This morning I read in The Wall Street Journal that apparently Anna Eshoo, whose district includes my hometown, was joining the NIMBY crackpot brigade that opposes California High Speed Rail. Terribly disappointed, this is the letter I wrote and was going to send her:
Dear Representative Eshoo,
I am incredibly disappointed to read in the Wall Street Journal that you are joining the misguided, elitist, and anti-democratic effort to stop California High Speed Rail. All criticisms I have heard about the route down the Peninsula are at best stalking horses for more fundamental and wrong objections to an exciting and eminently reasonable system that would revolutionize transportation in California.
High Speed Rail was openly, democratically, and emphatically approved by California voters. Such support did not merely come from elsewhere in the state: 61% of San Mateo county voters and 60.36% of Santa Clara county voters approved Proposition 1A to fund High Speed Rail. To oppose it in the face of such overwhelming support strikes me as contemptuous of the very people you claim to represent and profoundly anti-democratic. I am truly disgusted.
It is telling that the mayor of Atherton baldly admits admits that his seemly procedural objections are actually aimed at killing the entire project and grounded in an selfish obsession about the property values of those who are the absolutely most well-off in our society, property values whose prophesied dramatic decline one seriously questions. I am baffled, then, that you would support such narrow-minded NIMBYism against a system that will dramatically improve transportation both on the Peninsula and throughout the state, while also having a significantly positive effect on employment and the environment. It’s cultural impact is perhaps impossible to anticipate but I truly people that such a train system will tie the disparate and at times conflicting regions of California together as never before.
It’s is sad that your opposition places you in a camp increasingly on the wrong side of history. First, regions around the country and across the world are turning to high speed rail to address common and growing problems of freeway and airport congestion, urbanization, and environmental degradation. Modern high speed rail is one of the fastest, most efficient, most civilized ways to travel, while its financial cost is at worst little more than its competing modes of travel once their extensive and long-running subsides are honestly considered.
It is very sad that Silicon Valley, a region internationally renowned for its technology leadership, including in transportation thanks to its aerospace history, wishes to cut itself off from one of the major technological trends of the Twenty First Century. It is even sadder that some of our elected representatives, to which I now must unfortunately include yourself, support such outmoded conservatism when, and I repeat, significant majorities of your electorate support this exciting future, One hopes to see represented in our elected representatives the best in us, us at our most expansive and daring and open-minded, not us at our worst and obsessed with self-interest and petty-minded concerns.
Second, it is a documented fact that people of my generation and younger (I am 26 years old) get their drivers licenses later and have less interest in driving. However, we embrace train travel and seek its expansion. To support small-minded attacks on the best transportation development in California in decades is, quite simply, to value the concerns of other, more entrenched and wealthy citizens overs ours. While this may be a valid short-term electoral strategy, it does a tremendous disservice to rising generations and the state in which they will and do live and work.
I am from Menlo Park and I have repeatedly seen reasonably transportation improvements in my hometown blocked by residents obsessed with making travel as difficult as possible in a misguided attempt to deny the fact that they live in an important town at the north end of Silicon Valley and instead live in a fantasy land of 1950s suburbs and apple orchards which is long gone. Doing so denies an possibility for reasonable development and makes it impossible for people of my generation to live in their hometown, near to their families and the places where they grew up. What then is in my hometown’s future but further becoming a backwater enclave of the geriatric rich? Put simply, there can only be a future for me and my generation in the Mid-Peninsula if politicians support policies convergent with our needs and desires, and sane, forward-thinking transportation policies are one of the most essential elements.
Please drop your ridiculous opposition to High Speed Rail and instead support this project for the sake of the residents of your district and all Californians. I and the many others who value a sane, modern transportation future for California will support you whole-heartedly. Likewise, we will strongly oppose you if you continue on this misguided path.
Thank you for your time and I look forward to your support of High Speed Rail.
However, before firing off this missive I decided to check Anna Eshoo’s website to verify her position. There I found two pieces describing her latest statements on High Speed Rail. Put simply, she supports it but recently issues a joint proposal to scrap the planned elevated tracks down the Peninsula and instead upgrade the Caltrain lines so that they may be shared. While I deplore all the delays people are throwing up against High Speed Rail, her proposal for Caltrain and the high speed rail line to share tracks but have passing points seems reasonable (assuming that it is not a stalking horse for the ridiculous Peninsula-long tunnel idea).
So, I do not believe the letter above applies to her actual position and thus will not be sending it. However, I do believe that the letter does essentially apply to the politicians and others in the Mid-Peninsula who continue to seek to sabotage High Speed Rail and hope that they will drop their venial opposition. For that reason I’ve made this blog post.
And, while I’m at it Anna Eshoo, why is transportation not one of issues on which you highlight your positions on your website? It is a very important one for your constituents. Get on that!