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Rail authority's new report draws criticism

Original post made on Sep 2, 2010

The agency charged with building California's high-speed rail system adopted a crucial environmental document for the rail line Thursday morning, despite calls from Peninsula critics that the new document is deeply flawed and could lead to litigation.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, September 2, 2010, 5:05 PM

Comments (32)

Posted by TrainIsComing, a resident of another community
on Sep 2, 2010 at 7:18 pm

Another lawsuit will probably result in another dismissal. The result will be a minor delay in this major transportation improvement.

Posted by Note, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 2, 2010 at 8:09 pm

Reporting should be neutral and in my opinion the reporting on HSR by the Palo Alto Weekly is anything but neutral. It emphasizes local opposition to the project and highlights what they think is wrong with the project. Little coverage is given to any other point of view and I think that's shameful.

Posted by Robert, a resident of Southgate
on Sep 2, 2010 at 8:33 pm

@"Note", a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood.

A newspaper should print a news story when something newsworthy happens, e.g., when city representatives express more and more anger at the CHSRA and threaten more lawsuits. What would you like the PA Weekly to do, write an extensive story full of juicy quotes when CHSRA's "board of directors" routinely follow Diridon's lead and "certify" the latest environmental impact document (as if they ever seriously debated it and passed it in a close vote)? There's a decent quote in the article from Pringle's pseudo statement -- probably written by Olgivy, CHSRA's PR agency funded by our tax dollars. What more could the author do? Interview Rod Diridon or Quinton Kopp and ask them what they think of the move they're orchestrating? The Weekly's focus should be on what's happening locally in this attempted naked power play masquerading as a panacea for many of society's ills.

Posted by thetruth, a resident of another community
on Sep 2, 2010 at 8:36 pm

Good someone also points out what game Paloalto online or may I add Gennady Sheyner is always salting and slanting

Posted by thetruth, a resident of another community
on Sep 2, 2010 at 8:41 pm

And then there is the of course "truth" from the local Nimbys and deniers and teabagger types that all is a lie and anyone posting postive is of course "working" for CAHSR !!!

Posted by Michael, a resident of Barron Park School
on Sep 2, 2010 at 9:34 pm

I say go girl. Let's get this done. I will stop flying to LA.and take rail instead. Can't wait.

Posted by resident, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 2, 2010 at 10:14 pm

I'd like to know what newspaper doesn't have a slant. The Wall Street Journal makes a strong effort, but the PAWeekly is no different than any other paper...this one leans left on political issues of all surprise here. Its Palo Alto. Nothing neutral will ever be printed. Just like the SFChron, NY TImes to. Left left left.

Posted by T Tierney, a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 2, 2010 at 10:33 pm

It seems easy for the pro-train nimby audience to make remarks about what happens in someone else's backyard. This is a matter that affects people who live here. Now that we understand the destruction this HSR could have on our community, its benefit to the train hobbyist does not justify its construction.

Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2010 at 12:26 am

"Nimbys and deniers and teabagger types"

In Palo Alto? You really are from out of town, aren't you.

Thank you for your comment T. Tierney, you speak for me, too. I think if we looked at the URL's of those posting (and the Weekly makes no promise of anonymity in its terms), we'd get the real picture.

A lot of outsiders trying to pose as Palo Alto residents to talk up the one version of HSR that threatens Palo Alto? THAT would be news. How bout it, Weekly?

Posted by thetruth, a resident of another community
on Sep 3, 2010 at 8:36 am

Nimbys from Atherton/PA/menlo are all over the media/web with antiHSR storys and made up dont play that victim game again..whats good for the goose is good for the gander..this is a state wide project and not some little condo builder your groups usually push around..If you people thinking your going to ruin HSR just because PA demands so ..go get a big cup of coffee!! PS I come thru PA on CAltrain all the time to Stanford

Posted by Mikeorama, a resident of another community
on Sep 3, 2010 at 9:13 am

Anyhoo, back to the subject at hand ... why does the City of Palo Alto think that it can re-litigate on issues that the court has already dismissed and on which the court has ruled that there is no cause to reconsider based on new information? The Program EIR was deemed deficient in a limited number of areas (vibration; Union Pacific ROW) and CHSRA says that its new document addresses those areas ... I suppose PA could litigate based on a claim that the new EIR does not adequately address those issues. But claims about ridership projections etc, the court has already rejected those and rejected pleas to reconsider based on "new" information.

Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2010 at 10:22 am

"Nimbys from Atherton/PA/menlo are all over the media/web with antiHSR storys and made up facts"

What's your angle that you are so set on smearing hardworking people all along this Peninsula, in order to defend a specific route on a small leg of the HSR route across the entire state?

In case I might be able to breach your fog of smug self-interest, people in this area support high speed rail. They mostly voted for it. They would like it to be done in a way that improves the transportation SYSTEM. Shoving this project right through the heart of their communities is not a necessary aspect of creating high speed rail for California.


Posted by Frank, a resident of Ventura
on Sep 3, 2010 at 10:56 am

The title "Rail authority's new report draws criticism" is certainly redundant - as if the HSR could say anything that would not draw criticism from someone.

As for those who think that those who oppose their view are from "out of town" (I believe there were comments implying this from both sides). I really think those in other towns will debate this in their local paper or perhaps in larger forums.

Personally I support HRS. I live a few hundred feet from the tracks and I think grade level (with the cross streets put under the tracks) or the tracks in a trench (which might mean bringing Oregon Expressway up to grade) is the best solution. I also believe the HSR improvements will help Caltrain run quieter and pollute less and the traffic jams around the tracks during rush hour will be much better after the streets do not cross the tracks.

I think talk of a "Berlin Wall" or of reduced property values are ridiculous. Electric trains are quieter and no cross streets means they do not blow their horns unless something is in their way. I think if we got a station here it would improve our property values as a whole new class of resident would consider living here.

But I do believe those who oppose it have valid view points and dismissing someone as "out of town" does not help.

Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2010 at 11:16 am

"The title "Rail authority's new report draws criticism" is certainly redundant - as if the HSR could say anything that would not draw criticism from someone."

@ Frank,
The article goes on to describe the specific criticism -- just because you don't like that criticism doesn't make it right for you to dismiss those views as invalid. Sure, there's critics for anything anyone does is public. It doesn't invalidate the VALID criticisms that were made of the rail authority's report, the subject of the article (with appropriate headline).

I'd be okay with a covered trench (even open some places). I think a lot of people would. Go back and read the previous discussions.

And go back and look at where people are from while your at it. A lot of mean-spirited insults have been hurled at Palo Altans from people outside of Palo Alto. Most of the proponents of doing HSR without regard to how it would affect Palo Alto or other Peninsula communities are from elsewhere.

For awhile in these discussions, a whole lot of posters sounding exactly like those from "another community" were claiming to be from Palo Alto. Nobody would have problems with their being from out-of-town if they weren't spouting stereotypes, insults, and promising to impose a narrow view of what they want on us without bothering to know what's here.

I'm like you. I support HSR. Like our City Counsel, I want it done in a way that makes it a resource rather than a burden.

Posted by BABIES, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 3, 2010 at 11:33 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Timothy Gray, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 3, 2010 at 11:48 am

The current configuration demonstrates no attempt to mitigate the extreme harm that this project would cause to our community.

The Palo Alto Voices are not "NIMBY", but simply call for the HSR Authority to do it right. Very reasonable.

Being against a third-world design for what had previously been advertised as a World-Class project, is not anti-HSR.

To falsely label the correct citizen protect as NIMBY and Anti-HSR is an unethical deception that simply needs to end.

Do it right or don't do it at all. The plan is not right, so the HSR Authority has forced us into an inexcapable conclusion. Give us a World-class plan that respects the communities and you will find all kinds of support for the greater good.


Tim Gray

Posted by John, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 3, 2010 at 12:12 pm

I don't think Palo Alto has yet taken a position on the subject. Certain residents of Palo Alto have, but I don't believe the City has.

Posted by BABIES, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 3, 2010 at 12:18 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Frank, a resident of Ventura
on Sep 3, 2010 at 12:32 pm

"Extreme Harm"? Improving the tracks, switching to quieter trains, eliminating the grade level crossings (where the accidents happen). How is any of that harmful at all?

Running more trains? Perhaps, but quieter and less diesel soot from all trains - mitigates that.

Let's keep the discussion real. There are some issues here but "Extreme Harm" is just not on the table.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 3, 2010 at 12:39 pm

HSR plain and simple:
This will be the nail that truly ruins this state for generations to come.
Besides ruining the lifes of many now!
But, who cares, as long as the "Selfish Me-Me-Me" persons get to LA quicker.
Those who want it for these selfish reasons need to stop and think of others.
Amazing and outrageous that people are willing to create this much damage to get to somewhere a few hours earlier by train! Are we at the bottom of the selfish pit? Yes!

Posted by Myhometoo, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 3, 2010 at 1:51 pm

Maybe we should just re-route it through all the towns and backyards of the people who really want it to run. Hmmm, I see a change in tune.

Posted by Observer, a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 3, 2010 at 2:20 pm

I wish it were possible to say something here that might move the discussion into more reasonable territory but I can see that both sides are entrenched in their positions. Disappointing to see adults behave with so little grace and no sense of obligation to our state and its citizens to collaborate in finding the best solution for the most people.

Posted by I love trains, but the current HSR Plan doesn't work, a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 3, 2010 at 3:02 pm

Frank of Ventura neighborhood. I sincerely hope you will carefully reconsider your opinion about bringing Oregon Expressway to grade. Consider what this would mean. Alma Expressway and Oregon Expressway would then intersect, requiring a signal that would stop through traffic, creating significant delays on BOTH crosstown expressways. This is a monumentally BAD idea for local traffic. It would push very high volumes of expressway auto traffic to other streets not designed to carry high volumes.

HSR across the state might work. However, I don't think it can be extended down the Peninsula as proposed. It would be better to improve Peninsula local Caltrain service to connect better to HSR in SJ. That would solve two problems--bring better local service to the Peninsula (rather than reducing local trains and undermining local auto routes) as the current HSR Peninsula plan would do)and give people connections to HSR when they need it.

Posted by BABIES, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 3, 2010 at 6:56 pm

Babies!!!! your paper cant have your lies and fake facts disputed!!! so they remove them!!!

Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 3, 2010 at 8:22 pm

I can't help wondering how many posters are in the employ of Ogilvy, the HSR PR agency, which is getting 9 million taxpayer dollars to tell "the truth" about HSR.

Employing bloggers to spread "the truth" is a common PR tactic.

Posted by thetruth, a resident of another community
on Sep 3, 2010 at 8:34 pm

PS Pat..see comment above!!! what a laugh!! yes anyone for HSR works for the big bad CAHSR!! I did not know I was employed by them?? when are medical centers being put aboard trains?

Posted by Neighbor, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 3, 2010 at 10:43 pm

"the truth"---- please read the post more carefully. All that was said was "wonder how many" are employed by th PR firm, which is not the same as suggesting that all supporters are employees of the PR firm. Interesting,though, that it appears that a pretty large number of supporters don't live in or near a community most affected negatively by HSR (whether through eminent domain, substantial increase in neighborhood traffic, or unsightly construction, or other effects of the rail).

frank, check with the realtors -- property values along the corridor are definitely down and the homes are much harder to sell.

Posted by g'bye NIMBYs, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 4, 2010 at 1:46 pm

PA Weekly is now in a neighborhood directly impacted by imaginary HSR 'negatives'. That explains the Weekly's bias in this matter. In fact, Weekly principals own the building that might suffer property value loss (if it hasn't already) due to HSR myths. Hmmmmm....

Posted by Adam Selene, a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 5, 2010 at 10:18 am

Suggesting, implying or wondering that some posters are shills for HSR is circumstantial ad hominem and discredits your posts. You would do better to attack their arguments.

Posted by YIMBY, a resident of University South
on Sep 6, 2010 at 6:15 pm

YIMBY is a registered user.

I don't think the article was particularly slanted - the Chron's take was similar: Web Link

In all the comments, most debated the merits vs. demerits of HSR, with particular attention to running it up peninsula. However, the article was foremost about the certification of the EIR, with secondary attention on whether HSR Authority listened to Peninsula (and other) opponents. Lost in 'our' debate here, and also I would have to say in the article, is the chronology of the issue, especially in regards to recent court ruling, which is strange because Gennady had recently written about it:
"Judge won't reopen high-speed-rail challenge
Court rejects Peninsula coalition's bid to reopen the case to force rail authority to revise ridership numbers"
Web Link

A key paragraph in article: "The new document includes revisions to sections dealing with project description, vibration impacts and Union Pacific's opposition to sharing its corridor with the new high-speed-rail system. But it does nothing to dispel the concerns voiced by Palo Alto and other Peninsula cities about the ridership projections in the document."
When the EIR was decertified last fall by court due to litigation, the issues where it failed were the ones noted above, and ridership was NOT one of them. I would have liked to have seen Gennady mention his earlier article discussing the judge's dismissal of the ridership complaint, if I read Gennady's 8/23 article correctly ("Kenny wrote in his ruling that the coalition failed to demonstrate that the new evidence would have led to a different ruling a year ago. He faulted the plaintiffs for not discovering the flaws in the ridership model before last year's ruling and also wrote that the coalition had not exhausted all of its legal avenues.")

Posted by Robert, a resident of Southgate
on Sep 6, 2010 at 9:07 pm

@thedistorter (self-baptised as "the truth"),

Predictably, you resort to gross hyperbole. No one here who is opposed to or concerned about HSR has ever said that "anyone" in favor of HSR works for "the big bad CAHSR [sic]." What some have said, quite plausibly, is that it is curious that a high percentage of the people making assertive and aggressive pro-HSR posts seem to be "residents of another community." If you don't think that some of these folks could be plants of Ogilvy, CHSRA's multi-million dollar, tax payer-fundedPR firm, then you are blissfully innocent of the deviousness of contemporary PR campaigns, some of which are spiritual cousins of Lee Atwater-like political dirty tricks campaigns. I apologize for introducing complexity into the discussion; it's so much easier to make crude generalizations and to distort what one's opponents have actually claimed, creating straw men that a sharp grammar school kid could knock down.

Posted by YIMBY, a resident of University South
on Sep 7, 2010 at 11:06 am

YIMBY is a registered user.

I tried to put the EIR certification response by PA and other Peninsula cities and HSR opponents into context in my Planetizen posting:
HSR Opponents Vow To Continue Litigation:
Contention over how California's high speed rail train from Los Angeles should access the Bay Area appears to be the dispute that won't go away. Having just lost their case in court only 2 weeks ago, approval of the Pacheco Pass may continue (the court case)
Web Link
The article summarized is the Chrons' while an earlier PA Online article is included in the body.

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