News

Palo Alto to appoint task force for rail outreach

New group to help city perform Caltrain Corridor study

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.

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 28, 2010 at 11:13 am

Much talk, research, work and writing has gone into this project so far, and much more is going to happen. It is not clear to me that developers have paid all that much attention. The neighborhoods have been very active and their representatives have done most of the valuable research via CAARD. The idea that developers might somehow highjack the process sounds slightly paranoid to me.


Like this comment
Posted by caRRd correction
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 28, 2010 at 11:54 am

The group 'resident' refers to is CARRD - Californians Advocating Responsible Rail Design. Note the acronym is caRRd, as in RailRoad; not cAArd, as in aardvark.


Like this comment
Posted by Lucky
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 28, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Why keep wasting so much time and money 'analyzing' the HSR peninsula section? We have CalTrain, which can take HSR passengers between SJ & SF. It just needs a little funding to upgrade it.
LET'S STOP PLANS FOR HSR ON THE PENINSULA NOW! Please write/talk to your officials.


Like this comment
Posted by Its a developers plan
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 28, 2010 at 2:12 pm

Resident says<It is not clear to me that developers have paid all that much attention.
HSR was originally brought forth by John Barton, Steve Emslie, Bern Beeham, and Tony Carrasco on page 1 of the Weekly. These are all developers or longtime supporters of development.
Building along the tracks is a long standing development goal -- not for luxury homes, but for multiple story mass housing.


Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jul 28, 2010 at 2:56 pm

Tony Carrasco, John Barton act like they own Palo Alto.


Like this comment
Posted by fireman
a resident of another community
on Jul 28, 2010 at 2:57 pm

Lucky, could BART take people to the HSR system? Could the HSR system stay out of the cities and BART be used to get people to where the HSR could run without so much impact on the cities?


Like this comment
Posted by Sylvia
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 28, 2010 at 4:14 pm

It's a positive thing that more neighborhood residents are being added to the analysis of the HSR dilemma.


Like this comment
Posted by curious
a resident of another community
on Jul 28, 2010 at 4:35 pm

Please tell me that you Palo Alto Residents aren't paying any actual money for this appointed committee? If you are..how do you feel about it?


Like this comment
Posted by Larry Cohn
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 28, 2010 at 5:54 pm

Once this committee comes up with a "vision" for CalTrain, how will it be in any way binding upon the Joint Powers Board? CalTrain wants to electrify the route (good luck coming up with the money) and if that proceeds there's not much Palo Alto can do to change the plan. What else is there? Carving up the surrounding land among developers?

The same question can be asked about HSR. How will Palo Alto make sure its "vision" will be implemented when the HSR bosses seem to have little to no regard for what the locals want?


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 28, 2010 at 6:47 pm

Waste of time and money. Committees like this will never be able to come into agreement about anything. This is another aspect of the Palo Alto process. Look at Alma Plaza, Edgewood Plaza, to name but two.


Like this comment
Posted by Very possibly a waste of time
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 28, 2010 at 7:08 pm

The purpose of this Task Force is to study the possible future of development along the Caltrains corridor in PA, and to produce a vision of what it might look like in the future.

I agree with Larry Klein who felt that formation of such a Task Force was premature since it has not yet been decided what the future of the train track through Palo Alto will look like. Or, how much land will be required for the train tracks if they carry both HSR and Caltrains; let alone where those train tracks will be located, at ground level, elevated or below ground.

This Committee may very well spin their wheels for many months and make recommendations which could end up being shot down by the HSR Authority. Good luck anyway!!


Like this comment
Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 28, 2010 at 8:10 pm

"This Committee may very well spin their wheels for many months and make recommendations which could end up being shot down...."

That's what we do here. We love to spin our wheels. Haven't you been paying attention? It's great fun....the Palo Alto Process.


Like this comment
Posted by Jay Tulock
a resident of another community
on Jul 29, 2010 at 12:31 pm

So in other words, if the High Speed Rail Authority does not take your house by eminent domain, the developers will have the City take your house for redevelopment purposes.

Jay Tulock, Vacaville


Like this comment
Posted by Hey
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 29, 2010 at 10:01 pm

So how will the task force be appointed? Will they receive applications from members of the public wishing to serve? If the task force is just someone's friends, who cares what they think? How will determinations be made regarding qualification to serve? The whole process is suspect, but particularly so if no effort is made to advertise the task force and solicit participation.


Like this comment
Posted by Hey
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 29, 2010 at 10:01 pm

So how will the task force be appointed? Will they receive applications from members of the public wishing to serve? If the task force is just someone's friends, who cares what they think? How will determinations be made regarding qualification to serve? The whole process is suspect, but particularly so if no effort is made to advertise the task force and solicit participation.


Like this comment
Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Jul 29, 2010 at 10:22 pm

Lucky seems to have bought into the myth that Caltrain with a few upgrades could handle HSR volumes and speeds.
Let's see your data.


Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 2, 2010 at 12:55 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

That old Palo Alto process - studio alla morte.


Like this comment
Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 5, 2010 at 10:05 pm

“Please tell me that you Palo Alto Residents aren't paying any actual money for this appointed committee?”

I doubt anyone will get paid, but we will be paying for all the staff time sucked up by yet another task force.

“So how will the task force be appointed?”

Probably the same recycled former council members and members of other commissions.


Like this comment
Posted by TwoHundredThousand$
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 8, 2010 at 9:06 pm

The participants will not be paid but the staff and their favorite consultants will be well paid. Pretty outrageous is $50,000 to articulate the community's values. Maybe they have to spend that to find out that the community doesn't want more mass housing. A poll would have been cheaper and more honest.

From the story above-
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.


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