Letter: Can Menlo Park mayor be fair on transit? | January 23, 2008 | Almanac | Almanac Online |



Viewpoint - January 23, 2008

Letter: Can Menlo Park mayor be fair on transit?

Menlo Park Mayor Andrew Cohen has announced that his term will be dedicated to transit and transportation.

Included in these broad topics are such complex issues as electrification of Caltrain, Dumbarton rail, high-speed rail, grade separations, mixed-use higher-density transit-oriented development, impacts of eliminated transit service from VTA (Santa Clara County transit) and reduced service from Caltrain, increasing transit ridership to maintain and increase services, and reducing greenhouse gases from transit and transportation.

There's a connection between transit-oriented development and increasing ridership on transit. A recent study showed that about 48 percent of residents living in transit-oriented housing take transit, they own fewer cars and so need fewer parking spaces. As gas prices soar, businesses find that being near transit is a plus for hiring employees and attracting customers.

Electrifying Caltrain will reduce pollution from diesel trains and require less time and energy to start and stop, thereby accommodating more trains and stops.

As for high-speed rail, Dumbarton rail and grade separations, each presents challenges and opportunities, as does our City Council's commitment to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

As Mr. Cohen has already spoken out against most of these initiatives, it is difficult to see how he will provide enlightened leadership to address these 21st-century issues with 21st-century answers. I hope he rises to the challenge; there's a lot riding on it.

Elizabeth Lasensky

Fremont Street, Menlo Park


Posted by Electrify Now, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jan 25, 2008 at 12:04 pm

Andy Cohen is mayor not dictator. The beauty of Menlo Park's governing system is that the mayor has very little power over and above what all council members have. When it comes to stating opinions and making decisions on these and other issues, he's only one of five elected officials. Frankly, I think it's good that not all five council members agree on these issues because we're likely to get more serious, probing discussions that can lead to better solutions.

Posted by skeptic, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jan 25, 2008 at 11:09 pm

Mayor Cohen has proved himself to be a man of integrity, and I do not doubt that he will do his best to address today's issues with relevant solutions.

I would not put too much credence in the comments made by someone who is very likely to run for council against him next November, and who might therefore have a reason to distort his positions and twist his words.

Posted by Not Joanna, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 26, 2008 at 3:23 pm

Cohen's words, no matter how few or poorly chosen cannot be distorted. The man lives as close to the train tracks as one can live and has gone on public record as someone who would like to see the train fail and shut down.

If the council were under order to start every meeting with a disclosure as to the names of the people each member spoke with that previous week on each issue on the agenda, we might learn more about who owns this man's brain.

Rather than accusing the letter writer of having political ambitions, why not tell us what your position is on the transit issues Ms. Lasensky has raised. Me thinks you are frightened of this woman?

You big babies.

Posted by Not not joanna, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 26, 2008 at 8:53 pm

Not Joanna, can you show us where the mayor has "gone on public record as someone who would like to see the train fail and shut down?" If it's public, you should be able to cite at least one council meeting or other public forum.

Elizabeth Lasensky was planning to run for council in 2006 but withdrew when she realized she didn't have enough support. With former Mayor Schmidt's backing, there's every reason to believe she will make a greater effort in 2008. That's not an accusation (don't make running for council sound like a crime!) but a reasoned observation.

Posted by Wake up, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 28, 2008 at 3:06 pm

Listen up Not Joanna and Not Not Joanna, It's a known fact that Andy Cohen doesn't like the train but, because the train runs right behind his back fence, won't he recuse himself when any train issues come up?
You gotta wonder why this fellow bought a home next to the train tracks? Could he have missed hearing them when he checked out the house?

Posted by Andy fan, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 28, 2008 at 4:32 pm

So if it's a "fact," where is the proof? The only train that our mayor has opposed, as far as I know, is the Dumbarton rail. Many residents of Menlo Park would be negatively affected by that train (he would not be one of them) and he is responding to their concerns and to the fact that it is an expensive project that provides little if any benefit to the region and no benefit to Menlo Park.

It's likely that he will have to recuse himself from any Caltrain-related votes because of his proximity to those tracks, so even if he did hate the trains--we can assume he doesn't or he wouldn't have bought a house in that location--he probably would have no voice in any decisions affecting Caltrain or other trains that use those tracks.

For years, people have run for council claiming that they will deal with the transit problems that have long been a major concern for residents. Then when they get elected, they become too overwhelmed with other issues. Let's give our new mayor a chance to provide leadership in this arena and not allow the rants of petty politico to usurp the agenda.