Category Archives: Environmental Impact

California High-Speed Rail Authority Continues Strategies to Circumvent and Evade Substantive Environmental Review

It’s ironic that a California state agency that claims to be saving the world from climate change and environmental harm continues to pursue strategies to circumvent and evade substantive environmental review of its proposed alignment through the San Joaquin Valley. But the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CaHSRA) has consistently done this as it tries to avoid the costs, delays, and inconveniences other developers endure during the environmental review process.

We feel what is good for the goose should be good for the gander.

CaHSRA has managed to get primary environmental review of high-speed rail alignments to fall under the federal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and not the more stringent California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Now it wants to take authority from the federal government for environmental review decisions.

On May 2, 2018, the Federal Railroad Administration (an agency of the U.S. Department of Transportation) invited public comment on an application from the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) and California High-Speed Rail Authority (CaHSRA) to participate in the “Surface Transportation Project Delivery Program.” This program would allow the California High-Speed Rail Authority to be responsible for environmental review as the lead agency, rather than the Federal Railroad Administration.

Several regional transportation agencies submitted comments in support of the application. For example, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Agency (Metro) noted it would allow “acceleration of the environmental review process” for “a framework for projects to become ‘shovel-ready’ sooner through the more streamlined completion of environmental clearances.”

Big business and industry groups such as the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, and the US High Speed Rail Association also chimed in with support. Union umbrella groups such as the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO and the State Building & Construction Trades Council of California, AFL-CIO also support the shift of authority.

On August 16, 2018, the board of the California High-Speed Rail Authority authorized the CEO of the agency to have certain powers regarding environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act. As noted in a staff report, the agency plans soon to release  the  Central  Valley  Wye  Draft  Supplemental Environmental  Impact (related to the high-speed rail assignment near Merced) and the Fresno-Bakersfield  Locally Generated  Alternative  Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (related to the high-speed rail alignment into the City of Bakersfield).

The goal is to clear the path through the fields of the San Joaquin Valley and the urban cores of Fresno, Hanford, and Bakersfield as soon as possible, without the inconveniences that other developers endure during the environmental review process for proposed projects.


Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) – Applications: California; Participation in Surface Transportation Project Delivery Program for Certain Railroad Projects

California High-Speed Rail Authority Board Meeting – August 16, 2018 – Agenda Item #3 – Consider Revising Delegation of Authority for NEPA Assignment

California High-Speed Rail Authority Hasn’t Planted Any Trees (December 16, 2015)

Citizens for California High Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA) co-chairman Frank Oliveira was interviewed for an investigative news story about another failure of the California High-Speed Rail Authority to fulfill its commitments. KCRA Channel 3 in Sacramento broadcast the story on December 8, 2015.

In June 2013, the California High-Speed Rail Authority produced a report for the state legislature as required by Senate Bill 1029, which was signed into law by Governor Brown in 2012. Entitled Contribution of the High-Speed Rail Program to Reducing California’s Greenhouse Gas Emission Levels, this report was supposed to analyze the net impact of the high speed rail system on the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.

It promised “zero net emissions” during construction by offsetting equipment and material production emissions with programs such as irrigation pump replacement, new tractors for farmers, new buses for school districts, and a tree-planting program. According to the report introduction by chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board, “The analysis of GHG emission reductions in the Authority’s report clearly demonstrates that the high-speed rail project will be an important part of meeting California’s overall climate goals.”

This report also helped to justify the decision of Governor Brown and the California legislature to keep the project alive through annual budget appropriations derived from Cap-and-Trade auction revenue. Construction of the high-speed rail system was not supposed to contribute to climate change. All pollution would be offset by other activities.

Almost a year after the ceremonial groundbreaking in Fresno, KCRA reporter David Bienick looked into the tree planting program. In response to a question asked with a camera running, California High-Speed Rail Authority CEO Jeff Morales admitted that not one tree had been planted. Morales had claimed in 2014 testimony to legislative committees and in other presentations that 5,000 trees would be planted to achieve the “zero net emissions.”

This KCRA story turned to CCHSRA leadership for commentary:

Frank Oliviera on California High-Speed Rail Tree Planting

Frank Oliviera speaks about the absurdity of the California High-Speed Rail tree-planting program.

Frank Oliveira of the group Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability said some studies have shown the state will need to plant 5 million trees.

“Where are they going to put 5 million trees and keep them alive? Who’s going to take care of those trees? How much is that going to cost to take care of those trees?” Oliveira said.

Read the article and see the video here: High-Speed Rail’s Tree-Planting Plan Slow to Start: Nearly a Year After Groundbreaking, Not a Single Tree Planted.

Also, see the CCHSRA letter to the California Air Resources Board about the appropriateness of using Cap-and-Trade auction proceeds to fund California High-Speed Rail construction: Questioning the Outlandish Idea That California High-Speed Rail Deserves Cap-and-Trade Funds.

An April 2014 article published by the California Policy Center suggested that the tree-planting plan and other “schemes” to achieve zero net emissions were “farcical.” See California High Speed Rail’s Dubious Claims of Environmental Benefits.

Questioning the Outlandish Idea That California High-Speed Rail Deserves Cap-and-Trade Funds

The California High-Speed Rail Authority is desperate for funds to perpetuate its vision of a $68 billion high-speed passenger train between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The United States Congress and private investors don’t want to give it any money. The San Diego Union-Tribune published an editoral on August 30 (High-Speed Rail Project: Dead Train Walking?) optimistic that the courts will soon bring the boondoggle to an end.

Only the most committed supporters of this project (such as Governor Jerry Brown) choose to ignore the Authority’s failure to comply with the requirements of Proposition 1A, the November 2008 ballot measure that authorized $9.95 billion in borrowing to advance design and construction of the high-speed rail system. But those committed supporters have political power.

The ongoing convenient solution to the funding shortage is the California legislature’s budget directive to send a few hundred million dollars each year from the proceeds of “Cap-and-Trade” auction revenue (referred to by some as “taxes”) to the High-Speed Rail Authority. That money allows Construction Package No. 1 (civil engineering work between Madera and Fresno) to sputter onward with dreams of a big cash infusion someday.

In the summer of 2015, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) held workshops and requested written public comments about the development of guidelines for the distribution of Cap-and-Trade funds. Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA) sent a letter telling CARB that it isn’t appropriate for the state to spend Cap-and-Trade funds on California High-Speed Rail:

ARB is faced with the challenge of making decisions on the expenditure of Cap-and-Trade revenues based on predictions of the future. Unless it establishes a procedure for a recipient of the funds to pay back the money if GHG emission reductions are not achieved, ARB has to ensure a reasonable degree of certainty that a recipient of funds will actually spend it on a project or program that mitigates global climate change. An example of a program or project with significant uncertainty about reducing net GHG emissions would be the California High-Speed Rail project…

See the CCHSRA letter at Public Comments from Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability: Funding Guidelines for Agencies that Administer California Climate Investments.

A few other parties have urged CARB to stop the charade. For example, Fresno environmental activist Cherylyn Smith wrote two letters to CARB explaining an obvious reason why the California High-Speed Rail Authority (HSRA) is not qualified to receive Cap-and-Trade (C&T) funds:

No state agency that attempts to escape CEQA [California Environmental Quality Act] regulations should ever benefit from Cap and Trade revenues. If HSRA continues down that path, logically the following exigency must be enforced: C&T, a state environmental program, would necessarily have to rescind all funding to the HSR project. Several attempts to soften CEQA regulations or to exempt the HSR project from CEQA have occurred since 2012. At this time, the ARB needs to hold back funding to a project of this magnitude, in favor of remaining in alignment with CEQA regulations, rather than being complicit with HSRA’s efforts to avoid them.

See the Cherylyn Smith letter at Public Comments #1 from Cherylyn Smith: Funding Guidelines for Agencies that Administer California Climate Investments and Public Comments #2 from Cherylyn Smith: Funding Guidelines for Agencies that Administer California Climate Investments.

See all of the public comments to the California Air Resources Board about Cap-and-Trade Guidelines at these websites:

Comment Log for Auction Proceeds Funding Guidelines (ggrf-guidelines-ws)

Comment Log for Auction Proceeds Investment Plan Public Process (investplan2015-ws)

Radio Interview with Attorney Protecting Rights of the People from California High-Speed Rail Authority

Californians across the political spectrum want to see public accountability for California High-Speed Rail. Go to a California High-Speed Rail Authority board meeting, and you’ll see people from all walks of life with a wide variety of concerns about this $68 billion project.

Today (Wednesday, August 12, 2015) at 3:00 p.m., attorney Mike Brady will be interviewed on the “Stir It Up” radio show hosted by Richard Gomez on KFCF Free Speech Radio, 88.1 FM in Fresno, California. Mr. Brady represents people in Kings County objecting to the conduct of the California High-Speed Rail Authority as it pushes forward with its vision of a bullet train through the farmland of the Central Valley.

Also scheduled to be interviewed is Cherylyn Smith, a Fresno teacher and environmental activist.

You can also listen to the show at KFCF 88.1FM – Free Speech Radio. The audio will also be available for two weeks following the show.

Air Resources Board Needs to Make California High-Speed Rail Authority Publicly Accountable for Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Claims

Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA) is urging the California Air Resources Board (ARB) to develop funding guidelines for Cap-and-Trade auction proceeds that force the California High-Speed Rail Authority to explain its plans for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. ARB is in a public comment period in the development of final guidelines for this massive spending program.

“The High-Speed Rail Authority has made many unsubstantiated claims about reducing greenhouse gas emissions so it could get $650 million or more in Cap-and-Trade funds,” said Aaron Fukuda, chairman of Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA). “Based on what we’ve seen from the Authority, we don’t believe them.”

CCHSRA has now submitted eleven recommendations to the Air Resources Board for guidelines that will allow the public to get specifics about how the bullet train will reduce emissions that cause global climate change.

Fukuda believes the High-Speed Rail Authority is making up promises about greenhouse gas reductions to get desperately needed money. “The Cap-and-Trade program is a convenient source of money for a project that has strayed badly from what was presented to voters as Proposition 1A in 2008,” he says.

“If the project stops after the completion of the last planned construction contract, leaving a rail line without electrification between Madera and Shafter, would $650 million spent from Cap-and-Trade money be justified?” Fukuda asks. “Of course not.”

Here is a link to the letter submitted by Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA) to the California Air Resources Board:

July 7, 2015 Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA) Comment Letter to Air Resources Board on Cap-and-Trade

Future Segment of California High-Speed Rail Not Exempt from California Environmental Law

Today (July 2, 2015) the federal Surface Transportation Board rejected a request from the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board meant to exempt the proposed Caltrain Electrification project from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The Caltrain governing board wanted the Surface Transportation Board to declare that the proposed Caltrain Electrification project is a matter of interstate commerce and therefore covered under federal and NOT state environmental review.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority has a vision that one day its high-speed trains will share track with Caltrain between San Francisco and San Jose. This is the northern “bookend” in the current California High-Speed Rail Authority Business Plan.

Electrification of Caltrain is a step toward achieving that vision. It is even receiving funding from Proposition 1A.

On May 19, 2015, the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board petitioned the Surface Transportation Board to do what the California High-Speed Rail Authority has successfully done twice: get an exemption from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) so that it doesn’t have to deal with litigation challenging the adequacy of the approved Final Environmental Impact Report.

The Surface Transportation Board didn’t buy the argument that Caltrain commuters were engaging in interstate commerce.

In February 2015, the Town of Atherton, the Community Coalition on High-Speed Rail (CC-HSR) and the Transportation Solutions Defense and Education Fund (TRANSDEF), known as the “Atherton Parties,” filed a lawsuit contending the environmental review under CEQA for Caltrain electrification was insufficient. This lawsuit will continue now that the Surface Transportation Board has denied the Caltrain petition.

Joining the Atherton Parties to argue against CEQA exemption was the Alliance for a Cleaner Tomorrow (ACT), which alleged that agencies such as the California High-Speed Rail Authority and Caltrain seek special CEQA exemptions after those agencies commit to a Project Labor Agreement with trade unions for construction.

Here is a link to today’s decision from the Surface Transportation Board:

Encouragement: Our Next Steps in Pursuit of California High-Speed Rail Accountability

Frank Oliviera, co-chairman of Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability, provides these encouraging words to all Californians (and Americans) concerned about how the most expensive endeavor in human history continues to advance in defiance of the law.

Here Is Where We Are…

What is the Meaning of the October 15, 2014, California Supreme Court Decision?

On October 15, 2014, the California Supreme Court denied petitions asking the court to review a disappointing appellate court decision that sided with Governor Brown and the California High-Speed Rail Authority. This outcome is a setback but certainly not the end of the citizen campaign to ensure accountability for the California High-Speed Rail project.

The news media is mistaken when it echoes the triumphant claims of Governor Brown and the California High-Speed Rail Authority that this court decision is a major “go-ahead” for construction to start. It is not. This project is not inevitable and citizens on the side of the rule of law should not surrender to the interests pushing it.

The appellate court decision simply said that the trial court (the Sacramento County Superior Court judge) erred in rejecting the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s FIRST funding plan. The appellate court declared that the first funding plan was simply a notification to the California legislature before the legislature appropriated money for the project. The appellate court also said that the Authority COULD NOT USE or SPEND Proposition 1A bond funds UNTIL it had gone through the rigorous requirements and procedures of a SECOND funding plan.

Without the ability to spend Proposition 1A bond funds, the Authority is still hindered in its plan to take land and direct its design-build contractor Tutor Perini/Zachary/Parsons to demolish buildings and prepare the land and build bridges for actual rail construction in a few years. It will have to rely on limited revenue obtained through cap-and-trade taxes and other budget sources. It may also seek international government funding or perhaps even private investment.

It is also important to remember that the appellate court itself said that the Authority FIRST funding plan was defective and deficient. These problems still exist, and the Authority will have to overcome them before approving a second funding plan.

Therefore, there will be somewhat of a “repeat” of what has happened to date. Before borrowing and spending $8.5 billion authorized by Proposition 1A, the Authority has to prepare a detailed new second funding plan. This plan must meet requirements in state law to demonstrate adequate funding and environmental compliance. Then the California Director of Finance must approve the plan.

Our Next Steps to Ensure Accountability

Citizens will have an opportunity to file papers if there are legitimate legal reasons to oppose the approval of the second funding plan by the California Director of Finance. If approval is granted for a defective and deficient plan, citizens can seek a writ of mandate from a court to stop the funding plan on the basis of its failure to comply with Proposition 1A. The appellate court said that citizens had the opportunity to do this when the ACTUAL SPENDING of the money is at issue.

Another Lawsuit Is Moving Toward Trial on Some Compelling Arguments

Meanwhile, a case is moving toward trial based on the California Code of Civil Procedure Section 526(a), a state law that gives taxpayers rights to defend their interests against injury. Injuries that occur, and are not the fault of the injured, can usually be taken to trial with the assistance of a professional lawyer, similar to those at lamber goodnow. Injured parties can seek a settlement which covers the cost of medical bills, loss of earnings and any other financial inconveniences that may have occurred because of their injury. This lawsuit is separate, involves different issues, and is NOT AFFECTED by the appellate or supreme court decisions. A Sacramento County Superior Court judge has already rejected aggressive efforts to dismiss this lawsuit. Damaging evidence is being collected to introduce at the trial, which is expected to occur early in 2015. If you have suffered an injury whether it be at work or at someone’s home, you can see about starting a lawsuit for a severe injury you have sustained.

If the people filing the lawsuit win on any of these four issues, the project may be stopped:

  1. Will the Authority be able to carry a passenger between San Francisco and Los Angeles in the 2 hours, 40 minutes required by law? (No.)
  2. Does the adoption of the “blended system” by the Authority violate Proposition 1A because California voters never approved it, and does those the blended plan make the goals of the High-Speed Rail system unachievable? (Yes.)
  3. Will the government need to subsidize operating costs – something forbidden expressly by Proposition 1A? (Yes.)
  4. Is the High-Speed Rail system financially and physically viable? (No.)

Once the evidence is determined the court will establish a briefing schedule. The case will be briefed, argued, and then decided. The leaders of CCHSRA believe that the California High-Speed Rail Authority does not meet the requirements of Proposition 1A; in fact, the Authority CANNOT comply with the requirements of Proposition 1A under its current business plan or under ANY plan.

Few people are willing to admit this stunning truth in public: Proposition 1A was a poorly-written law and the state legislators who are routinely honored for writing it actually doomed the project through their incompetence.

There’s a Long List of Other, More Obscure Lawsuits Challenging the Project

As anyone can see from looking at the closed session agenda items of the board meetings of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, there are at least a dozen other major lawsuits originating from all over the State of California challenging the project. People are looking to these from other states too, such as some people considering hiring a personal injury lawyer illinois after a rail-related accident. Some lawsuits contend that the Authority has violated environmental laws; a few challenge the constitutionality of the cap-and-trade taxes that are now a major source of funding for the project. In fact, the 2014 business plan for the California High-Speed Rail Authority is riddled with weaknesses, inadequacies, absurdities, and failures to comply with the law.

Hundreds of private property owners in the San Joaquin Valley are prepared to go to court to force the state to legally justify the taking through eminent domain of homes, ranches, farmland, churches, and small businesses. On the Peninsula, numerous parties are ready to file a lawsuit challenging a Final Environmental Impact Report shortly to be approved for the electrification of the CalTrain commuter rail. This electrification of the CalTrain rails is a precursor to high-speed rail trains sharing the track with CalTrain commuter trains at the northern “bookend” of the “blended plan.” If you don’t remember voting on this blended plan, your memory isn’t failing: it was developed AFTER voters approved Proposition 1A.

California High-Speed Rail Can’t Get Through the Tehachapi Mountains

New outrages and schemes come to light at every California High-Speed Rail Authority board meeting. Proving yet again the value of the First Amendment, the press is constantly exposing what Governor Brown, his appointees, and some powerful legislators don’t want the people to know.

The latest revelation is not a surprise to people who closely monitor the Authority, but nevertheless it is a stunning development.

The Authority’s own experts and consultants (contracted through the engineering firm of URS) issued a report in September 2013 saying that the grade going south over the Tehachapi Mountains (between Bakersfield and Los Angeles) was too steep and the route for the Bakersfield to Los Angeles project segment through Palmdale was therefore infeasible. The Authority was ridiculously assuming that the high-speed train would coast down from the mountains to the San Joaquin Valley at 220 miles per hour. Reportedly these consultants/experts found themselves looking for a new job after writing this report.

All along, Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability has insisted that the Authority needs to choose a route along Interstate 5 through the Central Valley and through the Grapevine. Twice the Authority has rejected this alignment based on logic and instead chosen an alignment based on politics.

Expect this report to be important evidence in the trial about taxpayer standing.

Don’t Give Up, and Please Consider Ways to Support the Fight for Accountability

The backers of California High-Speed Rail as currently planned have corporate and political power as well as taxpayer money and public legal resources. Governor Brown is intent on getting the project underway. The financial industry is eager for the bonds to be sold to investors. Construction and transportation conglomerates and their unions want the work and the money, now. Meanwhile, a small but influential group of intellectuals and activists regard the train as the centerpiece of a utopian vision for America in the 21st Century.

A majority of Californians rightly see the project as foolish and misguided. Generally, the more people know about the high-speed rail project, the less they are to support it, at least as it stands now. Whenever you hear people talking about how “cool” the train will be, start by asking them if they know how much it will cost, how the state will get the money, where the train route will go when the system will be completed, and how it will be secured.

Finally, please join our group of ordinary citizens in staying the course and fighting for accountability on every aspect of this project. If we persevere, I am confident that we will achieve our goal of accountability, but it will take time and money. Don’t be discouraged!

Please share this with any interested parties.

High-Speed Rail Authority Addresses Fresno County Agricultural Issues: In Palmdale, During Harvest Peak

Shelli Andranigian speaks to the California High-Speed Rail Authority Board of Directors.

Shelli Andranigian speaks to the California High-Speed Rail Authority Board of Directors.

On September 16, 2014, the California High-Speed Rail Authority Board of Directors held a meeting in Palmdale, where it plans to have a station and a possible connection one day to a high-speed rail line that goes to Las Vegas. Numerous people reported difficulty watching the meeting on the Authority’s video feed.

One item on the meeting agenda is important to farmers in Fresno County. It did not get the news media attention it deserved.

Below is a statement of Shelli Andranigian, board member of Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA), on the Authority’s meeting agenda item #8 to make findings related to Government Code Section 51292 (Agricultural Preserve/ Williamson Act) for California High-Speed Rail-related improvement locations in Fresno County. Indeed, the issues at hand here may be pertinent to those considering government contracts (with help from or other legal advisors), as they will need to be aware of this potential precedent within the industry.

Good morning. My name is Shelli Andranigian and our impacted family farming operation is in the Fresno to Bakersfield section. Since I am also addressing many not familiar with the area, we are in the San Joaquin Valley aka the Central Valley in South Fresno County along the Cole Slough of the Kings River.

I would like to know why you are addressing changes to The Land Conservation Act of 1965 also known as the Williamson Act as it pertains to farmland in Fresno County (Agenda Item 8). This topic should not be discussed or decided upon here at the California High Speed Rail Authority Board meeting today in Palmdale which is in Los Angeles County. Why is this important issue not being addressed in the Central Valley where farmers are in the midst of the busy harvest season and not able to be here which is two hundred plus miles away for them to publicly comment/question? Could it be because both Fresno County and the City of Fresno have each recently passed items unfavorable to the California High-Speed Train Project including a resolution to reverse their previously favorable stance of HSR by the Fresno County Board of Supervisors this past July 29th?

Those in California’s Central Valley feed and clothe everyone in this room and the rest of the world. Farmers are the true environmentalists and stewards of the land. This action not only disrespects them, but everyone who cares about the environment. The California High Speed Train Project is not the “Green” project the Authority wants everyone to believe.

I urge you to table any action on the Williamson Act (which will negatively impact over 70 properties in Fresno County) and bring it up at a future board meeting in Fresno. No mention of this action was even broached at the Fresno County Board of Supervisors meetings in July 2014 at which both CEO Morales spoke before the board one week and Vice Chair Richards at the next meeting or even at recent meetings. I am sure those here in Los Angeles County would not be pleased if a similar action impacting their properties was discussed in Fresno County at 9 a.m. on a weekday.

Those behind-the-scenes at the California High-Speed Rail Authority have been in a rush to connect a train from San Francisco to Los Angeles, yet they have not yet planned on how to get from just north of Bakersfield to here in Palmdale. The Authority will need a rail line to traverse the mountainous Ridge Route aka Grapevine that bridges Southern California with the Central and Northern areas of our Golden State.

Meanwhile, family farms, private homes, small and larger businesses, churches, schools, historical landmarks and the Fresno Rescue Mission which has been providing a home for the homeless since 1949 remain negatively impacted.

Rogue appraisers, including those from out-of-state have been running rampant in the Central Valley. They have been harassing elderly female homeowners along with those who farm the land in the midst of the busy harvest season. The appraisers must be in a rush to get paid by the Authority before the funds run out!

Those who ask the appraisers for more information so they can note the exact impacts to one’s property (by requesting a large and legible map), are not taken seriously and/or asked if said individual needs something for all impacted properties. Why would someone only need a large and legible map for property A and not for property B, C and D? A neighbor’s map sent by the appraisers even has the rivers near their farm labeled incorrectly.

I’m not sure if the California High-Speed Rail Authority Board realizes the inept actions of those representing them on the front lines. The largest infrastructure project of its kind remains flawed because of continued missteps like those just mentioned. Who in California would want a train speeding through their communities at over 200 plus miles per hour when no thought continues to be put into the planning process at every level?

It is high time to put the horse before the cart and hit the restart button to make it precise at every step of the way so those who prefer train travel such as myself will get to experience it in their lifetime in California. #NoOneWillBeAbleToRide until then.

Thank you and safe travels.

September 16, 2014 Meeting Agenda for California High-Speed Rail Authority Board of Directors

Staff Report to California High-Speed Rail Authority Board of Directors: September 16, 2014 Meeting Agenda Item #8 – Consider Making Findings Pursuant to Government Code Section 51292 (Agricultural Preserve/ Williamson Act) for High-Speed Rail-Related Improvement Locations in Fresno County (CP* 1C and part of CP* 2-3). (There are 71 locations that the Authority claims it did not select “based primarily on a consideration of the lower cost of acquiring land in an agricultural preserve.”)

Resolution #HSRA 14-26 of California High-Speed Rail Authority Board of Directors: Adoption of Findings Pursuant to Government Code § 51292 (Fresno County)

*CP means “Construction Package.” CP-1 is civil engineering (grading, drainage, bridges, etc.) in preparation to lay track between Madera and Fresno. The Authority awarded a contract in June 2013 for that construction package to a Tutor-Perini/Zachary/Parsons joint venture. CP 2-3 is civil engineering in preparation to lay track between Fresno and the border of Tulare County and Kern County. Three of five pre-qualified design-build entities reportedly plan to bid on this combined construction package. A winner may be announced by the end of 2014.

Transcript of September 16, 2014 Board Meeting of the California High-Speed Rail Authority


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



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. Law firms like Lusk Law Firm will often try to negotiate agreements on behalf of their clients without the need to resort to litigation but in the instances where a trial is necessary, they’re ready to actively represent clients in court and even handle appeals too.

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 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


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.