Big high-speed rail meeting in Menlo Park Around Town, posted by Editor, The Almanac Online, on Sep 2, 2008 at 6:59 pm
California High Speed Rail Authority board member Rod Diridon is among the expected speakers at a Sept. 9 study session in Menlo Park devoted to plans to connect Northern and Southern California with electric trains that travel up to 220 miles per hour.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, September 2, 2008, 5:18 PM
Posted by Martin Engel, a resident of the Menlo Park: Park Forest neighborhood, on Sep 2, 2008 at 6:59 pm
It is my understanding that the CHSRA will be represented by Rod Diridon and Dan Leavitt, not Quentin Kopp. If Senator Kopp does appear, many of us will have been seriously mislead. We are already concerned that the study session may be "rigged" in favor of the train. I only hope that this is actually not true.
We look forward to massive attendance at this study session. The impact of this additional train on Menlo Park cannot be overestimated. It will not only affect the residents, but most businesses in our city as well.
Posted by Eric, a resident of the Menlo Park: Sharon Heights neighborhood, on Sep 2, 2008 at 7:39 pm
"We are already concerned that the study session may be "rigged" in favor of the train."
Typical comment. There is always a conspiracy going on when people show support for the HSR project. Martin, maybe you and your cronies should realize that a majority of people want this project to happen and that it is not always "rigged" as you mention.
Posted by James W., a resident of the Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks neighborhood, on Sep 2, 2008 at 9:39 pm
As neighbors on the peninsula we should be thrilled to have this type of transportation technology coming to our area! The economic and environmental benefits will be huge. In a day when gas prices are near $5.00 I'm bewildered by any one who could possibly argue against high speed rail in their area. It is truly a shame to see disagreement on this issue.
Posted by Step away from the Ether, a resident of the Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park neighborhood, on Sep 3, 2008 at 3:03 am
Really now, will Menlo Park citizens really be zipping down to LA everyday, week, month? Didn't think so. Do a check of true Local travelers that must go to LA on a regular basis-you'll find that there just aren't enough to qualify this fantasy project. Not even enough on the entire Peninsula. Another example of improper placement of support for "greenlike" ideas. FeelGood Bandwagon Lemming phenomenon. Place those astronomical resources elsewhere such as Local renewable energy, Local public transportation solutions, Local water storage infrastructure. HECK, free solar installed for anyone who wants it! Could probably throw in a Desalination plant or two for CA as well. Wake up to the economic boondoggle to behold! Amazing. If you're just looking to line the pockets of the railroadmen and those "connected" have at it. Think this through-the promised outcome is false. We can do better.
Posted by Helen, a resident of another community, on Sep 3, 2008 at 9:39 am
So, people from Menlo Park don't go to LA all that often. But where else do they go? There are more stops along the line than just LA. And there will be even more when the additions are put in... like to Sacramento, San Diego and stops along the way. And if you think you're too old to see the complete line, then do it for your kids.
Posted by Martin Engel, a resident of the Menlo Park: Park Forest neighborhood, on Sep 3, 2008 at 10:29 am
Interesting that you should point out that Sacramento and San Diego are on the high speed rail route. Many people believe that. Here’s the truth. The first segment will be SF to LA. That will cost, according to the CHSRA, $33 billion. Once the train is operating, by 2020, they will have to cover not only their operating expenses, but make a profit and begin to pay off the bond issue costs. It is with the profits, and they will need $15 billion, to pay for the segments to Sacramento and San Diego.
You have to be enormously optimistic that the train can be operational for $33 billion in the first place, then generate $15 billion in profits, and then, finally complete the entire 800 miles of track with what they now say will cost a total of $45 billion.
It is remarkable that the train promoters act as if money was not problem and it will be unlimited in amount, regardless of the costs. And it is remarkable that so many of us believe that it doesn't matter what the costs are, as if these costs will not come out of our pockets. Let me say this again. Bond issues are mortgages on the state. They need to be repaid with interest. That money comes from the state treasury where our taxes go.
At this time, the state treasury is short about $15 billion or more, because the state is spending more than it is receiving in taxes. Our taxes are about to go up.
Posted by dave, a resident of the Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres neighborhood, on Sep 3, 2008 at 10:41 am
get real, if you did some reseach you would realize it is not more of the same. Maybe you should and wake up to the twenty first century! This state needs a project like this.
As for Ether, nice comment about "economic boondoggle". Not possible put together. Talk about contradictory. Yes this project will have a great economic impact on the state at the right time and no, it is not a boondoggle. Gee, let's keep the same way of thinking about transportation as you have so we and our children can really fall behind the rest of the world. No thanks. Time to get out of you caves.
Posted by Thomas, a resident of the Menlo Park: Sharon Heights neighborhood, on Sep 3, 2008 at 11:01 am
yes Martin, bonds are a way of borrowing money. But unlike a mortgage, the money is not borrowed all at once. It will be spread out over ten years. But you also turn facts around about the train making a profit. All high speed trains around the world are making profits in the billion of dollars, yes billion dollars a year that pay for the money borrowed to build it, maintenance and have money left over to expand the entire system. Don't give us the amtrak never making a profit arguement. Different all together because it is a slow form of transport and can't compare. HSR is fast.
The child like drama you create in this city is really pathethic and embarrasing. Really giving us a bad name. Time to stop. People do support this bond proposal.
Posted by Martin Engel, a resident of the Menlo Park: Park Forest neighborhood, on Sep 3, 2008 at 11:43 am
Actually, Thomas, the bond issue will be spread over 40 years. This bond issue, for $9.95 billion, will cost the State over $20 billion over the life of the bond.
The Japanese and European rail systems, not only their high speed trains, but their entire systems, are massively subsidized by their respective governments. They are "flag" systems, not unlike their air carriers, such as Lufthansa; partly private, party government. There are lots of ways of subsidizing such transportation industries, including tax relief, etc. It's like the kid who makes money mowing lawns, but gets a generous allowance from Dad.
The presumption of "profits" is from the CHSRA language, not mine. Those "profits" would have to come from the riders of the trains, their ticket costs. We are being told that a ticket from SF to LA will cost $55 for one way. (In 2020) They also say that they expect 117 million riders annually. (That's more than one third the entire population of the US) Operating costs for the train will be over $1 billion annually. They expect -- their numbers -- $3 billion in annual revenues and $1 billion in "profits." When you start doing the arithmetic here, it all seems to not make much sense.
Finally, Thomas, are you asking me to relinquish my Constitutionally protected First Amendment right to Freedom of Speech? Is that what you are telling me to do, when you say to me "time to stop? " Am I embarrassing you? Am I giving you a bad name? Do you have a position about this train? Am I telling you not to express it? Are you telling me I don't have the right to express my views about this train because you disagree with me?
I wonder if I am still living in the United States of America. Apparently, many people, not only you, disagree with others and thereby feel justified to silence them. Democracy does not work that way. That is the way of China or Russia, not the United States.
Posted by dave, a resident of the Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres neighborhood, on Sep 3, 2008 at 12:41 pm
Martin, the math DOES make sense. Maybe you refuse to look at it. First, the CAHSRA does not say 114 million riders making trips between LA and SF, it says 114 million tickets. Big difference. And that is by 2030, not 2020 as you state. Now if you only take less than half that number of tickets sold, 55 million, going from SF to LA (or vice versa) @ $55, you get over $3 billion in revenue! Wow, the math does work for half of the tickets sold!
Second, how do you think borrowing works when buying a house? You are going to pay a lot more than what was borrowed, which is definately more than the original amount. It's called the price of doing business and everyone does it. Loans aren't free.
Posted by truth, a resident of the Menlo Park: Belle Haven neighborhood, on Sep 3, 2008 at 2:53 pm
These comments are nothing but lobbyist junkies paid to spam our forum. If you can prove your existence at the study session, I will be shocked. But I will keep a list handy for:
None of you are arguing any merits of the the debate well at all. You both sound like you are stuck thumb sucking your own position too much to see the real world. HSR is not the greatest thing to happen by any means and it is not going to destroy our entire town.
But we should have a right to questions its merits and challenge our officials to answer questions directly without lobbyist forum hacks and bullies.
If you disagree with that -- your are nothing more than a fascist. And you are hence not worth any time at all.
I back by council's right to get answers and I credit them for having the fortitude to do it, knowing that the great liberal lions will bring down the house.
Posted by Tom, a resident of another community, on Sep 3, 2008 at 3:11 pm
Well, sorry, but I'm back and with yet more questions. Sorry, Martin. It has nothing to do with HSR, but with the process being followed by both cities involved in the suit and CHSRA, and I ask it because I'm seriously considering staying in town next Tuesday night to attend the study session. Hope someone is willing to take the time to answer these-I looked on Menlo Park's web site, but there is no info about the study session that I could find.
1. What is the session going to study, the merits of HSR or the merits
of the law suit? If its the former I'll likely stay home since I've
already decided to vote no on 1A. If its the latter, I may very
well attend just to see how the two councils explain studying a decision they already made.
2. Are the issues in the law suit such that both party's legal counsel will let them appear in public forum and discuss the case? I've always heard that "lawyering up" included no public comment regarding pending litigation.
Posted by Barry, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Sep 3, 2008 at 3:15 pm
Just a naive question: does anyone know any facts regarding the additional noise expected to be generated by the HSR? My concerns - which may be unfounded - come from an editorial I read in the Chronicle by Michael Mahoney:
Posted by Clem, a resident of the Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks neighborhood, on Sep 3, 2008 at 4:00 pm
The noise from HSR is loud when their speed gets up around 180-200 mph. It's hard to describe precisely: sort of a dull roar & swishing sound, definitely loud, but not ear-splitting like a jet engine. I have experienced this firsthand in France, from trackside, literally 10 feet from the HSR trains.
At the HSR speeds envisioned on the peninsula, up to about 125 mph, it should be pretty quiet compared to Caltrain. The Baby Bullets run through town at a diesel-belching 80 mph and blast their horns nearly continuously. Take away the horns (grade separations at our 4 crossings and Alma in PA), take away the diesel sound (electric propulsion), take away the squealing brakes and clanging bells, and the noise impact of HSR should be quite reasonable.
Posted by wanna get away, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Sep 3, 2008 at 5:34 pm
just bought a Southwest ticket from LAX-SJC for $39., 50 minute flight for family member to see the Trojan-Cardinal gridiron match. We'll take an airborne Cali coastline view anyday over a boring San Joaquin "scenic" rail route.
Posted by Step away from the Ether, a resident of the Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park neighborhood, on Sep 3, 2008 at 7:44 pm
Hmm, dave, economic and boondoggle not possible to be put together? Contradictory? Man, as stated: Step away from the Ether. What would your reasoning be? Would you prefer we label it a "fraud" instead? Just trying to keep it light. I was hoping truth wasn't correct when referring to lobbyist junkie types working the system. We need to get all of the facts before moving even a step forward with a project of this magnitude and cost. How about commenting on the potential of putting these huge resources to better use at this time, one where funds truly are limited if nonexistent, and borrowing our borrowed cash from people that we just can't pay back at our typically exorbitant American Burn Rate ?
Posted by dave, a resident of the Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres neighborhood, on Sep 4, 2008 at 10:19 am
Helen, isn't it nice to be branded as being on someones payroll because you voice more knowledge than just "build the train". I have noticed some of these people that oppose this project get mad and always seem to say you are on the CAHSRA payroll on a lot of other forums too. Makes me laugh. Ignorance. Cheers to the margarita you might be having on a beach somewhere :)
Posted by Roxie, a resident of the Menlo Park: University Heights neighborhood, on Sep 4, 2008 at 1:53 pm
Hi Dave and Helen,
I've been there too, a couple of weeks someone named "shadow nosey" (a friend of truth I'm sure) who wasn't happy with my support of HSR and grade separations accused me of having my front yard relandscaped by the city. It was my neighbor who has recently landscaped his front yard (and he did it himself, not the city). When they scouted the neighborhood (?) they got my house mixed up with his and created a their own fictional tale of political influence. I have to say they are imaginative. I'll join you for a margarita ;-).
Posted by Spokker, a resident of another community, on Sep 4, 2008 at 2:25 pm
"I have noticed some of these people that oppose this project get mad and always seem to say you are on the CAHSRA payroll on a lot of other forums too. Makes me laugh"
Oh it's hilarious. I could just as easily accuse people of whatever on the Internet.
The opposition is on the payroll of the Howard Jarvis Association or something. They are going to hire professional protesters to speak out against HSR at the community meeting. They are being paid for by Nazi gold profits. They are going to fly around the Peninsula in a zeppelin dropping anti-HSR leaflets attached to newborn puppies.
Posted by truth, a resident of the Menlo Park: Belle Haven neighborhood, on Sep 4, 2008 at 4:47 pm
Spokker, you are accusing Menlo Park of far worse using class, race and any other means to tarnish the image of anyone who dare question your mighty railbirds. Unbelievable table turning. Palinesque.
Please explain how you qualify accusing Menlo Park of being NIMBY and "small and wealthy" when in my mind my council is looking for answers through a lawsuit to questions posed four years ago and in five different letters since then?
I know Roxanne and respect her, we just disagree. I don't know where Roxanne lives and don't care to, we just disagree.
Posted by Spokker, a resident of another community, on Sep 4, 2008 at 8:26 pm
"Please explain how you qualify accusing Menlo Park of being NIMBY and "small and wealthy" when in my mind my council is looking for answers through a lawsuit to questions posed four years ago and in five different letters since then?"
There is some truth in most stereotypes. The stereotype of the upper class white NIMBY is, sadly, quite true.
then clicking on the Sept 9 agenda link and selecting the first link on that page (staff report #08-l08)
There are a couple of errors. The report says the trains speeds through MP are 100 MPH. The projected speed if 125 miles per hour.
The time for a non-stop trip from LA to San Francisco is said to be under 2 hr. 30 minutes. The Prop 1 ballot measure says 2 hours 40 minutes and the rail people I have talked to say that will be very difficult to meet. In addition, there are projected to be only 4 of these non-stop trips each day. Multi - stop trips will take much longer.
Posted by Diana, a resident of the Menlo Park: University Heights neighborhood, on Sep 4, 2008 at 9:09 pm
"There is some truth in most stereotypes. The stereotype of the upper class white NIMBY is, sadly, quite true."
Ah, Spokker, this kind of statement, of which you offer many, only gives force to the suspicion that you're merely a sock puppet for the HSR special interests who are pushing this bond measure. If I'm wrong, I apologize. But please, try addressing arguments directly, rather than trying to deflect attention from the serious concerns of community members by spinning out some insignificant point.
Posted by savvy, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Sep 4, 2008 at 11:10 pm
Spokker is an LA resident who apparently has never visited our part of the world. In one of his posts, for example, he insisted that homes along the tracks were shacks. He's a hired gun, for sure.
Other people posting here are residents who are evidently enamored of the pretty pictures and high speeds promised by the proposition backers. However, as with most state propositions, once you look behind the facade you see an unnerving number of flaws. The voters may be gullible enough to fall for the hype, but private investors and the other funding sources aren't going to ante up their money for this vapor rail.
And without money, it's not going to happen, yet Californians will be on the hook for $10 billion plus interest and fees. I can think of better ways to spend that money.
Posted by Spokker, a resident of another community, on Sep 5, 2008 at 1:06 am
"In one of his posts, for example, he insisted that homes along the tracks were shacks."
Please show me where I said that.
"But please, try addressing arguments directly, rather than trying to deflect attention from the serious concerns of community members by spinning out some insignificant point."
But rich, white NIMBYs are a concern of mine. Here in Southern California beachfront property owners wanted the Surfliner to be put underground because the trains ruined their view. Do people listen to themselves?
The concerns in Menlo Park are just as laughable. Here is a city protesting a train where a train line already sits. Caltrain already rumbles through these neighborhoods. The opposition is feeding people false information about noise levels and right of way widths. These concerns have already been refuted at the high speed rail blog.
Posted by marie, a resident of the Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park neighborhood, on Sep 5, 2008 at 7:54 am
I'm so relieved to now read that Quentin Kopp is not on the speakers platform. After what that man tried to do to our neighborhood when presiding in our dispute with the Auxiliary, I really don't care to have him trying with his sweet tones to influence our city. Here is a man who doesn't give a damn about the average citizen, he just wants to appease the powerful.
Thanks heavens for the reversal on appeal.
I certainly intend to attend the Study session and I support a No vote on Prop 1. The project he is trying to ram down our state's throat is a disaster, no only especially in Menlo Park and Atherton, but everywhere.
Posted by no to HSR, a resident of the Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks neighborhood, on Sep 5, 2008 at 2:39 pm
Spokker, why not come for a visit? Ask your handlers if they'll give you a day pass, and come see the peninsula. We'll show you our relatively bucolic tracks, and then we will travel (by train, if you wish) to San Carlos, where they have the grade separations that HSR wants to inflict on us. It works in San Carlos because the tracks don't run through a residential area, but that's not true farther south.
Maybe then you will understand the problem with trying to put HSR in a densely populated residential neighborhood. I doubt they pay you enough to be completely stupid.
Posted by truth, a resident of the Menlo Park: Belle Haven neighborhood, on Sep 5, 2008 at 5:37 pm
Glen, this isn't about opinions. This is not a debate on modern transportation. This is about a town in the line of fire from a major construction project that will force people from homes and businesses to shut down, that will alter the landscape for many many years. And here is the point, the planners and dreamers of the project have refused to respond to five different letters over four years asking for details and impacts and mitigation plans.
Why is everyone reacting to violently to this simple request?
Most of the existing Caltrain ROW is 80 to 100 ft wide.
In northern Menlo Park and Atherton, that means some people on either side of the track will lose 10 feet of their property. I feel sorry for them and understand if they go NIMBY ballistic, but it's the price of progress, and will be handsomely compensated. Eminent domain is not taking something for nothing, and there never was a better public interest at stake.
Posted by no to HSR, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Sep 5, 2008 at 10:05 pm
"Caltrain has plans to have overhead wires ..4tracks...and underpasses
in Menlo Park...with or WITHOUT HSR..your city has the plans already.
SO what is your opinion on that?"
Our city has repeatedly expressed a lack of interest in grade separations.
Of course Caltrain has grandiose plans. All the local transit agencies do. Instead of cooperating with each other to create the best possible transit system for the public, they compete for funding by trying to devise the biggest, best, and most expensive transporation scheme, never mind if it meets public needs or not.
HSR is a manifestation of that same ubertransit mania, this time on steroids and hyped at a state level.
It's not about benefits for us, the many. It's about profits for a very few. Some of us already understand that, and the rest of you will be chagrined when you finally realize the truth.
Posted by Clem, a resident of the Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks neighborhood, on Sep 5, 2008 at 10:17 pm
> This is about a town in the line of fire from a major construction project that will force people from homes and businesses to shut down, that will alter the landscape for many many years.
Missed this comment-- where were you decades ago when they rammed the widening of El Camino straight through Menlo Park and took down the entire frontage on its west side, including numerous homes and businesses? Was that ultimately a big mistake?
Posted by save menlo, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Sep 6, 2008 at 3:29 am
The comments by "no to HSR" are on target.
We have said repeatedly in the past that grade separations of the type being proposed by CalTrain are not acceptable.
Do we want to go the way of San Carlos? I think not. This time there is a big difference. CalTrain does not have the power of eminent domain and cannot take land at their pleasure. CalTrain can only do what the local cities will allow them to do with regards new construction that would affect quality of life in a City. The have to play nice, although as they have shown lately, then can close down service, such as they have already done in Atherton.
High Speed Rail is a whole different animal. As I read the other day, they have eminent domain and they intend to use it as necessary.
CalTrain has grand ideas but no money. That is the key of this whole project. CalTrain is in bed with the HSR group and they will get their electrification and grade separations as part of this project. They could care less about what Menlo Park wants.
We should note that our local state representative, Ruskin and Simitian both co-signed onto the Prop 1 law. They have no interest in protecting their constituents and only go along with the party line. I have supported both in the past but certainly not in the future.