Rail project begins grabbing CA farmers’ land

January 18, 2013 - By admin

Jan. 18, 2013

By Katy Grimes

Cagle Cartoon High-Speed Rail

Before high-speed rail planners can do anything with the Central Valley route, they are looking at an estimated $360 million to buy out 356 privately-owned land parcels along the route.

According to a recent legal decision, holdouts will be bought out through courts, “whether they like it or not,” to use Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s infamous 2008 statement on another matter.

Madera to Fresno

In July, the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown passed legislation to approve the first $6 billion segment of high-speed rail tracks. This first segment starts with a $1.5 billion leg from Madera to Fresno in the Central Valley.

During Assembly and Senate floor debates and speeches, Democrats repeatedly said, “This is our moment.” They talked of the significance of voting for the biggest infrastructure project in California history. And they blathered incessantly of their own importance in voting for the project.

Republican Assemblywoman Diane Harkey of Dana Point warned of dire economic circumstances. “Gov. Brown and many Sacramento Democrats seem unable to set priorities even though the state is bankrupt, boasts the lowest credit rating in the nation, must borrow $10 billion for short-term cash flow needs, while cutting public safety dollars and practicing ‘catch and release’ for state prisoners,” Harkey said. “We rank near the bottom of the 50 states in public education achievement and the Sacramento solution is to realign that function and implement trigger cuts IF voters don’t agree to raise taxes in November.  But, billions in debt funding for one hundred miles of track with no train, no ridership and no cost analysis is still on the table.”

The Court

Despite being on the losing end of a recent Sacramento County Superior Court decision favoring High-Speed Rail over farmers, many Central Valley farmers still plan to fight to keep their land, rather than turn it over to the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

The farmers have consistently said the CHSRA did not thoroughly weigh the potential harms of the project, particularly as family farmers face losing hundreds of parcels of agricultural land to train tracks.

In the recent lawsuit, CHSRA claimed the potential harm to the state if the project was stopped was far greater than would be the damage to the Central Valley farmers. “The state could lose up to $3.2 billion in federal financing if the train does not meet deadlines, and could incur $8 million to $10 million in higher costs,” the AP reported.

The Central Valley grows 25 percent of America’s vegetables on just 1 percent of the farmland.

These farms have complex and expensive underground irrigation systems, wells and pumps, which farmers have invested in and built over many years. Farmers are worried that these could be ruined during the rail-construction project.

Farmers are also worried that the rail authority plan will cut large chunks of their land in half by the 100-foot wide train tracks, and present logistical problems getting to the other half of their properties. They’re also concerned that the tracks will bisect existing roads and affect important school bus routes.

On the chopping block

There are 356 parcels of land in the path of the proposedplan the CHSRA claims it needs to get the project started.

On Monday, the California Public Works Board authorized the CHSRA to open up negotiations for the land it needs in Fresno and Madera counties for the high-speed train tracks. The board, made up of directors from the California Department of Finance, the General Services Agency and the Transportation Agency, is responsible for purchasing the necessary land parcels for California’s highway and transportation projects.

They voted 3-0 to allow the rail authority to formally begin the purchase process for the 356 land parcels.

Rail authority officials can now start making offers to owners of the properties targeted for the Central Valley stage of construction. Those parcels are either in the path of the train tracks, or will be impacted by overall construction. There will be new overpasses constructed over the train tracks to relocate some streets, and parts of Highway 99 will need to be relocated.

In Madera County, this amounts to 1,650 acres of farmland.

Parcels

I contacted the CHSRA for a list of the land parcels, how many parcels were privately owned, and what the authority planned on doing if property owners did not want to sell.

The CHSRA sent me the list of the 356 parcels, but did not provide the rest of the information.

This is just the beginning. The CHSRA may need more land parcels for the first stretch of high-speed line between Madera and Fresno. There are some reports that 1,100 or more parcels through the Central Valley may be needed as the project progresses.

Price tag

After the hoopla last year surrounding the $98 billion price tag for a new high-speed rail system in California, the CHSRA recalibrated and recalculated the rail project and came up with a new price of only $68 billion projected cost, over decades.

However, according to Harkey, “This number is fairy dust to make the plan more palatable.”  Harkey has repeatedly said the new and improved business plan of 2012 actually states that full build out will require $91.5 billion —  and that figure does not include the Los Angeles to Anaheim route, added during the revision. Harkey warned that the L.A.-to-Anaheim route will undoubtedly have eminent domain and other issues.

“What if we need to borrow more or ridership is not what the plan assumes?” Harkey asked last June. “The Legislative Analyst claims we could see operating costs of $1 billion or more per year.”

Government Accountability Office

“In addition to challenges in developing reliable cost estimates, the California high-speed rail project also faces other challenges,” the Government Accountability Office reported in December. “These include obtaining project funding beyond the first construction segment, continuing to refine ridership and revenue estimates beyond the current forecasts, and addressing the potential increased risks to project schedules from legal challenges associated with environmental reviews and right-of-way acquisitions.”

The GAO said that one of the biggest challenges facing California’s high-speed rail project is securing funding beyond the first construction segment. “While the Authority has secured $11.5 billion from federal and state sources for project construction, almost $57 billion in funding remains unsecured.”

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Comments(30)
  1. Dyspeptic says:

    Katy, you don’t understand. The little people mustn’t question or disobey. The wise and all knowing central planners must have their plans you know. Who are we with our selfish property rights to stand in the way of The Overlords and their utopian schemes. They are wise beyond measure and think only of the Hegelian collective good.

    I think those of us who cherish individual liberty need a time out. Maybe a short stint in a re-education camp to get our minds right. Or perhaps The Overlords could make us where a symbol in public so that we can be harassed and reviled by the more enlightened and tolerant hive members. They could start with gun owners and make us get an identifying tattoo, perhaps on the inner forearm. Remember, The Overlords had to put Japanese Americans into concentration camps during WWII, for their own good of course. Why not do the same with individualists, gun owners, property rights advocates and free thinkers. We are obviously a public menace and an impediment to progress, enlightenment and utopia. Lets do it for the kids.

    I’m starting to feel better now. The hive is so comforting and familiar, so warm and dark and reassuring. I can feel my individual consciousness fading away, absorbed by the hive. It’s so much better this way. No cares, no worries, only thoughtless obedience. Yes, we must obey, it’s the only way to truly be free.

  2. us citizen says:

    You go farmers!!!! Fight those SOBs. This will just be another project that money is dumped into but will never happen. It will either get too cost prohibitive, (a sure bet there) the govt will screw up……..(another sure bet), or it will turn into a piece of crap and left to rot in the hot summer sun because no one will ride it.

  3. Dyspeptic says:

    “the govt will screw up……..(another sure bet), or it will turn into a piece of crap and left to rot in the hot summer sun because no one will ride it.”

    Then we should be forced to ride it, for our own good. Privately owned cars are killing the planet. Al Gore said so. Yes, he piles up a bazillion frequent flyer miles a year in his personal luxury jet but come on, you can’t expect someone that important to live like us peasants.

    Besides, he had to sell his cable TV channel to an oil magnate for a windfall profit and that requires frequent flying. Whats important is that cars are bad and trains go choo-choo, choo-choo. Try to think of the not-so-high-speed-rail project as the little train that could. Remember how fun it was when mommy read that story to you? It can be like that again if you just believe.

  4. CalWatchdog says:

    In July when the Assembly passed the HSR bill, Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, D-Los Angeles, claimed that building the high-speed train system would be the answer to the state’s economic crisis. And he wasn’t alone in this claim. Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton, said that the state would reap tax revenue for putting people back to work.

    Blumenfield, the chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee, erroneously claimed that “revenues generated from this project will more than pay for bond debt.” Math is hard.

    But as with the highly suspect ridership estimates, claims of revenue generation from the train system are dubious–especially given the nearly 100 percent subsidies required for every other high-speed train system in the world.

    And then there were the patently absurd comments: ”Cars represent the past,” said Assemblyman Warren Furutani, D-San Pedro.

    This is a union jobs bill, and not about transportation.

    here is that story: http://www.calwatchdog.com/2012/07/09/trophy-train-project-legacy-for-lawmakers/

    Katy

  5. Rex the Wonder Dog! says:

    Katy, we ALL know it is a scam, the SMALL amount of “…tax revenue for putting people back to work…” would be offset by millions of dollards in PER JOB COSTS.

    Did anyone read that petition for the US to build the “Death Star”, claiming it would stimulate revenue and job growth, and the Whitehouse said any revenue and job growth would be minimscule compared to he $850,000,000,000,000,00 it owuld take ot build the Death Star!!!!

    Petition to build Death Star;

    http://herocomplex.latimes.com/2013/01/12/star-wars-obama-white-house-responds-to-death-star-petition/

    Response from WH;

    https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/response/isnt-petition-response-youre-looking

  6. Dyspeptic says:

    Cars are bad and trains go choo-choo, choo-choo said the Democrats.

  7. Dyspeptic says:

    Rex, the “Death Star” idea is brilliant. We could combine it with the train to nowhere and produce (drum roll please) “THE DEATH TRAIN”. I think it’s a brilliant idea, what a ya think?

  8. Rex the Wonder Dog! says:

    Rex, the “Death Star” idea is brilliant. We could combine it with the train to nowhere and produce (drum roll please) “THE DEATH TRAIN”. I think it’s a brilliant idea, what a ya think?
    ==
    I LOVE IT!!!!!

    You know why I love it Dys, because of the “…tax revenue for putting people back to work…” ..Our troubles are over!!!!!

  9. www.CaliforniaHighSpeedRailScam.com says:

    Some farmers and grassroots taxpayer activists will be showing up at the January 22 meeting of the California High-Speed Rail Authority Board of Directors on January 23, 2013 at Sacramento City Hall, 915 I Street.

    Do you think this rail project will bankrupt the state? It’s expected that unions will pack the meeting room to overwhelm any dissidents. If you have the time, show up early and take a seat away from the shock troops for socialism.

    Nothing much else can be done to offset millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded public relations programs.

    AGENDA

    http://www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/assets/0/134/0eff9e8f-8def-4afa-8a31-186229a9d243.pdf

  10. www.CaliforniaHighSpeedRailScam.com says:

    The meeting is January 23 (not January 22 as I mistakenly said above). It starts at 10:00 a.m.

    Also, someone in the news media (it will have to be http://www.CalWatchdog.com) needs to summary the status of these lawsuits:

    1. John Tos; Aaron Fukuda and County of Kings v. California High Speed Rail Authority, Sacramento Superior Court Case No. 34-2001-00113919

    2. City of Chowchilla v. California High-Speed Rail Authority, Sacramento Superior Court Case No. 34-2012-80001166

    3. County of Madera v. California High-Speed Rail Authority, Sacramento Superior Court Case No. 34-2012-80001165

    4. Timeless Investments, Inc. v. California, Sacramento Superior Court Case No. 34-2012-80001168

    5. Town of Atherton v. California High-Speed Rail Authority, Sacramento Superior Court Case No. 34-2008-80000022

    6. Town of Atherton v. California High-Speed Rail Authority, Sacramento Superior Court Case No. 34-2010-80000679

    7. Town of Atherton v. California High-Speed Rail Authority, Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District, Case No. C070877

  11. BobA says:

    CalWatchdog:

    There may be something to the claim that cars are a thing of the past. If you ignore the sanitized reporting in the papers and on TV and rely on the various sources on the internet, there’s been a steady dribbling of news reports about a scheme to tax people for the number of miles they drive.

    No doubt that if something like that happens in will happen in California first and you know what the dumb “sheeple” in this state will do: they’ll vote the same politicians who thunk this crap up right back into office!

    Californians deserve to be crapped on by the politicians they vote for.

  12. Hondo says:

    How come there are no liberals posting comments on this project. Where is See Saw and Teddy. That is because this is indefensible. A completely un-wanted and un-needed waste of money. The voters were lied to about the cost to get this to pass. This project violates the law in so many ways. No private money, not near the high speed it promised. But all the judges who rule on this project are Dem appointed. This project is an assault weapon on California’s kids.
    Hondo…..

  13. Rex the Wonder Dog! says:

    http://www.CaliforniaHighSpeedRailScam.com says:
    Do you think this rail project will bankrupt the state?

    Slow Speed Fail CANNOT bankrupt CA, b/c we are already there.

  14. Rex the Wonder Dog! says:

    Hondo says:
    How come there are no liberals posting comments on this project. Where is See Saw and Teddy

    Teddy and seesaw are out spooning each other to sleep as they tell each other bedtime stories about how awesome their taxpayer funded pensions are ;)

  15. BobA says:

    Hondo:

    I’m sure their brains are going through all kinds of contortions right now trying to come up with some justification for Gov. Moonbeam’s wet dream. Let’s hope the whole project runs out of money and the land goes fallow long before it’s even halfway completed.

    I’m still miffed as to who’s going to ride this rail and what for. For jobs in Los Angeles or the Bay area and points in between? Who are they kidding? More likely, it will become a mobile homeless shelter and an express service for common and not so common criminals.

    Who’s going to ride a train that’s filled with smelly homeless people and reeks of urine & human excrement and the occasional dead body?

    Who’s going to ride a train that’s infested with flies and roaches and the walls, seats and windows are stained with graffiti, boogers, feces, dried vomit and other miscellaneous vile & nasty things?

    And we mustn’t forget the muggers and rapists who’ll prey on the fools who dare ride the train.

  16. Rex the Wonder Dog! says:

    I’m still miffed as to who’s going to ride this rail and what for. For jobs in Los Angeles or the Bay area and points in between? Who are they kidding? More likely, it will become a mobile homeless shelter and an express service for common and not so common criminals.
    The slow speed fail will turn out EXACTLY like the states new payroll system ($300 million over budget and doesn’t work) and the electronic filing system for the states courts ($500 million and has been 100% scrapped as unworkable).

    Mark my words.

  17. NTHEOC says:

    BobA says,
    Who’s going to ride a train that’s infested with flies and roaches and the walls, seats and windows are stained with graffiti, boogers, feces, dried vomit and other miscellaneous vile & nasty things?
    ===========================
    Well if we keep yourself,rex the wonder dog,Hondo,jimmydeoc,dyspeptic,and us citizen off it. Then we can eliminate these things you mention!!

  18. NTHEOC says:

    BobA says,
    I’m still miffed as to who’s going to ride this rail and what for.
    ==============================
    I can’t wait for this bullet train!! I would take it up to frisco to watch a 49r game,giants game,or just to visit the bay area for a nice get away.
    Scientists say a California high-speed rail system will not only get you from San Francisco to Los Angeles in less than three hours, but will create thousands of jobs(preferably UNION)This network will create more than 320,000 permanent jobs statewide as a result of the economic development associated with the rail stations –Great for our economy!! California voters again made the right choice!!!!!!!

  19. BobA says:

    NTHEOC:

    While I’m no scientist, I am an engineer by education and profession and I’m more than adept at simple math. Your numbers are fictional at best and based in a reality that exists only within the minds of politicians. Your claims is nothing more than a presumption based on imaginative statistics and numbers “fudging” and has more holes in it that a slice of swiss cheese. But I digress.

    You reduce your argument to that of one made by a dunce when you start out with the phrase “scientists say”. Unimpressive at best and it’s rather presumptuous of you to assume that the most readers and contributors to this forum are illiterate in the sciences.

    If a “scientist” told you that there’s air on the moon, would you take it as the truth just because a “scientist” said it?

  20. Marten Purdy says:

    Madera to Fresno:
    A small town in between Fresno and Madera sometimes referred to as “The Chos”. Basically everyone knows each other so rumors/gossip spread at lightening speed. Most kids complain about how they can’t wait to get out of the Ranchos only to miss it when they leave. There isn’t much to do except to T.P. your friends house, go mud bogging in an empty lot or field somewhere or take the 10 minute drive into Fresno. All in all it’s a pretty sweet place to live and the people there are, for the most part, good people.

  21. The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm) says:

    Marten is correct– it is a beautiful area in a way. And in Fresno, you can go to Casa Corona— in my view maybe the best Mexican cantina in the lower 48.

  22. Rex the Wonder Dog! says:

    Marten is correct– it is a beautiful area in a way. And in Fresno, you can go to Casa Corona— in my view maybe the best Mexican cantina in the lower 48.
    ==
    your favortie is Taco Bell.

  23. Rex the Wonder Dog! says:

    NTHEOC:

    While I’m no scientist, I am an engineer by education and profession and I’m more than adept at simple math. Your numbers are fictional at best and based in a reality that exists only within the minds of politicians.
    ==
    LOL…NTHEOC is like all troughers, math challenged.

  24. BobA says:

    Rex:

    You mean he has to take his shoes off and use his toes to count past ten? What do they do when the get to twenty? Counter their eyes and ears and nose? That gets them to twenty five but beyond that, what?

    I suppose that only “scientists” can count past twenty five!!

  25. Rex the Wonder Dog! says:

    Rex:

    You mean he has to take his shoes off and use his toes to count past ten? What do they do when the get to twenty? Counter their eyes and ears and nose? That gets them to twenty five but beyond that, what?

    I suppose that only “scientists” can count past twenty five!!
    ==
    Bob, do you have any IDEA whom NTHEOC is????
    He is a very special government employee, and deserves..no DEMANDS our respect and loyalty! They even made a video chronicling his life;

  26. NTHEOC says:

    rex the wonder dog says,
    Bob, do you have any IDEA whom NTHEOC is????
    =============
    LMAO!! I love that video,seen it before. Unfortunately some do act like that,we try our hardest to set them straight! Check out this video rex,you’ll like it.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?

  27. NTHEOC says:

    here it is…

  28. Rex the Wonder Dog! says:

    That video was pretty intense, but I have to wonder why they are cutting open the roof when the entire building looks to be a total loss, completely engulfed by flames/fire. I was worried all those guys on the roof would fall through, and in that one shot the FF did fall through the residential roof……..that was crazy.

  29. Marten Purdy says:

    NTHEOC:
    Celtic are quite simply the best supported football club in the world. A Scottish based football team founded by Irish Marist Brothers to raise money to feed the poor immigrants who fled Ireland in the 1800′s from starvation and poverty.

  30. The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm) says:

    LOL– Rex the Zero Poodle never ventilates—–typical.

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