Wednesday, August 19, 2009

NIMBYs, NIMBYs, everywhere

I'm a firm believer that one should buy a home because of the neighbors, the local schools, a short commute to work, etc. Maybe because there's a nice view. Basically a place to live. I do not think, however, one should buy a home as an investment (at least it's low on my list).

So it upsets me when I see when I see articles in the paper like I did in today's Palo Alto Daily News (the recent redesign of which I'm digging, by the way). A five-column headline, "High-speed rail hit with lawsuit," outlines the complaint filed last week in a San Mateo County court by Menlo Park resident Russell Peterson.

Peterson contends that Caltrain and California High-Speed Rail authorities need the permission of Union Pacific Railroad to use the railroad right of way for high-speed rail. Peterson claims that Union Pacific has "the exclusive power to hire an operator to provide intercity passenger service" on the tracks.

First, the entire reason that Amtrak was founded almost 40 years ago is that the big railroads wanted to get out of passenger service. So I doubt that Union Pacific is in any way interested what passenger service is on the tracks, so long as it does not interfere with its freight operations.

Second, Paterson needs a new lawyer -- an informed one.

I'm sure attorney Michael Brady's contention that high-speed rail officials "need to obtain Union Pacific's consent (to run high-speed rail) because Caltrain isn't really the owner" of its tracks will be news to the Caltrain Joint Powers Board and the taxpayers who funded the purchase of the railroad right of way between San Francisco and San Jose from Union Pacific's predecessor, Southern Pacific, in 1991.

While Union Pacific, as noted later in the Daily News article, has an easement to run freight on Caltrain’s tracks north of San Jose, any "rights to inter-city passenger service" -- the bone of contention in Menlo Park resident Russell Peterson’s lawsuit -- would have been superseded when the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board took over the tracks.

This is simply another meritless lawsuit by a NIMBY concerned about their property values. I think it's time for Peterson to take one for the team: the residents of the state of California.

I now quote wholesale from a previous post I made on this topic: high-speed rail is an extremely positive project for San Mateo County as a whole, with great benefits from proposed stops at San Francisco International Airport and a possible stop in the South County. In addition, high-speed rail will be in a position to assist Caltrain with electrification and grade separation projects.

I used to live in San Mateo on East 40th Avenue, one block from the tracks, so I understand the concerns of nearby residents. But there is a big picture and I hope that this post can remind Atherton and Menlo Park residents (and those in their respective city governments, which have filed suits against the project) of that big picture.

1 comment:

Rob Roy said...

Regardless of why you buy a house, you should treat it as an investment, and that means protesting anything that will drive real estate prices down. Highways, sex offenders, Republicans...