Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Yes on Proposition 1A

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

We're gonna build this thing.

Since my first post on HSR back in May 2007 I have been waiting for this day to arrive. When I began this blog in March I knew that it would be a difficult fight. NIMBYs, neo-Hoovers, oil-funded libertarian think tanks, and those who refuse to admit the end of the 20th century still retain considerable power in California, even though they have brought this state to its knees.

Today we're gonna show them that a new force is here in California. A force that demands sustainable and secure prosperity for future generations, built not on imported oil and global warming but on renewable energy and mass transportation.

I will be dropping in at various times during the day, and will update with the latest vote totals as we get them from the Secretary of State. Given the high number of absentee ballots we may not know the outcome tonight. But there is one thing we do know:

We're gonna win this thing.


Rafael said...

@ robert cruickshank -

I hope your optimism proves infectious. In 2006, California voters decided to approve a much larger bond measure to fund infrastructure

But whatever the outcome, I'd like to thank you for your tireless efforts on behalf of the high speed rail cause over many months.

This blog appears to have been one of the most frequently referenced venues for spirited and detailed discussion of this complex and ambitious project. Your own posts were always well-researched and substantive. You also allowed anyone to contribute, regardless of their position on the topic. This privilege was only briefly abused by one or two commenters, forcing you to remove a small number of comments.

I'd also like to thank Morris Brown, Martin Engel and others for their tenacity in advancing their arguments against this project, in spite of the "HSR denier" label and occasional ad hominem attacks against them. There is no reason why the normal rules of civil discourse should not apply on the internet. After all, arguments can only be developed fully if they are challenged. This blog would have degenerated into a mutual admiration society if opponents' skin had been thinner.

Unfortunately, many of them refused to comment using a handle, which made responding to them needlessly cumbersome and evoked frustration. Also, derailhsr.com never reciprocated by offering similar public discussion, though they did extend an invitation to me personally to draft a post in favor of HSR. I declined to take them up on it because I felt uncomfortable with becoming the token spokesperson for the contrarian view.

Finally, many thanks to Google for providing the Blogger tool free of charge.

Anonymous said...

@ Rafael and Robert

With less then 24 hours before we know the outcome, I thank Robert for putting this blog up. I echo Rafael's comments regarding this being one of the few, if not the only site, where a spirited discussion of the issues involved here could be aired.

I certainly don't think Robert's prediction on the outcome will come to past, and in fact I believe Prop 1A will be defeated. Robert seems confident Prop 1A will pass. We are extremely confident Prop 1A will be defeated.

As many of us have been deeply involved advocating our positions on Prop 1A, I must say I am disappointed how few of the media outlets have really made an attempt to do more than just echo a very few issues surrounding the project, and did not make a real effort to fully explore the issue. This should be of concern to both the Pro and Con sides of this issue, or any other issue coming before the voters.

California needs serious reform in the way bond issues are approved. What you really have now is the issuance of debt without any passage of appropriations to pay for the new debt. This must be changed. New bond debt must be accompanied by funding mechanisms, whether that be new taxes or user fees or whatever.

We all have learned a great deal about technical information as well as overall information concerning the project from Rafael, and for that we here at DERAIL thank him greatly.

Rafael said...

@ morris brown -

glad to oblige with the info. May the voters prove you wrong!

Wrt appropriations: while AB 3034 does not introduce a new funding mechanism for the proposed $9.95 billion bond, it actually does require explicit annual appropriations in the context of the state budget process.

That at least forces the state legislature to determine if it can afford to proceed with the project at the pace proposed by CHSRA in any given year. On the other hand, any last-minute budget shenanigans could disrupt the construction schedule and escalate costs, so legislators would be wise to nail down the HSR portion of each year's budget as early as possible.

Spokker said...

Jesus, I'm having a goddamn heart attack over here. We are actually voting on high speed rail today in California.

Remember, gays, trains, and Obama. It's the Man Train '08

Brandon in California said...

Whether 1A passes or not, and I have hopes that it will, we will likely see a record number casting their preference on a single measure in California history.

With possibly up to 80% of registered voters expected to cast ballots, and there are more today than there ever were previously, we could see a record number vote 'yes' or 'no', or combined, on a particular measure.

Although 8 gets all the attention right now... it's further down the list... and I am unsure any other measure is generating so much attention and is near the top of the list that 1A would be surpassed in those vote categories.

...just an observation and something I'll remember to watch.

If it wins and has a record for affirmative vote, I'd call that a ringing endorsement for HSR!

Brandon in California said...

On another topic, where will you be?

I don't think as much attention has been made on this (as could have been), but will you remember where you were when Barack Obama is declared winner; as America's first black president?

It'll be something to remember, like where you were when we landed on the moon, when Reagan was shot, when we launched our first attack into Iraq, etc.

I am voting for Barrack for numerous reasons, and none of which is related to his skin color. But, I believe I'll be making a mental note of where I was when he's declared winner.

Anonymous said...

Everyone on this blog, myself included, is awaiting the outcome from today's vote. As I posted several threads below, however, I suspect that today's vote will not be as definitive a moment as either side originally expected.

If Prop 1A passes, many of us will be very happy. But remember that it has financial safeguards in it (as well it should). If money from the Federal govt and/or private investors doesn't materialize in the next few years, then nothing will get built. So Prop 1A supporters will still have to fight to make sure the project actually becomes reality.

If Prop 1A fails, the Martin Engels and Morris Browns of the state will be very happy. But there's a decent chance that it's not the end of the story unless Prop 1A fails big. Everyone on both sides knows that the economy is weighing heavily on propositions this season, so if it's a close vote (say, mid-40s or above), it's likely that a revised proposition would appear (and pass) in 2 to 4 years when the economy is (hopefully) doing better, especially given that HSR has bipartisan support. Propositions that have narrow wins or losses don't necessarily disappear. Consider, for example, Measure Q (the rail bond in Marin/Sonoma that is basically a re-do of the narrowly failing 2006 bond...bad timing for them this year). Or consider what happened to the Florida HSR project (narrowly passed in 2000 only to be put back on the ballot a few years later to narrowly fail). So the HSR foes had better hope that it fails big time (e.g., below 40), otherwise this may not be the last HSR bond we see.

Rob Dawg said...

This will seem weird to this group but I believe the best prospects for HSR lie with a no vote. No one wants to hear the tiresome reasons or subsequent I told you so rants. 53/54 against. HSR is a great idea who's time has "almost" come. And make no mistake, CAHSR not only needs but deserves massive public investment and support and even the inevitable subsidy. Don't mistake rejection of 1a for rejection of HSR in general. 6-8 years from now the successful effort will be built on the foundation laid today. HEre's to CA-AHSR in 2012!

Spokker said...

I don't believe that the claims of "For HSR, not 1A!" are genuine. I believe that most people who say this are against rail in general and want to stay with the status quo.

Prop 3, Prop 12, and the awful Prop 10 were leading in field polls. If those pass and 1A doesn't, then 1A's defeat has nothing to do with the economy. It has to do with our state's, and nation's, fundamental aversion to passenger rail transportation.

We love our cars.

Rafael said...

@ spokker -

props 1A and 8 will be close-fought but I think you can relax wrt Obama.

Even if McCain sweeps AZ, MT, ND, IN, OH, VA, NC, GA, FL and scores a stunning upset in PA, he would still lose if Obama/Biden carry all other Kerry states incl. NH and ME-2 and flip IA, MO, CO, NM, NV plus NE-2 (Omaha). The result would be a 269-269 tie, which Congress would break in favor of Obama/Biden.

If Obama/Biden hang on to all the Kerry states, they need just 17 additional electoral college votes to win the election. That means winning any one of OH, FL, VI+NC, VI+IA, VI+CO, VI+NM, VI+NV, NC+IA, NC+CO, NC+NM, NC+NV, IA+CO+NM, IA+CO+NV, IA+NM+NV, IA+CO+(NE-2) would put them over the top and, I'm not even counting any permutations involving GA, IN, MT or ND.

If PA stays blue or Obama wins at least one of OH, VA, NC or FL to compensate, we'll almost certainly have an HSR-friendly administration. If prop 1A passes as well, hip hip hooray.


A resounding NO on prop 1A would surely spell the end of the project for the foreseeable future.

However, a narrow defeat could justify a second attempt attached in next year's special election on relaxing the majority needed to pass a budget or else the 2010 mid-terms.

Required improvements could include:

* independent review of conflicting claims on performance, cost, fares and ridership made by CHSRA and Cox-Vranich/Cato Institute
* an up-to-date business plan and investor prospectus
* adding citizen members to the financial oversight committee
* making the CHSRA chairmanship a directly elected office
* visible signs of progress on ROW and FRA issues
* final resolution of the Palo Alto vs. Redwood City and Visalia/Hanford station issues

Also, the bond volume would have to be adjusted for construction cost inflation since 2002 even if the route and phasing remain unchanged. To keep it at $9.95 billion, either the cities and counties served would have to commit to co-pays or else, Congress to chipping in more than the state and/or to threaten UPRR with eminent domain if it refuses to negotiate a fair deal on the ROW.


Furthermore, if Measure B in Santa Clara county fails, the BART extension to Santa Clara should be dead as a dodo. In that case, it might make sense to revisit Altamont-only via a run-through station in Santa Clara/SJC to boost support in the East Bay and Central Valley. The SF-LA express line haul time would increase by ~8 minutes but the network would better serve Northern California and Pacheco Pass would be left alone.

In addition, construction phasing might need to be revised to include Sacramento and San Diego counties in phase I to boost voter support, even if revenue would suffer a little. SoCal trains would run between Anaheim and San Diego via LAUS. Laying track between Manteca and LAUS via Palmdale would be relegated to phase II.

In an Altamont-only scenario, BART would be extended south only as far as a new multi-modal transit hub in Fremont Irvington. Between Milpitas and Niles, the HSR tracks would run in a trench along the county-owned WPML ROW. The trench would be covered with rebar slabs to create dedicated lanes for multiple BRT routes between Fremont Irvington and SJ Diridon station. Some cross roads along the WPML might need overpasses, but most could make do with plain old traffic lights. Between Santa Clara/SJC and Milpitas, the HSR alignment would run along the I-880 median or else, in a covered trench (possibly as stacked single tracks) along the defunct SPML ROW. In the latter case, VTA light rail tracks at N. 1st would have to brought back up to street level.

The BRT routes would run past the auto plant at Fremont Warm Springs, Milpitas Great Mall and either the Golden Triangle, SJC terminals and Santa Clara/SJC station or, through east and downtown SJ. Buses would have to leave Fremont Irvington every 2 minutes during morning rush hour to achieve the same capacity as BART service at 15 minute intervals.

The Amador Valley HSR station would not be Bernal Ave. but rather, an intermodal station with a separate BART extension to Livermore. LLNL, downtown Livermore, Pleasanton, San Ramon, Danville and Walnut Creek would be served by connecting bus routes.

Caltrain service south of SJ Diridon would be discontinued after electrification. Instead, the Capitol Corridor would be extended to Gilroy for selected trains. In the future, its definition could be extended further to Hollister, Salinas and/or Monterey Cannery Row (new tracks south of Sand City).

Brandon in California said...

I am with spokker in his assessment. Those advocating no on HSR b/c it's the wrong plan for right now, but they still support HSR... are bogus. The plan developed by CHSRA is not perfect, but as good as can be considering the constraints.

John Perry said...

From a rail fan in New Mexico who has been closely following the issue and donated to the campaign, I wish you the best of luck tonight. We're all hoping for the best for California's future.

Anonymous said...

Well here in SF big turnout..and how "blue" it is here!!! also
lots of young people!!SO hopefully we and LA can pull it thru !!

Anonymous said...

Something I wrote 6.5 years ago.


Let's hope we get a start on it tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

Regardless of if Prop 1A passes or fails, I think it'll be remembered as the first great striving for major public transportation infrastructure investment in America -- this vote is a turning point in transportation history. Prop 1A and CAHSR will be a memorable moment and I'd like to thank Robert and all the commentators (both proponents and opponents) for their input on this historic proposition. So with that, god speed to democracy and the America's transportation future!

Spokker said...

Welp, the first part of my equation is coming to fruition. Obama is leading.

Come on gays and trains. It's all up to you now, California.

Anonymous said...

Sigh. Robert Cruikshank and his LIES. Or at least that's his strategy. He calls people deniers, Hoovers, and liars. Not only does he not refute anything opponents have said, he just throws on irrelevant indirect points that don't even address arguments but present arguments from a different context.

Please tell me where Obama talks about supporting CAHSR. I don't care if he likes HSR. There's one thing about a candidate liking one thing and it's another thing if a candidate pledges to push legislation through.

Spokker said...

Obama wins.

Anonymous said...

When do we find out if it passed?

Spokker said...

Prop 1A results are coming in.

San Diego County is disappointing me. Some of the northern counties are showing results and are voting an expected no.

Three counties along phase 1 are reporting in and we are leaning yes.

It's neck and neck at 8:35PM at 50.2 percent for and 49.8 against.

Spokker said...

Fuck, Santa Barbara started reporting and yes took a hit.

Here's where I'm at by the way. There's a drop down box for all the ballot measures.

Anonymous said...

According to LA times

"1A: High-speed rail Yes 50.2% No 49.8%"

That's only 5% precinct though. And they have yet to count most of the precincts in the Bay, LA Basin, and Central Valley area.

Anonymous said...

We're slightly behind now -- 48.4 Yes vs 51.6 No. But I'm looking at the actual numbers and we're not down by much. And its mostly the north and San Diego that have turned in the results.

Looks like people are voting on whether or not the system is serving them.

bossyman15 said...

dman it man! the website are slow as hell! they should've have put up more server for this day!

sorry to yell i just want to see the result.

Spokker said...

Wait for LA County and SF County before you start thinking the worst.

Whatever the result, at the end of the day the map will look a lot like Phase 1 of the route.

Rafael said...

2008 CA Election Results

Prop 1A - High Speed Rail

Anonymous said...

looks like its really close...the bigger countys/cities have not responded except san diego...and they are only 27% in..but its at 48.4 yes/51.6 no...We still have a long way to go people...

bossyman15 said...

rafael yes that's the site i went to... its very very very slow for me.

bossyman15 said...

ok now i finally able to access the site.

now its 14.8%
46.4% yes 53.6% no

come on! yes yes yes please!

Anonymous said...

San Francisco is not yet reporting in..it behind only by 40,000 NOW!!

bossyman15 said...

OHHH! its now catching up!

Spokker said...

Calm down, guys. It's still very early.

Anonymous said...

Yes -- 49.3%
No -- 50.7%

Catching up! Unfortunately its already 12:30AM here on the east coast so I'll probably spend the next few hours rolling around in bed wondering what will happen. My best wishes!

Anonymous said...

Now I feel horrible for not campaigning as hard as I should have.

Anonymous said...

SF is just starting and its up like
72% 32,000 yes..it should bring in100,000 yes I hope!

bossyman15 said...

OHHHHHHHH! less than 1% behind!!!!

Brandon in California said...

Keep in mind, that many of the early reporting will be absentee ballots. Not in all cases, but most I believe.

And, we know absentee ballots, early voters, tend to be republican. Republicans will likely vote mostly 'no' on 1A.

owever, I've heard San Diego does not count absentee ballots at all unless they are a deciding factor in an outcome. I don't know how they could uniformily come up with that conclusion, so I suspect b/c 25-27% of precints reported were provided at 8:01pm; 1 minute after polls close, I suspect those are San Diego's absentee votes.

bossyman15 said...

ummm can you help me with this?

i tried to look at the map but all i got is grey square.

i tried both firefox and ie.

is it working for you?

Anonymous said...

LA does not seem to be updating?
stuck on 10% only in?

Spokker said...

Yeah, LA hasn't updated in a while. Measure R hasn't updated either.

Robert Cruickshank said...

LA County is going to be VERY slow tonight. They got an enormous crush of voters today. They will not fully report until the morning at best.

Brandon in California said...

Gee, the state site needs an overhaul.

How the heck do local papers get their results? Do they have their own pipe into the State server?

Rob Dawg said...

Just went 50.4% yes.

Spokker said...

rob dawg, where are you seeing that?

I'm seeing 49.4% yes, its biggest gain yet.

Rafael said...

Results of other train-related props in CA:

Measure B in Santa Clara county - BART extension to Santa Clara (66.67% needed to pass)

Measure Q in Marin, Sonoma counties - SMART (66.67% of combined votes needed to pass)

Rob Dawg said...

Go to:

Now 50.8%

Robert Cruickshank said...

New results thread

Rafael said...

@ bossyman15 -

forget the maps for now, we don't want that server to crash. Just look at the numbers of all state props instead.

bossyman15 said...

huh! Rafael that site are better than sos site. much faster page loads!

ian said...

Looks like we're building a train!!!

I'm ready for the future —