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 stage of funding to build a high-speed passenger train to connect San Francisco and 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. That helped make his opposition the "easiest decision" he's made as a council member, he said.
"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.