CA4HSR Mobilizes Peninsula HSR Supporters for a “Peninsula Reset”
Last month the San Mateo County Times reported on a poll showing large majorities of voters in the mid-Peninsula cities, including Menlo Park and Palo Alto, still supported the high speed rail project. That came as no surprise, given the fact that 60% of voters in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties approved Prop 1A back in November 2008.
But as most of you that have been following the HSR project are aware, a small but vocal group of opponents on the Peninsula have been fighting against the project for a long time, even before voters approved it in November 2008. In 2009 and 2010 they began to gain traction with several city councils, got the Peninsula Cities Consortium to pass an “our way or nothing” resolution, and even have gotten cities such as Palo Alto and Menlo Park to consider passing resolutions of no confidence or even outright opposition to the HSR project – in defiance of the fact that most of their constituents still want HSR to be built.
We know that the squeaky wheels get the grease. It’s easier to show up to a city council meeting when you’re motivated by fear and misunderstanding than to say “good job, let’s keep moving.” But now is the time for the silent majority to make their voices heard. It’s time that the Peninsula’s local leadership heard from their constituents who still want HSR, who are tired of having their voices shouted down by project opponents or ignored by their elected officials.
That’s why Californians For High Speed Rail is today launching an organizing effort to give voice to that silent majority. We’re submitting a letter to each and every city council along the proposed HSR route in San Mateo and northern Santa Clara Counties asking them to take a constructive approach to planning the HSR project, to step back from “our way or nothing” approaches and statements, and to make sure they include the voices and opinions of HSR supporters in their decision-making.
You can add your name to the letter by clicking here. Select the city in which you live and a letter appropriate to that city’s position will come up. If you don’t live on the Peninsula but still want to take action, you can add your name too, but be sure to mention that you are NOT a resident of that city. For all letters, we ask that you take a respectful and positive tone – remember Aesop’s fable of the wind and the sun from last night’s episode of Mad Men.
These letters are just one piece of our overall strategy. CA4HSR is not just calling on these cities to be more constructive – we’re also offering a road map for a “Peninsula Reset” in this open letter to the Peninsula city councils:
And here’s some quotes from our press release:
Californians For High Speed Rail (CA4HSR) Calls for a “Peninsula Reset” in Light of Poll Showing Widespread Public Support for High Speed Rail Project
Appeals to Peninsula City Officials, CAHSR Authority, Political Representatives and Residents to Seek Win-Win Solutions
San Francisco, CA and Menlo Park, September 13, 2010 – In light of new evidence of widespread public support for the California High-Speed Rail project, Californians For High Speed Rail (CA4HSR), a statewide grassroots coalition of high speed rail supporters, today, in an open letter, called on the Peninsula Cities Coalition (PCC) and other Peninsula cities to join Caltrain, the California High Speed Rail Authority, political representatives and members of the public in a “Peninsula Reset” of the implementation for the high- speed rail project.
“With clear majorities on the Peninsula and across the state in favor of California’s high speed rail network, combined with the economic, health, and environmental benefits it will bring to the area, the attitude of building it our way or not at all is not acceptable,” said Brian Stanke, Executive Director of Californians For High Speed Rail. “We believe that with all parties being constructive, solutions will arise to allow the project to proceed in a win-win fashion. Although we respect the desire of the PCC and other Peninsula cities to ensure the HSR project is built in a way that is sensitive to their communities, some city officials have gone too far in their public rhetoric regarding the project, by threatening to hold the project hostage to their particular demands.”
The San Mateo County Times recently reported on a poll conducted in the 21st Assembly District located along the Peninsula. It showed 77 percent of Democratic and independent voters taking part in the Democratic primary still support the high speed rail project. Those voters represent 70 percent of the overall electorate in the 21st Assembly District, indicating that even if every Republican voter opposed the HSR project, a clear majority of all voters would still support it. The poll was conducted by Fairbank, Maslin, Mullin and Metz for a candidate in the 21st Assembly District primary in April 2010.
“I’m not surprised that so many of my fellow Peninsula residents still support the HSR project,” said Bianca Walser, Board Member of CA4HSR and a resident of Menlo Park. “We understand that our communities will be made more sustainable, more livable, and given a higher quality of life once we can silence the train horns, reduce traffic at cross guards, and make a safer rail corridor for pedestrians through the Caltrain/HSR project. I hope that my city’s leadership and others along the route will improve their outreach to project supporters, and ensure that our voices are an integral part of the planning process going forward.”
This is just the first step in mobilizing HSR supporters on the Peninsula to let their local officials know they expect HSR to be built. We’re also going to roll out a similar action for other cities along the proposed HSR route in the coming weeks.
There’s no doubt that the process of building a major project like HSR can be difficult and contentious. But that shouldn’t mean the voice of the people is left out of the discussion. We know that Peninsula residents still want HSR built. It’s time all their local elected officials started reflecting that position. For those that have always done so, they are receiving thanks today. For those that have not, they’re being gently but firmly reminded of their obligations to their constituents. Let’s hope that they get the message.