Posted by Martin Engel, a resident of the Menlo Park: Park Forest neighborhood, on Feb 10, 2009 at 2:58 pm
First of all, Councilwoman Kishimoto is to be commended for her very thoughtful Guest Opinion piece. Furthermore, she is to be congratulated for assuming responsibility for bringing various towns on the Peninsula together into an ad hoc coalition. That process is currently under way and it promises to have us all speak with one voice to the rail authority about many of the issues that Ms. Kishimoto raises in her article. I hope that this process gets formalized and that documents are issued with the signatures of representatives from as many cities as possible along the rail corridor.
We are well past the point of debating the merits of the proposed rail system for California. The Palo Alto city council expressed its unanimous support prior to last Novemberís elections, while Menlo Park issued a statement of opposition. I share the position of Menlo Park and support Menlo Parkís participation in the CEQA lawsuit against the high-speed rail authority.
So, this is where we are. The lawsuit will be brought before the court in May. We need to win it. It gives Atherton and Menlo Park leverage.
Whether we win or lose, however, we must also make plans to protect our cities, especially Atherton, Menlo Park and Palo Alto, from the devastating impact of elevated train corridors with four tracks.
One alternative, already seriously considered by our three cities, is tunneling beneath the current rail corridor. That warrants a great deal of analysis and is a promising option inasmuch as it eliminates all the disruptive consequences that an elevated train would produce. No eminent domain adverse takings. No temporary shoofly tracks for
Caltrain. No business disruptions downtown. No property value depreciation. To the contrary! The air rights could well be deployed for limited development and revenue production.
Therefore, in order to make our collective voices heard, the multi-city coalition will be a powerful vehicle that can negotiate successfully to secure the needs for each of our cities regarding the development of the rail corridor.
Thanks to the Council members of Atherton, Menlo Park and Palo Alto for taking the initiative on this important issue.