High Minded Environmetalism, High Speed Rail, and “Voters’ Remorse” in the San Francisco Area

Last November, California voters passed a bond issue with which to finance the much talked-about high speed rail from Southern California to San Francisco. But since San Francisco sits at the northern tip of a peninsula, that means that the new railroad right of way will have to go throught the peninsula which just happens to be home to some of the poshest communities in California. By “poshest” we mean the kind of places where you’d be hard put to find any commercial uses, and where, when it comes to the cost of housing, it’s a case of if-you-have-to-ask-you-can’t-afford-it.

But those high class folks also tend to profess a strong committment to environmentalism, and so they voted overwhelmingly in favor of that high speed rail line. By now, you have probably figured out where this is heading. It turns out that the Peninsula locals may be all in favor of high speed rail in the abstract, but when faced with the reality of its operation in their own communities, it’s another story.

The on line Oakland Tribune ( insidebayarea.com ) of December 31, 2009, reports that as the reality of the high speed rail’s coming has to be faced, the local NIMBYs, having realized that they will have 125 mph trains roaring past their homes along raised, 20-foot high concrete structures, and worse, will have to surrender some of their land to eminent domain (in some cases literally their back yards) for the right-of-way, all hell is breaking loose up there. It’s a case of “voters’ remorse.” 

So at the moment, insults are flying back and forth — NIMBYs vs. rotten apples, etc.

What next? Stay tuned. This donnybrook isn’t going away. We expect round two later this year as the design details of the high-speed railroad become public.