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High-speed rail on tonight's council agenda

Original post made on Jan 22, 2013

High-speed rail will be back on the agenda of the Palo Alto City Council tonight as members are asked to update the city's "guiding principles" on the project.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, January 22, 2013, 9:50 AM

Comments (35)

Posted by Evan, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 22, 2013 at 10:16 am

Palo Alto's leadership should be absolutely embarrassed about their opposition to high-speed rail. Future generations, as they board high-speed rail trains to LA, San Diego and Sacramento, will look back and wonder why, why do we not have a high-speed rail station in Palo Alto? The horrendous current leadership in Palo Alto is the answer. I'm ashamed of my hometown.


Posted by long time, a resident of Southgate
on Jan 22, 2013 at 10:35 am

Way to go Council. Bottom line is still a major waste of funding.


Posted by Read up before you speak., a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 22, 2013 at 10:38 am

With rail going through cities in areas that abut schools, homes, parks, the devil is in the details. They got the details all WRONG. The impacts on cities will be enormous. Palo Alto's reponse has been thoughtful.

Don't just listen to the HSR staff most of whom don't even know what is in their own EIR. They are an enormous, loosely connected network of consultants who don't talk with each other enough. They are each working on their isolated pieces, creating an unworkable system.

Do your homework. Read the hefty reports and then see if you still support it. I bet you won't.


Posted by Wondering?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 22, 2013 at 11:29 am

> will look back and wonder why, why do we not have
> a high-speed rail station in Palo Alto?

Wonder how many Palo Altans would be boarding every train for points south?
Wonder how many non-Palo Altans would be boarding every train for points south?
Wonder how the non-Palo Altans would be driving to the train station?
Wonder where the non-Palo Altans would be parking their vehicles during their stay?

Answering these questions might give one some insight into why Palo Alto "leadership" is opposed to an HSR station in Palo Alto.


Posted by oh my, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 22, 2013 at 11:34 am

dear "read up",
you are right the details must be wrong, they want to build this in your back yard. besides, this must be bad, after all it is a change.


Posted by Robert, a resident of Stanford
on Jan 22, 2013 at 11:49 am

Another classic from "Evan" (from the "Crescent Park" area of his "hometown"): "Palo Alto's leadership should be absolutely embarrassed about their opposition to high-speed rail...I'm ashamed of my hometown."

Evan should think more carefully before he fires off his next agitated rhetorical blast against the City Council members who oppose this project. (His use of the adjectives "absolutely" and "ashamed" is telling.)

Based on what he wrote, Evan is confused about the nature of the opposition. He fails to make the CRUCIAL intellectual distinction between opposition to (A) high-speed rail PER SE; and to (B) THIS PARTICULAR high-speed rail project, i.e., the model, right of way, and support studies as promulgated by CHSRA for the San Francisco Peninsula. (The envisaged train would travel aboveground through Peninsula communities, on top of a berm, and make use of an "aerial" system of some sort for reasons of minimizing cost.)

Many people, including this writer, who are against (B) for social and financial reasons are NOT against A. Many people opposed to (B) would withdraw their opposition to it if the plan were changed to an underground model. However, even if the train were undergrounded on the Peninsula, many others would remain opposed to B on the grounds that it is too costly to the state and is of dubious economic viability. That too is a legitimate concern.

In his agitated state, Evan failed to recognize such nuances and the fact that several members of the PACC who are against (B) are by no means against (A). If he had, he might have avoided another of his agitated blanket condemnations.





Posted by FrankF, a resident of Ventura
on Jan 22, 2013 at 11:54 am

FrankF is a registered user.

Got to agree with Evan, Palo Alto should be in the leadership of this project not opposition.


Posted by A, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jan 22, 2013 at 12:12 pm

To those of you supporting HSR, I understand that it would be a great thing to have. The problem is the process has very obviously been completely corrupted by construction interests that have perhaps become a little too greedy for their own good. If you do not believe the latest cost reduction (what large construction project does not have overruns?), it looks like the cost PER MILE will be $250 million! and most of this distance is rural. Think for a moment what that kind of money can buy instead. In France, the cost of the TGV was only $24 million per mile.

If you followed The CAHSRA it is too obvious what they are up to. they are all industry insiders, and they are not forthcoming with information.

It is also true that the project does not meet the requirements laid out in the prior referendum to go ahead with construction, and I would expect a lawsuit regarding that soon.


Posted by Joe knows, a resident of Professorville
on Jan 22, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Joe Simitian, one of the people who voted FOR high speed rail time and again and believes in HSR done right explained eloquently why THIS proposal is a bad idea. See for yourself.

Web Link


Posted by Wow!, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 22, 2013 at 1:40 pm

Wow!

> it looks like the cost PER MILE will be $250 million!
> and most of this distance is rural

This seems like a lot of money. Can you provide a link to the source of the estimate? Would you happen to know if this cost includes financing?

And then .. there are operational costs to add into the total cost of this beast.

Wow!


Posted by Robert, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 22, 2013 at 1:46 pm

@Joe Knows: Thank you for posting that link to Sen. Simitian's statement preceding his "NO!" vote on committing almost $3 billion of the Prop. 1A bond money to build 130 miles of track in the valley.

I listened to the entire 17-minute presentation by Sen. Simitian and, in candor, thought it was a TOUR DE FORCE. It was an eminently fair, balanced, informed, and insightful presentation that was logically clear and articulately presented. I salute Sen. Simitian for the quality of thought and political courage it reflected.

I wonder if "Evan" was or would be "ashamed" of his "hometown" Senator's presentation prior to the vote or whether he thought his leadership was "horrendous." I doubt we'll ever know. It's rare that people are willing to join the issues on the basis of merits of the carefully crafted arguments put forward by intellectually serious advocates.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 22, 2013 at 1:59 pm

@ Robert: Nicely done.


Posted by A Nonnie Mouse, a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Jan 22, 2013 at 3:22 pm

This has been on their agenda before. Last year, we stayed at that particular meeting until nearly 11 pm, and they still had not gotten to the HSR issue. They discussed all of the little piddling things at length for nearly four hours. Many people left, having given up on the HSR topic coming up before daylight.

It is important to a lot of people whose houses will be worthless if this goes through!


Posted by Brock, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 22, 2013 at 4:34 pm

We fianally have the leadership at both the national and state level to build the HSR vision.

We have President Obama and Gov. Brown to thank.


Posted by dave, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 22, 2013 at 4:41 pm

A major source of funding for the HSR (as approved by the voters) was "private funding". I have never of any private enterprise which wants to invest in this project.

If it is such a great money-making idea, where is the private capital looking for profit? Answer: it doesn't exist. From start to finish this will be a black hole into which we will sink our tax money. Wait until the first segment is built (if ever) and note the large overruns on money and time.


Posted by John, a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 22, 2013 at 5:04 pm

If you build it they will come.


Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 22, 2013 at 7:02 pm

Here's the city council's updated position:

We were for the HSR (see 2008 vote in endorsing the project) before we were against it.

We can be for the HSR again, if there is some grant money to be had - we got Grant money by reducing lanes on California ave, proposing a bike bridge over 101, and more grant money for the bike trail along a creek.

Otherwise, we will wait to hear from the unions and Sierra Club to see what their position is, and we will conform to their guidance.

And by the way, even though right now we have a position against the HSR, we will endorse state legislators who are for the HSR (like Rich Gordon & Jerry Hill), for their votes to releasing the bond money to build the first segment in the Central Valley. Who says we can't play both sides?

By the way, in the interests in keeping tonight's meeting short, this discussion should only take about 2 hours.


Posted by Grace, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 22, 2013 at 7:03 pm

I'm amazed that all the Barack Hussein Obama worshipers in Palo Alto voted for him in spite of him wanting to cut Palo Alto in half with the HSR. Palo Alto liberals are going to get what they deserve. An elevated train, eminant domain gobbling up houses for the train and train parking lots, loss of the beautiful views of the Stanford hills due to the train elevation, graffiti on the walls of the train track elevation, Palo Alto High School losing some of its fields, Old Palo Alto losing property values and desirability due to its close proximity to the train, etc. etc. etc. And we haven't even discussed the fact that California doesn't have the money to proceed with this corrupt venture.


Posted by Larry Cohn, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 22, 2013 at 7:21 pm

We all know that in Palo Alto, money grows on trees. If it grows on trees in Palo Alto, it is not much of a leap to imagine that it grows on trees everywhere. That is why there are still Palo Altans who still believe CAHSR is a good idea. Cost overruns? Bond interest? Lack of private funding? Low ridership? Bring it all on! The state can simply go to the nearest money tree like we have in Palo Alto with a great big bushel basket and start harvesting.

I can't believe there are still people who don't see through this project, unless they are the usual HSR shills.


Posted by Nayeli, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 22, 2013 at 8:40 pm

The HSR is still a boondoggle that isn't needed at a time when California can't even balance its own budget.


Posted by Nayeli, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 22, 2013 at 8:56 pm

@ oh my:

"Back yard?" I guess that I am a proud "NIMBY" -- even though I rent and don't quite qualify for "middle class" by Palo Alto standards. I don't want this in my back yard.

However, I also don't want a Wal-Mart Supercenter in my back yard. I don't want a strip club in my back yard. I don't want a regional Greyhound bus depot in my back yard. I don't want battery or pharmaceutical production facility in my back yard. I don't want a free abortion clinic in my back yard. I don't want a marijuana distribution center in my back yard. As much as I like music, I also don't want a Tejano bar in my back yard.

If the "good of the community" is the standard by which we determine what should be permitted in our "back yard," then why doesn't all of the anti-NIMBY's also recommend the building of a government housing project high rise to run adjacent to Stanford University, University Avenue, along Page Mill Road or next to one of the high schools? Or, is the associated "consequences" of such a development a bit worrisome?

Since it seems that the housing availability in East Palo Alto is somewhat limited, perhaps the "goodness" in the hearts of Palo Alto non-NIMBY's will cause their compassion to WANT such a thing built literally on the same block as their $1.5 Million home. These new government housing project residents could sit next to you on this multi-Billion dollar HSR, right?

Is it possible that the readily-used "NIMBY" phrase might be used very selectively according to our own personal wants?


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 22, 2013 at 9:05 pm


If HSR were a viable business then private investors would make it happen.

They have all rejected it as a very bad deal-because

-it will have NO customers

And therefore would require many billions of taxpayer money to support a useless boondoggle which a few unions want

Al Gore has left the building

- after selling his TV station to an Arab oil state--the Gore pantheistic cult is dead

-but Gore now is very wealthy-he flies around the world on his private jet

-his houses use 20 times the energy of a normal house

- Gore is a fraud and a hypocrite

End of story - end of HSR


Posted by Whit, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 22, 2013 at 10:38 pm

I'm glad the city is doing what they can to mitigate the massive fraud otherwise known as High Speed Rail. The engineering firm that sponsored prop 1a, is the same engineering firm that is essentially the staff of HSR, and now one of their former employees is at the helm of the CA HSR project. Secrecy, deceit, miss information, and a conspicuous and utter lack of the private investors that were supposed to fall all over themselves to secure a stake in this project speak volumes as to it's real purpose; to fleece the tax payers of this state for every penny they can. That engineering firm running the CA HSR project, Parsons Brinckerhoff, is perhaps better known as the 'brains' behind another infamous swindling of tax payers, the so called Big Dig in Boston a few years ago. The CA HSR project is just as bad, but at least an order of magnitude larger in terms of ultimate cost to the tax payer.


Posted by A, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jan 23, 2013 at 12:05 am

To Wow!

The 250 million cost per mile comes from simple division. Take the 100 billion (roughly) original cost estimate and divide by 400 miles between SF and LA. Due to public outcry, they recently cut the cost estimate to 68 billion, but it is doubtful any project of this size will meet budget estimates. The cost of 24 million per mile for the completed TGV in France comes from Wikipedia (after converting units).


Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 23, 2013 at 1:00 am

@Evan - the reason very few people will ever ride the train (if it gets built), is that even by the very optimistic estimates of supporters, it will take 2:38 minutes. I guarantee after all the route manipulation, and safety issues, etc, it will be 3+ hours. So it is not like you can live in SF and commute to LA. Business travelers will still take the 1 hour flight. It is a 100 billion dollar vanity project for train lovers. Total disaster.


Posted by galen, a resident of Ventura
on Jan 23, 2013 at 6:12 am

Anyone who supports this shameless HSR boondoggle is all of the below: naive; unaware or uncaring that this HSR proposal expressly violates the terms of the ballot proposal in several important ways and is therefore illegal; very bad a basic math; and unable to think logically.

This HSR will never be completed (thank god!). The only question is how much money will be burned and how much of our State will be destroyed by this nepotistic feeding frenzy.

-- galen


Posted by Robert, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 23, 2013 at 12:01 pm

@Mr Recycle: your comment to "Evan," while perhaps valid, will not persuade him. Evan does not care about the details of THIS HRS proposal. He is enchanted with the Platonic IDEA of HSR and thinks that anyone who opposes THIS proposal is against HSR in general. Hence he dismisses any expression of such concerns. In short, don't hold your breath waiting for a reasoned response from him.


Posted by WP train tracks, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jan 23, 2013 at 12:46 pm

I LOVE this: "you are right the details must be wrong, they want to build this in your back yard. besides, this must be bad, after all it is a change."

Great post!

What is all the noise about HSR being so bad?!!? What a crock. A couple more trains??

Yesterday, last night, today, tonight and tomorrow, I heard/will hear those friggin' freight and passenger trains at all hours. Raise the tracks like San Carlos. Eliminate all the extra whistle noise and bells clacking all day and night!

Build HSR. Move forward, not back to the Fifities the way the flat-earthers and NIMBY's would like.


Posted by A Nonnie Mouse, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 23, 2013 at 1:33 pm

Rumor has it that there are billionaires on the Peninsula who are suing to keep HSR from coming through here. Because of this there are some custom home builders who feel confident building near the current RR tracks. I hope they are correct in this thinking because if they are not, people who live along Park Ave will lose their homes to Eminent Domain. People living too close to Alma will find their homes unsellable and worthless. Lives will be ruined for a train that will have little to no ridership!

Look at much of the HSRs in Europe: they are losing money every year, their routes being cut to save money. HSR only works in super metropolises such as Tokyo,New York, London. There is not enough population density outside of Los Angeles for it to work here. Even the successful HSRs have a lot of government subsidization....can we afford that?


Posted by WP train tracks, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jan 23, 2013 at 2:29 pm

Fear-mongering, second to last resort of scoundrels: "People living too close to Alma will find their homes unsellable and worthless. Lives will be ruined for a train that will have little to no ridership!"

Beware! Be afraid! Be scared! The future is too scary! You need to go back to the Fifties!

Or earlier: Naysayers Gonna Naysay - Joseph Ducreux, 1793 Web Link

;-)

or: Web Link


Posted by neighbor, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 23, 2013 at 3:30 pm

Governor Brown and President Obama have been steadfast supporters of HSR - making it happen. Why haven't they responded to inquiries, concerns, pleas from Palo Altans? After all, PA is "where the money is," when it comes to political donations. Or are the unions who will get the exclusive work even more powerful voices? I have gone back and forth on HSR as more info as come available, yet it is very clear the costs are totally exhorbitant and CA as well as the USA are already too far in debt for HSR to make compete sense.


Posted by A Neck Dote, a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 23, 2013 at 5:07 pm

Well, what happened at the City Council meeting. can anyone fill us in? Hopefully they got to the HSR subject well before midnight this time.


Posted by A Neck Dote, a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 23, 2013 at 5:11 pm

Housing prices on Park Ave started dropping significantly in 2012, despite the increases elsewhere in PA, due to the fear of Eminent Domain. real Estate agents are counselling buyers not to buy within several blocks of the tracks, because such purchases will be bad investments should HSR go through.

So I was told by someone at Coldwell Banker when looking to buy in Old PA or Professorville.


Posted by Nayeli, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 23, 2013 at 5:20 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Skin in the game, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 23, 2013 at 5:35 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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