Five neighborhood leaders, four business representatives, an environmentalist, a member of Canopy, a bicyclist, a Caltrain rider, a social-service specialist and representatives from Stanford University and the local school district will soon be charged with developing Palo Alto's official vision for the Caltrain Corridor.
The City Council decided Monday night to appoint a new task force that would help the city conduct a new multi-year analysis of the Caltrain Corridor, which runs through the middle of the city and which is eyed by state officials as the preferred route for the proposed high-speed-rail system.
The new group would also assist city officials with public outreach relating to high-speed rail. The new 15-member task force will hold public meetings and will regularly report to the city's Planning and Transportation Commission. It will also serve as "a conduit to and from other stakeholders and should work with staff to set up networks and techniques at the outset of the process to ensure engagement of the broader community throughout the study."
The council on Monday night held a lengthy debate on the composition of the task force, which they ultimately decided should have at least one architect and one real estate agent. The council also agreed that there should be at least four neighborhood leaders and one member of the umbrella group, Palo Alto Neighborhoods.
The council decided to include more neighborhood representatives than staff initially recommended after hearing from several residents who urged greater neighborhood representation. Elaine Meyer said the staff proposal, which called for three neighborhood representatives, favors developers over city residents.
"I wonder if the city needs a gentle reminder about whose interests it's supposed to serve," Meyer told the council.
Councilman Larry Klein agreed and said he doesn't want this task force to become a "Trojan horse for development forces." The council debated several possible compositions before voting 8-0, with Greg Schmid absent, to support the model proposed by Mayor Pat Burt.
The Corridor Study will be conducted in three phases and will cost $200,000. The first phase, which focuses on articulating the community's values and vision for the Caltrain Corridor, is expected to take four to six months and cost $50,000.