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Menlo Park starts HSR negotiation campaign, to continue lawsuit

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  • 1/12 Palo Alto Daily
    Published Saturday, January 10, 2009, by the Palo Alto Daily News Menlo Park-high speed rail negotiations open amid lawsuit Fighting high-speed rail is top
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 11, 2009
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      Published Saturday, January 10, 2009, by the Palo Alto Daily News

      Menlo Park-high speed rail negotiations open amid lawsuit
      Fighting high-speed rail is top priority

      By Mike Rosenberg
      Daily News Staff Writer

      Five months after joining a lawsuit against the proposed California
      high-speed train, Menlo Park officials are launching a negotiation
      campaign with the same state body it is suing.

      The campaign will be launched Tuesday after the city council last week
      voted the high speed rail issue as its top priority for the upcoming
      year. The effort will consist of a subcommittee of two city council
      members and various city staff officials who will send comments to
      and meet with officials from the California High Speed Rail Authority.

      The authority's proposed $40 billion bullet train designed to zip
      passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 2.5 hours by way of
      the Caltrain corridor has irked Menlo Park leaders, who feel the
      trains will be noisy and may force out property owners along the
      rail line. In order to accommodate high-speed trains, two additional
      tracks may be added to the currently two-track Caltrain rail line
      between San Francisco and San Jose.

      Mayor Heyward Robinson said the subcommittee's formation does not
      mean the city will pull out of the lawsuit fighting the project's
      environmental certification, which Menlo Park and Atherton joined
      in August along with several other groups. Instead, officials will
      simultaneously negotiate with the High Speed Rail Authority while
      remaining a plaintiff in the suit against the state body.

      "They're different entirely," Vice Mayor Richard Cline said on the
      suit and negotiations. "One is going to be handled from a legal
      perspective "... and the second part will be representing our
      community and having a dialogue about the (planning process)."

      The timing of the new Menlo Park campaign is no accident. Cities and
      the public only have from now until March 6 to voice their opinions
      on the project before planning begins, as high-speed rail officials
      recently opened the public comment period on the Peninsula portion of
      the line. Cities will then be unable to comment on the rail line until
      after its plans are released, when it will be much more difficult to
      change the project.

      "We're in a period of time where I think there's still flexibility to
      work with (high speed rail) and try to minimize the impacts of the
      project," said Public Works Director Kent Steffens, who will likely
      be part of the negotiation team.

      The project also gained considerable momentum recently when voters
      approved state Proposition 1A, a nearly $10 billion bond to help pay
      for the rail line. The project, and the city's involvement in it,
      was mostly in limbo before the November election, Robinson said.

      The city council is expected to create the subcommittee at its
      Tuesday meeting but the relationship between city and high speed rail
      officials began this week during a meeting between the two parties,
      and the negotiations may have started on the wrong track. Cline said
      in the meeting high-speed rail officials proposed above-ground tracks
      through Menlo Park, a notion to which the city has been opposed. City
      leaders want the tracks below grade.

      A public meeting will be held in the SamTrans auditorium in San
      Carlos from 3 to 8 p.m. on Jan. 22 where the public can share their
      pre-planning thoughts on the Peninsula portion of the project.

      E-mail Mike Rosenberg at mike.rosenberg@...


      [BATN: See also:

      HSR bond passes, to the dismay of Menlo Park, Atherton foes
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/39915

      Comment: Lone HSR backer on Menlo Park council explains why
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/39464

      Menlo Park, Atherton vote to oppose Prop. 1A HSR bond
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/39426

      Letter: HSR lawsuit may shift route to other Menlo Park NIMBYs
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/39409

      Where was Menlo Park's public discussion on HSR lawsuit?
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/39305

      NIMBY HSR foes pack Menlo Park study session on HSR
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/39229

      Menlo Park, Atherton residents pack meeting, blast HSR plan
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/39222

      HSR officials to defend EIR in NIMBY Menlo Park on Sept. 9
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/39187

      Letter: Menlo Park should rescind decision to join HSR lawsuit
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/39132

      Editorial: Can NIMBY Menlo Park, Atherton stop HSR juggernaut?
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/39041

      Menlo Park, Atherton join lawsuit to invalidate HSR EIR
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/39040

      Menlo Park, Atherton join suit against Pacheco-biased HSR EIR
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/39020

      Menlo Park, Atherton join suit challenging HSR EIR
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/39019 ]
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