May 7, 2018

SUBJECT: SAFE COALITION COMMENTS ON 2018 BUSINESS PLAN – NOTE VIDEO SUBMITTAL TO BE VIEWED AS AN INTEGRAL PART OF OUR SUBMITTAL –

Dear High Speed TRAIN Authority:
Given how much our communities have suffered and been damaged since August 14, 2014, when we were first “thrown under the train” by the “yellow banana,” we are pleased to be both involved enough and informed enough to provide enlightened and passionate feedback on the 2018 Business Plan. Since we have heard nothing form CHSRA since early 2016 due to its abdication of its “community outreach” program, since the Authority is years late on delivering the DEIR which it first said would be released in August 2016, and since the Authority reneged on plans to hold a board meeting in the northeast San Fernando Valley since June 2015, this video submittal, which will at least let you see and hear our faces and voices, along with this incisive cover letter, must suffice.

Maybe in an alternate universe or alternate reality this would be called a “Business Plan.” Because in the real world, a Business Plan is created by a stable, qualified and experienced management team. In the real world a Business Plan adds up and is precise. In the real world, a Business Plan has achievable timelines and schedules. In the real world, a Business Plan reflects stakeholder input. In the real world, a Business Plan is measurable and sets up accountability. In the real world, a Business Plan is the sum of its parts….

Our primary question and challenge to this Business Plan is that if one of its key elements, in this case, the Burbank to Palmdale project section, is so fatally flawed, full of “show stoppers” and unachievable, that the Business Plan, itself, does not hold together. This 2018 Business Plan, unfortunately, lacks one crucial element: reality.

We read this document with anticipation after reading the press release and knowing a new executive was in place. Unfortunately, the new management personnel has not been in place long enough to have created and taken ownership of this Business Plan. You can’t fool us. You can’t railroad us. This Business Plan is a product of past regimes that have created the largest boondoggle in California and possibly United States public works history. This Business Plan does not apply lessons learned; it is a prescription for mistakes to be repeated over and over and over because the Authority’s culture remains one of being treated as a special child, given priority and privilege without having earned it or respected the public trust that created it.

This Business Plan is vapid, devoid of facts, devoid of connection to the real California and devoid of responsiveness to communities held hostage for far too long. We substantiate our claim that the Business Plan is the sum of its parts and, thus, infeasible because it has a $12 billion hole in it; it has a 5-10 year scheduling gap in it. As a result, the Authority’s Board and the Legislature must reject this Business Plan and send management and staff back to the drawing board.

Following is a brief illustration of the shortcomings of the Palmdale to Burbank project sections, shortcomings that make that section and the entire Business Plan infeasible.

  1. The Burbank to Palmdale routes are infeasible and fatally flawed due to environmental complexity, unjust location of routes that divide communities and change community character, and budgets that remain both unfounded and exorbitant.

  2. The Authority has not presented the NE San Fernando Valley with any new options since early 2016 and has not improved on the old, flawed alternatives.

  3. The Authority continues to miss deadlines to present environmental studies to the NE San Fernando Valley, is nearly two years past August 2016 when the studies were first stated to be completed, and recent announcements about the studies being delayed until 2020 further hold our communities hostage unjustly.

  4. The Authority has failed to hold a board meeting in the NE San Fernando Valley as promised to stakeholders in 2015.

  5. CHSRA’s own geotechnical studies substantiate the flaws in all of the tunneled route proposals, in particular the study released in March 2017. In CHSRA’s own words from that document: “the geologic and hydrogeologic conditions along the tunnel alignments present significant design and construction challenges.” Those challenges would further exacerbate the environmental complexity, time delays and cost overruns characterizing the Authority’s work to date. It’s important to note that this definitive and enlightening Geotechnical study, produced by the Authority, was only obtained by the SAFE Coalition after months of dogged pursuit of information from the Authority, from elected officials and, ultimately, through a public records request that took many months to complete.

  6. All communities in the northeast San Fernando Valley oppose the project universally and unanimously due to all of the frequently stated damage and risks presented to densely populated residential and commercial areas, as well as to sensitive environmental areas.

  7. All elected officials in the NE San Fernando Valley are on the record individually, and some collectively, as opposed to the routes under consideration.

To conclude, if a major project section, such as Palmdale to Burbank, is infeasible and fatally flawed, then since it is a pillar of the Business Plan, itself, then logically the Business Plan is incomplete, infeasible, flawed and should not be approved by the Board or by the Legislature. We’d add one further note. Our research indicates that southern California taxpayers are being ripped off worse than taxpayers anywhere else in California by the fact that a disproportionate amount of CHSRA funds are being spent in northern and central California, creating whatever economic benefits the project possesses, while creating zero transportation benefits. The SAFE Coalition calls upon the Authority to immediately remove the flawed routes proposed for the Burbank to Palmdale project section and to quickly propose how remaining funds can be made available for other local transportation/bookend projects.

On behalf of all the communities which comprise the SAFE Coalition, please take these comments and the video to heart and revise your Business Plan and remove these infeasible routes from further consideration.

Dave DePinto

April 14, 2018 High Speed Train Protest Rally  – THANKS TO THOSE WHO JOINED AND ARE SUPPORTING US!

More than 100 sign-waving residents and more than a dozen horses and riders attended today’s informative, intense and loud protest rally at Lake View Terrace Recreation Center. In addition, the following communities were represented with speaking roles, showing the strength of the UNITED FRONT: Sylmar, Kagel Canyon, Lake View Terrace, Sunland-Tujunga, Riverwood Ranch, La Tuna Canyon, Shadow Hills, Stonehurst and Pacoima. The two major themes were: first, the audacity and lack of respect shown by the high speed train Authority in scheduling its board meeting next week downtown on a work day, rejecting more than 200 written requests from our community (none of which were given the courtesy of a response), requesting the meeting be in a convenient, Valley location to foster greater community attendance and input. Second, speakers hit repeatedly on the weaknesses and damages posed by the existing route proposals (E1, E2 and SR14), the lack of integrity of the environmental studies, and the lack of funding available to finish the project in Southern California. Even the previously rejected “Metrolink Alternative,” being re-assessed as an possible solution, was criticized as doing nothing to remove the present route alternatives. One last theme was the importance of communicating with our elected officials, in particular Senators Hertzberg and Portantino, in upcoming weeks as the public comment period for the 2018 Business Plan concludes and the Legislature will vote on whether to approve the Plan and enable continued funding. People in attendance felt strongly and chanted repeatedly that the Legislature should “elect to reject” the Business Plan. That chant and several others: “Let’s Vote Again,” “No More Trains,” and “Bite the Bullet,” resounded throughout the meeting! Our strong feeling is that the Business Plan is the sum of its parts and the Palmdale to Burbank project section is so flawed and infeasible that the entire Plan’s credibility and worthiness is negated. Finally, we noted for all in attendance that Mayor Garcetti, who is not working with or helping the SAFE Coalition or our communities, was in Iowa today meeting with union members and farmers related to his run for POTUS, and Councilmember Rodriguez, who has ignored hundreds of meeting and support requests from the SAFE Coalition and our communities on this issue since taking office last July, continued to renege on her campaign promises and again missed this important and large community meeting, much like she and her staff missed the Unity Meeting on February 22. The entire meeting was videotaped and the edited product will be available publicly shortly and will be submitted as official public comment on the 2018 Business Plan. For anyone interested in attending Tuesday’s high speed train board meeting, the meeting is at the Metropolitan Water District offices in downtown Los Angeles, starting at 10 a.m. Thanks to all the volunteers who made today’s meeting successful and inspirational!

The SAFE Coalition

March 22, 2018

Sylmar Neighborhood Council Emphatically Joins High Speed Train Opposition

At tonight’s Sylmar Neighorhood Council meeting, four different motions were overwhelmingly passed affirming Sylmar’s opposition to high speed trains throughout the region and their desire to work closely with the SAFE Coalition. In addition to opposing routes E1, E2 and SR14 as part of a formal comment submission on the currently pending 2018 Business Plan, the Council voted to request a CHSRA board meeting in the NE San Fernando Valley, to designate several representatives to participate in ongoing SAFE Coalition meetings, and to submit a Community Impact Statement (CIS) calling for City Council action and amended wording on a long-stalled City Council motion. That last action formally brings the Sylmar NC into the “United Front” of community organizations with Foothill Trails District Neighborhood Council, Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council, Kagel Canyon Civic Assn., Lake View Terrace Improvement Assn., and Shadow Hills Property Owners Assn. Several Sylmar NC board members have been networked with SAFE Coalition for several years and championed this process of greater Sylmar participation. SAFE Coalition continues to encourage and assist the Pacoima and Sun Valley Area Neighborhood Councils to follow in Sylmar’s footsteps.

Thank you to all the members of the Council and, in particular, the members of the Land Use Committee that worked exhaustively with SAFE Coalition to study the history and status of the “$78 Billion Mistake.” and to take action to protect Sylmar and our entire NE San Fernando Valley.

Dave DePinto

Member, SAFE Coalition<

President, Shadow Hills Property Owners Assn.

November 30, 2017

SUBJECT: SAVE THE DATE AND PLEASE RSVP – “UNITY MEETING” ON THURSDAY, JANUARY 18, 2018, 6:30 P.M.

We’ve just sent this invitation  to EVERY elected official representing the northeast San Fernando Valley (Schiff, Cardenas, Barger, Kuehl, Portantino, Hertzberg, Gonez, Rodriguez, Martinez, Garcetti, Wesson, Krekorian). Please save the date and join us, just like we did three years ago, at All Nations Church, when more than 2,300 residents came together to oppose the damaging high speed train proposals.

Be informed. Be Active. Be There!

More details to come. Stay tuned to SAFE Coalition website: www.dontrailroad.us.

Dear (All Elected Officials Representing the Northeast San Fernando Valley):

SUBJECT: SAVE THE DATE AND PLEASE RSVP – “UNITY MEETING” ON THURSDAY, JANUARY 18, 2018, 6:30 P.M.

As we observe the 3-year anniversary of the introduction of above ground high speed train routes through the heart of the northeast San Fernando Valley this Saturday, December 2nd, please join the SAFE Coalition and concerned stakeholders to take action that will lead to the CHSRA Board of Directors eliminating these routes from further consideration.

Three years of being held hostage! It’s time for decisive action and closure to eliminate above ground high speed train routes from further consideration. We respectfully request your attendance, participation and leadership at our “Unity Meeting,” to be held Thursday, January 18, 2018, 6:30 p.m. at All Nations Church in Lake View Terrace.

The under funded, over-budget, behind schedule and terribly flawed California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) has held your communities – Palmdale, Acton, Aqua Dulce, Santa Clarita, San Fernando, Sylmar, Pacoima, Sun Valley, Shadow Hills, La Tuna Canyon, Sunland-Tujunga, Lake View Terrace, and Kagel Canyon – hostage for three years, impacting decision-making, investments and quality of life for residents, businesses and communities.

Our communities learned of the high speed train threat via a postcard in the mail in August 2014 and of the specific route proposals by attending an out-of-town meeting on December 2, 2014 in Santa Clarita! As a result, a large, grassroots community response, led by the volunteer SAFE Coalition was created in Fall 2014, later bringing together more than 2,300 people at All Nations Church on January 13, 2015, united in one voice to oppose the threat of high speed trains.

Since that time, the SAFE Coalition, comprised of the most knowledgeable and experienced community leaders from the northeast San Fernando Valley, has led and coordinated efforts throughout the region to eliminate this threat. Our accomplishments include:

  • Convening 30+ community leaders regularly for three years to increase project-related knowledge, study project-related research and reports, implement a broad-based community education campaign, and provide official written/oral comments and testimony to the environmental review process.

  • Achieving credibility with communities throughout the northeast San Fernando Valley as their representative on this issue, as well as networking with impacted communities in central and northern California.

  • Providing thousands of written and oral comments/testimony on CHSRA plans through their formal federal/state environmental review process.

  • Articulating shared goals and common ground which enabled formal expressions of support from a diverse, wide variety of elected officials, community leaders, homeowner associations, businesses, Neighborhood Councils, church leaders, educators and equestrians.

  • Raising significant funding for education, outreach and legal defense efforts.

  • Managing a superb, educational website (www.dontrailroad.us) and obtaining extensive media coverage.

  • Raising the profile of the high speed train issue to become a leading issue in numerous election campaigns.

We are at a critical time. Not surprisingly, CHSRA recently announced yet another 2-year delay in their environmental studies, bringing the delay to a whopping 4 years since their original plans and projections were made in 2014. Best case, the environmental studies will be completed by 2020. Best case, high speed train construction will last another 7-11 years from that point. Best case, operations in our region will begin by 2031.

Another 14 years of delay, uncertainty and threat? We say, “No More! Don’t Railroad Us!” Thus, we propose:

Every two years, CHSRA must submit an updated Business Plan to the legislature for approval. The 2018 Business Plan is being formulated NOW and NOW is the time for the northeast San Fernando Valley to come together and speak as a “United Front” comprised of residents, businesses, community leaders, community organizations and elected officials, and demand the Authority immediately remove above ground high speed train alternatives, located in our densely populated and sensitive environmental areas, from further consideration.

We have witnessed the success of other “United Fronts” in communities impacted by the high speed train throughout California. The following cities and counties have supported their residents with motions, resolutions, lawsuits and other forms of representation. We’re seeking the same unity here in greater Los Angeles!

1. Santa Clarita
2. San Fernando
3. Atherton
4. Gilroy
5. Morgan Hill
6. Fresno
7. Palo Alto
8. Bakersfield
9. Shafter
10. Menlo Park
11. Chowchilla
12. Kings County
13. Kern County
14. Madera County
15. San Carlos

We are calling on each of our elected officials and community-leading organizations to re-state and communicate their unequivocal opposition to the damaging above ground high speed train routes now, early in the Authority’s 2018 Business Planning process, so the Authority has NO wiggle room that would lead to ANY of our communities remaining hostage to the high speed train threat. Our “Unity Meeting” on January 18 provides you an ideal forum to demonstrate your commitment to your constituents and colleagues. Toward that end, SAFE Coalition has formulated a number of time-sensitive, strategic initiatives essential to success. These initiatives are shown below and we hope you will work with us to ensure their accomplishment. SAFE Coalition has already reached out to and/or met with every elected official representing the northeast San Fernando Valley to begin this process.

The past three years of living under this high speed train threat have been divisive and have taken a tremendous toll on our communities. Further delays, uncertainty and threat are just unacceptable. We have sacrificed and suffered long enough. We need timely, concerted action by our “United Front.” Please contact me if you have any questions and please extend us the courtesy early on of confirming your attendance and participation at our “Unity Meeting” on January 18, 2018.

On behalf of the SAFE Coalition of Community Leaders, Representing All of the Northeast San Fernando Valley,

Thank you!

Dave DePinto
Member, SAFE Coalition (www.dontrailroad.us)
President, Shadow Hills Property Owners Assn.

 

“UNITED FRONT” STRATEGIC INITIATIVES NEEDED TO
“ELIMINATE ABOVE GROUND HIGH SPEED TRAIN ROUTES IMMEDIATELY”

1. Request for All Levels of Government
a. Communicate regularly with SAFE Coalition leadership to discuss status and strategy.
b. Re-submit your past letter, or submit a new or “refreshed” letter to the CHSRA board calling for removal of above ground high speed train routes from the 2018 Business Plan and current environmental studies, and distribute your letter in the form of a news release.
c. Express your opposition to above ground high speed train routes at CHSRA, METRO, SCAG and San Fernando Valley COG board meetings.
d. Secure agreement with local unions to oppose above ground high speed train routes.
e. Create joint City/County/State-sponsored financial/economic impact analysis of permanently lost revenue (property tax, sales tax, utility users tax, horse licensing, DWP revenue, business tax, franchise tax, income tax, transient occupancy tax, etc.).
f. Secure withdrawal of bogus, inaccurate Mineta Equine Study by CHSRA.
g. Display SAFE lawn signs and posters in your offices.
2. Request for City of Los Angeles City Council Members and Mayor’s Office
a. Secure LA City Council Motion opposing above ground routes/proposing new alternatives based on existing support from Councilmembers Wesson, Krekorian, O’Farrell, Rodriguez and Martinez.
b. Clarify Mayor Garcetti letter to CHSRA, dated February 28, 2017, where Metrolink Antelope Valley line as a right-of-way for high speed trains is referenced.
c. Schedule meeting with City Attorney and SAFE Coalition to discuss legal options.
3. Request for County of Los Angeles Supervisors
a. Secure San Fernando Valley COG Motion opposing above ground routes/study of new alternatives.
b. Schedule meeting with County Counsel and SAFE Coalition to discuss legal options.
4. Request for State of California Legislators
a. Submit official NEPA/CEQA EIS/EIR comment letter to Governor and CHSRA.
b. Secure commitment for CHSRA board meeting in NE San Fernando Valley ASAP and prior to announcement of preferred alternative and EIR studies.
c. Secure CHSRA Board Member site visits – Paskett and Camacho.
d. Evaluate development of legislative means of removing above ground routes and studying new alternatives.
5. United States Congressional Representatives
a. Meet with and write to Federal Railroad Administration, U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to convey opposition to tunneled and above ground routes through/adjacent to northeast San Fernando Valley.
6. Los Angeles Unified School District
a. Secure LAUSD Motion opposing above ground routes/study of new alternatives.

June 2015 - UPDATES: First, we have received a letter co-signed by Councilman Fuentes and Supervisors Antonovich and Kuehl, that they sent to the CHSRA Board of Directors on June 2, calling for elimination of the E2 Route as soon as possible. The letter makes many other demands and requests of the Authority that we support including upfront research of water resources impacted by the project, as well as elimination of damaging above-ground routes and structures in other communities. E2, of course, is one of three routes impacting the Foothills area, but it is the only route in the East Corridor with “above ground features” including tunnel openings/portals, at-grade track and elevated/bridged track. As such, because E2 is BOTH a “forest route” and an above-ground route, it is the most damaging proposal facing all of our Foothill communities….and we mean, ALL, of our Foothill communities. This does not mean the route is eliminated, but that we have gained support from several more prominent elected officials in our fight to have the Authority eliminate the damaging high speed rail proposals. This took many hours of meetings, letter writing, phone calls and research to accomplish.

This is a significant development in that two of the three original routes including above-ground elements have already been changed/eliminated and this would leave only tunneled proposals on the table, and they are frought with flaws themselves. If and when E2 is eliminated, because we believe it is close to being removed, the fight will move on to the next phase.

Second, the Supplemental Alternatives Analysis (SAA Report) was posted online today by CHSRA. It is the report that presents a status report from staff to the Board about the alternatives being studied. It is a report that we disagree with vehemently and are joined by communities from Palmdale to Burbank in opposing. We were told in no uncertain terms at last Saturday’s open house meeting that the Report would not be released until next Tuesday’s CHSRA board meeting. Needless to say, we challenged that vigorously and are pleased to finally have the report available. It will help all of us who attend next week’s meeting prepare our remarks, write letters and become better informed.

This is proof that “we have to believe and we have to trust each other.” We still live in a democracy and the voice of the people still matters regardless of how cynical and distrustful some have become….if our voice is expressed smartly and strategically. There has been far too much divisiveness caused by this project from community to community and even within communities such as our own. Some people forget that the foe here is the State and the high speed rail project, not those who have the courage to openly and courageously fight to preserve our communities. Many people in our communities, as well as our allies throughout the region, are fighting very hard, and we applaud them. We should especially recognize and support the work of about 50 volunteers from our Foothills communities who have sacrificed dozens of weekends, evenings, days off from work, sleepless nights and even holidays to fight this project. Our elected officials will get some headlines here, and they deserve it, but our volunteers and all of you who have written letters, attended meetings and supported and trusted your volunteer S.A.F.E. Coalition are the unsung heroes that sustain this campaign. Our work is not done and we urge you to come to the meeting on Saturday morning to be updated further, and to attend the CHSRA board meeting downtown next Tuesday.

Don’t Railroad Our Communities!

S.A.F.E. Coalition
www.dontrailroad.us

June 12, 2015 - The date of the California High Speed Rail Authority Board Meeting, June 9th, was a special day for our Foothills Communities in our fight against high speed rail. Thank you to everyone who helped plan the day, made the trip, testified, were with us in spirit, donated to help defray various costs, have written letters and watched on various websites.

The turnout from the Foothills area and other affected communities far exceeded our expectations given the meeting was held in downtown Los Angeles on a work day. Most of us left this area at 7:30 for a meeting that lasted until 4:30 and did not get home until after 6 pm. Over 400 people attended and more than 150 people testified, including at least 50 people from our Foothill communities alone. The meeting room overflowed the entire day. The poise, intelligence, community-spirit, compassion and brilliance displayed by our residents and others throughout the region, demonstrated that unity is the best and only strategy against this “big government” boondoggle and the “transportation zombies” trying to impose their view of the world on our communities.

Two special acknowledgments go out to Julie Tarnawsky, Shadow Hills, who despairingly asked the CHSRA Board “Are you just completely uncaring?” and to Kelly Rose, Lake View Terrace, who gave probably the most difficult presentation of all with her 5-year old daughter standing at her side. Kelly’s words to the CHSRA Board linger, “When you go home, I hope you think of us, because we think of you.”

To many of us, the following things are becoming clear:

  • First, our most urgent, short-term strategy is to make sure this project is not studied and/or built above ground in densely populated or sensitive environmental areas.

  • Second, it must not be allowed to put any of our water resources or communities at risk during either construction or operations phases.

  • Third, it must not damage our natural and cultural resources – the National Monument, National Forest, Rim of the Valley, Big Tujunga Wash, Cesar Chavez Memorial, Bike Paths, Horse Trails and more.

  • Fourth, it is going to collapse of its own weight as opposition grows and it will die a slow death in the years ahead.

Everyone who attended and supported our community’s efforts should know that CHSRA Chairman Dan Richard called the downtown meeting the “biggest protest rally” to date and he called it the “high-water mark of all the communities affected.” He’s not seen anything yet; wait until he schedules a meeting in the San Fernando Valley! But first, we must continue to work with our local electeds to host their own community input meeting, one that the high speed rail organization does not control. Only by removing control of the meetings from the High Speed Rail Authority will our electeds, the press and our communities, themselves, witness the true anger and opposition in our communities to high speed rail.

On the Home Page of this website, we have listed the media coverage for anyone who wants to read, view or listen. Here is the link to the video (#2) of the last half of the meeting (First half of meeting can be viewed here.):
CHSRA Board Meeting: Video 2: Palmdale to Burbank Project Section to the CHSRA Board of Directors, June 9, 2015.

  • Start of Video – Comments from The Los Angeles Foothill Communities regarding Palmdale to Burbank Project Section

  • 2:00:00 – Intro to and Presentation by Regional Director Michelle Boehm to the CHSRA Board of Directors

  • 2:30:00 – Mention of the Fuentes, Kuehl, Antonovich Letter to study high priority issues

  • 2:31:34 – Chairman Richard mentions Real Estate disclose law

  • 2:35:35 – Motion to get studies done in 6 months so to possibly delete non-viable routes (passed).

We urge you to be ready to help out in any way you can as this battle moves forward. Whether it’s volunteer time writing a letter, attending a hearing or donating to either our legal or public education/information fund, your help is needed.

Thanks again.
S.A.F.E. Coalition

S.A.F.E. AND HIGH SPEED RAIL CALL TO ACTION – GET READY! CHSRA Open House Meetings May 16 - June 5, 2015

Many of you were important participants in letter writing efforts and meeting attendance several months ago when the yellow banana was introduced and when the East Corridor was introduced. This is a first call to get ready to write, make phone calls and meet again.

 

Updated/changed routes have been public for about three weeks now and after meeting with CHSRA engineers last week, we have clearer information in hand. We have important work to do and timing and attention to detail will be very important. First of all, route E2, one of the most damaging of the East Corridor routes to date, remains on the table for inclusion in the upcoming environmental studies. Second, routes E1 and E3 have moved and are now nearly fully tunneled, yet, like E2, still breach Angeles Forest and National Monument boundaries and tunnel near or under portions of our communities. Third, there is a round of meetings being organized by CHSRA (May 30 in the Foothill communities – see graphic for all locations and dates) similar to those which happened last December at which CHSRA will provide maps and presentations – details for their meetings are still being finalized. And finally, S.A.F.E. is planning a variety of outreach activities and events and fundraising efforts that we’ll be letting you know more about.

For today, we ask that you explore this website and get caught up. Please view updated maps; read recent letters and articles; and watch video or listen to audio about our fight. Later this week, we will launch an extensive outreach effort related to what you can do to help:

  • remove above ground routes such as E2, which is the above ground, elevated track running from tunnel openings in Lake View Terrace, across the Big T Wash, and then into tunnel openings in Shadow Hills, from further consideration

  • get political support for additional studies on newly created routes, water resources, seismic risks AND tunneling prior to selecting routes for environmental study

  • encourage all elected officials in the San Fernando Valley to host a “public hearing” in the very near future that enables San Fernando Valley residents to speak out on this issue in front of their elected officials for the FIRST TIME

  • encourage political and CHSRA support for studying a “no-Burbank” alternative as part of the upcoming environmental studies

  • make a donation and enlist the support of your families, friends, co-workers and neighbors

In the next few days, please check in with us and BE READY. What we accomplish in the next month or so is what we will be living with for the next 3-5 year environmental study period. That period, if high speed rail remains in operation (despite efforts to kill it or defund it), will lead to ultimate construction and operations. We still have a lot to say and do. It’s critical that we finish the outreach and information and protest efforts we began last Fall. We need everyone focused and committed. Call it the fourth quarter, the bottom of the ninth, coming down the home stretch….we have some business to take care of. We’ll be in touch shortly with messages, addresses and more for the letter writing effort as well as updates on upcoming meetings.

Please be ready. Thank you.

S.A.F.E. Coalition

April 20, 2015 - The revised, detailed aerial maps for the proposed Palmdale to Burbank project section were posted by CHRSA on their website (we are still seeking topographical maps). The map includes all routes still in consideration within the SR14 corridor and the East Corridor/Forest routes. These are as close as we can get to street level maps for now. We have not reviewed them closely yet and many of the S.A.F.E. volunteers are involved in high speed rail meetings this afternoon and evening so it will take us some time to talk to community leaders and residents to figure out which areas (streets, residents, businesses, water sources, wildlife corridors, etc.) are closest to any of the most heavily revised routes (E1 and E3). Note E2 is unchanged at this time and there have been minor modifications to routes along the SR14 corridor.

It is VERY IMPORTANT to note that these maps and proposed routes are NOT FINAL. There is still ample time for our communities to provide further input before the EIR/EIS routes are selected for study; the EIR/EIS study period will last 3-5 years; and construction is further into the future still.

In the upcoming weeks we will be evaluating the best way to discuss the new information with the community including email, website, presentation at community meetings and holding a large group meeting. Please stay tuned and provide your input.

Please feel free to communicate any thoughts, concerns or recommendations to your community leaders or by emailing S.A.F.E. at safe@dontrailroad.us. Thank you.

May 17, 2015 - First, thank you to many community members who wrote letters this week to CHSRA. More than 200 letters were sent and both CHSRA and our electeds are very aware of your input. Every letter counts so please keep submitting your views and perspectives in advance of the CHSRA board meeting on June 9th.

Second, we’ve been very diligent about briefing and meeting with local electeds about our experiences with CHSRA in the past month. We have met with all electeds locally at the Federal, State, County and Local levels. Several of the local electeds are newly in office and have not been part of the CHSRA process. Our meetings are helping inform and engage them. It will pay off in the long run. They agree with many of the points we are sharing with them and are considering a variety of ways of helping us. We must be patient, persistent and give it time…

Third, S.A.F.E. is focusing on the short-term objective of getting E2, with its horrendous above ground features, removed from further consideration. We remain very concerned and vigilant about all routes through the Forest but E2 is the worst for people, open space, businesses and sensitive environmental areas – it is BOTH in the Forest AND above ground across our treasured Big Tujunga Wash! E2 remains the worst route for everyone in our area: Sunland-Tujunga, Shadow Hills, La Tuna Canyon, Lake View Terrace and Kagel Canyon and we must be united in fighting for elimination of E2. We feel by focusing and by presenting an abundance of information/letters identifying flaws with the E2 route, showing the community’s unity in opposing the E2 route, and lobbying elected officials about the flaws in E2 that we have a chance at getting it removed from further consideration faster than we can do the same with routes through the Forest overall. That strategy worked in having E1 changed significantly and in having E3 changed significantly. We will stay on it.

Fourth, many S.A.F.E. Coalition members attended the first of the latest series of open houses held by CHSRA today in Pacoima. It was a waste of time basically, as the same information presented at the community working group meeting two weeks ago, and shared with everyone on the S.A.F.E. website weeks ago, was regurgitated. Like past events, there was no public comment period – the meeting consisted of one hour of visiting stations to see animated route renderings (no new information) followed by about an hour of presentation of high speed rail basics by CHSRA staff (no new information). Again, as is the case in all of their meetings, there was no open or public Q&A. The meeting was highly controlled, as always, by CHSRA.

Finally, check the website www.dontrailroad.us for updates. There are other open house meetings nearby – Burbank on Monday, Sylmar on May 27 and at Verdugo Hills HS on May 30. Unfortunately, you won’t learn much of anything new and you won’t be able to speak as there is no public comment.

Keep writing and submitting your letters. Mark June 9th on your calendar for the CHSRA board meeting which may be held downtown or here in the Valley – we’ll know details for sure the week of May 18. That meeting will get our full attention and hundreds of us need to attend. More on that to come.

Thank you.

April 14, 2015 - Working Group Meeting Residents, community leaders and S.A.F.E. volunteers attended Tuesday night’s meeting. Since no take-home information or printed maps were distributed at the meeting, we are providing the most factual update possible. There was much new information and the meeting was highly charged emotionally at times, so we’re trying to provide you with the most objective, factual recount of the meeting. As soon as more detailed information is available, we will provide updates and/or links to the information. There is a representation of the new map on the S.A.F.E. website (www.dontrailroad.us) but it is not official. Thanks to all who turned out, all who have become informed and engaged, and all who spoke out at the meeting.

  • meeting was held at Sun Valley Community Church from 5:30 p.m. until nearly 8:30 p.m.

  • meeting was well-attended; more than 60 residents present

  • the meeting featured general information and updates from CHSRA and a wide variety of informed, strong challenges and questions from working group members and guests in attendance

  • this was the second “community working group” meeting to be held since February 2015

  • introductory information was largely a re-hash of information our group was familiar with

  • CHSRA devoted considerable time explaining more about construction techniques such as elevated, at-grade, cut and trench tunneling and bored tunneling

  • CHRSA timeline still showing completion of the “Alternatives Study” in the next few months with late Spring/Early Summer route recommendations going to the CHSRA Board (possibly as early as June)

  • audience members spoke strongly against CHSRA estimates of 2 years to complete the EIR/EIS study, and referenced the 4-year long 710 freeway EIR process which is still ongoing as a comparison (4+ years and $40 million cost for the 5-mile 710 freeway extension project; the Palmdale to Burbank high speed rail segment is 35-45 miles long and consulting contracts for the EIR/EIS studies let to date total $56 million cost)

  • new maps (not yet available on the CHSRA or S.A.F.E. websites) were introduced; many attendees took pictures (we encourage you not to come to final conclusions about the maps and routes until you view the information on the CHSRA website at a to-be-determined date)

  • these new maps are NOT final and are NOT certain for inclusion in the EIR/EIS environmental studies; what that means is that the routes CAN, AND WILL LIKELY, CHANGE OR EVOLVE

  • E1 Route – has moved considerably north of earlier placement; now fully tunneled throughout the Angeles Forest region north and east of the 210 freeway and all the way to San Fernando Road where it is at-grade for some of the distance to Burbank; the at-grade portion from the earlier E1 route, which was in the vicinity of Angeles Shooting Range and the Wildlife Waystation, has been eliminated.

  • E2 Route – remains the same with tunneling under the Forest, tunnel openings in the mountains/hills immediately adjacent to Lake View Terrace and Shadow Hills, and the long, elevated bridge across Big Tujunga Wash connecting those tunnel openings

  • E3 Route – most, but not all, of the proposed route has moved south and east of the preliminary E3 route; the proposed route is now fully tunneled through the Forest, through our communities and all the way to Burbank.

  • SR14 Routes – it appears there has been some tweaking of those routes, but the discussion focused on the East Corridor Routes; upcoming meetings in other communities will shed more light on the SR14 routes

  • Authority Board Meetings – the Authority Board will likely hold an upcoming meeting in the LA area; date and location TBD

  • Community Working Group Meetings – a succession of meetings, similar to ours last night, will be held in the next two weeks from Burbank all the way to Palmdale. A third working group meeting here in the Foothill communities is possible, as well.

  • Small Group Meetings with CHSRA – once the new maps are available on-line and we’ve had time to study them, representatives of S.A.F.E. will meet with CHSRA staff and engineering consultants.

  • Pre-EIR/EIS Environmental Studies – CHSRA appears open to suggestion by S.A.F.E. (below) to conduct more in-depth studies of subjects such as water, tunneling feasibility/cost/construction impacts and seismic/geology

  • S.A.F.E. lodged three primary requests:

    • first, that additional, independent studies be conducted PRIOR to EIR alternatives are selected on topics including water, tunneling feasibility/cost construction costs and seismic/geology. These studies would encompass all SR14 and East Corridor routes.

    • second, since a station in Burbank is not assured, that a “no-Burbank station” alternative be included in the EIR/EIS studies for both the Palmdale to Burbank project section and the Burbank to LA/Union Station project section.

    • third, that all above ground features in any routes – East Corridor and SR14 – be removed from consideration for inclusion in the EIR/EIS studies.

As soon as the new maps are available, we will provide an update.

S.A.F.E. Coalition
“Don’t Railroad Us”