News

Stanford resists local high-speed-rail station

University cites limited space, parking capacity for new station

Stanford University is not supporting a proposal by the California High-Speed Rail Authority to build a high-speed-rail station in Palo Alto, according to a statement provided to the City Council Monday.

Stanford wrote that "the city and its surroundings have very little available traffic and parking capacity for such a facility (7,800 daily boarding, 3,000 parking spaces), and a station for HSR would not, in our view, constitute a priority justifying further reduction of this limited capacity."

The authority has been eyeing Palo Alto as one of three Midpeninsula cities -- along with Redwood City and Mountain View -- that could potentially house a station for the $43 billion line. The authority is also considering not building stations at any of these cities and making Millbrae the only stop between San Francisco and San Jose.

Over the past month, members of the Palo Alto City Council have expressed intense opposition to the station, citing concerns about increased traffic and intense parking requirements. The rail authority requires cities to provide 3,000 parking spots for a rail station, which it claims would bring economic benefits to whichever city decides to pursue it.

Now, Stanford is voicing similar concerns. According to the university's statement, the university is concerned about the lack of space around the existing University Avenue station for a possible high-speed-rail station. Stanford acknowledges that a local station could bring "economic and travel options benefits" to businesses in Palo Alto and on Stanford's land, but does not recommend pursuing this option.

Stanford's statement also said the University Avenue Caltrain station is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and "the manner of its preservation is not clearly expressed or dealt with in the HSR studies so far."

The university also expressed other concerns about the design plans for the San Francisco-to-San Jose segment of the voter-approved line, as outlined in recent environmental documents. The plans, according to the statement, include "inadequate analysis of future HSR ridership; continued lack of full cost information on all elements of HSR; and inadequate or incomplete responses to community input on HSR track alternatives."

The university is also concerned about "deleterious traffic effect from any at-grade track alternatives which impede vehicle, pedestrian or bike movements."

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 21, 2010 at 5:57 pm

Well, IT'S ABOUT TIME that Stanford came out of its silent mode!! It must have finally figured out that its $$$ ox-might-be-gored. Where has Stanford been for the last year? One of the possible garage sites might be El Camino Park which Stanford owns and which reportedly has an emergency reservoir someplace, and impact the shopping center and the ground underneath other properties that Stanford actually owns like Paly, the Sheraton, the Hyatt, and others along that strip!!


Like this comment
Posted by Martin
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 21, 2010 at 6:03 pm

Another nail in the coffin ... Redwood City, are you up for it?


Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous.
a resident of another community
on Sep 21, 2010 at 6:53 pm

At this rate, either Mountain View is going to get it, or y'all are going to be totally bypassed for direct SF-SJ service. Enjoy.


Like this comment
Posted by Allen Edwards
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 21, 2010 at 7:52 pm

Mountain View said they won't built the parking so it I read that correctly, they are out.


Like this comment
Posted by Backwards Palo Alto
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 21, 2010 at 10:25 pm

It looks like one more time we are going to miss the boat on public transportation in Palo Alto and the Peninsula.

We did 40 years ago with BART, we're working on it now with HSR.

I have lost faith in this country that has become so conservative, afraid of change, and stuck in its old-fashioned ways. The world will bypass us soon and we will have greatly deserved it.


Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 21, 2010 at 10:50 pm

To Backward PA,

Palo Alto is in Santa Clara County and did NOT get to vote on BART, so it had nothing to do with losing BART. Only San Mateo voted, and San Francisco Creek divides the two counties.


Like this comment
Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 21, 2010 at 10:52 pm

Again, I'm just amazed at the idiocy and shortsightedness of the rail authority in planning this -- yet another transit system being designed in a vacuum.

HSR should got across the state to San Jose. From there, improvements in the REGIONAL SYSTEM should make it possible for people to go expediently to all points north and east. Right now, our local system is completely dysfunctional. It's dysfunctional because of all these projects, just like HSR, that are conceived point-to-point without any thought to the whole.

It makes absolutely no sense to hinge HSR on whether it can be run up the peninsula. If all transit on the peninsula were improved, it would make HSR far more useful anyway.

As for BART, exactly what is your point? We did not need redundant BART in addition to Cal Train. No one from Palo Alto had anything to do with the idiotic decision to terminate BART so far away from Cal Train in San Francisco, so that there was no way to get around the Bay in a reasonable period of time.


Like this comment
Posted by Viper
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 22, 2010 at 7:17 am

Pathetic Baby Boomers (or Baby Losers) strike again.

Palo Alto is why China will beat America. I have never before run across a bigger set of NIMBY-whiners. Palo Alto is digging it's own economic grave and opting for their own "peace and quite" over economic opportunity for future generations. Just like opposition to BART years ago, opposition to HSR is foolish.

By and large, this is a baby boomer led hysteria. The boomers have screwed themselves and every generation to follow. It's no surprise that this impressively selfish lot is keeping up with its silly ways. I, for one, will be ecstatic when the last boomer leaves this earth.

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Michael
a resident of another community
on Sep 22, 2010 at 9:46 am

I agree with "parent" -- the right way to build a system (instead of a project) is to knit pieces together, not keep putting one line on top of another. The reason HSR has to go up the peninsula is because San Franciscans want to roll out of their Embarcadero offices and wake up in Beverly Hills without changing trains. And CHSRA has bought into a pathetic assumption that making Americans change trains will cost them half their ridership. If that is true, then we should not build trains at all, since you cannot make everything point to point -- that's what airlines are good for. And by the way, Viper et al who want it built at any cost and call us NIMBYs, this is JUST A TRAIN FROM LA TO SF. It is not the second coming of the industrial revolution, it is not the invention of the internet, it is not technically innovative in any way, it is not going to change our prosperity one iota if it is built or not built (unless you count the debt, which you will be paying for long after the Boomers depart...)


Like this comment
Posted by senor blogger
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 22, 2010 at 10:11 am

Folks,
A prediction: The Station will be at Moffett Field, in time for the World Expo,
And you will probably have to use Chinese Money to board it.
Kick that around for a while


Like this comment
Posted by twocents
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 22, 2010 at 10:48 am

A better use of the money is to build up the regional transit system and to invest in California's clean-energy infrastructure. The HSR will be using electricity which in the foreseeable future will still come from carbon-based sources - natural gas, oil, etc. The whole system will still be held hostage to electricity price and demands. If HSR is to succeed and be profitable, ticket prices MUST hold steady when oil/gas prices go up, driving up the cost of driving and airline tickets. The state needs to (first) revamp its electricity generation so that most of the power for HSR comes from clean energy.


Like this comment
Posted by Wish I felt safe putting my name here
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 22, 2010 at 10:50 am

Have you READ the project docs? I suggest that you read something more than thinly researched news reports. It will become immediately evident that HSRA never really intended to put a station here and that this project will heavily impact our community and our city budget and provide no real benefits to Peninsula residents.

It is one of the most poorly documented CEQA reports I have ever read, and I have read a lot of them. Council has taken the only course available to them to protect the interests of Palo Alto. I suspect other cities will quickly follow suit because it is the only recourse available at this point in the process.

Before publicly and anonymously attacking others (without supporting facts), I suggest you inform yourself. With a little information, you may find that you will form an entirely different opinion.


Like this comment
Posted by Thetruth
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 22, 2010 at 11:23 am

Stop the fox news type paper..please post the names of the Stanford spokesperson thats making such statment, and its the 3000 space garage they seem to oppose from this "news" article


Like this comment
Posted by Deep Throat
a resident of another community
on Sep 22, 2010 at 12:05 pm

Stanford's statement does not say it is not supporting a High Speed Rail station in Palo Alto.

Stanford's statements are like Palo Alto's statements.

They give the impression they are opposed to something to people who want to attribute that opinion to misleading statements that don't say what readers want the statements to say.

For example, Stanford says that it is not a priority to use existing parking spaces for High Speed Rail, but the High Speed Rail proposal does not propose to use existing spaces. Instead the proposal is to build more parking spaces.

The Weekly article says Stanford does not support a proposal to build a High Speed Rail station at University Avenue in Palo Alto because Stanford does not make a statement either supporting or opposing a High Speed Rail station, either the current specific proposal or any other proposal for a station.

I am waiting for the Weekly to quote the part of the Stanford's statement where it says it is not supporting a station proposal.


Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 22, 2010 at 1:36 pm

Viper, please, please read the actual proposals for this train. In theory, HSR development sounds like a great idea that is environmentally responsible (I love train travel). But once you read the real plan, it becomes clear that this is neither environmentally protective nor fiscally sound. For example, how does it help our environment to increase traffic on Alma while reducing lanes to a point where there is standstill during commute hours? Do we really want the increase in pollution that goes with that? And, as others have noted, electric trains seem more green than diesel at first glance, but this is not so if the source of power uses oil, etc. And on the financial side the reports are downright scary. As proposed, future generations will be paying for our folly for years to come. I am not opposed to HSR, but am adamantly opposed to this plan.

As for the NIMBY complaint that crops up repeatedly, I don't get the logic. Why is it not ok to protect a lifestyle you value and want others to enjoy? To conclude this means I oppose change would be inaccurate. I welcome change that is well-considered, healthy, and feasible. I do not welcome change that increases air or noise pollution, reduces the sense of community we enjoy in Palo Alto, or creates a financial liability we can ill afford. That's no selfishness; it's common sense.


Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 22, 2010 at 1:46 pm

Bravo "neighbor, bravo.


Like this comment
Posted by Backwards Palo Alto
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 22, 2010 at 2:11 pm

@neighbor:

Common sense says that an electric train without grade crossings is
1)quieter and
2) cleaner (less air pollution)
for Palo Alto than the antique Caltrain diesel dinosaurs and their horns.

Saying the opposite is basically lying.

Also I don't see how a quieter, cleaner train where there already is a track will "reduce the sense of community we enjoy in Palo Alto". It won't change a thing, save for a few people who knowingly CHOSE to buy a CHEAPER house next to the existing train tracks.


Like this comment
Posted by twocents
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 22, 2010 at 3:32 pm

The majority of anti-HSR are NOT advocating that rail system between SF and SJ should not be upgraded. I for one just think that the train should not be a HSR. I would rather see an efficient electric rail system running on the current Caltrain corridor and this system should be linked to HSR in SJ. Furthermore, before we and the state commit billions of dollars to SF-LA HSR, please please invest in regional transportation system in both SF and LA areas. A regional system will benefit way more people than HSR will. Think for a moment. My mom regular flies in and out of SFO and to get from SFO to Davis where she lives, she has to pay ~$100 one-way to ride on an old gas guzzling van and spend 2 to 3 hrs on the freeway because of traffic. It makes no sense to build HSR between SF-LA when most people are just concerned about getting from SJ to SF and Sacramento - we'll see maybe several thousands passengers a day being whisked at high speed to LA in 2hrs while hundreds of thousands of residents in each region have to deal with traveling less than hundred miles in the tha time.


Like this comment
Posted by Rhoddon
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 22, 2010 at 3:44 pm

Deep Throat is wise to the cunning communications that come from the City of Palo Alto and Stanford University too.


Like this comment
Posted by Peter
a resident of another community
on Sep 22, 2010 at 3:52 pm

Why 3000 parking places? At the arrival (away from home) station, drivers need rental cars, not parking places. At the departure (home) station, the city with the rail stop will get little economic benefit from the parking except the parking fees themselves.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 22, 2010 at 4:31 pm

Agree with Peter

We don't need huge parking garages, perhaps medium sized and they can be in the Baylands with an efficient shuttle.

Can't say that we need rental cars, but a good efficient taxi service - perhaps with bike rickshaws - shuttles and marguerite type shuttles.

Stop thinking cars and start thinking where will the people arriving here want to go. Then start thinking how they will get there. Then put the transport system in place.


Like this comment
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Meadow Park
on Sep 22, 2010 at 4:34 pm

The bottom line here is that Stanford doesn't want to find themselves in the position of having to provide nearby land for the HSR's giant parking lots.

The obvious location for a train station on the Peninsula is Mountain View where passengers can link up with VTA'S light rail; then if the World Expo comes to Moffett Field in 2020 HSR passengers have a way to get there.


Like this comment
Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 22, 2010 at 5:16 pm

Neighbor - Mountain View does not want it. Peter - I think the 3000 spaces came from the HSR authority.


Like this comment
Posted by Jim H.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 22, 2010 at 7:06 pm

@ Backwards Palo Alto:
"Also I don't see how a quieter, cleaner train where there already is a track will "reduce the sense of community we enjoy in Palo Alto". It won't change a thing, save for a few people who knowingly CHOSE to buy a CHEAPER house next to the existing train tracks."

HSR, more than likely, won't use existing tracks. It will be built on an concrete aerial viaduct 30+ ft in the air.

Have a look at the light rail near the Great Mall, or Bart over in the East Bay.


Like this comment
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of University South
on Sep 22, 2010 at 7:46 pm

YIMBY is a registered user.

twocents, a resident of the Charleston Meadows neighborhood, wrote:

"The majority of anti-HSR are NOT advocating that rail system between SF and SJ should not be upgraded. I for one just think that the train should not be a HSR. I would rather see an efficient electric rail system running on the current Caltrain corridor and this system should be linked to HSR in SJ...."

Just how is Caltrain going to pay for this electrification????
That's why they want HSR - Caltrain is broke - you may not want the HSR, but if you want an electrified, grade-separated RR, well, you really have no choice.

If you don't want an improved Caltrain....you may get your wish.


Like this comment
Posted by twocents
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 22, 2010 at 8:23 pm

Yes Caltrain is broke, but so is HSR technically. HSR is borrowing money to start the project but has no source of funds as of yet to complete the project. The whole HSR project should be put up for vote again. The choice should be bonds for HSR or for upgrade of regional transportation system.


Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 23, 2010 at 5:49 am

I've been saying Moffett is the perfect place for a station for months. It has great freeway access from all areas in the region. Plenty of room for a station, parking and rental facilities. And it can be easily linked to light rail and CalTrain.


Like this comment
Posted by Kiss HSR Goodbye
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 23, 2010 at 12:42 pm

A decade from now, the ill-founded HSR concept will be but a faint memory. Not a spike will have been driven, nor a track laid.

The old pols, who advanced the HSR idea and stacked the deck early, will be long gone. The Rail Authority house of cards they built will be history, only to remain a case study of a fatal flaw.

Once impartial analysis kicks in, independent analysts and courageous government agencies will find, surprise surprise, that HSR concepts do NOT stand the tests of reasonableness or affordability, among others.

Credible sources, funding and otherwise, will one by one turn their support spigots off. You see it happening now up and down the state, from the peninsula to Southern California.

The bottom line (and the next shoe to fall): no money, no HSR.


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