Mar 2012

LA Times Covers HSR

The Los Angeles Times has given excellent coverage to questions about the legality of the HSRA’s Central Valley project. TRANSDEF’s David Schonbrunn was interviewed in this article about the Governor’s attempt to get other environmental groups to go easy on this project.

Other HSR articles in the LA Times:

A detailed look into whether the blended system would comply with Proposition 1A.

Peter Calthorpe’s Vision California vs. right-wing defenders of the status quo.

Hospital Required to Mitigate GHGs

TRANSDEF, along with fellow litigants the Sierra Club and the California Nurses Association, prevailed in a challenge to Sonoma County’s approval of a new Sutter Hospital on the fringe of Santa Rosa. They challenged the Environmental Impact Report as being inadequate in mitigating greenhouse gases, because of the site being totally auto-dependent. After several hearings and appearances before a judge, the County agreed to require Sutter Hospital to provide a shuttle to the hospital from the nearest SMART rail station. Sutter will also provide free bus and train passes to its employees, in addition to other incentives for vanpooling and carpooling.

These may possibly be the first mitigations in California imposed specifically for GHG impacts. Check out the
Press Democrat story.


A lively interview on KPFA’s Morning Mix where TRANSDEF’s David Schonbrunn details what’s wrong with the HSR project, and how to fix it. The program runs 12:00.

Reflections Following the Senate Hearing

I think TRANSDEF is onto something that no one else is stressing: Because of the way Proposition 1A, AB 3034, was written, there can be no project without private capital and/or a huge federal commitment.

So far, the Authority has been allowed to frame the consideration of its plan, which makes it seem reasonable. Here's why it is necessary to pull back and look at the bigger picture:

The strictures of AB 3034 prohibit the very kind of incremental improvements that would be most sensible (and which are standard practice everywhere else in the world): building a HSR-compatible but unelectrified connection between Bakersfield and LA and improving the bookends to enable shared use. Doing all this would demonstrate the ridership potential of decent train service, which would allow an entirely different kind of discussion--a grounded one, rather than a theoretical one--of a statewide HSR system.

TRANSDEF's Testimony at Senate HSR Hearing

I’m David Schonbrunn of TRANSDEF. We’re transit advocates that have been litigating HSR EIRs for the past 5 years, and have been highly critical of the Authority’s route decisions, their engineering and their ridership modeling. We see the Authority slowly changing direction and heading in a more viable direction. We give great credit to the Peer Review Group for their courageous comments, which were instrumental in bringing that about. But we are more outspoken: we vigorously oppose the Central Valley project and urge you to not fund it. Many environmental groups, under the aegis of the Planning and Conservation League, sent the Governor a letter opposing the project, for the reasons identified by the Peer Review Group and Legislative Analyst. That creates credibility problems for the Governor, who is touting this project for environmental reasons. Read More...