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 Consortium (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.”

In their open letter, CA4HSR called on the PCC, other Peninsula cities and the CAHSR Authority to join the “Peninsula Reset.”   CA4HSR listed the following positive outcomes they would like to see from this effort:

  • Peninsula city officials acknowledge the high level of support that remains for the HSR project along the Peninsula and work to represent those supporters by establishing a more constructive tone and conducting more outreach to encourage supporters to participate in community meetings and decisions on the project. CA4HSR is pleased that many local elected officials have taken a constructive tone and urge that they maintain this constructive tone, particularly through the important, complicated, and sometimes difficult process of project planning. In addition, CA4HSR strongly urge elected officials who have so far taken a generally hostile and adversarial tone to “reset” this approach to be constructive, ensuring that the HSR project is built in a way that meets the needs of the people of California and is sensitive to the residents of the Peninsula.
  • Peninsula elected officials publicly acknowledge the benefits that HSR will bring to their communities in terms of necessary upgrades such as improved pedestrian safety and traffic conditions due to grade separations.
  • The California High Speed Rail Authority commits to better communication with Peninsula cities and to provide a new staff member that is dedicated solely to resolving all the complex issues along the Peninsula. This person should be an urban planner and urban design expert trained in sensitivity toward the needs of local communities. Additionally, this person should work to resolve compatibility issues between Caltrain, HSR, and freight so all will operate in the most efficient manner possible.
  • CA4HSR will commit to staying engaged to help develop and facilitate win-win solutions between all parties.
  • Participation in a Bay Area-wide effort to examine possible funding sources to support locally desired implementations of the HSR project, in order to help mitigate impacts and to implement various rail upgrades in the HSR corridor. All stakeholders would acknowledge that these funds would have to be raised anyway, even if the HSR project does not happen, as Caltrain must be grade separated in the future for the purposes of community safety and operational and financial improvements while saving money on necessary rail upgrades in the Caltrain corridor by leveraging HSR funds.
  • Active participation in lobbying California’s congressional delegation to support further federal funding for high speed rail, including the proposed $50 billion for HSR in the reauthorization of the Surface Transportation Bill.
  • A commitment by all stakeholders that a spirit of reasonableness and compromise is part of all discussions and solutions.

The full text of the CA4HSR’s “Peninsula Reset” open letter is accessible online at: http://www.ca4hsr.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/09.13.10-CA4HSR-Open-Letter-to-Peninsula-Cities.pdf

Peninsula Grassroots Email Campaign

Additionally, CA4HSR launched a grassroots email campaign today urging all pro-HSR Peninsula residents to take a moment to join in signing an online letter to their local city councils. Through this letter, Peninsula residents can express their support for the High-Speed Rail project. They can also urge their local representatives to collaborate in a constructive way to help get HSR built, or to thank the cities who have been constructive to

the process. Peninsula-based high speed rail supporters can sign the letter at: http://www.ca4hsr.org/advocacy/contact-your-city-council/

About Californians For High Speed Rail

Californians For High Speed Rail (CA4HSR) is a grassroots, statewide coalition of high speed rail supporters advocating for the high speed rail project approved by California voters in November 2008. Founded in 2005, we exist to educate, inform, and organize Californians about ways they can help make high speed rail a reality in the Golden State. Additionally, CA4HSR also encourages sustainable development of the high speed rail (HSR) system, promotes the building of HSR stations in city centers, transit-oriented developments, as well as developing/improving feeder transit systems. Visit us at: www.ca4hsr.org