Ed. Note: The revised bullet train routes announced last  week by the High-Speed Rail Authority would eliminate tearing through a large chunk of the Northeast Valley. But there still portions of Pacoima and other communities that could be impacted if the project goes through.

I can’t believe the credit too many people are taking for the High-Speed Rail (HSR) Authority’s new plan, that while it removes San Fernando from a path of destruction, it will still devastate a portion of Pacoima and other communities.

We cannot, and I will not, abandon all who stood with us to fight against the arrogant High-Speed Rail Authority. Pacoima Communities Against Displacement, Shadow Hills S.A.F.E., Acton, Central Valley, Northern California, and the many other communities who will be negatively impacted. Our comrades from these communities who joined us to fight against the High-Speed Rail need our support, our voice, our help.

Jobs will be lost. Homes will be taken by eminent domain. Families will be displaced. And there will be negative environmental impacts, environmental justice inequities, and serious health consequences.

The construction phase alone will increase the already poor air quality with dust particles filling the air, creating a dangerous health risk to residents who suffer from asthma and other respiratory ailments.

At Monday’s City Council meeting, Georgina Carranza, a Pacoima resident, pleaded with us to please help them. She emphasized that many will lose their homes, over 1,000 will lose their jobs, and not to forget they stood by us.

The anti-HSR rally at Las Palmas Park that I organized with Pacoima’s Communities Against Displacement was a huge success thanks to Pacoima, our residents and others who stood by our side. There was and continues to be criticism about my approach, but I stand proud and confident that I chose not to be a coward but to express my outrage and commitment to never agree to HSR anywhere in California.

Shortly after the successful rally, we were joined by community members from Acton, Central Valley, and many other community members who will be affected by the various proposed routes at a HSR board meeting in downtown LA, and we raised our collective voices against this atrocity.

Today I have to ask these questions.

Why is it that some elected [officials] and others who supported the HSR months ago are now taking credit for the HSR’s new proposed plan? Why is it OK with them to devastate a portion of Pacoima and all the other communities along the route? Why is it acceptable for them to not focus on the out-of-control cost to build the HSR?  Why is it ok with them not to consider the long-term financial impact and burden on our children and grandchildren?

Why is it that common sense does not prevail and Governor Brown’s High-Speed Rail pet project is not derailed?

I don’t believe that the HSR board or Chairman Dan Richard are listening to our voices, when Richard stated in his letter to San Fernando that they really care about the impact to any of their targeted communities. Quote, “There has been significant concern expressed by certain communities through which our potential alignment would pass that historic practice of imposing infrastructure projects on disadvantaged populations, and favoring other factors over environmental justice concerns would become the norm.”

He further insults us by stating that the Authority has taken and will continue to take these concerns “very seriously.” Chairman Richard, to your words I say, “actions speak louder than words.”

The fight continues. I don’t like bread crumbs. NO High-Speed Rail means NO High-Speed Rail anywhere in California.

Sylvia Ballin is a San Fernando City Council member.

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