Category Archives: High Speed Rail

Attend these last bullet train informational meetings

Haga clic aquí para español.  

The series of community outreach meetings organized by the High Speed Rail Authority is coming to an end, meaning that the decision to choose a route is near.  In fact, routes will be suggested next month to the executive board, who will then give the OK for the environmental review.

These meetings are the last chance to see what the High Speed Rail Authority is proposing, and, just the same, the last chance to leave your comments.  The Authority is adamant in saying public input is an important factor in determining whether the train will pass through Pacoima or not, so much to have even suggested proposed routes have been adjusted to reflect this input.

Below is a flyer for the remaining meetings.  If you can’t make it to the meetings, much of the information presented can be found on the HSR website here.

Palmdale_Burbank_Open_House_Meetings_Flyer_May_June_2015_050615.jpeg copy

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Estas son las últimas presentaciones informativas acerca el tren de alta velocidad (Una en español)

Click here for English.

La serie de reuniones informativas que organiza la Autoridad del Tren de Alta Velocidad está llegando a su fin, lo que significa que la decisión de elegir una ruta está cerca. De hecho, las rutas se sugerirán el próximo mes a la junta ejecutiva, que luego dará permiso para la revisión ambiental.

Estas reuniones son la últimas oportunidades de ver lo que la Autoridad del Tren de Alta Velocidad está proponiendo, y, de la misma manera, la última oportunidad de dejar sus comentarios. La Autoridad se mantiene firme en decir que la opinión del público es un factor importante para determinar si el tren pasará por Pacoima o no, por lo mucho que han sugerido que rutas propuestas se han ajustado debido a la reacción de algunas comunidades.

Aquí puede encontrar las fechas de las reuniones restantes. Si no puede asistir a las reuniones, mucha de la información es presentada se puede encontrar en el sitio web haciendo clic aquí.

Ojo: La reunión del 28 de mayo en San Fernando será en español.

Palmdale_BurbankSpanish

Northeast Valley residents demand transparency, better outreach on bullet train

Residents from the northeast Valley expressed frustration yesterday about the lack of information provided by the California High Speed Rail Authority. At a meeting held at Pacoima City Hall, residents showed discontent with the limited information repeatedly presented at every meeting, asked for transparency on the Authority’s decision making, and demanded the Authority make a greater effort in reaching out to the community.

“You say that the [proposed rail] lines were moved based on community input; that should be public information,” said Nicole Chase, a resident who grew up in Pacoima and now lives in Sylmar. “I have yet to see the High Speed Rail say, ‘this is the number of house that will impacted.’ You’re doing all this fluff. I’m not interested in the fluffy.”

This month the rail authority revealed adjustments to the east corridor routes, which are planned to go under the San Gabriel Mountains if selected. No adjustment has been made to the alternative SR 14 route that will run along San Fernando Road and California Highway 14, which, according to an analysis by environmental group Pacoima Beautiful, will possibly affect more than 10,000 structures and displace more than 8,000 families.

One attendee asked the rail representatives at the meeting what holds stronger consideration, a rare, endangered lizard or the homes and livelihoods of thousands of families.

The most recent draft of the proposed routes (dark purple) in comparison to the previous routes (light purple).  The SR 14 segment that runs through Sun Valley, Pacoima, San Fernanando, and Sylmar has no changes.

The most recent draft of the proposed routes (dark purple) in comparison to the previous routes (light purple). The SR 14 segment that runs through Sun Valley, Pacoima, San Fernanando, and Sylmar has no changes.

Another attendee asked how it was possible that a community with limited funds can gather more than 2,000 people, referring to the rally held at All Nations Church in Lake View Terrace on Dec. 14, yet the rail authority is failing to notify people who live along the SR 14 route about the project.

Representatives from the rail authority tried to address every question and concern at the meeting, which was conducted in Spanish with English translation.

“I understand your frustration with us not having detail,” said Genoveva Arellano. “We won’t do detailed analysis of these alternatives until somehow these get shrunken and refined to go into that environmental document.”

The environmental document is the last step before approving and adopting the final route. In other words, details of displacement and community impact will not be available until a final route is considered.

As far as involving the community, Arellano said the authority has mailed thousands of letters to residents as well published notices in more than a dozen local newspapers, yet people who live along the SR 14 route claim to not even know about the project.

More than one community member at this meeting said the rail authority needs to try harder, especially in Pacoima where stakeholders are not very reliant on email and social media.

Although this meeting was to inform and engage the community of the plan, not everyone in attendance was there for that.

Karina Ceja, a member of Communities Against Displacement– a grassroots organization of residents and organizations that formed to oppose the SR 14 route- presented a statement on behalf of the group to remove that route from consideration.

“As Communities Against Displacement we will hold the California High Speed Rail Authority accountable to their 3 guiding principles: 1) To protect natural resources and the environment 2) To preserve communities and 3) To improve mobility,” she read.

“We collectively agree that the SR14 would be the worst option and most contradictory to the California High Speed Rail Authority guiding principles, given that it will not preserve our community, it will not improve our local mobility and it will create more environmental impacts during the long construction phase.”

Arellano thanked Ceja and the rest of the attendees for the comments, and welcomed them to submit all comments and concerns to the Authority in writing for consideration.

The route analyses are slated to be presented to the California High Speed Rail Authority Board this summer.

Pacoima se levanta en contra del tren de alta velocidad

Chimalli Cuetlachtli, miembro los Brown Berets, los cuales tienen sede en Pacoima, se dirige al público en la reunión del Consejo de Barrio Pacoima 21 de enero 2015.

Chimalli Cuetlachtli, miembro de los Brown Berets, los cuales tienen sede en Pacoima, se dirige al público en la reunión del Consejo de Barrio Pacoima 21 de enero 2015.

Click here for English.

El Consejo del Barrio de Pacoima anunció en su reunión mensual en el Centro Comunitario de Pacoima su oposición a la ruta del controvertido tren de alta velocidad que puede cortar a través de Pacoima. El presidente a lado de la junta vecinal se dirigió a una sala llena en la reunión el miércoles, a la que asistieron el concejal Felipe Fuentes, la alcaldesa de San Fernando, representantes de la oficina de la asambleísta Patty López y la Autoridad del Tren de Alta Velocidad, y residentes de Pacoima y las comunidades cercanas.

“Si usted está aquí para oponerse al tren de alta velocidad, bueno, ni siquiera estamos aquí para entretener eso,” dijo Michael González, presidente del Consejo del Barrio de Pacoima.

“Nuestro argumento es que queremos la mejor ruta, una ruta justa, que afecta a la menor cantidad de personas. Y nosotros, nuestra comunidad piensa que aquí no es el mejor lugar para hacer eso,” dijo.

Cerca de 100 personas asistieron a la reunión, la mayoría también para expresar su oposición a la ruta propuesta que puede disecar Pacoima al igual con Sun Valley, San Fernando, y Sylmar a 200 millas por hora. Los temas del programa se estrellaron en la agenda, (en específico, el tema del tren de alta velocidad) a fin de que ese tema se pueda abordar. Presentaciones de los políticos se convirtieron en sesiones de preguntas y respuestas, y algunos estallidos del público causaron a González pedir orden.

La reunión se puso más tensa cuando González públicamente enfrentó a Ricardo

Ricardo Benítez, representante de la asambleísta Patty López, evitó hablar de sus declaraciones hechas el 13 de enero a una manifestación contra el tren de alta velocidad, donde dijo que López apoyaba la ruta SR14, que pasaría a través de Pacoima.

Ricardo Benítez, representante de la asambleísta Patty López, evitó hablar de sus declaraciones hechas el 13 de enero a una manifestación contra el tren de alta velocidad, donde dijo que López apoyaba la ruta SR14, que pasaría a través de Pacoima.

Benítez, representante de la asambleísta López, sobre su declaración que hizo la semana pasada en la reunión en la comunidad estribacional que la asambleísta López estaba en favor de la ruta que puede pasar por Pacoima.

Puede encontrar más información sobre la ruta Palmdale a Burbank haciendo clic aquí.

Aunque López emitió un comunicado el día siguiente de la manifestación en la estribación en cual dijo que ella no ha tomado una posición al respecto, Benítez evitó la pregunta acerca de la posición de la asambleísta con la retórica de repetir que López es nueva en su puesto y todavía está aprendiendo los asuntos, e incluso trató de cargarle el muerto al Concejal Fuentes.

“Eso fue en el pasado, así que ahora estoy dando mi declaración de hoy,” dijo Benítez. “Hasta el señor Fuentes dijo que quiere que la ruta allá  [a lo largo de la carretera] 14 así, no estoy diciendo que estoy en la misma posición, pero eso es mi presentación”, dijo, y luego se escabulló.

El concejal Fuentes, sin embargo, quedó en su posición neutral diciendo que

El concejal Felipe Fuentes dijo que necesita más información para tomar una posición sobre cualquier ruta propuesta, sin embargo, se mostró esperanzado en que el proyecto contribuirá a mejorar las áreas a lo largo de San Fernando Road si se elige esa ruta.

El concejal Felipe Fuentes dijo que necesita más información para tomar una posición sobre cualquier ruta propuesta, sin embargo, se mostró esperanzado en que el proyecto contribuirá a mejorar las áreas a lo largo de San Fernando Road si se elige esa ruta.

necesita más información de la Autoridad del Tren de Alta Velocidad para tomar una decisión, pero imploró a la comunidad que hagan escuchar su voces ya que el proceso avanza. Dijo que no sabe los beneficios que el proyecto traerá, pero fue tan lejos para lanzar unos escenarios de como el proyecto puede beneficiar, por ejemplo, en la limpieza de la barandilla a lo largo de San Fernando Road y la eliminación de algunos de los depósitos de chatarra en Sun Valley.

“Pero hoy no puedo decir que nada de esto es digno de nuestra consideración todavía porque tenemos que dejar que el proceso siga adelante,” dijo Fuentes a la multitud y les imploró a participar en todo el proceso.

“Si salimos de nuestra conversación, entonces, ¿qué pasa entonces? Se toma la decisión, con o sin nosotros,”  dijo.

González tuvo la última palabra antes de la apertura del comentario público.

“Nuestro argumento es que estamos al favor de la mejor ruta, una ruta justa que afecta a la menor cantidad de personas, sin embargo,”  dijo. “Y sostenemos que si construimos por San Fernando [Road], construimos este enorme muro, un muro de sonido que dividirá nuestra comunidad, es la peor opción, es la peor ruta. Retiren esa idea.”

Pacoima stands up against High Speed Rail

A member of the Brown Berets, whom have headquarters in Pacoima, addresses the public at the Pacoima Neighborhood Council meeting Jan. 21, 2015.

Chimalli Cuetlatchli from the Brown Berets, whom have headquarters in Pacoima, addresses the public at the Pacoima Neighborhood Council meeting Jan. 21, 2015. Photo by Alexander Camarillo/ El Boletín.

Haga clic aquí para español.

The Pacoima Neighborhood Council announced  its opposition to the controversial bullet train route that may cut through Pacoima at its monthly meeting at the Pacoima Community Center.  The president alongside the neighborhood council addressed a full room at Wednesday’s meeting, which was attended by Councilmember Felipe Fuentes, the mayor of San Fernando, representatives from Assemblymember Patty Lopez’s office and the High Speed Rail Authority, and residents from Pacoima and nearby communities.

“If you are here to oppose the high speed rail, well, we’re not even here to even entertain that,” said Pacoima Neighborhood Council President Michael Gonzalez.

“Our contention is we want the best route, a fair route, that affects the least amount of people.  And we, our community thinks this is not the best place to do that,” he said.

About 100 people showed up to this meeting, most to also state their opposition to the proposed route that will disect Pacoima along with Sun Valley, San Fernando, and Sylmar at up to 200 miles per hour.    Items on the agenda were bumped up on the agenda, (specifically, high-speed rail) so that issue can be addressed.   Politicians’ presentations turned into a Q&A, and a few outbursts from the public caused Gonzalez to call for order.

The meeting became more tense when Gonzalez publicly confronted Ricardo

Ricardo Benitez, representative for Assemblymember Patty Lopez, avoided speaking about his statements made January 13 at a rally against the bullet train, where he said Lopez supported the SR14 route, which would pass through Pacoima.

Ricardo Benitez, representative for Assemblymember Patty Lopez, avoided speaking about his statements made January 13 at a rally against the bullet train, where he said Lopez supported the SR14 route, which would pass through Pacoima. Photo by Alexander Camarillo/ El Boletín.

Benitez, Assemblymember Lopez’s representative,  about the statement he made last week at the foothill community’s rally that Assemblymember Lopez supported the route going through Pacoima.

 You can find more information about the Palmdale to Burbank routes by clicking here.

Although Lopez released a statement the day following the foothill rally saying she has not taken a position on the matter, Benitez avoided the question about Lopez’s position by repeating rhetoric that Lopez is new and is still learning the ropes, and even tried throwing Councilmember Fuentes under the bus.

“That was in the past, so now I am giving my statement today,” said Benitez.  “Even Mr. Fuentes said that he wants it over there in [along Highway]14 so, I’m not saying I am in the same position but that’s my presentation,” he said, then scurried away.

fuentes

Councilmember Felipe Fuentes said he needs more information to take a position on any route proposed, yet he was hopeful the project will help improve areas along San Fernando Road if that route is chosen. Photo by Alexander Camarillo/ El Boletín.

Councilmember Fuentes, however, stuck with his neutral position saying he needs more information from the High Speed Rail Authority to make a decision but implored the community to let their voices be heard as the process moves forward.  He said he does not know which benefits the project will bring, but went so far as to throw “what if” scenarios like cleaning up the railing along San Fernando Road and removing some of the junk yards in Sun Valley.

“But I can’t say today that any of this is worthy of our consideration yet because we have to let the process go forward,” Fuentes said to the crowd and implored them to be involved throughout the process.  

“If we get out of our conversation, then what happens then?  The decision will be made, with or without us,” he said.

Gonzalez had the final word before public comment was opened.

“Our contention is, we’re for the best route, a fair route that affects the least amount of people though,” he said.   “And we contend that if we build it down San Fernando [Road], we build this huge wall, a sound wall dividing our community, that is the worst option, that is the worst route.  Take that off the table.”

Foothill communities meet in Lake View Terrace to rally against bullet train

Residents against the East Corridor listen on as California High Speed Rail Authority Outreach Manager Valerie Martinez addresses community members.  Martinez was the last to speak at the meeting after business owners, real estate brokers, neighborhood children, and politicians.

Residents against the East Corridor listen on as California High Speed Rail Authority Outreach Manager Valerie Martinez addresses community members. Martinez was the last to speak at the meeting after business owners, real estate brokers, neighborhood children, and politicians.

It was standing room only at All Nations Church in Lake View Terrace as residents from this and surrounding areas, including Pacoima, met to rally against the high-speed train that has been proposed to pass through the northeast San Fernando Valley.

Approximately 2,000 people showed up to the meeting organized by Save Angeles Forest for Everyone (S.A.F.E.), a community organization started to prevent the San Francisco to Los Angeles bullet train from affecting the foothill communities.  The meeting started with a lot of excitement, resembling a rally.  After prayer, the pledge of allegiance, and the singing of “God Bless of America”,  a short video showed the current state of the San Gabriel Mountains’ foothills, with peaceful scenery, hiking and horse-riding trails, and wildlife contrasting to the images of loud trains and artist renderings of how the bullet train would alter the scenery.  The audience booed at the sight of the development and roared with applause at the images of the current state of their community.

“I don’t want to ride my horse under the rail, I don’t want to ride my horse over the rail, around the rail, near the rail,” said Dale Gibson, president of the Los Angeles Equine Advisory Committee and who owns a horse boarding ranch in the area.

As well as concern for their horses, community members expressed consternation about the noise and traffic the construction will bring to the quiet ranch community, the impact on the area’s drinking water, and the future of the Wildlife Waystation, an animal refuge and rehabilitation center located in these foothills.

As the meeting passed 2 hours, people began to leave.  Many stayed until the end hoping to hear questions submitted on comment cards answered.

As the meeting passed two hours, people began to leave. Many stayed until the end hoping to hear questions submitted on comment cards answered.

A few of the speakers at the meeting stated their preference for the original proposed route that would cut and divide Pacoima, although the moderator for the evening, president of Shadow Hills Property Owners Association Dave DePinto, said the meeting was not meant to deflect the controversial train onto neighboring communities.

“We have a firm position here, and it’s not to simply cast away high speed rail from our community and have it be dumped in another community, that’s not what we are about.  We are about high speed rail doing right,” he said.

In August 2014 the East Corridor was proposed for the Burbank to Palmdale trajectory with possible routes running through the foothills and into tunnels under the San Gabriel Mountains. The original proposed route, known as the SB 14 corridor, would run along the current train tracks parallel to Interstate 5 and Highway 14.  Most residents near both corridors that are aware of the project have expressed concern about the impact on their communities and have complained they have not been presented with enough information.  The California High Speed Rail Authority continues to say nothing has been determined yet and more studies and surveys are needed to determine which is the best route with the least impact on communities.

What you should know about the high-speed train that may cut through Pacoima.

A large map with the both SR 14 and East Corridor was placed on a table where attendees were able to leave comments.

A large map with the both SR 14 and East Corridor was placed on a table where attendees were able to leave comments.

Haga clic aquí para español.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority held various outreach events last week throughout the northeast San Fernando Valley to present their proposed routes of the country’s first high speed train, which will possibly pass right through Pacoima.  About 75 people showed up to the each meeting  in Sun Valley, Burbank, San Fernando, and Sylmar to learn more about the project and had a chance to speak to engineers and representatives from the rail authority.

After learning more about the project, many of the community members in attendance showed concern about the impact the train will have in their neighborhoods.  Most people from Pacoima and San Fernando who attended the meetings are worried the proposed route is going to literally split and divide the community.

“Nos van a fregar,” said Reyna Salas, a Pacoima resident for 50 years who lives near the proposed route.  Aside from the loss of businesses and homes for the construction of the project, she said she is concerned about the noise and health effects from the train.

“It’s a nice idea from San francisco to San Diego, but don’t destroy our

Arleta High School teacher Jorge Poche and Jose Hernandez with students who attended the open house event at Olive Vista Middle School in Sylmar.  The students said they wanted to get involved after seeing San Fernando's pro tem mayor's video on Facebook.

Arleta High School teacher Jorge Poche and Jose Hernandez with students who attended the open house event at Olive Vista Middle School in Sylmar. The students said they wanted to get involved after seeing San Fernando’s pro tem mayor’s video on Facebook.

communities,” said Jorge Poche, a teacher at Arleta High School who was born and raised in Pacoima and now lives in Sylmar.  “Don’t put these barriers, walls there are going to be almost like we are going to be in the 1960’s with the Berlin wall.”

The route that may pass through Pacoima, known as SR 14 Corridor, will run alongside the current tracks on San Fernando Road from Burbank to Palmdale.  If this route is chosen, the tracks will be closed off with high sound walls, and all intersections along the rail line will be affected.  Small streets that currently cross the tracks, like Pierce Street will be closed off.  Traffic will only be able to pass at main intersections.  These main intersections like Van Nuys Boulevard and Osborne Street will  will no longer be able to cross over the tracks; all traffic will have to pass either under above the train’s tracks.

In order for that development to take place, some properties and businesses at those intersections will have to be removed to allow for the development of the overpass or underpass.

The city of San Fernando has already taken a stance to protest the SR 14 Corridor saying the train will destroy the communities of Sylmar, San Fernando, and Pacoima.  In a video posted on Youtube, Mayor Pro Tem Robert Gonzales talks about the negative impacts the train will have on the city, and calls community members to protest the train.

The train is planned to travel from San Francisco to Los Angeles in under three hours traveling over 200 miles per hour.  The system will eventually extend to Sacramento and San Diego and will have 24 stations.

Representatives from the CaHSRA were adamant to say the project is only still in its planning phase, and the route passing through Pacoima, San Fernando, and Sylmar has not been officially decided.  In fact, another route, the East Coridor, is proposed,  which may go through Shadow Hills and under the San Gabriel Mountains via tunnels. But likewise, members from that ranch and equestrian community have expressed concern of the impacts it will have on their neighborhood and animals.

“We are in the planning phase, so we are looking at the greater picture which is from Palmdale to Union Station. So part of the planning process is to look at alternatives and what are the options people need to think about in terms of is this the best corridor,” said Katherine Perez Estolano, the CaHSRA board member that represents Los Angeles.

“So we are looking, we’re tweaking the corridors, we’re identifying, and we’re studying those that make the most sense, whether it’s environmentally, or in terms of community impacts,” she said.

People who attended the open-house-like community outreach events were able to speak directly to engineer and fill out comment cards, which the said they take in consideration in determining community impact.  The final decision on which route will be chosen will be done after the Environmental Impact Report is concluded.  Comments can still be made by emailing palmdale_burbank@hsr.ca.gov.   More information about the high speed rail project from Palmdale to Burbank can be found online here, including information about the authority’s permit to enter private property.