Atherton council sets special meeting on high-speed rail issue Monday morning


The Atherton City Council will hold a special public meeting to consider litigation options regarding the recent recertification of a high-speed rail project environmental impact report (EIR) at 8 a.m. Monday, Sept. 20.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority had originally certified the document, which reviewed the planned Bay Area-to-Central Valley section of the line, in 2008.

The agency was forced to de-certify and revise the document last year because of a court order prompted by a lawsuit from Atherton, Menlo Park, and a coalition of nonprofit groups.

With the recertification of the document, Atherton and other agencies are examining legal options to address their concerns that the new EIR is also flawed.

After the rail authority's Sept. 2 action recertifying the EIR, Stuart Flashman, the attorney who represented the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said the coalition was disappointed in the revised document, which he said "raises more questions than it answers."

For example, the new EIR doesn't address widespread criticism of the rail authority's ridership projections. The agency used these projections to justify its choice of the Pacheco Pass route, which would traverse the Peninsula, as the preferred alternative for the rail line, as opposed to the Altamont Pass in the East Bay, which the plaintiffs support.

At its Sept. 15 meeting, the Atherton council met in closed session to discuss the development, which it was allowed to do because of the town's existing litigation against the rail authority regarding the EIR. But at the urging of several residents, the council scheduled the Sept. 20 open meeting to allow the public to participate.

The meeting will be in the Town Council Chambers at 94 Ashfield Road.

Gennady Sheyner contributed to this report.

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