News

Menlo Park will re-join high-speed rail suit

 

The city of Menlo Park will join Atherton in re-filing a lawsuit against the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

The City Council voted unanimously in closed session to join the suit at its meeting Tuesday, April 20. Stuart Flashman, the attorney who filed the original lawsuit, is seeking to re-open it, alleging that the rail agency withheld crucial information about how it arrived at its ridership estimates.

In the original suit, the plaintiffs contended that the rail agency did not adequately analyze the impacts of the project before it decided to run high-speed trains along the Caltrain corridor. The court ruling de-certified the environmental analysis document, but by and large did not fault the agency's environmental review of the Peninsula segment of the route.

Elizabeth Alexis, co-founder of the Palo Alto advocacy group Californians Advocating Responsible Rail Design, discovered the information that Mr. Flashman is basing the suit on.

Rail authority officials first said the changes to the ridership model were too minor to warrant republication, then attributed the discrepancy between the published document and the information Ms. Alexis received to a "typographical error."

"It's our understanding that the model used to generate the high-speed rail ridership forecasts – along with that model's supporting information – has all been publicly available since 2007," Jeff Barker, a deputy director for the rail agency, wrote in an e-mail.

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 20, 2010 at 8:33 pm

so there you go, HSR advocates cooked the books on ridership estimates. Can you say "boondoggle?"


Like this comment
Posted by NONIMBYS
a resident of another community
on Apr 20, 2010 at 8:38 pm

Boondoggle is a word used by the nimbys and other naysayers..Its is only in your mind of course that it is..and all this will once again be thrown out and your stupid little town will be even more hated..NOW old rich birds..get out of our way


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 20, 2010 at 8:44 pm

Nonimbys:

rich? me? hardly. It's not only in my mind. as I said before, do the math. The ridership numbers are bogus. Are you some union stooge that thinks any public works project is good because it puts you guys to work? Given no one in the public sector can afford you any more. If it weren't for "prevailing wage" which actually means what the union workers are getting, none of you would be working.


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 20, 2010 at 8:46 pm

Oh and Nonimbys, try responding without using vulgar language this time.


Like this comment
Posted by NONIMBYS
a resident of another community
on Apr 20, 2010 at 9:01 pm

What would you like me to call you??!! Sorry but your idea of not rich is very funny...sure maby your not rich compared to the Billionaries that live near you BUT. GEEE got your little 1.3 million dig is not just average for even for the BayArea..and dont woory it still we be worth every penny after HSR even more..why dont you look at the homes near the Bart Rockridge station..freeway and all sometime.


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 20, 2010 at 10:37 pm

Nonimbys:

how will this improve other peoples' lives other than employing union construction workers?


Like this comment
Posted by Willy
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 21, 2010 at 2:09 pm

"Menlo Voter":

You ask: how does it improve people's lives?

Are you asking in a generic sense, as in, "how does improved infrastructure make our country great?"

Or, as in: "how does high speed rail improve the lives of Californians?"

Or, are you more specific: "how does HSR effect a select few, who likely qualify as the NIMBY vote?"


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 21, 2010 at 2:15 pm

Willy:

How does HSR improve the lives of Californians given it will not be self supporting and thereby will require more tax money to operate?

I already live by the tracks so I don't really qualify as a NIMBY as HSR is just trading one train for another. I am highly concerned that HSR is not financially viable and will result in the taxpayers supporting it. We already have a big enough deficit and all HSR is going to do is make it bigger.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 21, 2010 at 2:25 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

HSR requires high population densities along its entire route to be economically successful - look at Japan and France. California's Central Valley is the economic death for the LA-SF-Sacramento HSR proposal.

California HSR will die on its own without lawsuits.

Menlo Park should save its money.


Like this comment
Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 21, 2010 at 3:25 pm

Facts please, Peter. Facts.


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 21, 2010 at 4:00 pm

What???:

it won't matter if we don't have to waste taxpayer money it?


Like this comment
Posted by What??
a resident of another community
on Apr 21, 2010 at 4:12 pm

We voted YES on HSR!! Remember??? you voted no and you lost..get over it sore losser!! RIGHT ON!!!


Like this comment
Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 21, 2010 at 5:04 pm

Eloquent argument What?? Just such a great use of the modern language. This is America where we are free to challenge our government and ask for proper data and analyses before they take billions of our dollars and pour it into a train system. It doesn't matter if you are rich or poor or black or white, Americans have rights to challenge our government. Are you saying because there was a vote we have given up our rights to challenge the HSR plan?

Hope not.


Like this comment
Posted by HSR project travesty
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 21, 2010 at 5:27 pm

We voted on HSR with information that is proving to be incorrect. I and many friends who voted FOR HSR now would do otherwise. The business plan does not make any sense, the numbers keep changing, and it is not clear that what we thought was approved (NO obligation for the California taxpayers to support the operations)is proving to be false.
There are no firm plans about how the route would go through our cities, local governments have little power and few funds to help do it right, and there are no clear sources for all the funding required. Worse, for the speeds probable on the peninsula, the cost per minute saved by HSR could be far better spent on regional transit, improving Caltrain, and a nice station in San Jose for HSR from southern CA to stop.

If the vote were taken today, I doubt it would pass. Perhaps that is what should happen - a re-vote with correct information!


Like this comment
Posted by What
a resident of another community
on Apr 21, 2010 at 6:06 pm

Oh stop you did not vote yes on it..and YES it would pass now. Just because a small group of malcontents and teabaggs dont like it then of course it should be stopped Wrong!! Much of this overblow bad news and drama is just that..pushed by media for readers and the same groups that hated the plan before..Tell me you never heard anything durning the 2 years of meetings CAHSR staged before prop1A was on the ballot? Never thought that it was coming up the Caltrain line thou it was talked about many times?


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 21, 2010 at 9:06 pm

What = Troll


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 21, 2010 at 10:13 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I stated that California does not have the population density to support HSR as compared to France and Japan.

Here are their respective population densities:
California 235.68 people/sq/mi
Japan 873.077
France 1,716.743

Japan is over 3 times as dense and France is 7.5 times as dense as California. And both of their HSR systems are also substantially subsidized.


Like this comment
Posted by R.GORDON
a resident of another community
on Apr 22, 2010 at 7:25 am

R.GORDON is a registered user.

China has stated that it is willing to cooperate in the building of the California as well as the entire U.S. HSR program.
It may lack density, Mr. Carpenter, but I would wager it would fill as many cars as there are airplanes sitting at the airports.
BTW......PBS showed a documentary PRIOR to Iceland's volcano eruption.
Also, it is in CONSTANT danger of repeating the eruptions. Not like we in California who think that THE earthquake is not going to happen maybe tomorrow.
I suggest the railway---which CAN be repaired quickly----will save millions of lives.Density is not the issue, Mr. Carpenter.
You have surrendered to the aging, staid, and incoherent seniors who think this small area is Shangrila.


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 22, 2010 at 7:50 am

Gordon:

you continue to ignore the fact that HSR will end up needing to be subsidized. That is NOT what the voters were sold. HSR proponents said HSR would be self supporting. It is now becoming obvious it won't. I don't want to be taxed more than I already am to pay for it.


Like this comment
Posted by Martin Engel
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Apr 22, 2010 at 8:04 am

As a prior critic of the city council and administration, I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation, and to commend the council highly for its unanimous vote to re-open the lawsuit.

The high-speed rail authority has been persistent in violating the law which makes their efforts possible. This is not China. We are a Democracy of and by the people. The arbitrary violation of state laws regardless of the rail authority's intentions is unacceptable. If those laws cannot or will not be enforced by the state Justice Department or the Legislature, it becomes the duty of the people to assume that responsibility to uphold the law.

I find it amazing that the train advocates are totally indifferent to the open and opaque checkbook policy -- with our tax dollars -- and the reckless indifference to legal process violations pursued by the rail authority.

These lawsuits are only the last resort when the peoples' laws are relentlessly ignored.


Like this comment
Posted by Lee Weaver
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Apr 22, 2010 at 9:44 am

Thank goodness Menlo Park is joing in trying to stop this fiasco. Some clear facts on high speed rail:
-The business model used to sell this to voters was full of numbers so fictitious that you would think they came from a Goldman CDO prospectus.
-California can't even afford the original cost projections. In case no one has been watching, we're already broke before spending a penny on this.
-Projects like this (new Bay Bridge, Boston's big dig, etc.) always cost much much more than any initial estimates. How does this business model hold together if you use the new ridership and ticket cost estimates, then multiply the construction cost by a factor of 3-5x?

Just because someone saw a neat PBS special on the TGV doesn't mean that we can snap our fingers and make one appear here. This project would cost hundreds of billions (none of which we have) and result in an under-used curiosity that would cost hundreds of millions more in tax dollars each year to run (see BART, Muni, etc.).


Like this comment
Posted by Martin Engel
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Apr 22, 2010 at 10:42 am

Lee Weaver, I agree with you, but I contemplate a more malevolent agenda. This is a vanity project of a handful of back-room politicians. There are extensive self-serving agendas at work behind this project that have nothing to do with providing California with much needed urban and regional transit upgrades.

We have read about land-speculation, "gifts" of which Medhi Morshed spoke, junkets, and "pump and dump" stock speculation and manipulation. It is an old truism that the larger the amount of federal fund availability, the larger the opportunity for waste, fraud and abuse. Iraq is our most recent example. This project could overshadow Iraq's lost and wasted dollars.

Those who support the train project AND castigate critics for their seniority, wealth, NIMBYism, rail denial, and whatever other faults, lack the critical faculty for separating their emotional and immature confusion with rational analysis of the facts. I blame our faulty educational system and negligent parents for their intellectual deprivation.

One can make a plausible case for a high-speed rail system, IF it is the "icing" on a far more comprehensive rail network cake. That is the way most HSR systems evolved elsewhere in the world. What is proposed for our state is context free. It's like Charles Foster Kane saying: "It would be fun to run a newspaper." At least, that was "Citizen Kane's" own money. These guys want to do it with OPM, other peoples' money.

California lacks a transportation strategy context. There has not yet been developed an overarching policy of how we should move people and goods in the next century. We have no ideas about how to integrate the various transit and transportation modalities. Shouldn't a transportation plan come first, before a solution?

So, a number of politicians got together several decades ago and decided that having a high-speed train in California would be a fun idea for a number of political and self-serving reasons. Persistence and massive marketing finally persuaded a few more gullible Californians than not (no landslide here!) to support this photogenic and seductive fantasy. They were unaware of the challenging realities necessary to implement it. Those who understood the politics and the underlying agenda closed their eyes, ears and minds to the problems lying in wait.

Now, it's time for reason, adult practicality and big picture thinking to take over. Fund and build it right, or not at all. California deserves much better than a White Elephant that will be obsolete the same day as the ribbon cutting.


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 23, 2010 at 6:47 am

R. Gordon states:"Density is not the issue, Mr. Carpenter."

Wrong. Revenues = number of riders x price of ride/mile ridden x number of passenger miles ridden

Given the long distance planned for the California HSR either you are going to need a much larger number of riders, which is directly related to population density, or significantly higher prices per mile ridden than exist for other HSR systems such as France and Japan.


Like this comment
Posted by Meno Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 23, 2010 at 7:12 am

There you go putting facts into the arguement.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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