Statement of Principles
Cities along the Peninsula are joining together to provide input into the process of reviewing and constructing the high speed rail project between San Francisco and San Jose. Although each city faces unique and location specific challenges, Peninsula cities share many similar concerns and the strong underlying belief that particular care must be taken to integrate high speed rail into the living fabric of the Peninsula.
Our objective is to have the California High Speed Rail Authority collaborate with the Peninsula Cities Consortium and its member cities in determining the alignment, the range of alternatives and mitigations. We believe that the final design should minimize local impacts, improve the qualify of life in local communities and incorporate the best urban design ideas.
Cities of the Peninsula Cities Consortium believe that high speed rail should be built right – or not at all. By “right,” we mean that the rail line should integrate into our communities without harming their current livability. The best design and community values, rather than finances, should determine the alignment.
We believe that high speed rail should be part of a comprehensive regional public transit plan and that the California High Speed Rail Authority should:
- Provide a valid business and financial plan that supports the full range of alternatives proposed and satisfies the requirements of the state Legislative Analyst’s Office
- Demonstrate to state leaders that the plan will not require operating subsidies from local taxpayers in the future
- Provide ridership studies to support the project that are validated by an independent peer review body that is responsible to the state Legislature
- Increase and enhance local Caltrain service and improve Caltrain infrastructure as a condition of using the Caltrain corridor
To empower communities in the decision-making process, we believe the Authority should:
- Give transportation goals and community goals equal weight
- Affirm that the best design with the least impact on communities, rather than finances, will determine the alignment chosen for each section of the rail line
- Include community leaders as an integral part of the decision-making process regarding the final alternatives
- Clearly define the points at which the public can influence the process, the deadlines for comments and the decision-making process
- Assure that the Alternatives Analysis is based on complete and accurate information, allow adequate time (a minimum of 90 days) to fully involve the public in Alternatives Analysis and EIR discussions, and conduct these reviews at separate times
- If Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) is employed, allow sufficient time and funds to carry out this very thorough eight-step process properly, and ensure that the timing of CSS complements the Alternatives Analysis, the Project Environmental Impact Report and California Environmental Quality Act processes. There must also be a commitment by the Authority to implement the outcomes of the CSS process.
- • Answer questions from community members promptly and accurately, and post these answers on a website where answers can be read by all
- • Treat participants in the process with respect and refrain from labeling individuals or organizations
To expedite the process, we believe the Authority should:
- Provide funding that will allow the full range of alternatives to be considered without expecting local cities to contribute substantially to the cost
- Provide funding to reimburse cities for expenses incurred as part of each city’s evaluation of project proposals
- Provide funding to allow cities to engage community members and accurately capture their concerns and recommendations
- Provide realistic renderings of what various alternatives will look like in each community and sound/vibration simulations that accurately reflect their impact
To validate the process, the California Legislature should:
- Ensure adequate and independent oversight by the Peer Review Committee. All positions on this committee should be filled and members should be provided a budget and staff in order to fulfill their mandate.
- Insist on independent, current, complete and accurate ridership studies
- Make certain that funding for high speed rail is contingent upon upholding the requirements of Assembly Bill 3034 (AB 3034), including a viable business plan, an adequate risk management plan, funding sequencing and allocations consistent with AB 3034
We believe that a collaborative process consistent with these principles will result in the best possible high speed rail project for our communities, our region and the people of California.