Five months after joining a lawsuit against the proposed California high-speed train, Menlo Park officials are launching a negotiation campaign with the same state body it is suing.
The campaign will be launched Tuesday after the city council last week voted the high speed rail issue as its top priority for the upcoming year. The effort will consist of a subcommittee of two city council members and various city staff officials who will send comments to and meet with officials from the California High Speed Rail Authority....
Mayor Heyward Robinson said the subcommittee's formation does not mean the city will pull out of the lawsuit fighting the project's environmental certification, which Menlo Park and Atherton joined in August along with several other groups. Instead, officials will simultaneously negotiate with the High Speed Rail Authority while remaining a plaintiff in the suit against the state body.
"They're different entirely," Vice Mayor Richard Cline said on the suit and negotiations. "One is
going to be handled from a legal perspective "... and the second part will be representing our community and having a dialogue about the (planning process)."
It's good to see Menlo Park taking a proactive approach to working with the Authority on HSR planning, although it would be immeasurably helped if they dropped the lawsuit. After all, Menlo Park residents voted FOR Prop 1A with the clear knowledge that it meant a high speed train would run through their community.
Menlo Park officials likely believe this is a carrot-and-stick approach. And yet this frivolous lawsuit runs the risk of further delaying the HSR project. The state's budget crisis is already making it unnecessarily difficult for the Authority to proceed with its planning work. The last thing they need is to be burdened by a lawsuit.
It's time for Menlo Park to work constructively with the Authority, and drop the lawsuit.