnel, if the City were to become a partner in such an enterprise.

The only sane thing to do is insure that this station is not built--even if it means spending a considerable amount of money on legal fees to insure that Palo Alto is not burdened with this mess.


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Posted by what about 101
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Thank you, Parent, for your observant post.

You wrote: "There is overwhelming ANGER about the unsrupulous CHSRA authority, their current plans to destroy our city, and the politicians who are letting this thing trample over our city."

I agree.

The legislature gave us this imperious rail authority, the HSR approval we voted for did not. The legislature can fix this by modifying the rail authority so that it isn't allowed to ruin our communities from afar. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Everyone upset about this should contact their california legislators and ask that they amend the rail authority so that it is less autocratic.

As I said, I am still for HSR, just not for stupid implementation of it. HSR using the cal train corridor would bisect the peninsula communities in a way cal train does not, only people who don't live here would argue a similarity.

Again my question is, why are people who want HSR so stuck on ramming it down our throats here on the peninsula? Why are they being allowed to do whatever is most convenient for them rather than what is best for california communities? Ask your legislator to change the autocratic power of the HSR authority.


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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 25, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Where is the $150M going to come from? Where is the $46B going to come from?

The state is nearly bankrupt and there is no relief on the horizon for at least a decade.
Palo Alto has narrowly escaped a deficit spending budget this year.
Unemployment is at or around 10% in this area.
Real estate prices are not going to go up anytime soon (increase revenue from property taxes).
Private investors and corporations are not spending money - the concept of private funding of such projects is folly.

The costs of developing an HSR station in *any* city does not stop at the approximate $150M to build the garages. Additional costs will include buying/taking land; infrastructure (utilities/public works); modifying access roads/capacity.

And it is impossible to measure or predict the negative effects on residential property values if the city evolves to a distinct urban and transportation center.

Building the freaking thing on the 101 freeway corridor and I'm all for it. Easy access from anywhere! This is ridiculous. They are trying to land the equivalent of a 747 at the Palo Alto Airport.


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Posted by what about 101
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2010 at 1:18 pm

Crescent Park Dad,

I can't tell whether your last line there was all sarcasm or half sarcasm -- whether you are really against HSR even on 101 corridor.

It's clear from what I have said that I am for HSR, just not up the cal train corridor or anything that would bisect peninsula communities like that. (I'd be fine with the cal train corridor if it were in a covered tunnel, but the rail authority apparently makes decisions based only on its costs, not considering costs to local communities, so that won't happen.)

No options that are more sensitive to local communities -- 101 corridor, tunnels, etc -- will even be seriously considered, none of the serious impacts on our local communities will even be seriously considered, while the rail authority has such autocratic power to do whatever they want to us.

Even though I'm for HSR, I'd rather see it nixed than see it on the cal train corridor, because of the damage to our communities, so we can agree on that.

Please join me in asking our legislators to amend the rail authority so that it has to be reasonably responsive to affected communities (communities that would be seriously damaged or destroyed by a poor implementation of the HSR).




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Posted by Phil
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 25, 2010 at 1:42 pm

I would like to see a Palo Alto HSR train station.


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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 25, 2010 at 2:01 pm

I would like to see HSR on 101 - build the station along 101, build the garages along 101. Make it near Dumbarton/84/Willow or near 237/101 or near 101/92.

Be smart and utilize the major highways/arteries that already exist.

Again, why force such a big project down everyone's throat? There's a reason why SFO is on 101, close to 380/280. There is a reason why SJC is on 101/87/880/17. Ease of access.

Building along 101 eases everyone's concern about eminent domain, noise, construction, traffic in everyone's "small" town.

If no one has figured it out, the secret reason why Quenten Kopp wants HSF on Caltrain lines is because he is a big-time Caltrain Honk. He's trying to keep Caltrain going by using HSR funds to electrify Caltrain...because Caltrain is bankrupt and can't find the money to upgrade to electric.


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Posted by John
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2010 at 2:05 pm

So I hate the idea of a Palo Alto Station and am pretty negative about HSR. California can't afford it for one thing. It will not be nearly as gren as people claim for another. Time to close it down.


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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 25, 2010 at 2:06 pm

If NASA is going to lose some of it's funding (very likely) and, we advocate 101 corridor - do you think Moffett Field could be a candidate for an HSR station and parking???

Great use of the blimp hangar! Have the train run right through it and that can be your station (w/ interior improvements of course).

Easy links to 101/237, light rail, bus.


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Posted by P.A. Native
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 25, 2010 at 2:25 pm

I wonder if some of you will still be clamoring for the 101 route when the HSR is being built on the Caltrain corridor. It's not going to "destroy the city", like some of you claim. And yes, people still do go to L.A., even if you don't personally. If Palo Alto is against the station, then give it to Mountain View. We can make it work. I imagine people will want to ride their bikes on the Steven's Creek Trail and ride the train to L.A. Maybe they can even take their bikes with them. Sounds like fun to me. But what do I know, I only grew up in Palo Alto and lived there most of my life. It's not like I own a house there, so I wouldn't understand the entitlement that comes along with that.

Did I mention that 101 still isn't an option?


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Posted by Jared Bernstein
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 25, 2010 at 2:30 pm

No benefit to our community?
I'd love to be able to walk to that train -- Either at California Ave or at University Ave. We have the money to do it, if the state would allow us to tax ourselves fairly, and we could probably afford to bury the tracks and station too. I'd love it in my back yard.


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Posted by pecuniac
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 25, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Too bad no consideration was given to Personal Rapid Transit which can be built at 1/10 the cost of fixed rail, is more flexible, serves passengers on their schedule, uses much less energy, can serve passengers and small cargo (UPS, FedEX are you listening?) and can be extended much less obtrusively away from the main line. Combine that with the track that crosses the Dumbarton Bridge and a transfer station near the track crossing at 101, and you have a world class transit system.
Instead, we are being bulldozed toward a system that serves engineering, contracting, architecture, and CalTrain more than potential users.
Does greed, self-interest, political inertia leave no bad ideas off the table?


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Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 25, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Hi Resident...

Yes, that is my main concern about the HSR. It is estimated to cost too much at a time when most Californians have too little.

Our State is in the middle of a major ongoing budget crisis. We State can't even pay the bills! It handed out IOUs and even furloughs employees now! Why? The legislature's SPENDING in this state doubled over the last ten years!

I think that many Palo Altans forget that we are a unique, upper class community in California. The vast majority of California residents do not earn as much as those of us privileged to live in Palo Alto (or the surrounding area). I think that we often forget to realize that the average income for most California families is much less than it is here in Palo Alto.

When times are bad, should we be willing to spend soooooo much of everyone's money -- money, btw, that the California currently DOES NOT HAVE -- on a transportation project that will effectively offer a faster train ride?

For the life of me, I can't tell where the state will get the money to pay for this project! The burden on California residents from taxes (not to mention "fees" and "tolls") is the HIGHEST in the nation! How are we going to dig any deeper in our pockets when there just isn't much there to begin with!

On a side note, I really don't know that this HSR is even NEEDED as an "investment" for the future. Why do we need it? The United States has the most drivable roads in the world. We also have the largest transportation infrastructure in the world. We have a vast air infrastructure that can carry passengers in a way that is faster, safer and cheaper than any HSR.

Why don't we take a portion of that nonexistent money that we want to spend on a system that will get us across the state via a slower, less safe and more expensive means...and spend it on IMPROVING the state? We can improve our airports and make them more efficient. We can improve the roads in this state...that are lagging behind other states. We can inject money into improving our schools.

Sure, we want to "invest" in the future. But why not make a list of what is MOST IMPORTANT and invest in those things first?

Maybe this is just me? Maybe I am an "oddball" because I don't think that the families in this state can afford an additional financial burden that will ultimately help a small portion of the state ride faster trains between the major cities?


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Posted by Toady
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 25, 2010 at 3:19 pm

"We have the money to do it, if the state would allow us to tax ourselves fairly, and we could probably afford to bury the tracks and station too. "

What's your definition of "fair?" Who defines "fair?"

What if we define "fair" as taxing everyone in Professorville because some guy named Jared Bernstein in that neighborhood wants to talk to a choo-choo once a year.

Seems "fair" enough for me.

It's ironic that the highest tax states are the ones that are in most trouble. All because of someone thinks it's fair to tax someone else.


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Posted by Floyd
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 25, 2010 at 3:26 pm

"I'd love to be able to walk to that train". (JB) Really. Get an apartment on 3d Avenue in NY. You could watch it all day and night from your window and walk to it.
Proponents of the HSR should be able to display their position w/o demeaning knowledgeable community leaders like Larry Klein. He knows Palo Alto.


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Posted by Gordo
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 25, 2010 at 3:28 pm

How many lanes will have to be added to the freeways? Most freeways in this area cannot be widened without expensive demolition and land taking. Sounds like a boondoggle.

Or would you be happy if we demolished the train tracks and Alma for a new elevated freeway? We could make it a private toll road as a concession to the lolbertarians on this board.

Also, what city should we level to build the new international airport? How about Midtown Palo Alto?

It seems to me that HSR is a relatively harmless way to expand capacity on a busy travel corridor, namely SF-LA. When gas gets back to $5/gallon and California's population has increased to 50 million or so you'll change your tune. Southwest tickets won't stay at $49 for long.


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Posted by Palo Altan
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 25, 2010 at 4:44 pm

If trains really stopped in Palo Alto, I don't see why we don't do it near Cal Ave.

Univ Ave is obviously way too crowded, for a bigger trains station, and most of all for the people and the cars (not to mention traffic) that would come with a 6 story parking lot.

Why not use that barren land near Fry's for a parking lot if we really have to get a HSR station. That way, residents from other communities get off 101, on to Oregon and straight to the station - no major interference with the residents, YAY!


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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 25, 2010 at 4:45 pm

@ P.A. Native --- you didn't read the article closely. Mountain View has already said "No" to the station.

What if PA, MVw and RC all say "No"? Very interesting.


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Posted by No!
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 25, 2010 at 6:07 pm

We can't possibly afford the garages because we have to spend 7 MM on the Art Center and we can't afford that either.


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Posted by No!
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 25, 2010 at 6:10 pm

We can't possibly afford the garages because we have to spend 7 MM on the Art Center and we can't afford that either.


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Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 25, 2010 at 6:25 pm

This is just pure insanity.

Sure airline tickets will rise, but it will be less than gas, and a big expensive useless irritating infrastructure good for nothing gamble is nothing sensible to do about any of our problem ... except for the lawyers and builders of high-speed rail.

What a colossal boondoggle. Is there some "stupid chemical" in California's water these days?


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Posted by Depends on what you want
a resident of Meadow Park
on Aug 25, 2010 at 6:37 pm

People who will make money when thousands of people descend on a train station are salivating at the thought of thousands of cars driving into the parking structures.

For people for whom Palo Alto is home and who want to keep it human-sized, this is a nightmare.
I see that Nancy Shepherd and Gail Price want to study it more, and do a survey.
As usual, when she wants to stop something, Councilwoman Price says it's "premature" to make a decision. She is waiting for her union bosses to give the OK. Also, the housing advocates are beginning to speak up, they want to build mass housing along the tracks, no matter what it looks like.


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Posted by what about 101
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2010 at 8:07 pm

@Gordo: Do you even know what is going on with the HSR? If nothing is done, the HSR authority will put the HSR, above ground right up the peninsula on the cal train right of way. But we're not talking about using the same tracks, that's not possible, the tracks will have to be EXPANDED. Homes will have to be taken on either side of the tracks. Alma may be taken as well. At-grade crossings will become a nightmare as dramatically more train traffic means more gridlock at crossings. Above-grade crossings are bad enough in dense urban areas, they would be terrible cutting right through a community like ours. Palo Alto will be physically and psychologically cut in half.

@EVERYONE: This is not some little improvement to the Cal Train service, it's a huge game changer. The point is, THAT IS WHAT THE HSR AUTHORITY IS NOW PLANNING TO DO AND YOU DON'T HAVE ANY SAY IN IT, BECAUSE THE HSR AUTHORITY DOES NOT HAVE TO ANSWER TO US.

Gordo, your argument that putting HSR up 101 wouldn't work because "how many lanes would have to be added" is just plain silly, because the EXISTING plan for HSR would take up large swaths of homes and residential neighborhoods, as well as a main artery (ALMA). Is anyone at HSR accountable for what that would do to tank quality of life, property values (in the whole city), and property tax revenues to the state when these communities up and down the peninsula are totally altered by (the most stupid implementation of) this project?

If HSR had to incorporate the needs of the communities up and down the peninsula in its planning, they would underground the HSR up the peninsula, but they say that's too expensive. So, they insist it must go up the peninsula (not the east bay), it MUST be above ground, so the logical place for it is the 101 corridor.

On 101, you don't have the dense residential areas all up and down like you would have to destroy on the cal train corridor. And, eminent domain is a fact of life for anyone who buys property on a major freeway. Widening 101 is logistically much more straightforward than widening the cal train corridor. And 101 already divides the peninsula, you wouldn't be impacting COMMUNITIES in the same extreme negative way as expanding the cal train corridor.

I'm not saying I think it's a good idea to go above-grade on 101, I'm saying it's far better than using the cal train corridor up the peninsula. I'd much rather see HSR in the east bay. Even though I voted for HSR, I'd much rather see it die than the existing plan, which would destroy our communities.

Most of what people here on this list are talking about (including my suggestion about using 101) is just so much gum flapping, because HSR is right now going to be rammed down our throats in the worst way possible for the communities along the peninsula, by people who are not from here. If you don't like the HSR, if you are against spending the money in the first place, or just against this implementation of it -- the ONE thing you can do is contact your california state legislator, and demand the legislature amend the HSR Authority so that it isn't such an autocratic power. The legislature, NOT THE BALLOT MEASURE gave the HSR authority this autocratic power.


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Posted by gh
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Aug 25, 2010 at 8:31 pm

HSR is a huge game-changer......it is ill conceived and will radically screw-up our environment and quality of life - running through pachecko pass, then up the middle of the peninsula - destroying cities and neighborhoods for 40 miles in its path, just so developers can save some bucks and career politicians (e.g., Kopp) have something to do.

Klein is right-on opposing this - more power to him!

Where are Simitian and Gordon - worried about car-phones?


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Posted by STANFORDCARDS
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 25, 2010 at 8:40 pm

Oh for GODSs sake what a stupid moron Klien is!! No we don't want a high-speed rail station because a bunch of spoiled brat NIMBYs along the track decided that it's not in their best interest nevermind about the future or the University or the jobs or anything else Make sure the squeaky wheel whiners are bowed down to and kissed


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Posted by MJM
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Aug 25, 2010 at 8:46 pm

I admit to logging on late and NOT reading all the previous posts. BUT--why limit the location of the station to existing ones??? WHY not put it in a more industrial area--I was thinking across from FRY's rear entrance and then NO ONE will have to LIVE next to parking structures that are eyesores. If you think outside the box, maybe there is a solution. (Of course, you would have to provide good public transit to downton, CA ave. Stanford, etc. But parking is for people going and coming not for "visitors")


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Posted by Palo Parent
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 25, 2010 at 9:01 pm

To all those who are saying: "Why not use that barren land near Fry's for a parking lot if we really have to get a HSR station." That land is under development and currently involved in some sort of litigation. Do you really think that all that land is just waiting around to be a HSR station or a parking lot? Better think up a plan B.


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Posted by Humphrey Hambone
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 25, 2010 at 9:21 pm

"The obvious relief valve would be Middlefield Road. It will be the new Alma. Hope you folks living near Middlefield will like this. The Midtown folks are always open to more vehicle traffic on Middlefield."

Then upgrade the streets to handle the additional traffic. With all the additional people coming to Palo Alto, we will be able to afford it. More visitors means more business, which in turn means more jobs and increased tax revenue.

We could take the stick our heads in the sand approach, just like the South Bay did when Silicon Valley started growing. All that led to was traffic jams and very overpriced housing.

"I think that many Palo Altans forget that we are a unique, upper class community in California."

Yeah, that is for sure. We are unique is some bad ways as well as good. Our nickname of "Shallow Alto" and reputation for conceit is not entirely unjustified.

"The vast majority of California residents do not earn as much as those of us privileged to live in Palo Alto (or the surrounding area)."

We have a shortage of housing thanks to poor urban planning and the shortsighted NIMBY approach. The result is $2 million houses that only the affluent can afford. Is that really a good thing? It seems to me that Palo Alto was a nicer place to live many moons ago, back when when it was mostly middle class.

"I think that we often forget to realize that the average income for most California families is much less than it is here in Palo Alto."

You forgot to count those residents who live in cars parked on our streets. Ever notice them? There are quite a few. Those near where I live are pretty nice and good neighbors, more so than some of their upscale counterparts.


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Posted by Toady
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 25, 2010 at 9:33 pm

As if they'll put an HSR station at California Avenue. Even Caltrain treats it as a second-class station, with no Baby Bullet service.

As for Gordo:

"How many lanes will have to be added to the freeways? Most freeways in this area cannot be widened without expensive demolition and land taking. Sounds like a boondoggle."

Give me a break. HSR is a substitute for long-distance travel among California's cities, not local transit (or it would be called "LSR" for Low-Speed Rail).

If you don't want us to spend money on freeway expansion, THEN SUPPORT EFFECTIVE LOCAL TRANSIT (and more density in the peninsula). HSR will not prevent us from needing to widen 101 or 280 in the future. Anyone who says that is either lying or completely stupid.


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Posted by tax man
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 25, 2010 at 10:15 pm

I don't understand why no one seems to care what the estimated $50B to $70 billion cost of this is will mean to every person in the state. Presumably funded with bonds, guess what, paying off that debt, interest alone perhaps $2B to $4 billion each year, comes off the top of the state budget, regardless of what Sacramento wants. Otherwise the state defaults on its debt, and the stuff really hits the fan. I won't hazard a guess the massive annual subsidy that this pig will require just roll trains up and down the coast. Caltrain requires about a 50% subsidy for comparison. What services are you willing to give up for HSR? Public school funding, hospitals, how about the crumbling utilities infrastructure (water, electricity and probably gas). I think that a fraction of the $70B actually spent in CA, rebuilding infrastructure that everyone relies on, that actually needs help now, would provide all the jobs and economic benefits to the state promised by HSR, improve everyone's lives, and relegate HSR to the dumpster of bad ideas.

yes, I live in Palo Alto. It seems that many posters here do not. To the imposters, go get a life in your own community.


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Posted by ODB
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 25, 2010 at 11:29 pm

Sorry folks, I'm getting REALLY tired of people saying "I'm all for HSR provided ..."

... it does not use the Caltrain right of way.

... the elevated tracks do not create a Berlin Wall through Palo Alto.

... it is built along the 101.

... they do not build the station in Palo Alto.

... it stops in San Jose and does not come up the peninsula.

... it goes through the Altamont Pass.

These are all insignificant considerations in light of the fact that a) the ridership projections sold to voters in November 2008 were inflated beyond all reality and as a consequence, b) IT WILL NEVER PAY FOR ITSELF!!! Ever! It will be an albatross for California taxpayers for decades to come, the biggest white elephant in history. How can anyone support a project just because it seems "green" on the surface but which will put the state woefully in debt and suck money out of taxpayers' pockets for years and years and years? Notice that the needed private investors have not gone near this project, quite likely because they see it as just plain bad business.

To everyone who says they support HSR, let's hear how many trips you've made between the peninsula and Los Angeles over the past five years. How many trips do YOU plan to make on HSR?


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Posted by Alice Smith
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 26, 2010 at 12:11 am

Good for Larry Klein for stating the obvious: the city of Palo Alto is not going to produce $150m for 6 50ft garages to support a RailRoad that should not be built. They are cutting the current railroad network coverage because the ridership isn't sufficient. What we need to do is get more people on the current commute railway and rebuild the Los Gatos train from SF and figure out how to get people to use public transportation not their cars in the valley at lower prices. Make it free between 7-9 am one day a month in exchange for taking it 4 other days in a month and see if ridership increases.


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Posted by narnia
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 26, 2010 at 6:56 am

How much is spent on roads?
How much is spent on roads per capita?
Have they ever payed for themselves?


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Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 26, 2010 at 7:18 am

In this article Larry Klein states:

""This isn't my vision of Palo Alto, and it's not what our Comprehensive Plan says," Klein said.
"We should just state very clearly that we don't want to participate in the process," he added. "I don't see how it would ever benefit our community.""

Yet back in 2008:

"In October, council unanimously passed a resolution urging residents to vote for Proposition 1A, which provided $9.95 billion in funding for the project. That resolution, based on a memo from council members Larry Klein and Yoriko Kishimoto, called high-speed rail a "safe, timely, reliable mode of transportation." The proposition passed in November."

So which is it Larry? I guess that depends on how the political winds are blowing.


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Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 26, 2010 at 9:53 am

Hi Narnia...

We ALL use the roads WITHOUT having to buy an additional ticket!

There will only be a small portion of the population who will benefit from having a HSR that connects LA and Sacramento (with a few short hubs elsewhere). Yet it will cost all of us to build and maintain it -- at a time when California is nearly $XXX in debt!

Those who want to get to LA in a faster, safer and cheaper manner will probably continue to use air travel.


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Posted by G, F. Babbitt
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 26, 2010 at 9:55 am

Palo Alto must get the HSR station. It is our birthright.


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Posted by P.A. Native
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 26, 2010 at 10:11 am

@ Crescent Park Dad,

"Redwood City and Mountain View have both scheduled meetings in September to discuss high-speed-rail stations."

I read the article just fine. While there has been debate in M.V. as to how the station would fit into the downtown area, no final decision has been made as of now.


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Posted by Daniel
a resident of another community
on Aug 26, 2010 at 11:08 am

@ ODB

Well lets see, I go down to L.A once every three weeks to a month, One of my uncle's goes every weekend to see his family, my cousin' goes down their every two weeks. Yet none of us use air to get down their. It's inconvinient and it's just easier to hop in your car, fill up the tank and leave. I beleive I share those views with lots of people. Convinience is everything and if you couple it with trip time (Speed), confort, and price. You have yourself a winner. Something the Airlines will Never acheive, nor cars. HSR is the only way and us three have agreed that we would take it every single time.

I think you guys should look at BART and how Peninsula residents turned it down decades ago and now are regreting it, history repeating itself with HSR. Do what's right for the sake of your residents, their families, and the jobs this project will bring. I don't think anybody regrets going into debt to build the Golden Gate, Bay Bridges at a time that we didn't have money.


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Posted by Frustrated
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2010 at 11:19 am

I am going to put my fingers in my ears and let the rest of you argue it out. None of us have any money to spend on anything and probably nothing is going to be built because nobody can agree on it either.


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Posted by Daniel
a resident of another community
on Aug 26, 2010 at 11:20 am

Web Link

This is ridiculous, we can propose to widen 27 Miles of I-5 at a cost of $3B-$4.3 BILLION (Nearly 3/4's Peninsula HSR's funding) but we can't propose upgrading rail for a roughly 60 Mile corridor to not more of the same but upgrading to modern clean rail tech? Fourteen (14) Lanes of freeway they say, more dependence on Oil, wich in turn creats more wars, wich creates more govmn't deficits. It's a losing battle people. The next proposal, A double decker freeway? Guess what, most people will be okay with spending this much money on freeways.


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Posted by wary traveler
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2010 at 11:25 am

Daniel, What's on either side of the I-5 widening? That's the key difference that HSR proponents fail to grasp.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2010 at 11:32 am

Here's another example of who may use HSR - college students. How many attend schools the opposite to where they live north/south? How many times do they or their families travel back and forth? How many of them have cars which they don't really need at school but need just to get back and forth? Over a 4 year college career could HSR make sense particularly taking into account moving their luggage which costs more by plane unless they are only taking one suitcase?

People will use HSR in ways we cannot estimate when it is here just like people would use Caltrain and other public transit if (a) it was more usable and (b) it was well advertised as an option. At present people only think car or plane to LA. Give them an option and they will consider it.


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Posted by Build the station
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2010 at 1:18 pm

High speed trains are safer than airplanes or automobiles. Because the track is separate from roads and freight trains the high speed train is inherently safer. You can read about airplane and automobile crashes every day but who has heard of a high speed train wreck?


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Posted by wary traveler
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2010 at 2:00 pm

You know, I think there are only a few people who are willing to debate you on those points, "Build the station". The concept of high-speed rail is Very Cool. At issue is how it affects the communities it goes through, and whether it can be built in a way that "does no harm". The current plan does not fit that vision. Until the CHSRA becomes more forward-looking and realizes that HOW it gets across the state is at least as important as the allure of an under-3-hour sexy train, people will be rightfully cautious and protective of their communities.


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Posted by Build the station
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2010 at 2:23 pm

Is a grade separated electric train track preferable to the at grade diesel train here now with choking diesel fumes and blaring horns and crossing gates blocking roads backing up cars which have more fumes and slow traffic? The improvement on the current Caltrain is undeniable.


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Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 26, 2010 at 2:55 pm

Hi "Build the station..."

You wrote: ---> "High speed trains are safer than airplanes or automobiles. Because the track is separate from roads and freight trains the high speed train is inherently safer. You can read about airplane and automobile crashes every day but who has heard of a high speed train wreck?" <---

There have been several major HSR tragedies. Ever hear of the Eschede train tragedy in Germany? It killed more than 100 people. In fact, there was a HSR accident in India just a couple of months ago that killed 145 people and injured hundreds more! There have been MANY accidents, derailments, injuries and fatalities associated with HSR systems around the world.

I suggest that you Google "high speed rail crash" and read all about some terrible tragedies in those "forward thinking nations" (*cough cough) that rely on HSRs as a central means of transportation. Maybe you haven't heard of the accidents, deaths and cost of repair because the United States has never had to rely on HSRs for transportation -- because we already have an adequate (and possibly superior) transportation infrastructure. But, let me assure you, there have been plenty of accidents from HSRs (not including underground subways either).

The fact remains that a HSR is not only extremely expensive to build, it is also slower and more expensive (per ticket) than air travel. It is also less safe. Not only is the train affected by non-train issues (collisions with animals and vehicles or derailment from shifting tracks) but it could also be a target of terrorist activities (given its proximity to anyone who wants to get near it).

Furthermore, the cost associated with regular transportation infrastructure (including roads, regular rails, CalTrain, etc...) will remain even if the state went ahead and built it. I worry that this HSR will just turn into another CalTrain project. It is nice in theory, but expensive to operate, expensive to ride and, thus, used by only a small percentage of the population.


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Posted by Build the station
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2010 at 3:44 pm

On the French TGV which has been operating since 1981 there have been no fatalities with millions of passenger miles a year. Trains have derailed in countries where lack of regulation has allowed speeds exceding what is safe for the poorly maintained track. Landing in an airplane is dangerous under the best conditions.


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Posted by Toady
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 26, 2010 at 4:37 pm

"Trains have derailed in countries where lack of regulation has allowed speeds exceding what is safe for the poorly maintained track. "

In that case, we cannot include airplane crashes by airlines that don't maintain their aircraft well or in countries that have airports that are "poorly maintained."

"Landing in an airplane is dangerous under the best conditions."

Really.

You mind backing that up with facts? Or you going to hide behind inane comments like that? (I think I know the answer to that one)

I bet thousands of pilots out there would disagree with you.

You had an earlier comment about plane crashes everyday. So, want to tell me about the 365 crashes that have happened over the last year?


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Posted by heehee....
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 26, 2010 at 6:16 pm

IT'S NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN.
IT'S TOO EXPENSIVE.

WE DON'T HAVE THE MONEY.

GEEZ....GET REAL....


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Posted by Build the station
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2010 at 7:01 pm

@Toady Try looking at the hundreds of NTSB Aviation Accident Dockets. Web Link

Or if you want to limit it to aircraft carrying more than 6 passengers the 1104 dead aircraft passengers in 2009 at Aircraft Crashes Record Office. Web Link

When do most commercial airlines crash? 41% during landing.
Initial approach: 10 per cent
Final approach: 11 per cent
Landing: 25 per cent

Web Link


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Posted by TJ
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 26, 2010 at 7:06 pm

Posters keep saying: "Give the Station to Mountain View". Mountain View City Council has unanimously rejected the station and informed the HSR Authority. They actually offered it to Palo Alto.

Do you remember that before we voted on HSR last November, several East Bay Cities rejected outright any idea of bringing HSR over the Altamont Pass and through their communities. They made their position clear before November's election.

Meanwhile Palo Alto's City Council was passing a resolution supporting HSR. That is why HSR ended up coming over the Pacheco Pass and up the Peninsula. Basically our City Council was asking for it when East Bay cities were roundly rejecting it.

Today (Friday) the HSR Authority have asked for written answers to some outstanding question. Meanwhile two members of our Council, Gail Price and Nancy Shepherd, have said they can't respond because they need more time for input from the community.

This only reinforces the HSR Authorities belief that we're impotent and can't get our act together to answer their questions. If other cities can make quick and strong decision and our City Council can only waffle and procrastinate, other people will make decisions for us namely the HSR Authority.


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Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 26, 2010 at 8:04 pm

Hi "Build the station..."

You wrote: ---> "Try looking at the hundreds of NTSB Aviation Accident Dockets." <---

Why not compare apples to apples? I think that your argument has too many oranges (amongst other fruit) in your comparison.

It would be much better for you to compare COMMERCIAL TRANSPORTATION on large airlines (you know, the kind that MOST PEOPLE ride) with the amount of accidents on HSRs. In fact, it would be better to compare the crashes from large passenger jets (not 6-25 passenger jets) from North America too.

I have a feeling that a comparison of similarly sized transportation methods (large commercial aircraft v. large HSRs) might reveal that more deaths and injuries occur on the trains. I mean, when was the last major commercial airline crash in the United States? I can remember the American Airlines flight headed toward the Dominican Republic that crashed shortly after 9/11 in Queens...but after that, I am at a loss.

The point that I am trying to make is...

1. California cannot afford HSR right now. We are already $XXX BILLION in debt and we furlough our state employees! In addition, Californians can't afford another tax/fee/toll just so we can be like one of those other "forward thinking" (cough cough) countries! Our strange attempt to be like those "forward thinking" (cough cough) countries might be one of the reasons that we are in debt right now!

2. There is NO PRESSING NEED for the HSR. We have sufficient transportation infrastructure that meets the needs of all of our residents! A person from Sacramento can fly to Los Angeles for $49. If the price doubled to $98, it would STILL be cheaper than the off-the-record estimated cost of a single ticket of the HSR! More importantly, we don't have to spend $50-200 Billion building the tracks, stations and machines!

3. The HSR will be extremely expensive to build and will only be used by a fraction of California residents. You can try and compare the HSR with highways and roads, but we don't have to PAY to use them (although there have been some calls by some crazy legislators to change that). If CalTrain is any indication, the HSR would be overpriced, underutilized and costly to maintain (with the cost constantly underestimated with subsequent increases in fare).

4. There are more important needs in our state! How about spending some money on improving our schools, hospitals and roads? How about coming up with a plan for encouraging business development that can create permanent jobs for the 12-15% of residents who are out of work?

I know that these concerns might not bother some of those who are willing to spend everyone's money to get this thing built. Yet, times are tough for so many of us! The current Administration is whispering about the current economic situation being a "new norm" in America. Can we really afford to spend so much money right now? How many Sacramento residents REALLY want to go to Los Angeles during any given week (and vice versa)? Is the demand really that great? How many of them would choose a train over a plane/bus/car?

This looks to be an experiment. Unfortunately, it would be one of the most costly experiments that California has ever participated in! I just don't think that the need (or lack thereof) justifies the enormous cost.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2010 at 8:17 pm

You may be able to get to LA on Southwest for $49, but is it flexible? Can you arrive at the airport and get on the next flight without a reservation? Can you change your return options? If you miss your flight can you just get on the next flight without penalties? Can you take your trade show materials with you on the plane? (They may be light but odd shaped and possibly quite fragile.)
Can you spend the flight on the phone or working on the internet?

All these things can be done by train.


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Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 26, 2010 at 8:28 pm

Hi Resident...

Actually, there is some flexibility with your ticket purchase. I missed a "fun fare" flight once, and they allowed me to get on the next flight (two hours later) without a penalty. Regardless, you can always purchase ANOTHER ticket for $49 -- and the price of TWO tickets would still be less expensive than ONE at the unofficial estimated cost of one ticket on the HSR.

Some airlines are allowing individuals to work on the internet now too. There is also a push to allow individuals to use cell phones too (when not taking off or landing). CalTrain doesn't have wifi, does it? In addition, most of the trip for a HSR will be in the middle of nowhere. I can't call home from Los Altos half of the time due to dead zones. Do you really expect to have cellular service out there? Still, you can always use your laptop on a plane -- even without internet connection. We can "endure" the 1-2 hours between San Fran and LA without a wifi connection, right?

Moreover, the HSR prices and rules haven't even been configured. The "unofficial" estimates range from $99-$225 per ticket (one way) -- IF the costs are correctly estimated. I think that we all know that California estimates are typically UNDER estimated.


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Posted by Show Me The Money
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 27, 2010 at 12:18 am

Every HSR system in the world is subsidized - as is CalTrain and BART. California's HSR would be more of the same without revenue that isn't already over-committed. We're $19 Billion in the hole this year and the same amount is projected for next year.

Where are the private investors with their $12 to $15 Billion the HSR Authority has in its funding plan? They don't exist because they can't see a return on investment.

The funding plan projects $5 Billion is to come from the cities which means 30 cities would have to give $170 Million each. There aren't 10 or 15 California cities that have a yearly budget that large. Would Vallejo be a contributer?

Where will the financially strapped cities get the money for the $150 Million needed for parking garages which the HSR Authority won't fund?

HSR proponents can dream, but must consider reality and hard cost factors.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 27, 2010 at 7:22 am

Build the station is off comparing apples and oranges again. Thanks to Nayeli for jumping in before I had to chance to show how ridiculous your assertions are.


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Posted by john burrows
a resident of another community
on Aug 28, 2010 at 5:53 pm

Why not forget the Mid-Peninsula station entirely? No prime real estate would need to be converted into parking structures, no additional congestion, no additional expense to hard-pressed taxpayers. The lack of a station between Millbrae and San Jose would not be critical. Caltrain would be more than sufficient. For those who favor stopping HSR at San Jose the elimination of a Mid-Peninsula station would amount to nothing.

So cancel the Mid-Peninsula station and instead build another station in the Central Valley. There is a possibility of a station in the Hanford-Visalia area. CHSRA should think seriously about building this station. It would cost less than a Mid-Peninsula station and would meet with far less opposition.

HSR will benefit the cities of the Peninsula to some extent but it's effect upon the Central Valley and upon the state as a whole will be huge. Forget Redwood City, Palo Alto, Mountain View: Build a station in the Hanford-Visalia area instead.


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Posted by Dan
a resident of another community
on Aug 30, 2010 at 2:59 pm

My goodness, Nayeli you are so full of crap! Almost everything you said is either twisted in your favor or a complete lie! Of course "one time when I flew", guess what one time isn't everytime. We don't all get that option. I don't fly whatsoever if it's within California, I would rather drive. If rail was convinient enough like BART where I can just show up and buy a ticket and get their as fast as an airplane with all the conviniences of NOT being on an airplane I would use it every time.

Of course building more roads is FREE right? That's what you imply, roads, public transportation, and most rail is subsidized. The question is at what price roads require constant replacement at a high cost since the amount of traffic using the road greatly reduces it's life requiring constant repaving. Asphalt is made from oil, oil is scarce. Rail maintenance requires that, maintenance of rails two peices of rail for a distance. Train cars require regular maintenance, nothing major. Caltrain's high operating costs have to do with high fuel prices, poor connectivity to other transportation creates low ridership wich then creates low revenue. High Speed Rail is supposed to fix that, it bridges the gap in Bay Area transportation. It doesn't use fuel, but electricity wich can be generated through clean sources, trains are more frequent, serving a wider population wich creates higher farebox recovery to the point it is self sustaining. Of course the Innitial buiding of this will not recovery it's costs, but ask yourself, do roads come close to that? NO, they don't!

Do any of you think the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge was a waste of money? I think that it was a good decision to buiild in a time when the Country was in a depression. This is no different. Obviously fixing our schools doesn't help our society at all judging by your comments. The fact is that our State will be always be in some deficit and if we just sit on our hands nothing will ever get build because someone is scared. Don't be fools, transportation is everything in this sprawl filled country your past leaders have build. Now we must fix all of this, HSR is the only thing we can do. Unless you have a teleporter in your attic, then HSR is obsolete.


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