Palo Alto will urge federal and state officials to cut off funding for California's proposed high-speed rail and sue the agency charged with building the project, the City Council agreed Monday night.
The city's lawsuit, which the council unanimously supported, will challenge the California High-Speed Rail Authority's recently certified Program Environmental Impact Report, a comprehensive document that identifies the Pacheco Pass and the Caltrain Corridor as the preferred alignment for the new rail system.
Menlo Park and Atherton had already sued the rail authority over the document, forcing the agency to decertify it and to revise several sections.
Palo Alto officials are claiming that the new document violates the California Environmental Quality Act because it fails to address many of the city's comments on the voluminous document. These include concerns about the project's ridership and revenue projections and its route selections.
The council's decision to sue the authority followed a lengthy discussion in which members repeatedly reasserted their increasing skepticism toward the project. The council unanimously adopted the "no confidence" resolution that was recommended by its four-member High-Speed Rail Committee.
Council members had supported the project in the 2008 election, but have increasingly turned against it as more details emerged. Vice Mayor Sid Espinosa said it's become clear that the rail authority is not being a good partner with local agencies.
"When you see a business plan that's studied by numerous outside entities and deemed to be completely bogus, you really got to start questioning what type of partnership you have," Vice Mayor Sid Espinosa said.
Councilman Larry Klein, who chairs the council's rail committee, proposed a series of changes to the original "no confidence" resolution, further toughening the city's stance against the voter-approved project, which has an estimated price tag of $43 billion.
The new language calls for the city to urge state and Federal Railroad Administration officials to "cease funding" for high-speed rail.
The Atherton City Council also voted Monday morning to file a new lawsuit against the authority. The Menlo Park council is scheduled to discuss the matter tonight (Tuesday, Sept. 21).