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Litigating Caltrain Electrification?

From: domainremoved <Roxanne>
Date: Mon, 2 Feb 2015 12:03:05 -0800

Dear City Council,


I read with disappointment the letter from Mr. Gruber of AARONSON, DICKERSON, COHN & LANZONE Law Offices to the Peninsula Corridor Joint


The letter implies that five issues need to be addressed in They are listed below (text copied from his letter)


1. Clarifies the number of significant and heritage trees to be removed, which specific

trees are to be removed and requires the replacement trees will be a minimum size

of 36 inch box with a replacement ratio of 3: 1, all consistent with the ordinances of

the City.

2. Ensures that both construction and ongoing traffic impacts.

3. Provides for the funding of appropriately designed and built grade separations.

4. Provides for increased Caltrain service in Menlo Park, particularly during non-peak


5. Ensures that all mitigations provided in the FEIR are implemented



Regarding issue 1: In the FEIR for this project the issue of excessive tree removal, which had been in comment letters from many cities as well as Menlo park is addressed in the Master Responses section of the FEIR VOLUME II: COMMENTS ON THE DRAFT EIR AND RESPONSES. This is 1210 page document (in the PDF format), but if you go to page 825, you will see heading 3.1.6 Master Response 6 Visual Aesthetics (including Tree Removal). By reengineering the system of poles used, Caltrain was able to reduce the number of trees removed from to only 7. Below is the exact text from the FEIR. (You can find in on page 830 of the pdf)


25 * City of Menlo Park (MP 28.1 to MP 29.7): A combination of offset insulator side poles, center

26 poles, two-track cantilevers, and portals could be used in this area to reduce the ESZ from the

27 Draft EIR worst-case 24 feet to 18 feet on both sides of the ROW and in one short area with a

28 center pole, the ESZ can be reduced to 16 feet. The Draft EIR identified tree impacts in Menlo

29 Park as 188 trees removed and 441 trees pruned. A combination of offset insulator side poles,

30 center poles, two-track cantilevers, and portals could reduce the tree impacts in this area to only

31 7 trees removed and 501 trees pruned. This alternative pole design could eliminate the ROW

32 encroachment on private residential land and could reduce the amount of ROW encroachment

33 on one commercial parcel in Menlo Park.



Given this response to the City’s original comment letter to the EIR back in April, I am surprised that there has been no appreciation of the good fai Did anyone from the city even read this section of the FEIR? The city allows people to cut down heritage trees all the time, yes there is a process and sometimes the request is denied, but you know this is true. I think point one is not a valid reason to litigate, given the Response in the FEIR, which also by the way addresses replacing trees that are removed.



On to Issue 2: Is this a rhetorical remark? The FEIR describes construction mitigations in detail.


Issue 3: The CEQA is not a funding instrument; it is a way to identify environmental impacts of a project. That said, I agree that we need grade separations in Menlo Park, but do not agree that Caltrain is responsible for finding all the funding. There are many state and federal instruments to help cities fund grade separations. There may be options other that grade separations for some crossings (like the Encinal one). I believe Caltrain will be more likely to chip in any funding they can provide if we do not continue down this adversarial road.


Issue 4: Increased service for Menlo Park. Well the final schedules have not been completed yet, nor can they be since you kind of need to finish the project first and see how ridership increases then adjust the schedules – but isn’t that the whole point of this project anyway. Everyone is going to get improved service. Although I do not understand why we would be most concerned about non-peak hours.


Issue 5: Again, is this a rhetorical remark?


I just do not see any reason to litigate this project; the citizens of Menlo Park want the Caltrain Electrification project to begin as soon as possible so we can breath.



Roxanne Rorapaugh

885 Sherman Ave

Menlo Park CA 94025




Received on Mon Feb 02 2015 - 11:57:54 PST

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