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