Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Menlo Park HSR Meeting, Sept. 9

NOTE: We've moved! Visit us at the California High Speed Rail Blog.

Next week the California High Speed Rail Authority and the Menlo Park City Council are going to hold a study session on Prop 1A and the HSR project. It will be in the council chambers at the Menlo Park Civic Center at 5pm on Tuesday, September 9. Expected to be in attendance are Rod Diridon, Dan Leavitt, and perhaps Quentin Kopp (his attendance is uncertain at this point). It should be a fascinating meeting, one I wish I could attend. Menlo Park has become known as a hotbed of anti-HSR activism, but perhaps the situation is more complicated than that.

Martin Engel is a persistent and vocal gadfly, and succeeded in swaying the councils of Menlo Park and Atherton to adopt a NIMBY position and sue the Authority to block the project. But is this NIMBYism representative of what Menlo Park residents actually believe, or did the squeaky wheel get the grease?

Comments should always be used with caution, but the comments on the Almanac article announcing the meeting suggest that there are plenty of Menlo Park residents who actively support high speed rail and oppose their city being party to the lawsuit. Some examples:

"We are already concerned that the study session may be "rigged" in favor of the train."

Typical comment. There is always a conspiracy going on when people show support for the HSR project. Martin, maybe you and your cronies should realize that a majority of people want this project to happen and that it is not always "rigged" as you mention.

Posted by Eric, a resident of the Menlo Park: Sharon Heights neighborhood, 15 hours ago

Martin, how about the rigged closed session meeting for a vote your council had against the CAHSRA. Legal? I don't think so. Just shows the true colors of your city council.


Vote yes on prop 1A

Posted by Justin, a resident of the Atherton: Lloyden Park neighborhood, 15 hours ago

As neighbors on the peninsula we should be thrilled to have this type of transportation technology coming to our area! The economic and environmental benefits will be huge. In a day when gas prices are near $5.00 I'm bewildered by any one who could possibly argue against high speed rail in their area. It is truly a shame to see disagreement on this issue.
Posted by James W., a resident of the Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks neighborhood, 13 hours ago

Opposition to the train reminds me of the San Mateo county idiots who refused to support BART way back when; now we are stuck with Caltrain lumbering along.
Posted by Doug, a resident of the Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks neighborhood, 35 minutes ago

get real, if you did some reseach you would realize it is not more of the same. Maybe you should and wake up to the twenty first century! This state needs a project like this.

As for Ether, nice comment about "economic boondoggle". Not possible put together. Talk about contradictory. Yes this project will have a great economic impact on the state at the right time and no, it is not a boondoggle. Gee, let's keep the same way of thinking about transportation as you have so we and our children can really fall behind the rest of the world. No thanks. Time to get out of you caves.

Build the train already!

Posted by dave, a resident of the Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres neighborhood, 19 minutes ago

yes Martin, bonds are a way of borrowing money. But unlike a mortgage, the money is not borrowed all at once. It will be spread out over ten years. But you also turn facts around about the train making a profit. All high speed trains around the world are making profits in the billion of dollars, yes billion dollars a year that pay for the money borrowed to build it, maintenance and have money left over to expand the entire system. Don't give us the amtrak never making a profit arguement. Different all together because it is a slow form of transport and can't compare. HSR is fast.

The child like drama you create in this city is really pathethic and embarrasing. Really giving us a bad name. Time to stop. People do support this bond proposal.

Posted by Thomas, a resident of the Menlo Park: Sharon Heights neighborhood, 0 minutes ago

Obviously this is a contentious issue within Menlo Park. But the fact that there are vocal supporters of high speed rail there and in Atherton just goes to show how isolated the HSR deniers and NIMBYs really are. Far from being concerned about their city's supposed doom that will result from HSR, many residents actively support the project and want their community to help build it instead of trying to stop it.

It's a welcome development, if not surprising. The numerous benefits of HSR are self-evident, even to residents of Menlo Park and Atherton. Whether it's high speed connections to SF and LA, or cleaner and safer train operation within their communities, or the economic stimulus HSR will provide, or the significant environmental benefits, these residents see the need to support Prop 1A. The same thing is already happening around our state. Californians, like many Peninsula residents, are eager to vote for Prop 1A and move our state into the 21st century.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Rob. I hope the meeting will persuade even more people in Menlo Park to join the cause for CAHSR instead of following the City Council's NIMBY position.

Yes on Prop 1A...and Go Bears! (I'm a Cal student)

Robert Cruickshank said...

Go Bears! (I'm a UCB grad.)

Have you filled out the pledge form? Interested in helping promote Prop 1A on campus? Contact me - my last name at Would love to work with you.

Spokker said...

You are right to mention the dubious nature of comments on web sites but I'd like to hammer the point home even more.

Anyone can claim they are a resident of Menlo Park and announce they either support of oppose the project.

The same is true for any web site, including this one.

We'll see if the comments from the meeting are more reliable.

Anonymous said...

Ooo..this will quite a show with the DeRAIL..nimby crowd crying the blues that Menlo Park with be runied and the state will be broke from this Booondoggie! God I wish I could they only let city
residents speak..and I hope that those people that back HRS in Menlo Park show up and speak ..loud and clear!!

Anonymous said...

BTW...put the HSR in a tunnel thru Menlo Park so we dont have to listen this stuff anymore!!

Tony D. said...

I've often wondered what the Menlo/Atherton NIMBY's feel about the current LOUD, LUMBERING, SMOG BELCHING, CAR WRECKING, AND (unfortunately at times) PEOPLE KILLING CALTRAIN. Don't they understand that HSR will make the current Caltrain system a thing of the past; quiet, fast, electric, grade separated and fenced off (for safety). Perhaps their next lawsuit will be geared toward ceasing Caltrain service through their communities. Robert, assuming Prop. 1A passes this Novemeber (and it should), what are the chances a small group with a lawsuit could "derail" a large project geared toward the entire state?

Rafael said...

@ cal -

got a few hundred million dollars burning a hole into your pocket?

@ tony d -

unfortunately, the lawsuit has the potential for causing construction delays, which would stress the financial picture. Both federal and private matching funds would be that much harder to secure in the event of drawn-out litigation of any type.

However, the complaint against CAHSR is limited to the Bay Area to Central Valley portion of the network. Work in SoCal could proceed using the state bond funds while it makes its way through the courts.

Of course, there will be some eminent domain proceedings and perhaps also some environmental justice claims at multiple points along the starter line. Those too could cause construction delays.

California lawyers. Gotta love them...

Anonymous said...

I wish I had a couple hundred million!!I think I read on the CHSRA site in the comments section of the final EIR bay area..that the mayor of either Menlo Park or Atherton would perfer a trench cut rather than ground ROW? Im sure Derail wants nothing period. I hope some deal is worked out ..or the lawsuite is tossed

njh said...

Surely one of those Atherton people could chip in the required few hundred million for a tunnel? Rumour has it that there are more billionaires in Atherton than the rest of the bay put together.

Anonymous said...

Since there seems to be interest in the Menlo Park Sept 9th study session, those interested in
watching please be advised the session will be webcast as well as telecast on Comcast in
the local area.

Here is the link to the webcast site:

The session will start at 5:00 PM.

The CHSRA will be represented by Diridon and Dan Leavitt. Kopp will not be speaking.

Anonymous said...

Caltrain has plans for overhead wires and 4 tracks With or without
HSR...this should made very clear at this meeting.

Unknown said...