July 29 – Fresno County Board of Supervisors to Vote on California High-Speed Rail Position and Litigation

Are you a Fresno County resident concerned about how the government selected your community to be the testing ground for the troubled California High-Speed Rail program?

On July 29, 2014 at 9:00 a.m at 2281 Tulare Street in Fresno, the Fresno County Board of Supervisors will meet to discuss two critical items on its agenda concerning California High-Speed Rail:

  • Discuss and provide direction to staff to prepare and file an amicus brief regarding the High-Speed Rail litigation.
  • Discuss and give direction to staff regarding the Fresno County Board of Supervisors position on the California High-Speed Rail project (continued from July 15, 2014).

Here is information provided from the public to the Board of Supervisors for its July 29 meeting about taking a position on California High-Speed Rail: Background Material on California High-Speed Rail. Supervisor Debbie Poochigian prepared a memorandum and a draft resolution – read it here: California High-Speed Rail Project – Poochigian Memo – July 29, 2014.

As indicated on the July 29 agenda, the Fresno County Board of Supervisors considered taking a position at its July 15, 2014 meeting in opposition to the current manifestation of California High-Speed Rail. Supervisor Debbie Poochigian prepared a memorandum and a draft resolution – read it here: California High-Speed Rail Project – Poochigian Memo – July 15, 2014.

The Board of Supervisors did not take a position but decided to continue discussing the proposal at their next meeting. Here is video from the July 15, 2014 meeting related to the agenda item:

Michael Brady (attorney for Kings County) and Jeff Morales (CEO of the California High-Speed Rail Authority) Introductory Comments (10 minutes each)

(Video – 30 minutes total)

Public Comment

(Video – 2 hours 3 minutes)

Supervisors’ Discussion, Including Rebuttals from Brady and Morales

(Video – 1 hour 33 minutes) 

News Coverage

Fresno County Supervisors to Reconsider High-Speed Rail StanceFresno Bee - July 12, 2014

Fresno County Delays High-Speed Rail Support VoteFresno Business Journal - July 15, 2014

Fresno County Supervisors Wait On Poochigian Proposal To Oppose High-Speed Rail - Valley Public Radio KVPR – July 15, 2014

Fresno County Supervisors Make No Decision on Opposing High-Speed RailFresno Bee - July 15, 2014

Fresno County Board of Supervisors Consider Withdrawing High-Speed Rail Support - KSEE Channel 24 (NBC) – July 15, 2014

Craziness with Job Numbers with the High-Speed Rail Project – by Kathy Hamiton in Examiner.com – July 23, 2014

Fresno County Supervisors Revisit High-Speed Rail ConcernsFresno Bee – July 25, 2014

Fresno Bee Publishes Commentary by Two Leaders of Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability

The June 25, 2014 Fresno Bee includes an opinion piece written by Aaron Fukuda and Shelli Andranigian, leaders in Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA). It states that “the group’s mission is to make sure the proposed California High-Speed Rail Project does not adversely affect the economy, environment or quality of life for California communities.”

Read it here: California High-Speed Rail Fairytale

From the opinion piece: How long will our emperor (Gov. Brown) and his ministers (California’s dominant party Legislators) still walk among us with nothing in hand and promising the world? The emperor has no clothes, and California will not have the first high-speed rail system built in America.

Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA) Resort to Environmental Litigation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CITIZENS FOR CALIFORNIA HIGH SPEED RAIL ACCOUNTABILITY, COUNTY OF KINGS AND KINGS COUNTY FARM BUREAU RESORT TO CEQA LITIGATION TO PROTECT THE LOCAL ENVIRONMENT AND AGRICULTURAL COMMUNITY

Hanford, California June 5, 2014 – Today, Citizens for California High Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA), County of Kings and the Kings County Farm Bureau (KCFB) have been forced to file litigation against the California High Speed Rail Authority for violating the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and other laws in their adoption of the Final EIR/EIS for the Fresno to Bakersfield Section on May 7, 2014.

For over three years, these three entities have attempted to coordinate with the Authority to avoid and reduce environmental impacts from the proposed rail line. Unfortunately these attempts have been ignored as the Final EIR/EIS leaves numerous significant impacts unaddressed, provides defective mitigation measures, draws unsupported conclusions and defers analysis and mitigation measures to an unspecified time.

The Authority’s failure to properly identify and describe this project in the Final EIR/EIS is a primary CEQA flaw. The rail line is only 15% designed or less so its extensive impacts to agricultural land, residences, businesses, and biological resources are poorly identified. New information presented in the Final EIR was not disclosed to the public earlier when it would have been meaningful. For example, air quality impacts from construction and soil movement will be much greater than disclosed, and the benefits of air pollution reductions will be half of what was anticipated in draft documents. Interference with nearby rail operations of BNSF are barely recognized, and not addressed.

Based upon commitments by Chairman Dan Richard to the County of Kings in the Spring of 2012, our organizations were hopeful that we could address many if not all of our concerns prior to the adoption of the Final EIR/EIS. His commitment was to work with our communities to address concerns before releasing the Revised Draft EIR/EIS. Unfortunately, Chairman Richard never returned to Kings County and the Authority’s decision to brush aside our concerns and charge ahead has forced this litigation as our last recourse.

Lastly, we are apprehensive that the uncertain fiscal stability of this project will yield severe and lasting impacts for all Californians that cannot and will not be mitigated. To date the Authority has not provided a clear and stable funding plan that would indicate that a true high-speed rail project can be completed and that all mitigation measures can be funded. Shrouded in the lack of transparency, lack of funding, and lack of accountability, we believe that the Authority will be unable to complete any functional rail project, let alone a high-speed one.

For these reasons, CCHSRA, County of Kings and KCFB have concluded that litigation against the Authority and FRA is the last option that, if successful, will prevent catastrophic impacts to our community, environment and economy.

For more information regarding CCHSRA please visit us at www.cchsra.org or contact Aaron Fukuda at (559) 707-8928.

Copy of lawsuit: June 5, 2014 Petition For Writ of Mandate – Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability, Kings County, Kings County Farm Bureau versus California High-Speed Rail Authority

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Rail Authority Gives Fresno-Bakersfield Environmental Report Go-Ahead; CCHSRA Attorney Warns of Widespread Disruption to Farms and Businesses

Rail Authority Gives Fresno-Bakersfield Environmental Report Go-Ahead; CCHSRA Attorney Warns of Widespread Disruption to Farms and Businesses

Hanford, CA May 8, 2014 – An attorney for Citizens for California High Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA) cautioned that a newly certified environmental document covering Fresno to Bakersfield will have serious ramifications if implemented.

The second segment of the high-speed rail project for Fresno-Bakersfield was approved by the California High-Speed Rail Authority Board on Wednesday, May 7th in Fresno, California.

“We do not think the Authority has owned up to all the impacts,” said Oakland, California-based attorney Jason Holder. “While the decision today is an incremental step toward realizing the long-sought vision of high-speed rail (HSR), that vision is very far from fruition. Meanwhile the dislocation, disruption and other impacts this project will cause to San Joaquin Valley residents, businesses and farms will be widespread and substantial.”

Mr. Holder further warned of the implications of the Authority’s lack of sufficient funding.

“Until the Authority can demonstrate that it has the funds to complete a project that provides HSR service from the Central Valley to Southern California and then to the Bay Area, the long-term and broader benefits will not be realized and the merits of the project will be in question,” he said.

“The Authority lacks funding to implement high-speed rail passenger service between Fresno and Bakersfield,” said CCHSRA Co-Chairman Frank Oliveira, “and it needs $25 billion to start passenger revenue service of the Initial Operating Segment between Madera and the San Fernando Valley.”

Citizens for California High Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group based in Kings County whose members reside in the city of Hanford and surrounding rural areas, along with other Californians who are affected by the high-speed rail. The group has been in the forefront since June 2011 attempting to get the California High-Speed Rail Authority and its board to be in full compliance with Proposition 1A which the state’s voters passed in November 2008.

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“We Will Not Delay Consideration” – California High-Speed Rail Authority Proceeds with Fresno-Bakersfield Final Environmental Impact Report

Get ready for the California High-Speed Rail Authority board meeting in Fresno on May 6 and 7, 2014 for public comment and a vote on the Final Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (FEIR/FEIS) for the Fresno to Bakersfield Project Segment of the California High-Speed Train Program. This report is required under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and federal National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA).

Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA) sent a letter dated April 23, 2014 to the California High-Speed Rail Authority asking the agency to delay a May 7, 2014 scheduled vote of the board on the Fresno to Bakersfield Project Segment. CCHSRA argued that 17 days was too short of a time for interested parties to review and analyze the Authority’s 4,800 pages of responses.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority responded promptly with a letter dated April 28, 2014 to CCHSRA declaring that the process for environmental review has been ongoing for five years. With other arguments, it concluded that “we will not delay consideration of the Final EIR/EIS.”

As reported in the article “Bullet Train Opponents Want More Time to Review EIR” in the April 28, 2014 Central Valley Business Times, Assemblyman Jim Patterson (R-Fresno) and State Senator Andy Vidak (R-Hanford) also requested the Authority to delay the vote.

May 23 Is Date for Oral Arguments: California High-Speed Rail Authority et al. v. The Superior Court of Sacramento County

The 3rd Appellate District Court for the State of California announced on April 28 that oral arguments in California High-Speed Rail Authority et al. v. The Superior Court of Sacramento County are scheduled for Friday, May 23.

This is the case which started when California Governor Jerry Brown, California Attorney General Kamala Harris, California Treasurer Bill Lockyer, and the California High-Speed Rail Authority asked the California Supreme Court under an extraordinary petition to allow the state to issue (sell) Proposition 1A bonds to fund California High-Speed Rail. (In October 2013, a Sacramento County Superior Court judge had blocked the sale of the bonds through two decisions ruling that the California High-Speed Rail Authority has failed to comply with Prop 1A.) The California Supreme Court wasn’t impressed: it sent the Governor’s petition to the appeals court where it belonged.

Track the case at this link: California High-Speed Rail Authority et al. v. The Superior Court of Sacramento County – Case Number C075668

Supporting the Rule of Law:

Members of Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA)
County of Kings
Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association
County of Kern
Eugene Voiland
Kings County Water District
Union Pacific Railroad Company
First Free Will Baptist Church in Bakersfield

Supporting Governor Brown and the California High-Speed Rail Authority:

Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board
San Mateo County Transit District
Metropolitan Transportation Commission (San Francisco Bay Area)
Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority
City and County of San Francisco
State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, AFL-CIO
Cathleen Galgiani, member of the California State Legislature
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Southern California Association of Governments

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About California High-Speed Rail (Out of Thousands of Things Almost No One Knows)

Here’s a list of “Ten Things You Didn’t Know About California High-Speed Rail” from page 2 of CCHSRA’s alternative business plan, entitled Legacy Issues: The Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability 2014 Business Plan for the California High-Speed Passenger Train System, Including Direct Connections with Existing and Planned Intercity and Commuter Rail Lines, Urban Rail Systems, and Bus Networks Using Common Station and Terminal Facilities.

Ten Things You Did Not Know about California High Speed Rail

 

Court Rejects Governor Brown’s Arguments to Skirt Court Decision and to Let State Borrow Money for California High-Speed Rail

While Governor Brown and a majority in the California legislature seem to tolerate the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s violations of state law, the judicial branch of California government recognizes that the Authority is failing to comply with Proposition 1A.

On April 15, 2014, the California 3rd District Court of Appeal rejected an extraordinary appeal backed by Governor Jerry Brown, Attorney General Kamala Harris, Treasurer Bill Lockyer, and the California High-Speed Rail Authority. These top state officials wanted the appeals court to suppress two decisions of a lower court so the state could borrow money for the High-Speed Train Program by selling bonds.

The Docket (Register of Actions) for California High-Speed Rail Authority et al. v. The Superior Court of Sacramento County (Case No. C076042) states the following:

The Petition for Extraordinary Writ of Mandate or Other Appropriate Writ is denied. The standard of review for a judgment on the pleadings is the same as for a judgment following sustaining of a demurrer; we look only to the face of the pleading under attack. [Citations.] … All facts alleged in the complaint are admitted for purposes of the motion and the court determines whether these facts constitute a cause of action. [Citations.] (Hughes v. Western MacArthur Co. (1987) 192 Cal.App.3d 951, 954-955.) The parties’ motions for judicial notice are denied. RAYE, P.J. (RoBu) … Case Complete.

In 2013, a Sacramento County Superior Court judge found that the California High-Speed Rail Authority failed to comply with provisions of Proposition 1A, the “Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act,” approved by 52.7% of California voters on November 5, 2008. (See links to these court decisions, below.)

Governor Brown and the California High-Speed Rail Authority wanted the court to disregard the promises the state legislature made to California voters when it placed Proposition 1A on the ballot. In their mindset, the vote of the people to authorize the state to borrow money for California High-Speed Rail overrides the burden to actually comply with the law. In fact, desperate supporters of the project are increasingly making this “democratic” argument.

But we still live in a constitutional republic, not a democracy, and the courts will not allow the California High-Speed Rail Authority to spend money in a way that violates the law. It does not matter how many politicians or political activists support the bullet train or how “important” or “innovative” this $68 billion San Francisco to Los Angeles train will be for humanity.

Ultimately, the California High-Speed Rail Authority will have to follow the law, ask voters to change the law, or shut down operations until new people are governing the state.

News Media Coverage

Appeals Court Denies Petition, Clears Way for High-Speed Rail Trial by Tim Sheehan in the Fresno Bee – April 16, 2014

Court Refuses Appeal of High-Speed Rail Project: Part 2 Prop 1A Lawsuit Will Proceed by Kathy Hamilton in www.Examiner.com – April 16, 2014

What is Governor Brown Trying to Stop?

The coalition of individuals, local governments, business organizations, and taxpayer associations (including Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability) that won this April 15, 2014 decision have already won in court as a plaintiff in a Prop 1A compliance lawsuit against the California High-Speed Rail Authority and as a defendant in a bond validation lawsuit filed by the California High-Speed Rail Authority. Read those decisions here:

November 25, 2013 California High Speed Rail Authority Bond Validation Lawsuit Ruling

High-Speed Rail Authority and High-Speed Passenger Train Finance Committee, for the State of California v. All Persons Interested in the Matter of the Validity of the Authorization and Issuance of General Obligation Bonds to be Issued Pursuant to the Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act for the 21st Century and Certain Proceeding and Matter Related Thereto.

August 16, 2013 Tos v California High-Speed Rail Prop 1A Ruling

November 25, 2013 Tos v California High-Speed Rail Prop 1A Remedy

John Tos, Aaron Fukuda, County of Kings v. California High Speed Rail Authority, et al.

In addition, the same coalition has also won a court decision concerning the inclusion and consideration of arguments in Tos v California High-Speed Rail regarding the promised travel time requirements in Proposition 1A, such as 2 hours 40 minutes from San Francisco to Union Station in Los Angeles.

March 4, 2014 Ruling on Submitted Matter: Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings

California High-Speed Rail Authority Poised to Approve 2014 Business Plan on April 10: CCHSRA Letter Demands Legitimate Public Hearing

Have you tried to read the Draft 2014 Business Plan for the California High-Speed Rail Authority? It seems to be designed and organized so that no one can figure out what’s going on with the most expensive public works project in American history.

The deadline for the 60 days of public comments is April 10, 2014, when the California High-Speed Rail Authority board is scheduled to approve a final version of their 2014 Business Plan at their monthly meeting. We don’t know what the final version of the business plan looks like, what comments were submitted from the public, or how the Authority will respond to criticism of the plan at the one legislative informational hearing, held by the Senate Transportation Committee on March 27.

In the meantime, Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA) has sent a nine-page detailed letter dated April 2, 2014 to the California High-Speed Rail Authority asking for a legitimate public hearing with proper public notice, as required by state law. Here is the letter:

April 2, 2014  - Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability Want 2014 Business Plan Public Notice and Public Hearing

By the way, have you submitted your comments about the California High-Speed Rail Authority Draft 2014 Business Plan? Please do so, by close of business on Monday, April 7, if you can. Here’s how to do it:

1. Online comment form through the Draft 2014 Business Plan website at:
http://www.hsr.ca.gov/About/Business_Plans/Draft_2014_Business_Plan.html

2. By email at 2014businessplancomments@hsr.ca.gov

3. By U.S. mail to the Authority:

California High-Speed Rail Authority
Attn: 2014 Business Plan
770 L Street, Suite 800, Sacramento, CA 95814

4. Voice mail comment at 916-384-9516

5. Provide public comment at the Authority’s Board of Directors Meeting on February 11,
March 11 and April 10

Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA) Catches High-Speed Rail Authority Trying to Evade Buy America Law

UPDATE: Tim Sheehan of the Fresno Bee reported on this issue in his April 8, 2014 article State Seeks ‘Buy America’ Exemption for Prototype Bullet Trains.


Here is the text of a March 31, 2014 press release from Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA) about its March 28, 2014 letter asking the federal government to uphold Buy America requirements for assembly of the first two prototype trains for California High-Speed Rail.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:  Aaron Fukuda
(559) 707-8928/afukuda77@gmail.com 

Central Valley Citizens Group Catches California High-Speed Rail Authority Trying to Evade Buy America Law

Asks Feds to Deny Waiver for Foreign Assembly of Prototype Trains

 

Hanford, CA — March 31, 2014 –  Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA) asked the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) last Friday (March 28, 2014) to deny a February 28, 2014 request from the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) for a waiver from Buy America laws for assembly of two prototype trains.

“The California High-Speed Rail Authority routinely sends letters to federal agencies asking for waivers and exemptions without notifying the public,” Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA) co-chairman Aaron Fukuda said on Friday. “We were angry this week when we discovered this letter on the Federal Railroad Administration website.”

For four reasons cited in the letter, CCHSRA objects to the Federal Railroad Administration allowing the California High-Speed Rail Authority to contract for foreign assembly of the trains:

  1. The California High-Speed Rail Authority Evaded Public Scrutiny of This Waiver Request and Disguised Its Intentions through Deceptive Reports
  2. The California High-Speed Rail Authority Neglected Reasonable Planning to Comply with the Federal Buy America Requirement, Despite Plenty of Time to Do So
  3. A Buy American Waiver Undermines a Major Purpose of California High-Speed Rail to Create Manufacturing Jobs in the United States
  4. A Buy American Waiver Sets a Poor Precedent for Future High-Speed Rail Materials and Facilities

Also of interest to CCHSRA is making sure the California High-Speed Rail Authority fulfills its requirement in state law to “make every effort to purchase high-speed train rolling stock and related equipment that are manufactured in California.”

“If the Federal Railroad Administration grants the waiver without legally-required detailed justification, we will appeal the decision on behalf of the people of the United States and California,” Fukuda said. “It’s time for some accountability for California High-Speed Rail.”

A copy of the letter (March 28, 2014 Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability [CCHSRA] Letter to Federal Railroad Administration to Deny Buy America Waiver to California High-Speed Rail Authority) is on the “>CCHSRA website at www.cchsra.org.

Citizens for California High Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group based in Kings County whose members reside in the city of Hanford and surrounding rural areas, along with other Californians who are affected by the high-speed rail. The group has been in the forefront since June 2011 attempting to get the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) and its board to be in full compliance with Proposition 1A which the state’s voters passed in November 2008.

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