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Rick Ciradella position on High Speed Rail

Original post made by a no vote for Rick, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park, on Oct 8, 2008

(the following is taken from the Rick Ciradella for Council website)

Web Link

5) High Speed Rail Through Menlo Park

Menlo Park is facing both a problem and an opportunity with this issue.

The study session held by the Menlo Park City Council on the evening of September 9th was very educational. The public participation was fantastic. There were about fifty statements made by the public and they were eloquent, concise and well grounded. Most of the statements fell into two categories. The first category questioned the reliability of the studies being used to justify this mammoth project. The second voiced concern over destruction of property values or the continuity of the geography of our city. I found myself being able to relate and agree with most of the statements.

On November 4th we will all get to vote on whether the state should begin funding the High Speed Rail Project. I find myself doubting whether the current studies accurately reflect the real cost of development and whether we can afford to commit to this huge infrastructure investment. The state is deep in debt and now the nation is in financial crisis. I can understand the need for energy conservation and improvement in our transportation infrastructure, but as a fiscal conservative I do not think this is the time. We need to get our financial house in order first.

But my vote and the votes of other Menlo Parkers may not be the ones that decide this issue. Recent voter polls show the High Speed Rail proposition is likely to pass. A spring and summer of soaring gas prices has provided the perfect environment for the proponents.

During the public meeting on September 9th one constituent reminded us that the CalTrain corridor is in for significant change, regardless of the proposal for a High Speed Rail corridor. Plans are already in motion to electrify CalTrain and switch to lighter, faster equipment on the tracks. That’s going to mean construction of electric towers and many over-or-under grade crossings from San Jose to San Francisco. The City Council needs to have an action plan soon to deal with the issues and opportunities that will emerge from the CalTrain project. It’s surprising we have heard nothing from the council on this more imminent project.

Spending money to support legal action to stop the High Speed Rail project is not a good investment. A minority of the City Council committed the city to join a law suit against the High Speed Rail project without public notice or discussion. The focus of the suit is over whether the Altamont Pass is a better route for the tracks versus the Pacheco Pass plan. If the voters turn down the proposition, then maybe the debate over which pass is better may be back on the table. But even if the Altamont Pass is resurrected it doesn’t mean Menlo Park will be spared construction and potential property displacement. The rail right-of-way between Redwood City and the Dumbarton crossing will have enormous impact on the residents in Lorelei Manor and Suburban Park.

There were a number of good construction options mentioned in the educational conference on September 9th. The City Council and the city staff should take all those ideas and weave them into a negotiating strategy. If the proposition passes this is going to be a BIG MONEY project. We hold a key geographic position in the right-of-way for this project. We should not feel constrained in our demands to maintain and improve the environment of our city. The council should make a “shopping list” of every possible benefit this project could bring to Menlo Park. That’s the “opportunity” before us.

If this big project is approved, Menlo Park has to shift from a glass-half-empty attitude to a glass-half-full attitude. The City Council needs to approach this huge event positively and aggressively. We have to change this from "the worst thing that ever happened to our city" to "the best thing that ever happened to our city".

Of course, if the High Speed Rail proposition is defeated that’s not the end. The City Council needs to be prepared to take advantage of the funding available for the project to electrify CalTrain.

(end of his message)

the statement above:

If this big project is approved, Menlo Park has to shift from a glass-half-empty attitude to a glass-half-full attitude. The City Council needs to approach this huge event positively and aggressively. We have to change this from "the worst thing that ever happened to our city" to "the best thing that ever happened to our city".

really takes the cake and should ensure that no voter in Menlo Park should consider voting for him. We don't need another council person who is not working for the interests for Menlo Park.

Rick takes the position of the Menlo Park Chamber which endorses this High Speed Rail project. It is a disaster for Menlo Park. The California chamber of councils has recommended a no vote on Prop 1A.

BTW, the Council has not voted to spend any money on the lawsuit -- at least get your facts straight Rick.

Well let's just take care of Mr. Ciradella --- just don't give him your vote.

Comments (2)

Like this comment
Posted by Mary
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Oct 8, 2008 at 10:03 pm

I live in Felton Gables, right near the tracks. I don't believe the person that posted the above information has read one of Richard's position papers recently. He did amend it, after what it seems, a great deal of work. He is against the proposition, in it's current form, and primarily because of the cost. I urge you to contact him directly or look at one of his position papers. His recent one was on an email. I WILL vote for Richard, he puts time and effort into a decision, and takes Menlo Park business very seriously.

Like this comment
Posted by Martin Engel
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 8, 2008 at 10:21 pm

Mr. Ciradella's comments are, by and large, thoughtful and he certainly takes the ominous financial issues into account. I commend him for this stand.

However, at the end of his lengthy statement he says: "We have to change this from "the worst thing that ever happened to our city" to "the best thing that ever happened to our city"."

With all due respect, I would be grateful to him if he addressed that last clause in greater and more specific detail; i.e., "the best thing that ever happened to our city." How does he see that happening in light of the projected plans of both Caltrain and the high speed train authority. I have been unable to conceive of that positive alternative despite my best efforts.

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