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Palo Alto raises red flags about rail funding

Original post made on Aug 10, 2012

Nearly a month after California legislators passed a bill to begin construction of high-speed rail, Palo Alto officials are still trying to sort out the ambiguities in the new bill and considering ways to insert "cleanup language" that would ease local anxieties about the highly controversial project.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, August 10, 2012, 5:09 PM

Comments (21)

Posted by Martin Engel, a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 10, 2012 at 6:55 pm

It should be clear by now that, no matter how commendable Palo Alto's position is regarding the high-speed rail project, without leverage -- "clout" --, all the letters, resolutions, lobbying, fact-finding, analysis, etc. that have been and continue to be conducted, are worthless.

There is a basic, non-negotiable position of the Governor and the majority of Democrats in Sacramento. Councilman Klein has it right: the CV will get its useless tracks and ALL available funds will be directed to that end in order to obtain the "free" FRA funding. That is the Governor's mission.

What is Palo Alto's -- or the entire Peninsula's, for that matter -- bargaining position? What could possibly persuade Brown or the Legislature to change their collective minds? Reason? Logic? Priorities? The facts? Strategic planning? Cost/benefit analysis? Fuggedaboudid!

Without a massive, popular uprising in opposition to this project, we can expect nothing to change for the better. Washington today is rife with confrontation politics. And that's what it will take to obtain the changes we are seeking. It's not a pretty picture, but unless our government is made aware of how widespread and how intensively most Californians object to this project, our few voices will be drowned out.


Posted by Carl, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 10, 2012 at 7:48 pm

This is so lame! The Palo Alto City Council voted, unanimously, to support this HSR turkey! What do they expect? Wimps should not complain when the get what they whine for.

HSR will go through Palo Alto, and the rest of the penninsula cities, as a four track elevated system. Get used to it!


Posted by James, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 10, 2012 at 10:05 pm

HSR must operate independently from freight and local transport such as Caltrain. That is how it is done all over the world. Blended systems cause delays, mishaps, and control systems nightmares. Maybe Facebook should pay to put it underground? After all, they have four insider stock holder lock-up periods expiring soon. And people gots to get paid.


Posted by James, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 10, 2012 at 10:05 pm

HSR must operate independently from freight and local transport such as Caltrain. That is how it is done all over the world. Blended systems cause delays, mishaps, and control systems nightmares. Maybe Facebook should pay to put it underground? After all, they have four insider stock holder lock-up periods expiring soon. And people gots to get paid.


Posted by paloaltoresident, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 11, 2012 at 9:29 am

Love Acela on the East Coast, would love it here. A lot of NIMBY behavior mostly driven by a refusal to bury the whole line beneath the city.


Posted by TJ, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 11, 2012 at 10:42 am

But there is still no money.


Posted by axel, a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 12, 2012 at 1:13 am

I'm appreciative of the fact that council did a 180 and is now fighting it, after urging the community to support Prop 1A in 2008. I hope that blunder is emphasized repeatedly in this fall's council election. (Liz Kniss was a big HSR fan too, until she figured out which way the wind was blowing.) We need to keep fighting this -- including Caltrain electrification. Electrification is simply a way of enabling HSR to slip onto the Peninsula without a fight. My bet is that Romney is elected and the Senate goes Republican. If that happens, they'll stop the federal part of HSR funding in a New York Minute. Then we'll have to fight union shills like Rich Gordon and Jerry Hill, who will probably push for funding HSR entirely out of state funds.


Posted by Adina, a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 12, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Caltrain has record ridership and trains are full capacity at rush hour. Electrification will enable it to run a sixth train at peak, plus stop more often at Cal Ave, San Antonio and Menlo Park to take the pressure off of downtown. Opposing electrification means more traffic congestion on the streets, even more competition for parking spaces and local expense for parking structures. We are really biting off our nose to spite our face if we fight electrification as a tool to oppose high speed rail.


Posted by Julian, a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 12, 2012 at 8:11 pm

If the HSR proposal wasn't full of it they'd have no compunctions about separating it from Caltrain electrification. That connection is just a ruse to make it harder to oppose the turkey.


Posted by I don't need no edukation, duh train is a comin', a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 12, 2012 at 9:22 pm

I'm hopeful that the electrification of Caltrain is a success, however, with EVERYTHING remotely connected to CA HSR, the devil is in the details. The CA HSR Authority has either lied, denied, or made up virtually every aspect of HSR, especially details about how it will impact communities all over the state. That is not a Palo Alto centric issue.

Having said that, I believe that the Caltrain funds will be swallowed up by the central valley project. Who is to stop them, the Governor? Furthermore, the Caltrain funding legislation speaks at length about adding more trains per hour or day along the corridor, and furthermore, the CA HSR plan is still the 4-track plan. Our 'leaders in Sacramento couldn't care less about that detail. As pointed out earlier, the Caltrain carrot/lie was most likely an enticement for legislators, like our half wit rep Gordon, to support it.

Finally, it seems to me that train safety is cited at length as a justification to spend these funds. Ok, why no mention of person safety? Honestly, when was the last time any trains collided along the Caltrain corridor? I can't think of one. When was the last train car or person collision? There are too many to count. My point is, why are there virtually NO funds for grade separations on the Peninsula? More trains result in more rail crossing gates down, resulting in more traffic. More trains, and probably faster trains, will also sadly result in more really accidental deaths on the tracks. Well, so long as the trains are safe, I guess that's ok with Brown and his yes men.


Posted by YIMBY, a resident of University South
on Aug 13, 2012 at 11:45 am

YIMBY is a registered user.

What am I missing?

Palo Alto tries to kill Senate Bill 1029, and now is trying "to clean it up"?
Isn't this inherently contradictory, i.e. how can you really be taken seriously if you tried to prevent the bill from becoming law in the first place?


Posted by ZoBon, a resident of another community
on Aug 13, 2012 at 12:00 pm

That electrification stuff's gonna bite ya.

When the juice stops, EVERYTHING stops. The trains, the A/C, the lights. Can you imagine that?


Posted by Tim, a resident of University South
on Aug 13, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Every hour the city council spends debating a state issue is a waste of taxpayer money. It would be similar to the state legislature trying to discuss military funding or Social Security. Not their business, not within their power, and therefore a waste of time and money.


Posted by senor blogger, a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 13, 2012 at 2:33 pm

Just where is the City getting the money to hire lobbyists and fight this Progressive Project.
What is the budget line item. Where is the voter mandate?
I challenge any Council Member to answer these simple questions


Posted by dave , a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 13, 2012 at 3:41 pm

One item in the original Prop. A was that private money would be part of the funding. No private organization has even hinted at supporting the project. They recognize a loser, i.e. no profits, when they see it.


Posted by Janie, a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 13, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Should never have been put on the ballot from the beginning.


Posted by Choo Choo Charlie, a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Aug 13, 2012 at 5:20 pm

Palo Alton's voted 70% to 30% in favor or Prop 1A in 2008 with Palo Alto City Council voting unanimously in favor of the HSR Project. In the standard wishy washy Palo Alto mentality, now Palo Altan's wring their hands in doubt. Your local politicians mislead you and still you blame others because everybody should now somehow listen to your reformed ideology. What a joke! So goes it with a transient population like Palo Alto ( 53% who are renters according to the 2010 U.S. Census). The choo-choo trains a comin'... get onboard or get out of the way!


Posted by ODB, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 13, 2012 at 6:56 pm

Electrified CalTrain and improvements to L.A. Metro were not, repeat NOT part of Prop 1A. The electorate did not vote on that. Even Quentin Kopp questions whether it's is legal. Quentin Kopp, of all people!


Posted by Parent, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 13, 2012 at 10:00 pm

70% of Palo Alto saw that Prop 1A promised that the authority would be required to show full funding for a complete usable segment of HIGH SPEED RAIL before proceeding to build. (not conventional rail, not Caltrain, Metrolink, not stranded empty non-electrified track in the middle of nowhere. Therefore knowing damn well that the authority could not muster than funding, people said - sure go ahead, when monkeys fly, we approve bond funding. Now all of a sudden the authority and governor, and the puppet democrats that are bought and paid for by unions and developers, and foamers like Choo Choo Charlie - all don't think the rules set forth by Prop 1A, and approved by the voters, are all that important. (Because they know damn well, that Prop 1A sets forth impossible prerequisites.) So Palo Altan's will fight the rip off.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 13, 2012 at 10:03 pm

Its funny how the thieves supporting HSR like to quote the voter approval of Prop 1A,,, But yet, they really can't, and don't intend to, follow the requirements set for by Prop 1A.


Posted by choo choo charlie, a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Feb 15, 2013 at 3:50 pm

Add the poster "Parent" as one of the lemmings who voted for Prop 1A and now blame everyone for their misinformed ignorance. What a pity!


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