Who Is Taking Leadership to Oppose the High Speed Rail?

In case you haven’t heard, a High-Speed Rail bullet train could be coming through town — your town — traveling at 200-plus miles per hour at various times day and night that have yet to be disclosed.

In case you haven’t heard, this “luxury train” will force residents out of their family homes. It doesn’t matter how many years you’ve lived there or what your home means to you. If it sits along the train’s construction route, it will be taken from you through eminent domain.

If you happen to work at a business that is along the train’s proposed construction route, the business will be gone, too, and you may find yourself without a job. Your community and life as you now know it will be forever changed.

This latest move to infringe on the Latino community isn’t new. It adds to a painful history of injustices that tore apart tight-knit East L.A. communities for the construction of freeways and forcibly removed people from their homes in Chavez Ravine for the construction of Dodger Stadium.

This new proposed injustice has a very detached innocuous name. It’s called SR 14. It is the proposed high-speed rail route that runs from Burbank through Sunland, Pacoima, San Fernando, and Sylmar corridors en route to Palmdale. Despite what some politicians will try to sell you, there is no advantage to this plan.

In the small City of San Fernando, it will destroy it’s tax base of businesses into its downtown mall. The rails will be dangerously close to the Cesar Chavez memorial and will take out its newly constructed bike path. There is talk of constructing large walls to encase the train that some have called, at best, an “eyesore”: and others have described as a “death wall.”

There are politicians who are playing ball with the High-Speed Rail Authority. They have their eyes on re-election, and don’t want to get on the Governor’s bad side of his pet project. They want to keep the flow of possible campaign dollars.

They will try to convince you that exchanging approval SR-14 to get a pocket park or other cosmetic incentives will be good for you.

There are politicians who have already given the impression that they speak for you and will entertain an “alternative” plan to put the high-speed rail underground instead of above ground — without considering that it will still separate people from their homes and livelihoods and add layers of environmental and safety concerns, including the potential for contamination of groundwater and increased seismic activity.

In Shadow Hills and Santa Clarita, large independent community meetings have been held to oppose the high-speed rail from coming through their neighborhoods. Residents have packed a 2,000 seat church and a high school gym.

In the Northeast San Fernando Valley, however, where there is the biggest population of people who will be affected and stand to lose the most, where there is the biggest case of economic and environmental injustice, no one has stepped up to call an independent community meeting.

Instead, local politicos have opted to encourage you to attend the meetings called and run by the High-Speed Rail Authority, and have relied on them to inform you. The High-Speed Rail Authority sets the agenda and decides if you can speak.

At the end of the month, on May 28, there will be a High-Speed Rail meeting at Las Palmas Park in the City of San Fernando, which the city is promoting. This is a final meeting before the High-Speed Rail board will meet and vote on which route they will approve for their next phase to move forward with an Environmental Impact Report, the next necessary phase to more one step closer toward construction.

With each step, it becomes more difficult and expensive to fight.

Your Northeast Valley elected officials have yet to provide the leadership to call residents to action to oppose this atrocity. Politicians are not always “leaders.”

So as the clock continues to tick and the High-Speed Rail Authority continues to work toward their plan, who will step up to publicly lead — to speak up to save your community?

Because in case you haven’t noticed, you are already being bulldozed.