News


Palo Alto may sue high-speed rail authority

City claims new environmental report violates state law

Palo Alto officials have scheduled a closed-door meeting for Sept. 20 to discuss whether the city should file a lawsuit against the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

The city is considering litigation that would challenge the validity of a comprehensive environmental impact report that the rail authority certified last month.

Members of the Palo Alto City Council complained in recent weeks that the new document fails to address the city's comments and, as a result, violates the California Environmental Quality Act.

The Program Environmental Impact Report (EIR), which the authority certified at its Sept. 2 meeting, lays out the rationale for the authority's decision to build the voter-approved rail line along the Pacheco Pass and through the Peninsula, rather than through the Altamont Pass in the East Bay.

The rail line, which California voters approved in November 2008, would stretch from San Francisco to Los Angeles in its initial phase.

The authority initially certified the program EIR in 2008, but had to reopen and revise it after a legal challenge from Menlo Park, Atherton and a coalition of nonprofit groups. Palo Alto filed a "friend of the court" brief in support of the plaintiffs, who called for the authority to reevaluate an Altamont Pass alignment.

Earlier this month, Palo Alto had sent the authority a letter claiming that the new EIR fails to meet the state law. The Sept. 1 letter, written by Deputy City Manager Steve Emslie, states, "The City has concluded the Authority has failed pursuant to California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to adequately respond to comments made by the City of Palo Alto."

The city included its comments on the new EIR in a 29-page letter, which alleges (among many, many other things) that the rail authority's ridership and revenue projections are "flawed"; that the project description in the new document is incomplete; that the document fails to identify grade separations and the rail line's right-of-way requirements; and that it fails to address the construction costs of the project.

The authority, in its response, stated that it disagrees with many of these comments, including the city's critique of its ridership and revenue modeling, which the agency said "provides and appropriate tool for the environmental analysis for which it has been used." The agency's models have also closely scrutinized and largely rejected by the local rail watchdog group, Californians Advocating Responsible Rail Design, and by the Institute of Transportation Study at University of California, Berkeley.

Palo Alto also said in its EIR comments that the document "does not include a tabulation of expected funding sources for the project." Other state officials, including the Legislative Analyst's Office and State Auditor Elaine Howle, and various state Legislators have also criticized the project for failing to provide a clear strategy to fund the voter-approved project, which has a current price tag of about $43 billion.

The authority addresses the city's comment about project funding by directing the city to a one-paragraph response pertaining to the project's compatibility with schools. In his Sept. 1 letter, Emslie noted that this response "in no way addressed the comment."

"CHSRA needs to provide a detailed breakdown of funding sources, as the type of information provided to the public thus far is too general and inadequate, and does not provide the City with the ability to assess whether the project would have access to adequate funding."

Councilman Larry Klein, who chairs the council's High-Speed Rail Committee, said at the committee's Aug. 30 meeting that by submitting a letter disputing the new EIR the city essentially reserves the right to sue the authority over the document.

"We still have a number of concerns with no responses," Klein said.

Klein had also authored a resolution expressing "no confidence" in the new system and stating that the Palo Alto would consider litigation against the authority to protect the city's self interests. The committee passed the "no confidence" resolution at its Sept. 2 meeting, but agreed to delete the language pertaining to litigation.

Councilwoman Gail Price said at the Aug. 30 meeting that city officials are "preserving our legal options" by filing a letter challenging the new EIR.

"It doesn't mean we'll necessary go to court," Price said. "That's a major decision for the council to make because it obviously has all kinds of ramifications and considerations."

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Jon
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 11, 2010 at 9:28 am

I hope that the city does not spend our tax money on a lawsuit.


Like this comment
Posted by john
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 11, 2010 at 5:20 pm

A lawsuit is a waste of money. A judge just threw out a lawsuit against HSR that had similar arguments.

PA should work with HSR for the best solution possible instead of wasting time and money on obstruction.


Like this comment
Posted by Phil
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 11, 2010 at 6:07 pm

Please, no lawsuit. ...geez. Work together, people.


Like this comment
Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Sep 11, 2010 at 6:09 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by parent
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 11, 2010 at 8:39 pm

Absolutely - go to court. Its most definitely the right way to spend money to protect our interests - the real waste of money would be more toothless committee's to conduct more study's that CHSRA will blatantly ignore - the time for studying is WELL passed. The time for hardball is now.

The City of Palo Alto wasn't a party to the previous lawsuit, and this lawsuit is on different issues. Every city between SF and LA needs to be TAKING TURNS on lawsuits - until the HSR foamers die of old age - or go live in France, Japan or China - (whichever happens sooner - the better) where they can foam all over HSR trains all day every day. Go bother someone else already. WE don't want your money wasting, useless, bs junk shoved down our communities throats. This STILL isn't even the beginning of the fight against it.


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Posted by time to act
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 11, 2010 at 8:58 pm

The City should most definitely sue. What really should happen is to have all the Cities in the Coalition join in a lawsuit. Atherton and Menlo already proved they were wiling to fight. Belmont and Burlingame, now seem ready to take off the gloves also.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 11, 2010 at 10:11 pm

I don't think they should all join the same lawsuit - they should sue one at a time, after one is completed, the next. If they all join one, they all lose the ability to go further in court if that one lawsuit is ineffective. There are PLENTY of issues lawsuit worthy. They should be pursued one at a time.

Now, the cities SHOULD definitely partner up not only with each other, but should begin a very organized effort to add cities up and down the state to the coalition, to begin a very concerted political effort. The power to get this changed lies is gathering political strength, and that requires organization.

Who will organize?


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Posted by another parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 11, 2010 at 11:57 pm

Definitely, definitely sue. Our community is worth fighting for.

Councilman Klein has it right -- we should sue AND we should be pushing our legislators to take away some of the HSR authority's power so they have to work with communities.

There was a program on Forum recently, in which they were talking about the BART connector to the airport in Oakland. They were talking about just the same issues -- and the reason it's been held up is that someone somewhere had the authority to make the transit people incorporate comment from locals (they hadn't been)... I was only listening in the background, but it might be instructive to listen: Web Link


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Posted by Reasonableperson
a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 12, 2010 at 8:09 am

Unfortunately,many of the cities have attempted for over 2 years to work collaboratively with the High Speed Rail Authority; that's always the most prudent action. However time after time, the HSRA has not listened. They have not provided the information for city's to make informed decisions. They have refused to provide that information because they don't have it or do not want to provide it since it would jack up the price of the project in the extremeley flawed business plan. The Authority, without extremely basic cost information has chosen to eliminate design alternatives that would have allowed this project to go through cities with minimal impact to our cities.

California's environmental laws have some good protections in them, but one of difficulties is enforcement of those laws. Since the HSRA has not willingly followed the letter or the spirit of the law, the only remedy available is to sue. People do not undertand that. Peninsula cities and other cities across the state have a responsibility to protect their citizens, cities and the state from a massive project with massively unpleasant consequences or sit idly by and be run over, literally. That goes for our state legislature as well, put politics aside and get this project under control.


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Posted by Thetruth
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 12, 2010 at 11:22 am

Have to comment on nimby parents snid comment about HSRfoamers being old and hoping that they die!! first of all most people backing HSR are young..its nimbys that are mostly over 60 And many old train "foamers" dont like it either!! AND GO sue..you wont win!!! This system IS going to be built and is wanted by far more people than the lound complainers that dont.


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Posted by voter
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 12, 2010 at 11:23 am

It is way past time for collaboration with the HSR. The City of Palo Alto and its neighbors must take a strident and litigious stance. The past council members didn't have the intelligence or desire to study or understand the destructive nature of this project, as they were all so wanting to be green. That's certainly in large part why Yoriko Kishimoto didn't have a chance as a state assembly candidate, and her political career is over. Can you imagine a set of tracks 30 ft. high and 80 ft. wide running right through the middle of town? It is outrageous.


Like this comment
Posted by thetruth
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 12, 2010 at 11:28 am

You ALREADY have track running thru town!! across streets and for many years had amny more freight trains than today ..!!


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Posted by another parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 12, 2010 at 2:44 pm

thetruth,
Tell us the truth, are you really from here? Why the "YOU" already have track, rather than "WE"... ?

If you were from here, you would also have realized how little room there is to expand, how many important and critical functions would be affected by any expansion, increased traffic, or faster traffic, such as our main cross-town artery that runs adjacent to the track, how adding any more trains on that track will disrupt our town, and how the character of the town would be negatively affected by what is being planned.

We already have a huge freeway, 101, running through our town, but it doesn't run through the heart of the town and it already bisects the area it goes through -- in other words, people would be far more willing to go for a train running up the 101 corridor. But HSR authority would rather bully us about destroying our town by using the cal train corridor, because the 101 corridor is more difficult for the HSR authority.

The HSR authority is pushing plans because of what is easiest for it and serving its interests, rather than finding a way to make the transportation plans serve the communities.

The proposition did not give the HSR this autocratic authority, the legislature did, and they can modify it so it has to work with communities. We should sue, and we should pressure our legislators. After all, their jobs will be that much harder if they hurt the tax base of these productive communities up and down the Peninsula


Like this comment
Posted by Go Lawsuit!
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 12, 2010 at 3:39 pm

A law suit is the way to get the powers that be to pay attention, like the governor and the legislature. I say Go Lawsuit!
Interesting how the right wing uses the same epithets again and again: NIMBY, whiners, taxes.
They gave no imagination, just name calling school yard bullies.
Isn't it time to come up with some new language? or, you could join the Tea Party and let Sarah Palin speak for you.


Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 12, 2010 at 3:56 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

What a pathetic waste of.... Wait a minute, this is Palo Alto. What a magnificent opportunity to illustrate once again how much more in tune we are than those "other" people.


Like this comment
Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Sep 12, 2010 at 4:12 pm

I don't think it is the right wing that is attacking the NIMBYs.
The NIMBYs are in symp with Queen Meg.


Like this comment
Posted by Parent
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 12, 2010 at 5:38 pm

The"truth" - I didn't say they were old, I said they'd die of old age (even if they're 12 today), before this ever gets built - with any luck it will get tied up in courts for 100 years - or what's more likely to happen, electric car technology will overtake any talk of dinosaur HSR in about 2 years.

BTW, Im a lifelong democrat, voted for Obama (and 100% Democrat my whole life), and even being unemployed at the time, sent a small contribution to the DNC - first time ever contributing to any political movement.

I have never felt so angry and stupid and totally taken for a ride. I hope Meg wins, I even hope Fiorina wins. I am so totally angry at Feinstein, Pelosi, Boxer and the Obama administration for their arrogance, their total blatant disregard for communities on this. I WILL vote 100% Republican until HSR dies


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Posted by Real Palo Altan
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 12, 2010 at 6:14 pm

Parent

Obviously, you live right next, or very close, to the current rail-road tracks. It was YOUR decision to move there. It is YOUR problem that you chose to live where there is a railroad. If YOU are unhappy now, the only person to be mad at is YOURSELF.

People such as Feinstein, Pelosi, Boxer and Obama work for the greater good of the population as a whole, not as just the representatives of YOUR person (and the few other people that have chosen to live along railroad tracks.


Like this comment
Posted by parent
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 12, 2010 at 9:04 pm

"Real" Palo Altan, I don't live anywhere near the railroad tracks. If you're a real Palo Altan you'll know what I mean when I say I live very near where the Cougars used to reside. (You know, the "mechanics" side of town? And if you can't explain that reference, then we'll know EXACTLY who the real Palo Altan is.) In fact, I live farther from the tracks now than where I grew up, near El Carmelo School.

And I thought the republicans were full of total garbage during the election when they were spouting off about 'socialism'. What a bunch of utter nonsense right? And now, guess what, all we hear about is getting this shoved down our throats, our private property values trashed, our neighborhoods raped (not just here, but in cities all up and down the state) - for the "greater good". Boy was I wrong. I was totally wrong about who's looking out for the little guy.

By the way, the 'greater good'? PULEEZE! I'd say the greater good would be to spend the same money invested in our water infrastructure, in green energy infrastructure, our aging sewer and waste management systems, our aging schools, our local public transit systems (you know the ones that actually get people to useful places on a day to day basis?) and in growing the electric auto industry as quickly as possible so EVERYBODY that lives here can take part in the benefits of the improvements - not just the wealthy. Same jobs created (and probably WAY MORE California jobs). But no, we need to waste our limited tax resources on a luxury train for the wealthiest class - $105 one way - that's over $1000 for a family of 5 for a trip to Disneyland. If it wasn't such a travesty of justice, I'd call it a joke.


Like this comment
Posted by Anony Mouse
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 12, 2010 at 9:25 pm

Anony Mouse is a registered user.

Another Parent wrote: We already have a huge freeway, 101, running through our town, but it doesn't run through the heart of the town and it already bisects the area it goes through -- in other words, people would be far more willing to go for a train running up the 101 corridor. But HSR authority would rather bully us about destroying our town by using the cal train corridor, because the 101 corridor is more difficult for the HSR authority.

Where exactly do you propose to build this rail corridor that will supposedly exist down 101? Will the tracks be built on an elevated platform the entire length of the Peninsula? Does that sound expensive to you? Or, are we going to take out some lanes on 101? Feasible? Tunneling? Still trying to figure out what you're talking about. I think there is an existing rail right of way. Wouldn't that be the most prudent, cost effective choice? If the CHSRA were a bunch of corrupt idiots, they would surely choose the imaginary 101 routing. That's where are the construction costs are. I'm thinking that creating a new corridor in the middle of a highway would be multiples more expensive than the current choice. Maybe they have some competence after all.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 12, 2010 at 10:35 pm

Anony - the cheapest way is of course to bring only a fraction of the money actually needed to do the project correctly, to the table, force it down the communities throats under the cheapest ugliest most destructive way possible, then tell the communities to tax themselves individually to come up the rest if they have any hope of preserving their quality of life.

(And lo and behold - solves a BIG funding problem at the same time - because THEY really never have to come up with any mitigation dollars themselves either.) IN other words, they force costs by blackmail onto the local communities, meaning they lied to the public with Prop 1A saying there would be NO further California tax dollars spent other than the $10B.

If the CHSRA were to prove to be non-corrupt non-idiots (we're still waiting for that), they'd add up the actual TOTAL cost (still waiting for this too), of turning 50 miles of Peninsula heavilyt populated neighborhoods into high speed rail freeways - including proper and just mitigations for methods appropriate for high speed trains running through backyards and schools yards. They include the full cost of remodeling the towns, loss of property values not just for the additional 'feet' of adding land abutting the row - but the massive impacts in the value of properties surrounding the row (1 block away, 3 blocks away, 1/4 block away, impacts in the cross streets, down alma, the parks, the schools surrounding the row, the loss of trees, the impacts of influx of out of town traffic in whatever towns that will host stations, the noise and vibration impact due to HUGE increase of train traffic, the mitigation costs for the creeks and storm drains, the massive infrastructure remodeling... They'd add it all up, and compare it to running an elevated track down the middle of 101 - and they'd get HONEST about ridership - how ridership will access the stations (duh - via freeways), and they'd look for where the logical spaces exist for stations and transit hub infrastructure - and this honest and non-crooked CHSRA would say - its a no brainer - this belongs on 101.

And why isn't this honest, non-corrupt, non-idiotic CHSRA making this no-brainer decision? Because the VALUE of HSR lies in the REDEVELOPMENT that HSR brings, and the ability to pry open the valuable real estate in the middle of these Peninsula towns, and siezure of properties in these valuable downtown areas - for massive redevelopment. In locations they'll never otherwise have any other way to get their claws into other than by force. And along 101? We'll its just not as prime. Its freeway adjacent, and just too low-rent for their high rise, high-return redevelopment dreams.

The freeway is not a new corridor. Its exactly what that corridor has already been given up for by the bay area and the state - for high speed high frequency transportation. Its EXACTLY were HSR belongs


Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 12, 2010 at 10:37 pm

All ' HSR ' supporters , please read Dr. Michael Coffman's book ' Rescuing Broken America' and go for seminar in Livermore . It will be very educational.


Like this comment
Posted by haha
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 13, 2010 at 1:50 am

Do people in Palo Alto like living in the stone age? Why not keep riding donkeys or horses through here!

You do understand this is backed by the Federal Governement!
You cant win!

we need to move forward as a country and expect changes.

-----------------------------

Posted by Anony Mouse, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, 4 hours ago
Anony Mouse is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online

Mr mouse sorry, this must be the first time you mention East Palo Alto part of Palo Alto...LOL...No Worries we will name it Central Palo ALto..see pls Sale Sale Sale...before value of property keeps dropping.......


Like this comment
Posted by Goforit
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 13, 2010 at 9:14 am

Fantastic! The HSR authority has completely ignored us. We have no choice but to defend our interests in court.
@"Real Palo Altan": I see you live in Midtown...Would it be O.K. to expand Middlefield into a freeway because those who bought near Middlefield knew they were buying near a thoroughfare? I just don't get your logic. Those near the tracks should not have had to predict an elevation and enlargement of the right of way, not to mention the increased train traffic and the neighborhood blight. We have a right to defend ourselves from this disaster.


Like this comment
Posted by Build it right
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 13, 2010 at 10:15 am

What ever happened to "If you're going to build it, built it right"? The current plan is disaster!


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 13, 2010 at 10:35 am

I don't support a lawsuit. It is a waste of money. We have more important things to spend our money on in Palo Alto. Like more "traffic calming"......

I live in Palo Alto because it has good transportation (101, 280, Caltrain). The HSR will be good for Palo Alto.



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Posted by voter
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 13, 2010 at 10:49 am

Another very outrageous point about all of this is that OUR federal money for HSR will go to China, NOT to American workers. You people do understand that don't you? China supposedly has the technical know-how to build HSR, although Europe and Japan heavily dispute that claim. Seems to me we have a lot of technical know-how in the USA so why on earth go to China? We need to sue immediately to stop the destruction of the town and to preserve the billions for projects that employ Americans.


Like this comment
Posted by Long Time Resident
a resident of Southgate
on Sep 13, 2010 at 10:57 am

Yes! On the lawsuit. HSR is a disaster and a total waste of taxpayer money.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 13, 2010 at 11:06 am

ANOTHER WASTE OF TAX PAYER MONEY. Our City Government is so out of touch.


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Posted by Klein's folly
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2010 at 11:14 am

Boy, Larry Klein has become quite the warrior against HSR. too bad he was not so vigilant when he signed the colleagues letter and supported the tax measure. Is this his way of compensating for his previous mistakes? Are we sure he is not being misled again?


Like this comment
Posted by I don't live near the tracks, but I don't like this process
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 13, 2010 at 11:34 am

I think a strong statement by Council now is important. We need to clearly state that the EIR failed to respond to specific comments re: impacts to our city. This is the process outlined by state law. Council is correct to do this. It reserves their right to sue if they choose to. If they do not do this, they will have FORFEIT any right to sue in the future. That would not be wise.

To commenters to who say a law suit will be too expensive...You CLEARLY have not read the plans related to HSR costs. Palo Alto could bear a LOT of the costs of this project--potentially tens of millions of dollars that we don't have, especially if the HSRA is not required via the EIR process to mitigate at THEIR expense the multitude of impacts that have been identified.

Sadly, I don't think the city has any other recourse. They have made a good faith effort to get the HSRA to collaborate, but I think the current poorly managed boondoggle of consultants who are creating the plans is incapable of being thoughtfully responsive in a coordinated way to local issues. The HSRA has earned a no confidence vote.

Certifying that EIR without adequately responding to comments was both illegal and disrespectful of the communities they will be building in. They are making foolish, hasty decisions because they are rushing to meet federal deadlines for funding...and WE will pay the price for that if we don't do something now to protect ourselves.

Palo Alto is not the only Peninsula city with these concerns. As other cities are increasingly concerned by the HSRA's process. HSRA is rapidly losing support all along the Peninsula.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 13, 2010 at 12:54 pm

YES! YES! YES!
PLEASE SPEND OUR PALO ALTO TAX DOLLARS ON A LAWSUIT AGAINST HSR!!
MY TAX MONEY WILL BE WELL-SPENT AND WILL BE HELPING EVERYONE IN THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA! ANYONE THAT CARES ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT, OUR KIDS, OUR SOCIAL AND COMMUNITY SERVICES AND...WELL...EVERYTHING IN THIS STATE...SHOULD BE HAPPY TO HAVE THEIR TAX DOLLARS PUT TO THIS USAGE TO STOP THIS HORRIBLE HSR.
PLEASE SUE!!


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Posted by Many generations in Palo Alto
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 13, 2010 at 1:02 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


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Posted by JM
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 13, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Yes! Definitely sue.

The whole HSR thing is a huge waste of money, driven by individual political motivation. It will erect rubbish at our door step and take away so many from us.

We should block it by all means.


Like this comment
Posted by BABIES
a resident of another community
on Sep 13, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Child ranting on this board..whinney comments and silly threats..Yes PA is the exact resason CEQA should be thrown out..it lets every nonsense reason to be debated to death because someones doggy will have constapation due to changes!! PS I dont care if your mad outsiders are here..you deserve it


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Posted by YIMBY
a resident of University South
on Sep 13, 2010 at 6:56 pm

YIMBY is a registered user.

re: Can you imagine a set of tracks 30 ft. high and 80 ft. wide running right through the middle of town? It is outrageous.

Well, I'm not outraged....in fact, elevated rail would be beneficial in the 'both sides of the track' would be easily connected....as we all know, there are LONG stretches of at-grade rail with with NO connectivity between the two sides, eg. Cal Ave to Meadow to Charleston to San Antonio - and where there is connectivity, at Meadow - well we all know the tragedies that have happened there, let me count the ways...especially if one is on the 'watch team' at Meadow.

It seems like folks are so fearful of an elevated rail (it could be in a trench though) that they have forgotten the problems posed by the current configuration!


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Posted by another parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2010 at 10:08 pm

WEEKLY:

I've been on Town Square Forums for quite some time, and these train ones just don't feel like the rest, even the rest of the acrimonious ones.

It's a common practice these days for companies and various interests to pay people to pretend to be ordinary people and promote their interests online. I've been approached to be one of those people -- for non-controversial commercial interests, but it didn't feel ethical to me. But many people do this these days.

Many of these pro HSR comments are acrimonious, using arguments and perspectives I'm just not hearing at all in the community in the real world, and I talk to a lot politically involved folk around here, on different ends of the political spectrum, too.

Bill, the Weekly has the IP addresses of people posting and other info -- you don't have to expose anyone individually, but if a lot of the people with this bullying stance are from out of town, especially if they may be hired guns for the HSR authority, that is news of great interest to our town and some outside governmental bodies. At the very least, you owe it to yourselves to know if something like that is poisoning the waters of our local discourse. I frankly feel bullied by it.


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Posted by a guy
a resident of another community
on Sep 13, 2010 at 11:48 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by PANative
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 14, 2010 at 2:20 am

These lawsuits by municipalities amount to fighting battles and losing the war. Rather than trying to stop HSR city by city, the whole HSR plan needs to be scrapped from top to bottom. This means a referendum to overturn Prop. 1A along with a campaign to inform voters of the snow job foisted on them in 2008. Face it, HSR will be a huge money sink for decades to come. The economics simply don't pencil out.

It did not come to light until after the election that most of the hardware will be built in Asia using (in part) federal stimulus money! Kiss your tax dollars goodbye as those federal stimulus dollars go to stimulate the economy of a yet-to-be-determined Asian nation. Right now the Gubernator (who has only two more months in office) is riding high-speed trains in China, South Korea and Japan. I don't know what this trip is supposed to accomplish as he won't be deciding which manufacturer will build the rolling stock. I wonder who is picking up the tab for this trip, California taxpayers or overseas train builders.


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Posted by Dennis "galen" Mitrzyk
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 14, 2010 at 8:50 am

Anyone who thinks this HSR disaster-in-the-making is such a great idea should consider trading their house, assuming they have one, with someone living within the HSR path of destruction. The City of Palo Alto should sue the locos at the HSRA. This insanity must be stopped before it destroys every single community within earshot and eyesight of this monstrous boondoggle. Sue, sue, sue... before it's too late!


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Posted by resident
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 14, 2010 at 11:01 am

Sue! Sue! Please!

It is extremely difficult to fathom how anyone could think that a 20-30 feet high train soaring noisily through Palo Alto or any of the Peninsula towns is acceptable!!!
OMG! What are these people thinking!!
The one in San Carlos is bad enough! At least it is far enough away from homes!
And, do these people think that it is acceptable to ruin private property of families or business by building this!?!


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 14, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Once again, I ask the people who bought homes beside Caltrain, did it never, ever occur to you that at some time these tracks would be upgraded? And if you did, did you think how that might impact you?

When we bought a home in Palo Alto, we chose not to buy near the tracks because the noise, the smell and the ugliness was something we did not like plus the fact that we would probably have to use the crossings much more often than if we didn't live near them.

But, some obviously bought near the tracks and the noise, the smell, the weeds and the need to cross tracks didn't seem like a problem, or they got a better price for the home. Now it seems that a reduction in noise from the present clickety clack, horns and claxons, plus an easier mode of crossing the tracks, are causing more of a problem than the status quo. I understand that if some are going to lose some land then they will be compensated and there may be some to whom the inconvenience is greater. But look at it this way, at least you know that in advance and can make alternative arrangements, after all there are people in San Bruno whose homes were destroyed or damaged and had no warning so they could not prepare. A house after all is only a building, but the important things of life are what make it a home and you will have the opportunity to take them with you if you decide to move.

But for those who don't live alongside the tracks, what is your problem with upgrading this archaic system into 21st century?

And no, I don't have any connection with HSR, I do live in Palo Alto and I don't like the Caltrain service we have now. Anything must be better than that.


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Posted by midtown homeowner
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 14, 2010 at 9:11 pm

High speed rail makes all kinds of sense to me. It's clean, efficient electric transportation with all the advantages of electric cars, but none of the battery hassles.

The way I see it, my house is less than 10 fett above high tide. If the greenland or polar ice caps melt, my property values will drop a lot more than if we have add proper 21st century transportation infrastructure to our town.

I recently took Amtrack to LA and it was a joke. I'd love to be able to travel up and down our lovel state without having to drive or deal with airports security. Please just make sure that they put a station within walking distance of my front door!


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Posted by Retired Engineer
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 14, 2010 at 9:22 pm

My experience in life is that there are two kinds of people in the world: There are those who get stuff done, and then there are those who sit back, watch, and tell the first kind that they are doing it all wrong....

I will always support the former over the later. The *LAST* thing California needs is for two different taxpayer funded entities to waste a bunch of resources suing each other. I'd much rather see Palo Alto engage constructively with the HSR authority, so we can have some influence over the details of how it's implemented, to maximize the benefit for our community.

Do our local leaders really think they can sue to tell the whole state what to do? When this frivilous lawsuit inevitably fails, and we have dynamited all our bridges with the HSR, why do we think they will lift a finger to accomodate us, if we have reasonable requests or suggestions about the implementation details?





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Posted by Go Lawsuit!
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 14, 2010 at 10:41 pm

To Retired, you make claim to some experience in life, but you have only discovered two kinds of people. Sad. You've missed the whole complex parade.
For some reason you are not aware of the many many attempts the city and also citizens as individuals and as organizations have been trying to deal with the HSR authorities.
If you take a look at the several newspapers and the several websites you will be able to get up to date and perhaps be able to make a more relevant contribution.


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Posted by Alarmed
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 15, 2010 at 2:10 am

Yes; absolutely sue CHSRA. It's the only option at this point. This financial/environmental disaster needs to be stopped "in its tracks"!


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Posted by Mommy
a resident of Southgate
on Sep 15, 2010 at 3:30 am

To "Resident of Another PA Neighborhood":

We track side homeowners "choose" to live here because it is the only reasonable price in town. Believe me, we have gotten what we paid for, even before this HSR mess. We don't "deserve" anything less now. "Upgrading" the tracks is not constructing a huge 4-8 lane elevated system running 120 mph trains every 2 minutes. This is all out destruction of our pleasant suburban community. Everyone in this city will be adversely affected; you more so if not compensated through eminent domain.

Our home, BTW, is not just a "building". It is our life's savings and investment for our future. It is also our one and only family home for our growing children with hopefully pleasant memories for the rest of their lives. Our charming, historically significant, close knit neighborhood is unique. Now, everything is completely up in the air (no pun intended). We can not put our house up for sale; we cannot currently take out a fair home equity loan. We can not consider important out of town job transfer/promotion offers. We don't even dare complete needed minor or major home maintenance work right now, as the immediate and long term future is unclear. Who knows if an eminent domain payment would be fair? If only part of our property is taken, what kind of compensation would we receive for the complete loss of decent living conditions here? Our neighbors across the street (and in all surrounding blocks) would receive nothing for their loss.

We already have a decent baby bullet train from SF to SJ. It just needs electrification. No speed increases/grade separations (aka giant under/over passes) that would destroy the communities it runs through.

On top of this current local pending HSR nightmare, what is our cash strapped state to do? The money needed for this gigantic project (to benefit a small % of the population) could fix our entire statewide broken water, school, jail and local transport systems, with tons of $ leftover. So then, what is the best choice here on how to spend the limited $? There isn't even $ identified to complete this proposed high speed system. High speed rail "Authorities" (love the name they gave themselves) want to go ahead and start it though, but then who would finish paying the construction/operating costs??? They don't have an answer to this. Come on all of you pro-HSRs, get a clue...


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Posted by Mommy
a resident of Southgate
on Sep 15, 2010 at 3:30 am

To "Resident of Another PA Neighborhood":

We track side homeowners "choose" to live here because it is the only reasonable price in town. Believe me, we have gotten what we paid for, even before this HSR mess. We don't "deserve" anything less now. "Upgrading" the tracks is not constructing a huge 4-8 lane elevated system running 120 mph trains every 2 minutes. This is all out destruction of our pleasant suburban community. Everyone in this city will be adversely affected; you more so if not compensated through eminent domain.

Our home, BTW, is not just a "building". It is our life's savings and investment for our future. It is also our one and only family home for our growing children with hopefully pleasant memories for the rest of their lives. Our charming, historically significant, close knit neighborhood is unique. Now, everything is completely up in the air (no pun intended). We can not put our house up for sale; we cannot currently take out a fair home equity loan. We can not consider important out of town job transfer/promotion offers. We don't even dare complete needed minor or major home maintenance work right now, as the immediate and long term future is unclear. Who knows if an eminent domain payment would be fair? If only part of our property is taken, what kind of compensation would we receive for the complete loss of decent living conditions here? Our neighbors across the street (and in all surrounding blocks) would receive nothing for their loss.

We already have a decent baby bullet train from SF to SJ. It just needs electrification. No speed increases/grade separations (aka giant under/over passes) that would destroy the communities it runs through.

On top of this current local pending HSR nightmare, what is our cash strapped state to do? The money needed for this gigantic project (to benefit a small % of the population) could fix our entire statewide broken water, school, jail and local transport systems, with tons of $ leftover. So then, what is the best choice here on how to spend the limited $? There isn't even $ identified to complete this proposed high speed system. High speed rail "Authorities" (love the name they gave themselves) want to go ahead and start it though, but then who would finish paying the construction/operating costs??? They don't have an answer to this. Come on all of you pro-HSRs, get a clue...


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Posted by "leaders"
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Sep 15, 2010 at 7:38 am

"Do our local leaders really think they can sue to tell the whole state what to do?"

It's true that there are plenty of people in this area who are accustomed to making large and important decisions themselves. We are accustomed to seeing others make wrong decisions, in fact, we aren't surprised if most of our own decisions are wrong.

To swallow a disaster because some self-aggrandizing politicians have driven it this far seems silly to me, but I understand there are plenty of people happy to let politicians make these decisions and then do what they need to to make it happen.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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