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MP, Atherton councils: Vote no on Prop. 1A

Just vote no.

That's the message from Menlo Park and Atherton city council members regarding Proposition 1A, the high-speed rail bond measure on the Nov. 4 ballot.

In separate meetings, the councils passed resolutions opposed to the $9.95 billion bond measure, which would provide the first wave of funding to build a high-speed passenger train to connect San Francisco to Los Angeles.

Under the current plan, high-speed trains would use the Caltrain corridor to shoot up and down the Peninsula -- a route both councils strongly oppose due to potential impacts on homes and businesses located near the train tracks.

The Atherton council voted 4-0 to oppose Proposition 1A, following a Sept. 24 high-speed rail study session. The Menlo Park council voted 3-1, with John Boyle opposed, at its Sept. 23 meeting, to oppose the bond measure. The mayors of both towns -- Jim Janz of Atherton and Andy Cohen of Menlo Park -- did not vote because they live within 500 feet of the Caltrain tracks.

"I oppose [Proposition 1A because of the impacts to Menlo Park," said Menlo Park Councilman Richard Cline. He noted the potential construction, aesthetic, and property-value impacts of running the estimated $45 billion train through the Caltrain corridor helped make his opposition the "easiest decision" he's made as a council member.

"I suspect that high-speed rail, as presently planned ... has a very high probability of being a financial disaster," said Atherton Councilman Jim Dobbie. He questioned the budget and ridership projections of the high-speed rail system -- concerns echoed by several residents at the Sept. 24 study session. "I can see no reason why I would ever consider voting for the high-speed rail project," Mr. Dobbie said.

But Menlo Park Councilman John Boyle, the lone councilman in the two cities not opposed to the bond measure, said the opposition to the project is "shortsighted."

"I think we're missing the big picture," Mr. Boyle said, pointing to the potential environmental benefits and congestion relief that high-speed rail could provide statewide. He noted that Menlo Park, Atherton and other cities along the proposed route would have a chance to weigh in on the specifics of the plan if and when the bond measure passes.

Comments

Posted by Martin Engel, a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Sep 26, 2008 at 8:30 am



Congestion relief. We have pointed out many times, as have others, that traffic congestion is to be found in the state's two population centers. All of us can name the highways and roads that suffer from gridlock morning and evening in the Bay Area. This train will have zero impact on that traffic. The burdensome traffic in the Central Valley is the result of massive truck traffic and that calls for an increase in freight, not passenger rail. High-Speed Rail advocates act as if there wasn't already a commuter rail system in place on the Caltrain corridor. Congestion in the Bay Area? Build a better urban mass transit system, not a luxury train to Los Angeles.

Environmental benefits. A recent report, and there have been other, prior ones, spells out the environmental effects, or lack thereof, of the train. What the CSHRA offers is not empirical data, but marketing hype. They compare their train's environmental impact, which won't happen for at least 12 years from now, with the recent – but not even current – automobile and air carrier impacts. That's comparing apples and oranges.

When people use terms like "shortsighted" and "big picture," in this case that's code for, we all need to make personal sacrifices for the greater good. Yeah, I've heard that before. First of all, it's the duty of our city councils to protect the citizens of their city, and that's what Atherton and Menlo Park councils are doing. Second, the ends-justify-means argument smacks of Fascism, and that's something I know about.


Posted by Morris Brown, a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Sep 26, 2008 at 8:47 am

John Boyle's opposition to Menlo Park passing a resolution was long and strong. He managed to put off the debate on the resolution by about 6 weeks by first wanting a study session and then finally trying very hard to stop the council from passing the resolution.

The Menlo Park Chamber of Commerce being represented by Jim Bigelow, who neither works nor lives in Menlo Park, also advocated for the High Speed Rail project. The Chamber's members really ought to think about why this local chamber should endorse a project that if it ever gets built, is going to have such an extreme negative impact on the Menlo Park business community.

The project is sure fire disaster for the State in economic terms and in our own particular area the environmental damage to our area and consequential loss of "quality of life" will be immense.

I don't agree with John Boyle on many issues, but on this issue it is a matter of black and white. He is a Councilman elected by the voters of Menlo Park, and first and foremost he should be concerned about how our city and the residents of Menlo Park are to be affected. His opposition to this resolution is simply not defendable.

Please note that both Ruskin and Simitian became co-authors on Proposition 1A. I have been a supporter of Simitian, but he is dead wrong on this issue, didn't do his homework on this issue in my estimation, and simply voted the Democratic party line. Sometimes you simply have to take the good with the bad, I guess. I really do find him doing much good in so many other areas.


Posted by Margaret Fruth, a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Sep 28, 2008 at 4:50 pm

The High Speed Rail project's budget is severely underestimated, and depends on funds from unlikely sources. With a TRILLION dollar National Debt and a state financial crisis that has led to funding cuts for almost everything, federal and state funding appears remote. Why should California's taxpayers be assumed to be willing, or even able, to foot the bill? A prior state transportation bond issue still has uncommitted funds, so why burden Californians now?

Much of the right of way hasn't been secured, and the cost has been underestimated. Union Pacific, which owns the ROW and uses it for freight, said no to sharing the line, for safety reasons. If eminent domain is used, costs will go up from inflation, as well true costs of fair market value. And there is no electrical capacity for this train.

Ridership has been overestimated, which will endanger government subsidies, based on minimum standards of ridership. Their model assumes that all intra-California air travel would transfer to the train. But our air travel is very competitive. Building to San Diego and Sacramento is supposed to come from profits from the main line, but CalTrain has never turned a profit anywhere. Why would anyone invest in something with a 38% farebox loss?

This train is being sold as a faster alternative to air travel. But if you add TSA security screening the time advantage disappears.

The California High Speed Rail Authority has spent sixty MILLION dollars on marketing this Bond Issue. Is that legal--an illegal political donation of taxpayer funds?

Menlo Park City Council candidate NAME*** wants to build a tunnel from San Francisco to San Jose, at an estimated one million more per mile--$50 million extra. I support the lawsuit designed to prevent Menlo Park and Atherton from being cut in two.

Please vote NO on Initiative 1A!

While I am a member of the Dumbarton Citizens Advisory Panel, I am writing this as an individual.

Sincerely,

Margaret Fruth
Geographer


Posted by truth, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Sep 28, 2008 at 9:14 pm

One million per mile? Try something with at least two more zeros. The big dig was $15B and it did not cover 45 miles up the Peninsula. That candidate, and there is only one new candidate, has his head in the sand and that kind of ignorance is just too dangerous.


Posted by Brown Is Poison, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 30, 2008 at 2:11 pm

Morris Brown, why should anyone ever listen to you? After your "paid for" petition to drive down the Derry Project, we are now sitting here with an empty block of abandon stores and vacant lots. If you really want to effect change, and do it in front of the public, versus behind the scenes, run for office. Your shennigans with manipulating our political system in Menlo Park, and being glued at the hip with Mr. Cohen, are caustic! Boyle is trying to keep our town in the mix for the cash that we could potentially use to build a better look with HSR. It's ineveitable that the state will pass this bill, Boyle is trying to take it to the next level.
Stop the "no growth campaign", it's getting boring and making our town become a ghost town!


Posted by truth, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Sep 30, 2008 at 3:15 pm

Boyle's a parasite who talks from both sides of his mouth. He says he is one thing and votes the other. This is the worst kind of leader you can have. Boyles are all over the national scene. And if any of you who aren't in the know, just look at voting records and you will see how Boyle has never taken a stand for anyone but developers and land owners. The guy shaming Morris is no doubt one of them. Morris and his crew are less than perfect, but to use Boyle as the example is just a joke. He failed us on the HSR vote because he neither stood up for taxpayers who will foot the bill without any financial plan nor did he stand up for Menlo Park. I am so frustrated living with people who just advocate for the same bad decision makers Boyle to Winkler to Ciardella.


Posted by Richard Rider, a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2008 at 2:32 pm

For a detailed, devastating debunking of this incredible HSR boondoggle -- a.k.a. Prop 1A -- go to the 196 page study of this issue just released in September, 2008 by the Reason Foundation:
www.reason.org/ps370/
Fortunately at this same web page you'll find a readable summation of the study.

If that's not enough, go to
www.ti.org/antiplanner/?p=515
which summarizes the reasons why high speed rail makes no sense. There are many related articles on this website.

There are so many, MANY reasons to vote down this insane measure. The fact that California is flat broke from current profligate spending and borrowing is only the latest additional reason to vote down Prop 1A.


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