Guest Opinion: Controlling our communities' high-speed-rail future | May 1, 2009 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - May 1, 2009

Guest Opinion: Controlling our communities' high-speed-rail future

by Yoriko Kishimoto and Kelly Fergusson

In November, Californians voted for Proposition 1A, high-speed rail.

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Yoriko Kishimoto is a member of the Palo Alto City Council and Kelly Fergusson is a member of the Menlo Park City Council — both are former mayors. They can be e-mailed respectively at and


Posted by ResidentSince'65
a resident of Greene Middle School
on May 1, 2009 at 10:54 am

"We need to think long-term — 100 years or more out into the future — and make sure this project is done right."

Then let professional transit planners do it. Unless you have the special knowledge, skill set and experience to engineer such a system, the statement "We must ensure that community voices are represented." only ensures that time and money will be wasted. What we must ensure is that qualified voices are heard.

If Palo Alto, Menlo Park and the other cities trying to engineer their own segments want the train underground, then plan to pay the additional expenses with local tax increases. And plan to have it completed within the same time frame.

Posted by my observation
a resident of Midtown
on May 1, 2009 at 8:10 pm

Anhyolne that believes the project as presented represents work from professional transit planners has not done their home work. This project was first anf foremost planned byh politicians, Diridon from San Jose and Kopp from SF along with all the land developers in the central valley.

Its a terrible project and the problems along the peninsula only begin to scratch the surface.

Rather than a charette, why don't we construct a temporary stretch of what the Rail Authority wants to give us. Why not build a 1/4 mile long, 100 foot wide and 20 feet high hollow wall with wires another 15 to 30 feet above and let the pubic see just what it will look and feel like.

It would make for a great graffiti canvas.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on May 2, 2009 at 4:08 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

The proposal is to improve an existing facility. People who talk affirmatively or negatively as if it were a new development are being disingenuous. In my opinion the catenary curve of overhead wires is one of nature's beauties just as beautiful as the fractal art of other natural attractions. Eliminate the ugliness of grade crossings, add the performance enhancement of electrification and stage in the rest of the improvements as traffic justifies. No amount of pious blathering about "Berlin Walls" will make the corridor go away.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 2, 2009 at 11:59 am

Walter, good news for you then. Overhead catenary, and elimination of grade crossings can happen on the Caltrain row without the widening to 4 tracks, solid walls, or the massive increase in train volume HSR will bring. All these improvements can be made by Caltrain for local caltrain services.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 2, 2009 at 12:05 pm

Sorry to CHSRA - if they thought that this route would be anything less than this complicated, and this expensive (ie: sky's the limit in terms of preserving quality and character of these Peninsula neighborhoods - then they made severe miscalculations in their route PREFERENCE decisions. Now, the fact is CHSRA is State of California tax payer funded, and that's EXACTLY who will pay for doing HSR right. Bravo for the community groups for insisting on a seat at the table, and not taking no for an answer.

Posted by Too much traffic
a resident of College Terrace
on May 3, 2009 at 7:30 am

Kishimoto has yet to explain why she urged voters to vote for th measure and also co-authored a councilmembers memo urging the PA city council to also supportthe measure.
Too bad that kishimoto did not consider the implications when she put her green glasses on and urged a yes vote.
Kishimoto also states: "protecting the walkable and bikeable nature of the communities"--let's not forget that during her tenure on the council we have last two neighborhood shopping centers.
Kishimoto appears to be trying to cover her behind and prepare the way for her assembly run by glossing over her incompetent actions in urging approval of the HSR tax measure.
Also I have long wondered about the fact that although Kishimoto is a ocuncil member she wants people to use her private e-mail from correspondence--is this to prevent her city related correspondence from becoming part of the public record? I think the city attorney needs to look into this matter because it says much anout her ethics also.

Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on May 3, 2009 at 2:24 pm

Too much traffic: You are absolutely right about Kishimoto. She’s quite the nimble politician.

She says, “We must ensure that community voices are represented.” Is that part of the civic engagement song? Too bad she didn’t get the community involved before last November’s election when she urged us all to vote YES on HSR.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on May 4, 2009 at 3:39 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Kishimoto's demand for reduced traffic rings hollow when considering her failure to take my suggestion, to establish a teleconferencing center at city hall and stop city participation in any organization that does not offer teleconferencing option. Obviously us peons an walk but important folk still need to ride.

Posted by George
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 4, 2009 at 2:34 pm


You were either ill informed or operating without Palo Alto's best interests in mind. If you had any honor, you'd resign your position immediately.

It's unfortunate that you didn't hold a "fact charrette" PRIOR to urging citizens to vote for this project that WILL NOT meet its financial, ridership, or community goals. Have fun at your "CYA charrette charade".


Posted by David Lieberman
a resident of Professorville
on May 8, 2009 at 5:08 pm

This is a letter to the editor regarding this Guest Opinion which the weekly was too cowardly to print. Read it before it disappears:


Your Guest Opinion of May 1 by Yoriko Kishimoto and Kelly Fergusson ("Controlling our communities' high speed rail future") was truly amazing.

By randomly selecting from a list of bureaucratic buzzwords ("dialogue", "stakeholders", "visionary", "optimal", "collaborative" "interdisciplinary", "scenarios", "scoping", "upside", "sub-optimal", "impacting", ad nauseum) they were able to create a column which appeared to mean something but didn't. Was it satire or incompetence? Alas, we will probably never know. In any case, I recommend it to every high school English teacher as source material to be used with George Orwell's Politics and the English Language.

Halfway through the piece they indicated that we were going to be saved by a "charette." Since they did not explain what a charette is and since it appeared to be a French word I went to my trusty Larousse French-English dictionary.

It turns out that "charette" is a misspelling of "charrette" which is a small wagon. The tumbrels used during the French Revolution to transfer the condemned from prison to the guillotine were called charrettes. Now that's an interesting idea. The clueless members of our City Council who led the cheers for high speed rail through Palo Alto (chief among them Yoriko Kishimoto) and who now claim that they didn't know what that meant probably don't deserve beheading. But its a close call.

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