Gov. Jerry Brown’s Excellent New Appointment to CHSRA Board

Mar 28th, 2013 | Posted by

Today Governor Jerry Brown filled one of the vacancies on the California High Speed Rail Authority board by appointing Katherine Perez-Estolano, a former professor at the USC School of Policy, Planning and Development who has a very rich background in transportation and sustainable land use issues. She has also served as Executive Director of the Urban Land Institute of Los Angeles. Perhaps most significantly, she is also a member of the Advisory Board to the US High Speed Rail Association.

Here’s an excerpt from the CHSRA’s press release announcing the appointment:

Katherine Perez-Estolano is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Southern California School of Policy, Planning and Development. She’s also a businesswoman and co-founder of Estolano LeSar Perez (ELP) Advisors LLC, a firm that works with cities, agencies, stakeholders, foundations and business groups to craft strategies and environmentally-friendly solutions to create thriving, healthy, vibrant communities that feature strong economic development and transportation policies.

Prior to co-founding ELP Advisors, Perez-Estolano served as the Executive Director of the Urban Land Institute, Los Angeles District Council. She was the Vice President of Development for Forest City Development and Executive Director for the Transportation and Land Use Collaborative (TLUC) of Southern California. She also worked on transportation, planning and Latino constituent issues for Pasadena Mayor William Bogaard and served as the city of South Pasadena’s Transportation Manager.

And CHSRA board chair Dan Richard’s comments on her appointment:

“We commend Governor Brown for his appointment of Katherine Perez-Estolano to the Authority Board. Ms. Perez-Estolano possesses outstanding qualifications, with an impressive record of accomplishment in business, local government, and as an educator. She is an expert in transportation planning, land use policy, and transit-oriented development issues, areas at the heart of building a successful high-speed rail project in California. Ms. Perez-Estolano’s experience in fostering community engagement in public policy issues will also be of great value to all Californians. The appointment of Ms. Perez-Estolano will strengthen our efforts to ensure that high-speed rail is built with sensitivity to local issues and with a commitment to sustainable development in the communities we serve. We welcome Katherine Perez-Estolano to the California High Speed-Rail Authority.”

Governor Brown has made an excellent choice in picking Ms. Perez-Estolano. She has deep experience in Southern California transportation and land use issues, brings a Latina perspective to the agency, and is already a high speed rail advocate through her work with USHSR. I have every confidence she will do a great job in overseeing the project and helping advocate for it across the state.

  1. Paul Druce
    Mar 28th, 2013 at 20:38

    1. What, if anything, is her actual background in high speed trains?
    2. Wtf is a “Latina perspective” on high speed rail and why should anyone give a damn about it?
    3. What, if anything, have they done to actually build or manage a project?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Haven’t you noticed that there are an increasing number of developers on the HSR Board? Jim Hartnett, Thomas Richards? It’s getting pretty lonely over there for Tom Umberg, Dan Richard, and Lynn Schenk.

    The *benefit* to Perez-Estolano is that she worked for a mall developer and most of Europe’s biggest indoor shopping centers are connected to transit hubs. It’s important to know how to handle that captive audience. So while it’s a um, good idea to have her perspective I’d actually want to hire a casino guy who deals with how to handle more ambient space.

    What do I mean? In American shopping malls, you don’t go and invest the time to park or walk in unless you plan to be there, and it’s not a public space in the truest sense of the word. In Vegas, even though it’s no more public nor benevolent, people actually wander through. That’s what she could do, help cities create HSR stations that are more than Space Age heaps of concrete, both figuratively and literally.

    EJ Reply:

    Considering they’ve thus far dismissed Talgo eqipmet out of hand, maybe a Latina perspective is good?

    Seriously, though, you do realize at this point that Robert just writes pure happy talk, right? It’s not even intended to make sense.

    nick Reply:

    oh come one so quoting a press release is “happy talk” now is it ? or is it because robert dared to call it “excellent” news. you anti guys and gals are really scraping the bottom of the barrel if that’s the best you can do.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yes, it is. When there’s an appointment of a new MTA or NYCT chief, Ben Kabak (who is very much a political) talks about what the person’s background is, and gives his own impressions, which aren’t always positive. When there’s no appointment, he attacks the government’s inaction, and remembers the inaction in the future for further attacks. Here, either every single CHSRA appointment is God’s gift to humanity or Robert’s soft-pedaling.

    joe Reply:

    How have they dismissed Talgo? The Amtrak purchase – Talgo doesn’t make that type of equipment.

    For HSR, I had not read the CAHSRA has decided not use use Talgo.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Talgo doesn’t make what kind of equipment, for which Amtrak purchase? Because for the NEC purchase the AVRIL is one of the two most promising pieces of rolling stock out there.

    joe Reply:

    I propose asking #1 and #3 to you.
    As for #2

    Wtf is a “Latina perspective” on high speed rail and why should anyone give a damn about it?
    “You talk to people that not everyone else talks to, have people writing for you who aren’t writing for everyone else,” he says. “I think it was a big part of the show’s success. It wasn’t just a kind of dutiful exercise in diversity. It created tangible editorial rewards.”

    EJ Reply:

    You should go and read the article again. The questions are regarding someone who has been appointed to the HSR board, not some random blogger.

    joe Reply:

    Please don’t ignore the success he’s had for producing a more interesting and broader appealing show.
    The article demonstrated that TV booking is crappy and when done right, it results in a better product.

    Perez-Estolano brings her credentials which are enough but she adds her unique experiences and provides HSR with a broader capacity to understand and connect with CA citizens.

    Compare her credentials to Rossi’s.
    opps nothing listed.

    Try here
    At least we’ve progressed far enough that a “Rossi” is not seen as a token appointment.

    swing hanger Reply:

    These are purely political appointments- as Robert mentions in the end- she’ll be overseeing the project and (most importantly) “helping advocate for it across the state”. I can only hope (hope!) the future staff under them are actually experienced in building and running an HSR operation.

    joe Reply:

    “political” ? That would be appointing Alan Lowenthal’s nephew to the Board and garnering a vote.

    These are members with experiences relevant to the project, not engineering but in development and finance. A key issue, as you write, is to manage and meet the “stakeholders” expectations, all 35 Million of them and keep this project funded while doing advocacy for it. Keep the engineers far away – wrong skill set.

    This Board augments the Project’s engineering needs and help foresee problems and navigate the complex state project. As you mentioned, that’s what this Board seems equipped to do quite well.

    They have the Peer review panel for technical advice.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Wake me up when those people with expertise in development and finance find money for the rest of Phase 1. So far California’s gotten money from a referendum that should’ve had three times as much money as it actually did and from the federal government. The original business plan called for $10 billion in private investment; either there have been Special Circumstances that need to be explained or every single person involved in HSRA finance and development is as bad at their job as Diridon and Kopp are at designing usable train stations.

    joe Reply:

    Reasonably, it would be difficult to attract private funding until current risks are reduced and the project is started.

    The Authority couldn’t spend the private money now anyhow. They have to spool up construction. Fed money has to be spent fast or we lose it. Then they’ll spend State money.

    Considering the economic climate and politics, this project going very well.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    What do you mean, spool up construction? They were planning to finish Anaheim-SF by 2018 back when Prop 1A passed. If the schedule overrun is a matter of cost growth then it’s one thing, but if they couldn’t even spend the money if they had it, it raises more questions about the HSRA’s ability to execute the project.

    TomW Reply:

    Re: 2. – there is nothing about a Latina perspective on high-speed rail. It just mentions that she worked on “Latino constituent issues” for the Mayor.

  2. Paul Dyson
    Mar 28th, 2013 at 22:29

    I can sleep more soundly knowing such a qualified person is overseeing our $68 billion

    nick Reply:

    why didnt you apply for the job then ? oh wait your anti hsr stance would probably rule you out

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    I’m not anti hsr, heaven forfend…..

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Nick, I don’t know what experience you have in California politics, but there is no way in hell anyone like Paul would get appointed to the board. This is a patronage based system.

  3. Roger Christensen
    Mar 28th, 2013 at 23:10

    I have seen her in action in Southern California at various meetings and always thought she was impressive.

  4. EJ
    Mar 28th, 2013 at 23:51

    She worked for South Pasadena, the nimbyest little city in California, so that might give her some insight into PAMPA.

    StevieB Reply:

    South Pasadena has arguably the best transit oriented development of any light rail station in the Metro system. If she can do the same for Fresno and Bakersfield then she is a welcome addition to the board.

  5. Derek
    Mar 29th, 2013 at 07:45

    U.S. report backs bullet train revenue forecasts
    By Ralph Vartabedian, Los Angeles Times
    March 29, 2013

    The GAO study says that the project’s ridership and revenue forecasts are reasonable but it renews concerns about future funding.

    nslander Reply:

    Interesting. But what’s newsworthy in that report to justify Hackabedian’s subtitle?

    joe Reply:

    Nothing at all – Hackabedian’s trying to cement his job provided the Koch’s successfully buy the LATimes.

    The Hill
    GAO report: California high-speed rail estimates ‘reasonable’

    The GAO
    “The Authority’s plan recognizes the uncertainty of the current funding environment and is building the project in phases. The Authority has also identified an alternative funding source. However, that funding source is also uncertain.”

    VBobier Reply:

    There’s a petition over at the Daily KOS to stop that sale of the Tribune Company to the Koch brothers(David and Crane)… Yes, I signed it already.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Maybe the Koch Bros. can be talked into buying the Tejon Ranch and then we would really have a good villain to trash talk

    VBobier Reply:

    Good luck on that happening…

    nick Reply:

    ouch must hurt to eat humble pie

  6. trentbridge
    Mar 29th, 2013 at 08:06

    With Latinos likely to become the majority in California in the next year : “Hispanics will become the largest ethnic group in the nation’s most populous state early next year, the California Department of Finance said Thursday, marking a big milestone in a long-running demographic shift that has already deeply altered the political balance of power, the economy and culture” it is obvious that the earliest patrons of the HSR IOS section will be majority Hispanic as they are on Los Angeles public transportation – so adding someone who understands the Latino state of mind on public transportation is a good thing.

    It ain’t pandering – its facing the reality of California’s future.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    I’m certain Perez-Estolano tools around L.A. on the Red Line. I mean, because Latinos who earn six-figures in Southern California don’t drive around in the same obnoxious metallic colored imported cars stuck in stop-n-go traffic next to their white, black, and Asian counterparts…

  7. Keith Saggers
    Mar 29th, 2013 at 12:38
  8. Keith Saggers
    Mar 29th, 2013 at 12:43

    If our trains can do 250MPH in the Valley should make up for dilly-dallying on the peninsula

    synonymouse Reply:

    You really want a Breda?

    If you want sustained high speeds the I-5 racetrack is for you. If Phoenix style sandstorms come to the Valley I dunno how much high speed you could do under those conditions.

    VBobier Reply:

    Or even elsewhere maybe.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    At what cost? At 360 km/h, a very aerodynamic train needs to spend about 16 kW per ton of mass just to maintain speed on level track. At 400 km/h, this rises to about 20 kW per ton. At 300, it drops to about 10 kW per ton. The difference shows up in the energy budget for the train, and the more the operator cuts operating costs elsewhere (fewer conductors, running trains more hours per day, etc.), the more the hard energy costs will show up in the ticket price. It’s a couple dollars per passenger, but you’d rather not have this cost than have it.

    In contrast, there’s no such effect for running at 200 km/h rather than 160-with-slowdowns in suburban areas. Those unfixed Peninsula curves aren’t making the trains more energy-efficient – on the contrary, they force energy-consuming acceleration and deceleration cycles. Those few minutes spent slowing down for curves on the Peninsula don’t gain you anything, while the same few minutes gained by higher top speed elsewhere are very expensive.

  9. trentbridge
    Mar 29th, 2013 at 15:01

    And still Jerry Brown refuses to name anyone from this blog to the California High Speed Rail Authority. Shame on you, Sir! There’s still 9.6% unemployment in California and you give the job to someone who already has a job? Does the term “spread the wealth” mean anything to you?
    Clearly, many people who post here are living such uneventful lives, that they have the time to read all 230 comments when Robert opens up another thread.

  10. nick
    Mar 29th, 2013 at 15:54

    i second robert

  11. joe
    Mar 29th, 2013 at 18:08

    Why Board members are not HSR engineers.

    The message is high speed rail is coming, and instead of fighting it, local businesses are being encouraged to get a piece of the pie. That’s what Debbie Hunsaker is trying to do. Her business, Alert-O-Lite is right in the path of the train, and will have to move. An early critic of the project, she’s now decided if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

    “I’m a firm believer in making lemonade out of lemons and, I’d rather be proactive than reactive,” said Hunsaker. “The more prepared I am the more likely I am to get a piece of this project.”

    And she is now encouraging other local businesses to get busy.

    Hunsaker added, “It’s going to impact us it’s going to transform us, my prime interest is to make sure the businesses in our community get a piece and are able to participate.”

    And by law, small businesses are being given an inside track.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    In other words, where SNCF bribes landowners with money to get them to go away quietly, the HSRA is bribing them with offers of contracts, which are necessarily going to be more expensive than just giving the contract to the most qualified bidder.

    Have they done any kind of cost-benefit analysis for this? Has anyone? Hell, has anyone in the US tried to quantify the costs of the contracting system?

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