Tuesday, January 6, 2009

It's YOUR High Speed Rail Project

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

Public involvement and oversight is absolutely crucial to the success of the California High Speed Rail project. This blog is committed to providing you information about opportunities to get involved, attend meetings, or otherwise give your feedback and input to the various agencies planning high speed rail. We support the goals of the project, and realize that if it is to be successful, it needs to be done the right way - and that public involvement is a good way to ensure we get the best HSR system we can.

So in that spirit I offer the following information about public meetings regarding HSR in California this month. If you have any others to add, either leave it in the comments or send an email to my last name at gmail.

  • January CHSRA Board Meeting
    Thursday, Jan. 8, 10 AM
    Sacramento Area Council of Governments
    1415 L Street, Sacramento

    Doesn't seem to be much on the agenda other than the usual project updates. The board will discuss a MOU with the Caltrain board, which may be of interest to Peninsula residents. These meetings always have scheduled time for public comments, as is mandatory under state law.

  • Peninsula EIR/EIS Meetings

    As Clem has so helpfully described on his blog the Federal Railroad Administration has announced the process for the final Peninsula EIR/EIS statement which includes the following public scoping meetings:

    San Mateo County: SamTrans Auditorium, 1250 San Carlos Avenue, San Carlos, California, January 22, 2009 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.

    San Francisco: San Francisco State University, 835 Market Street, 6th Floor (Rooms 673-674), San Francisco, California, January 27, 2009 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.

    Santa Clara County: Santa Clara Convention Center, 5001 Great America Parkway, Great America Meeting Rooms 1 & 2, Santa Clara, California, January 29, 2009 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.

    Written comments on the scope of the San Francisco to San Jose HST Project EIR/EIS should be provided to the CHSRA by March 6, 2009, and can be sent to comments@hsr.ca.gov with subject line San Francisco to San Jose HST. (thanks to Clem for this info)

    I am going to try and attend the Santa Clara meeting, as that's the closest to us here in Monterey.

As always, if any of you attend these meetings and want to write a report for the blog, let me know and I'll be happy to oblige.


sean mykael said...

Be nice if these things started later in the day. 3pm on a Thursday is too early for the working man.


Brandon in California said...

^^^ Nope.

There's never a good time.

There's ALWAYS someone that will complain about scheduling or location. Always!

Bottomline, if the matter is important enough... then people will attend and voice their concerns. Fortunately, today people also have the opportunity to drop an easy email.

Spokker said...

Damn, I'm arriving into Sacramento at 12:30PM on Thursday. I would have liked to see a public infrastructure clusterfuck in action.

"Bottomline, if the matter is important enough... then people will attend and voice their concerns."

Nah, that's BS. The work day is from 9AM-5PM. For many it's one or two hours longer. Holding these things at 7PM should be standard. Politicians and public officials are the ones who don't want to budge for us.

Spokker said...

Any issue you have will never be more important than making a living for yourself and/or your family. Sorry, but I'm not in a position to take off on a shift I really need to fight for any of mine or your little causes.

Clem said...

I don't think these 5-hour scoping meetings follow a strict agenda. They are probably drop-in workshops where they just take a laundry list of citizen concerns. I'll be interested to see if anybody important shows up from the CHSRA, or just low-level staff.

Maybe we'll find out when they publish more detailed announcements as the dates approach.

Brandon in California said...

Spokker, Nope, you're wrong.

There will ALWAYS be someone that complains.

If meetings are held during the work day, people complain that they had to work instead. ... and offer up a night time event to mitigate their conflict.

If meetings are held at night, then they complain that they are already home and rather use the time to relax... and say they'd rather attend during the day.

Again, if the issue is important enough for the individual to be heard... they'll find a way to attend or provide their comment in another way if they have a conflict.

With that said... if the agency decision on the matter is very important, maybe controversial, some agencies will hold a series of meetings in different locations and at different times to gather feedback. Again, it depends on the matter at hand.... and there is no hard and fast rule to go by; it's an agency leadership/board decision.

Brandon in California said...

Come to think of it, I may have responded to early to sean mykael.

The EIR/EIS scoping meetings are planned at 3 different locations across a broad 5 hour window beginning at 3pm and running 'til 8pm.

It will not be required or necessary to drop in right at 3pm to provide comment or review material... and stay 'til 8pm.

I imagine it'll be set up whereas there is an opening comment by someone, maybe a brief presentation... and then people will be dispursed to different areas of the room to review project information and speak with project planners and submit comments or points that should be examined in the environmental review process.

And then they can leave. Maybe an hour or so... tops.

If someone pops in at 6pm... I am sure they can slide right into whatever is going on, comment, and be out.

Anonymous said...

The 3-8pm timeframe is there so people can come in and comment sometime within the 5 hours. After going to a lot of these sort of things, there will probably be a short presentation that might be repeated once or twice during the 5 hours. There will probably be some display boards displaying the information from the presentation, and helpful staff to discuss stuff and take comments.

As a member of the Caltrain Citizens' Advisory Committee, I've twice hung out for the entire duration of meetings to take comments on fare increases. At one, there were less than ten people over a few hours.

If you can't make a meeting, it's just as valid to send in your comments via email.

Spokker said...

I don't even know what I'd say at a meeting that would make a difference. I mean, I have a lot to say. I just don't know if it would do any good. I don't believe in public officials or the various "processes" that we have.

I just hope that our state's transportation needs coincide with the needs of developers and corrupt politicians. The ends could justify the means after all.

Robert Cruickshank said...

I err on the side of encouraging as much public participation as possible. Even I haven't had an easy time of attending the CHSRA board meetings - I've been to one since I began this blog.

The Peninsula scoping meetings are well timed to encourage drop-in commentary and the online comment submission is a great method of engaging more members of the public.

The CHSRA board ought to explore ways of reaching Californians who cannot make it to Sacramento on a Thursday afternoon for their meetings, including webcasting the meetings. That shouldn't require a significant expenditure and would reap political rewards, as open government tends to breed more public support for government projects.

It's true, Brandon, that someone somewhere will complain no matter what the schedule or location. But that shouldn't mean we don't try to provide the greatest good for the greatest number, especially if we have technological capabilities at our disposal.

Brandon in California said...

I never said otherwise.

Email, snail-mail and phone calls are each acceptable methods to provide comment if one cannot attend a public meeting. Some agencies would probably accept smoke signals if they had an interpreter.

Peter said...

I'll probably be at the Santa Clara one since it's literally down the street from me.