To date, the reason behind the California High Speed Rail Authority's continued exploration of a Beale Street terminal for the state's fast train is still a little fuzzy. Yes, environmental impact reports generally require alternatives, even undesirable ones, to be fully fleshed out. But work on the alternative continues to surface, even threatening to demolish the Watermark for the right of way. And the famously schizo authority has been on record more than once saying that stopping the train before it gets to the Transbay Transit Center at 1st and Mission is just fine. Enough is enough, say a throng of petitioners: they demand now that the rail authority cease and desist, and return to sanity by having its trains go to the big new station that everyone's pouring their hearts, souls, and money into.
As a strong supporter of building High Speed Rail throughout the state and into San Francisco's downtown Transbay Transit Center, I am appalled at your consideration of the Beale Street Alternative. This study is not only wasteful, it risks over $400 million in federal funding for the Transbay Transit Center and is harming property values in the South Beach neighborhood of San Francisco. Your study of the Beale Street Alternative was proposed to you by a lobbying and law firm on behalf of an unidentified special interest. This location has already been rejected as a technically and economically infeasible terminus for High Speed Rail in San Francisco. San Franciscans overwhelmingly voted for Proposition 1A to bring high speed rail to our Transit Center. Your study of the Beale Street Alternative, widely thought to be pushed by Board Member Quentin Kopp, is a wasteful expenditure of limited Proposition 1A money that should be applied to construction of the project.
With the passage of Proposition 1A, we believe that your study of the Beale Street Alternative is illegal. The voter approved mandate codifies in State law that the northern terminus for high speed rail will be the Transbay Transit Center.
The Transbay Transit Center is a federally approved project currently in construction in downtown San Francisco that has received the support of the San Francisco electorate on multiple occasions. Over $2 billion in funds have already been secured, independent of Proposition 1A. This Center is designed to accommodate high speed rail to downtown San Francisco.
The existence of this project is reason enough to drop your study of the Beale Street Alternative. Additionally, the Beale Street Alternative would likely result in the taking of more than 1,800 current and future residential units in the South of Market area. Your study alone has made many of our homes unmarketable by the required disclosure of your irresponsible study into any potential home sale. In contrast, the approved downtown extension to Transbay will take only 2 dozen residences. Given San Francisco's housing crisis, this is a far more reasonable approach.
Meanwhile, the Transbay Joint Powers Authority has applied for $400 million in ARRA funds to build the rail box in the Transit Center. While this application has the support of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Mayor Gavin Newsom, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senator Dianne Feinstein, and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, we understand that the Federal Rail Authority has expressed concern about your Beale Street Alternative. We are worried that the Beale Street Alternative is not about adequately addressing environmental issues, it's about political brinkmanship.
It's time to put high speed rail to San Francisco back on track.
As a supporter of high speed rail and Proposition 1A, I demand you halt your irresponsible study of the infeasible Beale Street Alternatives. I also ask that you hold a formal meeting of the California High Speed Rail Authority in San Francisco, to hold yourselves accountable to the people whose properties and projects you are jeopardizing.
· Save High Speed Rail in San Francisco [Change.org, via SF Citizen and Curbed Inbox]
· Watermark on the Tracks [Curbed SF]
· Rendering Revelation: Transbay Transit Center & Funicular Extravaganza [Curbed SF]
· High-Speed's On Again for Transbay, Was Never Off? [Curbed SF]
· High Speed Rail: 4th and Townsend's the New Downtown [Curbed SF]