Menlo Park, Atherton join suit against Pacheco-biased HSR EIR
- Published Wednesday, August 6, 2008, by the Menlo Park Almanac Online
MP, Atherton join suit against high-speed rail
By Rory Brown
Menlo Park and Atherton officials don't want high-speed passenger
trains zooming through town, and now they're hopping on board a
lawsuit to prove their point.
Both city councils voted Aug. 5 in separate closed-session meetings
to join a group of environmental and rail nonprofits that plan to
sue the California High Speed Rail Authority on the basis that the
authority picked an environmentally insensitive route in plans to
connect San Francisco and Los Angeles with electric trains that
would reach speeds up to 220 miles per hour.
Proposition 1, a $9.95 billion ballot measure that would provide
the first wave of funding for the project, is set to go before
California voters on Nov. 4.
The lawsuit won't keep Proposition 1 off the ballot, but if
successful, it could require the authority to conduct more strenuous
environmental review, adding costs and delays to the $42 billion
The lawsuit is being spearheaded by environmental and rail nonprofit
groups that were previous supporters of the high-speed train project,
but have since become vocal critics of the rail authority's selection
of the Pacheco Pass as the route to connect trains from the Central
Valley to the Bay Area.
Under the Pacheco plan, high-speed trains would connect to Gilroy
from the Central Valley and shoot up and down the Caltrain corridor
to connect to San Francisco. That route would serve fewer riders,
and be far more environmentally damaging than the Altamont Pass
route, according to the group of environmental and rail nonprofits.
Under the Altamont plan, trains would continue north into the San
Joaquin Valley before heading west and crossing a new bridge across
the Bay to connect to the Caltrain line -- a route that could bypass
Menlo Park and Atherton entirely.
The nonprofits spearheading the lawsuit include the Planning and
Conservation League <http://www.pcl.org>, the Transportation
Solutions Defense and Education Fund <http://www.transdef.org>,
the California Rail Foundation (the educational arm of the Train
Riders' Association of California <http://www.calrailnews.com>)
and Bay Rail Alliance <http://www.bayrailalliance.org>.
A majority of Menlo Park and Atherton council members have been
clear in their opposition to high-speed trains shooting up and
down the Caltrain corridor, arguing that the trains would have
detrimental impacts on the two towns.
The project would require grade separations -- building overpasses
or underpasses to separate the tracks from the roadway at six local
intersections -- resulting in years-long construction impacts for
homes and businesses located near the Caltrain tracks, and major
impacts on local property values.
"We've seen no indication of the High Speed Rail Authority even
considering the concerns of communities up and down the Peninsula,"
said Menlo Park City Councilwoman Kelly Fergusson. "We've been
shown no respect."
The Menlo Park City Council voted 2-1 to join the lawsuit, with
council members Richard Cline and Kelly Fergusson in favor and
Councilman John Boyle opposed. Mayor Andy Cohen did not participate
due to a potential conflict of interest because he owns property
near the Caltrain tracks, and Councilman Heyward Robinson was
The Atherton City Council voted 3-0 to join the lawsuit with council
members Jerry Carlson, Jim Dobbie and Charles Marsala in favor.
Mayor Jim Janz did not participate because he owns property near
the Caltrain tracks, and Councilwoman Kathy McKeithen was absent.
[BATN: See also:
Menlo Park, Atherton join suit challenging HSR EIR
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HSR may require eminent domain along Peninsula Caltrain line
Editorial: Republicans aim to kill CA HSR, and that's nuts
Comment: HSR backers ignore impacts of construction, grade seps
Crunch time for HSR in California
Letter: HSRA favors SJ interests, harms viability of HSR project
Dumbarton Rail may be sacrificed to help SJ BART, Pacheco HSR
Talk of ACE train upgrades aims to sell voters on Pacheco HSR
8-group coalition blasts HSRA on Pacheco vs. Altamont route pick
Menlo Park and Atherton NIMBYs dread HSR, grade-separations
Atherton, Menlo Park councils blast high-speed rail plans
Menlo Park, Atherton fear HSR, Caltrain grade seps "disaster"
CHSRA picks Pacheco as sole BA HSR route; Altamont lip service
HSRA picks rural sprawl-inducing Pacheco Pass route for HSR
Pacheco HSR route chosen; trains to zoom along Caltrain line
CHSRA chooses sprawly Pacheco route, despite enviro objections
CHSRA bends to San Jose mafia, picks Pacheco Pass route
Despite logic, Pacheco route chosen instead of Altamont for HSR
CHSRA dumps logical Altamont for SJ-backed Pacheco route
Enviro, rail groups blast Pacheco high-speed rail route choice
Editorial: Pacheco HSR route way off track, way too political
MTC flak claims Pacheco HSR route pick settles "Bay Area question"
MTC votes to back sprawl-enabling Pacheco HSR route via Los Baños
MTC backs rural Pacheco HSR route (with Altamont lip service)
Statement backing MTC dual HSR route ploy draws harsh rebuttal
MTC still backs rural Pacheco HSR route via bustling Los Baños
MTC plans "dual route" ploy in bid to kill Altamont Pass HSR
Editorial: Altamont the better HSR route
Bay Area HSR route choice has implications for Sacramento link
Shameless SJ boosters stop at nothing to force Pacheco HSR route
San Jose boosters eager to railroad HSR over Pacheco Pass
Editorial: For SJ boosters, Pacheco the only sensible HSR route
Editorial: Fund CHSRA; back Altamont over VTA's Pacheco nonsense
Column: Build all of HSR system at once, using Altamont Pass