Governor agrees to 'rail' link to cities -- maybe

Schwarzenegger speaks by phone to group of cities with growing concerns about proposed high-speed-rail system

A direct connection may have been achieved Thursday night between Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's office and California cities concerned about impacts of high-speed rail on their communities and region.

Palo Alto Mayor Pat Burt and other Palo Alto officials met with about 30 representatives of 15 cities along the 800-mile initial phase of the planned rail route Thursday evening at a League of California Cities conference in San Diego.

The meeting, initiated by Palo Alto, featured a telephone presentation by Schwarzenegger at its conclusion.

During a dialogue following Schwarzenegger's comments Burt as chair said the review process on rail has suffered because no direct connection exists between cities and the state administration. Cities have had to work exclusively through the California High Speed Rail Authority.

Schwarzenegger agreed such a connection should exist, Burt said of the dialogue -- noting that it was in a public meeting.

Schwarzenegger's main comments were about his recent trip to China and his ride on a high-speed train there, which he said was very fast and comfortable. A Southern California representative of the governor's office attended the meeting.

The meeting of cities was set up as an informal discussion of city concerns and there was no action proposed or taken.

But there was a sharing of concerns and comparison of interests, Burt said after the meeting. He said the session was intended to meet with other city representatives, share information and share common concerns.

He said one area of Southern California in particular shared concerns similar to those being voiced by Peninsula cities -- of a surface or elevated rail line going through residential and populated areas.

About a dozen cities, known as the Gateway Cities, have been dealing directly with the rail authority through memorandums of understanding (MOUs), which initially seemed to be working. But recently there has been a serious falling out with the authority as its alternatives have been limited to surface, open trench or aerial structures, Fred Latham of Santa Fe Springs, the gateway group's chair, said at the Thursday night meeting.

He said his area is a twin to the Peninsula in terms of the concerns of its cities.

Burt said a big difference is that the Peninsula cities have no direct MOUs with the authority but must work in the context of an MOU that Caltrain has with the authority.

Brisbane, a Bay Area city that also once strongly supported the rail plan, also attended the meeting to express its displeasure with the direction of the authority's plans. Councilman Sepi Richardson said the city initially believed the rail line would just pass through its industrial area, but later found out that the authority was planning a major storage and maintenance yard on a site Brisbane officials had designated as a new biotech and greentech development area.

Burt said after the Thursday meeting that Schwarzenegger's announced push to put in a bid to have the World Expo based at Moffett Field in Mountain View in 2020 has important implications for rail transportation. That is the year that high-speed trains are targeted to begin operations on the statewide system.

But even if that system doesn't materialize or is delayed, Burt said that a major modernization of Caltrain would have to be accomplished for the World Expo to be a success. Caltrain also is needed to provide local connections that the high-speed-rail system would not have.

The Expo if it happens "will assure the survival of Caltrain, whether or not high-speed rail goes through," Burt said.

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Like this comment
Posted by Martin
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 17, 2010 at 11:11 am

Good work, Pat!!

Like this comment
Posted by Jenny
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 17, 2010 at 11:33 am

If HSR is finished by 2020 in time for the World's Fair at Moffett Field, it is obvious that HSR should be built right down the middle of H.101 with a major stop at Moffett Field.

Obviously some major rethinking needs to take place by the High Speed Rail Authority and the State Legislature.

That's the answer, a Worlds Fair at Moffett Field with a High Speed Rail linking LA and SF that stops right there at Moffett Field, and goes down the middle of H.101. Problems solved, forget about using the Caltrain corridor.

Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 17, 2010 at 12:05 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

So, Jenny, how would you mitigate the effects of this 101 train on the folks living along 101?

Like this comment
Posted by Jenny
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 17, 2010 at 12:14 pm

I'm not concerned about those living along H.101, they live further away from the train tracks than those living along the Caltrain corridor. However, one unmentionable problem may be removing at least a couple of lanes of traffic from the middle of H.101!! So, people will just have to ride the train and quit driving, but remember to get off at Moffett Field to visit the World's Fair!!!

Like this comment
Posted by Jenny
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 17, 2010 at 1:06 pm

Here's another idea. Give Mountain View the major HSR stop in the mid-peninsula, then visitors to the 2020 World's Fair will be able to transfer onto the VTA Light Rail system and get off at the Moffett Park stop to visit the World's Fair.

Now the proposed World's Fair in 2020 at Moffett Field has entered the picture a lot of rethinking needs to be done.

Like this comment
Posted by Not INterested in Worlds Fair
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 17, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Proposed world fair at moffet is a NON-STARTER. The scheming on this needs to be halted in its tracks, immediately. Wunderlick and his redevelopment buddies need to go bark up some other tree. We're not handing bay estuary lands over for this.

What would be the cost and environmental, traffic impacts of the BUILDING for that? Who will fund that? What happens to that afterward? What will be the permanent implications on infrastrcuture, traffic, the SF Bay estuar? We're not going to remodel our cities for permanent HSR - we're certainly not going to permanently remodel our cities for a temporary worlds fair that will have lasting unwelcome impacts. Oh, but it will bring all this economic boost - NOT WORTH IT!

He's going to have to start an environment impact study process on that - and it will get shot down in flames. His days as governor are numbered - he needs to go back to Southern Calfornia and shove his lousy ideas down their throats. He's barking up the wrong tree.

Like this comment
Posted by Jenny
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 17, 2010 at 10:47 pm

Not Interested in Worlds Fair says: "His days as governor are numbered" Yes, however, Meg Whitman will pick up where the Governator leaves off. After all she's buying the Governorship and she's just the kind of Silicon Valley Republican who'd back a World's Fair at Moffett.

Like this comment
Posted by JT
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 18, 2010 at 1:46 am

NO WORLD'S FAIR unless it is COMPLETELY paid for by the corporate types who are proposing it and it has no negative affects on my life. My guess is that they'll push most of the costs on to the backs of the taxpayers to build a single-use fair facility. They'll lie and say it will have a purpose after the fair, but that will be as big a lie as the HSR ridership projections.

Kind of reminds me of how the Bay Area bids for the Olympics every couple of years. The driving force of these bids NEVER asks the community whether they want an Olympics. Again, unless I personally get something out of it, I don't want it.

Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 18, 2010 at 2:38 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Buildings? Moffett already has buildings if the anti-military activists who have used the EPA to bludgeon the military budget were required to show cause for their condemnation of Hangar One other than "Because I said so."

Like this comment
Posted by NoBuild
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 18, 2010 at 5:23 pm

No build is always an option. No HSR. Transportation just brings more people. More people will just want more jobs and more transportation. It is endless. Caltrain does not help me, let it go broke. I don't want to pay for other peoples transportation problems.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 18, 2010 at 5:31 pm

HSR is moving along; now the Governator has got China, South Korea and Japan vying to finance it for us and provide the technical know how. California will be in debt to China for the next 100 years!!! But why should Diridon & Co. and the Governator care they'll be dead and gone before we have to mortgage California to the Chinese.

This whole thing gets stupider and stupider!!!

Like this comment
Posted by perot
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 18, 2010 at 8:08 pm

That big sucking sound you will start hearing, will be the sound of 10's, if not hundreds of billions of dollars (don't forget the massive interest on the massive debt), and the local jobs that money could support, being sucked away to China, never to return. If Arnold thinks that China financing California into massive debt for the Disneyland Express to nowhere is a GREAT idea, he's clearly got someone else's interests in mind, and it's not the tax payers in California.

If Arnold really liked the train ride he got in China, he should take the HSR Authority with him back to China, and stay there. Sadly, it appears that Arnold's depth, and breadth of knowledge about rail systems must have been from his poor council from the equally ignorant HSR Authority.

As far as building a high speed rail system to accommodate the proposed worlds fair, that's simply insane. For starters, the Worlds fair is an event who's time has long since passed. Conceived of in a time well before instant communication, it's a relic of the past, best looked at these days as brief references in obscure text books.

Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 19, 2010 at 2:48 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

The tracks are there now and will not go away. While it might make good fantasy football to move Brody to the Raiders and Balitnikof to the Packers it ain't gonna happen.

Like this comment
Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Sep 20, 2010 at 2:30 pm


If you don't like Arnie, let's see how Meg performs when she is on the spot.

Like this comment
Posted by ODB
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 20, 2010 at 6:30 pm

I would be quite surprised if the Gubernator's palm didn't get greased during his recent trip through Asia. I'm not saying it happened, I'm simply expressing my cynical skepticism.

After the World's Fair is over you'll have to live with the decisions made in preparation for it. It would be lunacy to base permanent transportation decisions on a one-time event. In addition, HSR will only be of use to people along the HSR line: Anaheim, L.A., Bakersfield, Fresno, etc. I would venture to say that the majority of attendees will come from elsewhere and will fly into SJO or SFO from New York, Atlanta, Boston, etc. and overseas. CA HSR will be of no use to them.

Like this comment
Posted by Perot
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 20, 2010 at 9:12 pm

Hey Chris,

I would much prefer to see Arnie 'perform' on the big screen. His performance in Sacramento has been nothing but one ill fitted suit appearance after another, with a few catchy one-liners thrown in for the media to dutifully report. Sadly, I doubt that Whitman or Brown will be much better. I sincerely hope I am wrong.

But back to the HSR disaster; I think it speaks volumes that apparently no one, not even the Federal Govt, is terribly excited to loan CA the funds needed to build the train to no where. That the HSR authority has hired even more PR people to convince CA tax payers that more debt for an unnecessary train speaks volumes too. What state services do people want to cut to pay for this debt?

Any thoughts as to why is Chine so interested in buying even more US debt? Aren't they the single largest holder of US debt? I could be wrong, but it seems like this country, and potentially CA specifically, is stacking the economic deck against itself for no other purpose than short-sighted political gain. What happens when China either wants to dump those (US and CA, and other states no doubt) bonds, and there are no buyers? A bad situation if there was ever one.

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

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