Should Sunland Get an HSR Station?

Apr 7th, 2015 | Posted by

The possibility of using a tunnel under the San Gabriel Mountains to get HSR from Palmdale to Burbank has caused growing opposition among residents of Sunland. That’s the community in the foothills along the 210 where the HSR tracks would exit the tunnel and cross the neighborhood on the way to Burbank.

In the unlikely event that the California High Speed Rail Authority decides they do want to build that tunnel, one Sunland resident has suggested that Sunland be given an HSR stop to “sweeten the deal”:

A plan submitted to high-speed rail officials would tweak the proposed route from the San Fernando Valley to the Antelope Valley and put a station stop in Sunland.

The rationale, according to proponents, is to give additional perks to the area that the train would pass through — at least under some route options being considered.

“None of the existing proposals by HSR (high-speed rail) provide any economic benefit in exchange for slicing up the landscape and demolishing homes,” said Sunland resident Simon Higgs, who floated the idea of a Sunland station and route to the High-Speed Rail Authority….

Higgs, however, is pushing to put the station at an open Sunland property on 8040 Foothill Blvd. and combine it with other civic services like post offices to create a sort of community center.

Higgs said the proposal would both help alleviate some of the concerns about high-speed rail from Sunland-area residents and provide relief to communities in the Santa Clarita Valley opposed to it.

The location looks like a former big box store:

It’s an interesting idea, though I doubt that many HSR advocates are wild about putting a stop in Sunland, especially with the Burbank station so close by. The CHSRA refused to dismiss the idea, though they did say that their current plan includes stations only at Palmdale and Burbank (along this particular segment).

That said, kudos to Simon Higgs for at least trying to be constructive here. I’d rather hear this kind of response from community members than the usual “don’t build it here!!!” stuff that is common whenever an HSR route is proposed in a given location.

If there were a station to be built between Palmdale and Burbank, the best location would be Santa Clarita. Some residents there aren’t happy about HSR coming through the neighborhood, but if the tunnel under the mountains isn’t viable, then the Santa Clarita route will have to be chosen. Maybe shuttles can be set up to run from the station to Magic Mountain…

UPDATE: Simon Higgs has a website for this proposal.

  1. synonymouse
    Apr 7th, 2015 at 22:27

    Station at Sta. Clarita thence to Lebec.

    synonymouse Reply:

    But of course put in a Sunland station if you’re going that way. And a whole bunch more and just cut the speed to BART 80mph. All you need for a high desert commute op.

  2. letsgola
    Apr 7th, 2015 at 22:44

    Sunland can have a station, if they upzone to the density of Seoul or thereabouts ;)

    synonymouse Reply:

    Once Jerry’s developer cronies are done, it will along with the rest of the high desert, another LaLa.

  3. JQP
    Apr 7th, 2015 at 23:25

    A Sunland station would serve only that minor community, and set a dangerous precedent.

    That every backwater and whistle-stop should get it’s own station, thereby creating a situation in which speed is never achieved, for slowing to stop at another station, too close.

    Regardless of capability, how fast can the train get going if stops are only a mile between?

    I fully understand and sympathize with Sunland’s desire, but cannot agree with their plan.

    Eric Reply:

    Palmdale already set the dangerous precedent.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    The Palmdale station would be 50 miles from the Burbank station and would serve a region already home to half a million people. It’s completely legitimate to put a station there.

    Joe Reply:

    Palmdale will be the first CA stop comin’ in from Vegas.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Reid’s history. Palmdale is just one of many high desert sprawl commute stops. Atlantic City is Sin City’s future.

    Jon Reply:

    Not every train has to stop at every station. I’m not defending the idea of a Sunland station, but if it were built, it would probably only serve a few trains per day.

  4. Alon Levy
    Apr 8th, 2015 at 05:35

    Sunland shouldn’t get an intercity rail station, but it could get a commuter rail station using the HSR line, and maybe a spur providing some additional service off the line. In principle, it’d be like the Saikyo Line, built alongside the inner Tohoku Shinkansen as mitigation for the impact caused by building HSR. But it really shouldn’t be entertained without upzoning, as Let’s Go LA says, let alone without a frequent service plan. Sunland isn’t Saitama.

    Donk Reply:

    Agreed. Have you guys been to Sunland? There is nothing there and it is secluded – there are mountains on two sides and long drive in and out on the 210 on the other two sides. Terrible stop for a HSR station, but could work if they gave them a commuter rail stop.

    synonymouse Reply:

    And apparently the San Andreas runs right thru Palmdale.

  5. Paul Dyson
    Apr 8th, 2015 at 12:21

    A Park and Ride station at Sunland, close to the 210 freeway, might well be a very busy station. The catchment area would include La Canada/Flintridge and Pasadena, including JPL and Caltech, and would be more accessible than Burbank for Glendale and the San Gabriel Valley.

    Eric Reply:

    Are you kidding me? Sunland is further from Pasadena than downtown LA, and of course there is no light rail connecting the two.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Do you think Pasadena residents and points east thereof, contemplating a journey to northern CA, would want to go to LAUS, or to a parking lot off the 210? What percentage of residents in that area will take light rail to make that journey? How much time does that add to the trip compared to driving to Sunland? Consider also the decade or more while all that is otherwise available is the “interim” terminus at Burbank. (Incidentally, as a colleague mentioned to me the other day, the 710 freeway has an interim terminus in South Pass that has been there for 50 years).
    So no Eric, I am not kidding. Just pointing out the way the average individual, given the choices available, chooses their mode of travel for their own convenience.

    EJ Reply:

    I’m not sure where Eric lives, but you don’t have to live in the LA Metro Area for very long to realize that “geographically close” is rarely synonymous with “convenient.”

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Why dont they just take the 134 & 5 to Burbank Airport and park there?

    jock Reply:

    Or sunland blvd. to the 5. Taking the 134 would require going all the way around to glendale on the 210.

    jimsf Reply:

    I agree a 210 station would be a great convience for san gabriel valley residents who want to go north while avoiding downtown la or the 5.

    Joe Reply:

    BUR has rental car and other amenities so I’d pass on a park n ride station designed Ike a subtubsn BART with parking moat.

  6. Reality Check
    Apr 8th, 2015 at 13:05

    Santa Clarita calls ’emergency’ high-speed rail meeting
    Residents of SCV, Agua Dulce and Acton and San Fernando urged to support east corridor route

    Santa Clarita, Acton, Agua Dulce and City of San Fernando residents are encouraged to attend an emergency community meeting on Monday, April 27 at 7 p.m. at the Canyon High School gym. Called by the City, the meeting is being held to help prevent the siting of a high speed rail project through existing homes, churches and schools.


    A tremendous turnout at the meeting is needed to help the California High Speed Rail Authority understand the community’s needs.


    For more information on the Rail Proposal and the meeting, visit:

    Clem Reply:

    I can see what’s next: an Emergency Community Meeting in Lake View Terrace to fight the proposed East alignment and push things back into Santa Clarita, pitting community against community as the HSR people pass the popcorn. Then again, maybe not. The CHSRA and their consultants have proven quite adept at using community opposition to reinforce their alignment choices. Remember all the Emergency Community Meetings in Pleasanton back in 2008?

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Too late Clem, they already had it, about 1,000 people with pitchforks…

    Lewellan Reply:

    It’s easier knowing what not to do. Knowing what to do instead is too much trouble to explain alongside every other view, contrary or aligned, sanctimoniously refused fair challenge.

    The Power Structure loves selling/financing/insuring/renting/parking/advertizing cars, car stuff.
    HSR is a boy toy they’ll break in reckless abandon devising provencial rail fiefdoms.
    The self-driving fuel cell sport coupe on call is their ‘non’ solution for the motoring hoard.
    Anything, any one in the way of 200mph doesn’t exist.

    datacruncher Reply:

    Two Lake View Terrace opposition meetings have been held. Videos of those two meetings are here:

    Clem Reply:

    Nice touch holding it in a church. It leaves no doubt about who’s got the moral high ground.

    Jerry Reply:

    “This train is bound for glory.”

    synonymouse Reply:

    This deal is certain to be “sweetened” with stops at Mojave, Tehachapi, Caliente etc.

    How about PB slapping eminent domain on a church or two as part of the Palmdale march to the sea. That would be so signature. I can envision the bulldozers on News at Ten.

    Lewellan Reply:

    I am sincerely hoping the church in question is a stripmall holy roller, ie,
    Jesus loves me, but he can’t stand you. You, as in, you too librul types.
    The political stance of centrist, mine, is like standing atop a baracade between
    left and right camps, visably an extremist target for both sides.
    California’s entire passenger-rail system planning is in question.
    Ideal rail system junction infrastructure may be absolutely necessary.
    I will argue 125mph is fast enough to the deaf, the dumb, and the smartass.
    (How is the platform compatability question being addressed, if being addressed? )

    Nathanael Reply:

    I definitely like it when the crazy-right-winger churches get demolished. It may not be useful, but it is satisfying.

  7. Reality Check
    Apr 8th, 2015 at 13:27

    Lawsuit: All Aboard Florida trains will ruin archaeology fossils

    The lawsuit, filed in Indian River County, asks a federal court to void the Transportation Department’s approval of $1.75 billion in tax-exempt bonds.


    According to documents filed with the IRS, the Old Vero Ice Age Sites Committee is chaired by Randy Old, an army vet and banker who has lived in the Far East and Jordan. It’s unclear from the group’s website whether any of the board members have scientific experience in archaeology.

    Current plans call for All Aboard trains to travel through Indian River County at more than 100 miles an hour. This would be detrimental to not only people’s lives via traffic headaches and train noise but it would also disturb two excavation sites, the archaeology group alleges.


    Archaeologists Fight High Speed Rail in Florida

    A nonprofit archaeology group is among those claiming the U.S. Department of Transportation illegally approved funding for a high-speed rail project they contend will put the public and environment at risk while dramatically reducing their access to prehistoric artifacts.


    The high-speed rail operation allegedly will encroach upon two excavation sites: one where an ancient human specimen called “Vero Man” is said to have been unearthed, and another where the bones of a prehistoric sloth and a mastodon were reportedly found.


    The non-profit archaeology group, plaintiff Old Vero Ice Age Sites Committee, is fighting to protect the excavation areas, which “each lie in or adjacent to the railroad right-of-way,” according to the lawsuit.

    The lawsuit claims the rail line will also disturb local wildlife, slow down emergency response times around crossings, and create a constant cacophony of train horns.

    “The use of shared railroad tracks” creates “the potential for collisions between passenger and freight trains,” the plaintiffs insist.


    Brian_FL Reply:

    The one major thing wrong about the lawsuit is that it claims that the U.S. DOT has already approved the Private Activity Bond authorization. The plaintiffs neglect to tell that it is a provisional approval based upon AAF meeting the NEPA requirements. The very requirements that the plaintiffs say are the basis of their lawsuit! The plaintiffs want their cake and eat it too. This country is so messed up when it comes to progressing and building better infrastructure. The archeological dig is adjacent to a 120 yo railroad. That used to be double track. AAF will reinstall what existed only 50 years ago. I see it as the NIMBYS are running out of steam and throwing anything out there. If this is the best they could come up with then it appears AAF will go forward with some delays due to this lawsuit.

    The same lawyer who was fighting the DM&E expansion 8 yrs ago is in this too. In Rochester, MN the opponents won because the DM&E applied only for a RRIF loan. RRIF is very much political and the opponents were able to put pressure on politicians just like with DesertExpress(West). With PABs no such political mechanism exists as Gov Scott likely selected FDFC appointees who will approve the PAB request at the state level. Another thing, the PABs won’t be used in the 3 counties opposed to AAF. Smart on AAFs part as the FDFC won’t consider opposition to the project from counties that are taking part in the PAB disbursement.

    Brian_FL Reply:

    Meant to say FDFC won’t consider opposition to the project from counties NOT taking part in the PAB funding.

    Reedman Reply:

    Funny you should mention Rochester, MN (home of the WFMC — the World Famous Mayo Clinic)….

    There is a proposal for a 100 mile north-south high speed rail line to connect Rochester and the Twin Cities.
    There is an abandoned a rail line (30 years ago) that could have become part of this HSR proposal. It became the Douglas Trail hiking/biking trail between Rochester and Pine Island.

    Steven H Reply:

    To be fair, the mastodon was there first….

    It’s rare in this country for something to predate its railroad neighbor. NIMBY can’t look that gift mastodon in the mouth.

  8. datacruncher
    Apr 8th, 2015 at 19:50

    The Hyperloop is making land owners and developers drool.

    Hyperloop adds twist to new city idea in Kings
    Imagine loading up the kids in the minivan in 2018 and driving out to a remote stretch of Interstate 5 south of Kettleman City to … ride the hyperloop.

    Hyperloop Transportation Technologies Inc., made up of supporters of the high-tech vacuum tube human transport system pitched by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, is teaming up with real estate developer Quay Hays to propose a five-mile test track on southwestern Kings County land Hays wants to build a 7,200 acre, 26,000-person solar-powered city on.
    “I’m one of [Hays’] biggest cheerleaders,” said Don Jackson, who owns 150 acres near the site that he wants to develop commercially, in an interview. “Anything he does out there is going to bring up the value of everybody’s property.”

    Jackson, who farms almonds and stone fruit on the Westside, is increasingly concerned about the drought-affected future of San Joaquin Valley agriculture. He said he’s looking to diversity his investments.

    Eric Reply:

    The hyperloop will never be built, because basic calculations show that it cannot be cost-effective. But if you can sell houses on the false belief that there will be a hyperloop, well, no wonder the developers are drooling. They won’t be stuck with the useless houses in the middle of nowhere.

    Lewellan Reply:

    Hanford Sentinel newsfotainment net tube folks enjoy a good joke,
    depending upon whom the joke is upon.
    Any test track could be considered a “horizontal elevator” from one complex to another.
    A single passenger-car private patronage between two corporate HQ campuses.
    Googleplex tower to Apple Doughnut? (Bwahh aah aah aah Aaaah!)

    Hyperloop sound’s like David Letterman/McCall’s “This Land was made for You and Me, but mostly Me, (outgageous displays of obscene wealth by the .oo1% of the 1%)” cartoonist coffee table book.
    Still waiting on compatability question answers.

  9. datacruncher
    Apr 8th, 2015 at 19:50

    And the Hyperloop will bring the Serengeti to Kings County……………

    Developers: Fast rides, wild animals planned for Quay Valley
    Hays added that a number of announcements should be made in the coming months of businesses that plan to locate in Quay Valley. He did reveal that one resort hotel will feature an African Serengeti theme that would feature overlooks of a preserve featuring animals as part of a program with the San Diego Zoo.

    Mantis, a group of global boutique hotels, game reserves and so-called “eco lodges,” is on board with that resort project, Hays said.

    Ahlborn offered an overview of the hyperloop’s technology, which uses a suspended pressurized tube to shunt capsules full of people or freight at theoretical speeds of up to 700mph via magnetic levitation.

    Construction on the slower Quay Valley test track should begin next year, with an anticipated 2018 opening where members of the public could pay $30 for a ticket.

    “Being next to [Interstate 5], we are sure many people will stop and be interested in riding,” Ahlborn said.

    jimsf Reply:

    ok well, can’t wait to visit then.

  10. Simon Higgs
    Apr 9th, 2015 at 07:18

    Hi Robert, thanks for covering this. The proposed site for the station is an ex-Kmart that’s stood vacant since it closed in 2004. More details about this, including library, post office & community center can be found here:

    Reality Check Reply:

    Why does your website’s “Who’s Behind This?” page list you as the “chief antagonist” of the Sunland station initiative?

    Simon Higgs Reply:

    That’s a good question. I’m firmly against the E1, E2 & E3 routes. But coming up with the proposed Sunland Station and “E5 route” (there’s someone else here pitching an E4 route) now puts me at odds with everyone else who is against the east corridor routes. Maybe the title should be protagonist, but right now it feels like I’ve put my hand in the hornet’s nest. There have even been people on Facebook talking about putting my name on protest signs, so for now I think the title works. Feel free to disagree or suggest a better title.

  11. les
    Apr 9th, 2015 at 08:57

    This is a real head-scratcher in that I thought reps believe the private sector always knows best: “Eminent domain is probably the most horrific power that the government has, and to dole that out to individual companies that can misuse that or use it for projects that result in profits, we have to be very careful about doing that,” Hall said.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    A lot of conservatives and libertarians hate private-sector eminent domain, for property rights reasons. It’s not about opposition to infrastructure, even: the Supreme Court ruling that allowed private non-railroads to use eminent domain, Kelo, was about seizing land and giving it to the private sector so that it could develop it commercially and generate more property tax revenues, and movement conservatives loathe it.

    The rules for takings in the US are too easy, and while they make it easier to build infrastructure, they enable some horrific things. For example, it’s perfectly legal for the government to refuse to upzone your land until you sell it at depressed prices. In the postwar era, it was legal for the government to redline low-income urban neighborhoods and then buy them out at depressed prices to build Interstates. In Japan, where the legal system protects property rights more strongly, US-style urban renewal never had a chance, so urban freeways are narrower, and urban transportation construction tilts much more toward rail transit, which offers much more capacity than roads per unit of ROW width.

    Peter Reply:

    Kelo was an absolutely horrific case in terms of advancing the cause of the public accepting eminent domain. The fact that the land seized was then left undeveloped just made it worse.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    yet when it’s for something they want, highways, it’s peachy keen.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Highways are always the absolute worst (that said, people still go all NIMBY when it’s their land that’s being seized).

    Fun fact: FDR wanted to finance the Interstates by condemning mile-wide swaths of land at low prices, building the Interstates, and selling the nearby land at higher price now that it had freeway access. At least there the Supreme Court resisted and struck the idea down as excess taking.

    Joe Reply:

    There’s a reason highways are built with less resistance.

    highway advocates generally cooperate. I don’t see those interests lobby against a highway project over technical reasons.

    Transit advocates/technicals rarely cooperate. They tear into projectd like Elaine on Seinfeld choosing who ismost “sponge worthy”.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The information of the FRA’s website was too long to read all of it. It’s all people saying Roosevelt wants this or Roosevelt wants that but not anything from Roosevelt.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s mentioned in both 20th Century Sprawl and The Big Roads, as the Roosevelt-era plan to finance freeways.

    Joe Reply:

    Which was a good idea at that time.
    The nations roads were improved which improved commerce and reduced unemployment.
    The Supreme Court fought with Roosevelt over his populist policies. They ere dicking up for the wealthy and entrenched interests.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    so fourth hand hearsay. Okay.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    More hearsay.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Un huh
    I’m not gonna go vet sources. One out of three Republicans thinks Obama is a Muslim. And also a Communist. And Anticolonial. Whatever that means. Who was born in Kenya. There were whack-jobs back in the 30s too. Probably the grandparents or great grandparents of today’s whack-jobs. Who taught their children and grand children that Roosevelt was Evil.

    It’s tl;dr. I used the handy search box in my browser to search for “mile”.

    “Right-of-way, exclusive of accesses, was assumed to consist of 36 acres per mile for rural areas and a minimum of 19 acres per mile for urban areas. These values are based on widths of 300 feet and 160 feet, respectively.”. 160/5280ths is 0.03030303

    Nathanael Reply:

    Unfortunately it turns out that freeway access *lowers* property values. (This was probably not understood back in the 1930s. After all, railway access increases property values, and ordinary road access increases property values, and bike path access increases property values, and canal access increases property values… freeways are weird in how bad they are.)

  12. Reality Check
    Apr 9th, 2015 at 15:24

    Chowchilla Landowners Brace for High Speed Rail

    Jerry Reply:

    Similar to the problems when Rt. 99 went thru the area.
    So they should be used to bracing.
    But then again, Chowchilla is in the middle of the big WYE area.
    And I thought a lot of that was still to be determined.

  13. Keith Saggers
    Apr 9th, 2015 at 15:36

    Jerry Reply:

    ” China’s single largest overseas contract”
    See what our buying, Made in China, can do to help the world.

  14. Joe
    Apr 9th, 2015 at 16:41
    A bill that would hobble a private company’s plan to build a $12 billion high-speed rail line from Dallas to Houston passed out of a Senate committee Wednesday, spurred by concerns that private landowners would see their land taken against their will for the project.

    The Senate Transportation Committee voted 5-4 to pass out Senate Bill 1601, from state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, which would strip firms developing high-speed rail projects from eminent domain authority.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Makes me wonder what they all thought about Keystone XL…..

    Lewellan Reply:

    Alberta tar sand oil is low-grade crude, therefore the ideal fuel for trans-oceanic shipping and other diesel engines big enough burn through it. Globalization is modern colonialism. When supposedly sovereign nations become dependent upon import and export, those who own the means of transport, own the colony. Warran Buffett could be an evil extra-terrestial overlord or a typical human capitalist pig in a new Gilded era of opulent wealth and oppressive inequality.

  15. morris brown
    Apr 9th, 2015 at 17:47

    The Authority is constantly talking about their open transparency and full interaction with the public.

    Well apparently not all the time.


    Open Meetings Act violated? The saga of a High-Speed Rail subcommittee meeting

    All of this is related to a bill AB-85 going through the State Legislature now, which has bi-partisan support. (Gov. Brown vetoed a similar bill last session)

    Related is:

    Wilk’s Bill To Stop High-Speed Rail Closed-Door Meetings Passes

    Joe Reply:

    Someone call a wambulance.

    Joe Reply:

    “In the end, violations of the code are considered a misdemeanor. though no indication of how much the fee would be. If the public brought the agency to court and the public entity was found guilty of violating the code, fines would be assessed but no member would be personally liable; the state would pay.”

    Kathy Hamilton may spin a story but she doesn’t hyperventilate or hide key information.

    Peter Reply:

    Sounds like the “scandal” with the San Joaquin Kit Fox from a couple months ago.

    StevieB Reply:

    An Authority might have broken a rule that they were not obligated to follow but had voluntarily previously. This is a petty, peevish and picayune complaint.

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