Peninsula NIMBY Group “doing everything it can to derail the current high-speed train project”
The “Community Coalition on High Speed Rail,” a project of the notoriously anti-rail Planning and Conservation League and the outspokenly anti-rail PCL legal adviser Gary Patton, was originally founded to fight high speed rail on the Peninsula. And in a recent newsletter, CC-HSR explains that even though they’ve been fighting HSR in the Central Valley too, they are going to be “bringing it all back home” for one last all-out effort to “derail” the project on the Peninsula:
The “Partially Revised” Draft EIR reveals that the High-Speed Rail Authority continues to want to build a 4-track train system along the Caltrain alignment on the Peninsula, with no provision for underground facilities. This is their “program” approach. CC-HSR and the cities of Atherton, Menlo Park, and Palo Alto have all been battling this idea. The message from the EIR process is that we haven’t won the battle yet!…
In the meantime, CC-HSR is also paying close attention to efforts by Caltrain to promote a project that could very well be a precursor project for high-speed rail on the Peninsula. Everyone is aware that once the “nose” of the camel gets into the tent, the animal itself will surely be inside soon. Efforts to promote a so-called “blended” system on the Caltrain alignment could be truly counterproductive, unless the use of the Caltrain right-of-way is very tightly controlled, through an effective legal mechanism that will prohibit the High-Speed Rail Authority from pushing its entire “camel” of a high-speed train project through an opening made by a well-intentioned effort to improve Caltrain service.
These are the radical extremists whom Senator Joe Simitian worked hard to appease with his “blended” plan – the same plan that CC-HSR denounces because it could actually keep the project alive. CC-HSR is making it clear they have no interest whatsoever in being constructive or in working with all stakeholders to come up with solutions that meet everyone’s needs. Instead they are clear: they want HSR dead.
In fact, right after that section excerpted above, they include a call for donations to help them “derail” the project:
Invest For Success
We are sure you have heard that “invest for success” motto. That is good advice in business. It is good advice generally. CC-HSR is doing everything it can to derail the current high-speed train project, which would be a fiscal and environmental mistake. The Governor and his spokesmen keep talking about making the project “better,” but let’s be clear: the current project would be both financially disastrous and environmentally damaging, and we need to stop it. Your support for the work of CC-HSR is deeply appreciated, and is vitally important. We need you to “invest for success!”
Interesting choice of words here, since they’re actually asking people to invest in California’s failure. As gas prices skyrocket across the state – around $4.30 a gallon in Palo Alto – it is again becoming clear to everyone that California desperately needs alternatives to oil-based transportation. High speed rail will help provide one piece of that, offering an alternative to flying and driving between regions in the state. The blended plan also helps Caltrain improve its service on the Peninsula in the very near future, providing relief from gas prices to residents there too.
But CC-HSR’s leaders appear uninterested in these savings. Perhaps they make enough money to where they don’t have to worry about gas prices. A nice luxury, isn’t it? Whatever the reason, they are explicit in the above excerpt that they really want the high speed rail project to be killed. And they haven’t explained what kind of HSR project they would want. Presumably none, since Gary Patton is an avowed opponent of passenger rail.
Back in October I explained how NIMBYs and the Tea Party share common roots:
Both are animated by a belief that 20th century America was ideal and that any change from its forms and practices is not only bad, but will undermine remaining economic prosperity. Both believe, firmly, that anything done to help provide economic opportunities to others, especially younger people, comes at their expense and therefore must be opposed. Both oppose passenger rail and anything that moves America away from dependence on the automobile.
Even their behavior is similar. If you remember the summer of 2009, the Tea Party movement first asserted itself by shouting down members of Congress at town halls. NIMBYs take a very similar attitude at public meetings, shouting down government officials and project supporters.
So what makes them different? The Tea Party is more focused on social conservatism and white supremacy, whereas NIMBYs are more focused on design conservatism and supremacy of their physical space.
CC-HSR is clearly filling that niche on the Peninsula. And it’s no surprise that legislators willing to listen to CC-HSR – like Senator Simitian and Senator Alan Lowenthal – are now seriously considering casting their lot with Tea Party Republicans to kill a project strongly backed by President Barack Obama and Governor Jerry Brown.
All the more reason to show up on March 13 to the all-important State Senate hearing on HSR in Mountain View. CC-HSR will be there. HSR supporters need to show up too. Don’t let CC-HSR speak for the Peninsula, for California, or for our future.