As with two neighboring cities, Menlo Park is considering whether to challenge the environmental impact report for Caltrain's plan to convert its diesel-powered commuter trains to ones that run on electricity along the Peninsula corridor.
Mayor Catherine Carlton scheduled a closed session for tonight (Jan. 27) to talk about whether to join a lawsuit. "I like the idea of improving our rail system, but it must be done with respect to our environment."
Attorney Michael Brady, who has worked on lawsuits challenging the high-speed rail, urged the city to decide before the Feb. 6 deadline passes to file a lawsuit against the electrification EIR. In an email sent to the City Council on Jan. 22, he described the EIR as "the entry path" for high-speed rail on the Peninsula.
"If you fail to file suit, all your objections and rights disappear. If you file, you have leverage for negotiation and for protecting the RESIDENTS of MP who will be gravely affected if the problems are not cured," he wrote.
He said he would get Stuart Flashman, the attorney representing the city on high-speed rail issues, to cap his fee at $15,000 to $20,000, split among the jurisdictions joining the electrification EIR lawsuit.
Atherton and Palo Alto have also scheduled closed sessions on the same topic.
After the draft EIR was released, the city wanted Caltrain to consider addressing the following points in the final report:
■ Non-electric alternatives, such as diesel.
■ Acknowledge the positive impacts of electrification on air quality and greenhouse gas emissions.
■ Consider alternate providers for power supply.
■ Whether electrification and high-speed rail should be analyzed as a single project.
■ Enhance pedestrian and bicycle access to the station.
■ Include grade separations to reduce traffic impacts and improve safety.
Tonight's closed session of the council starts at 5:30 p.m. followed by the regular meeting at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at the Civic Center at 701 Laurel St.
Click here to review the complete agenda and associated staff reports. Other topics scheduled for discussion include the police department's body-worn camera policy, expanding outdoor dining downtown and whether the council should have to approve the hiring of any public relations consultant by the city.