CGF Position Statement on the proposal to destroy farmland for east-side Gilroy high speed rail station

(CGF issued the following position statement earlier this year.  -Brian)

Committee for Green Foothills

Policy Opposing a Proposed Eastern Location for the Gilroy Train Station

February 16, 2011

Committee for Green Foothills is reviewing the as-yet incomplete information on the alignment and potential impacts of High Speed Rail between San Jose and Merced.  Even at this early stage, however, we are deeply concerned about the proposed location of a Gilroy train station on working farmland east of Highway 101.  This location could cause a significant loss to vital urban edge agriculture that currently limits destructive sprawl. This loss would result both from the footprint occupied by the station and by the tracks leading north and south from the station. The east station would pull Gilroy development in general away from downtown and towards outward sprawl – directly aimed at the stronghold of Santa ClaraCounty agriculture currently existing to the east and south of Gilroy.  The station would increase the likelihood that the rail alignment from Gilroy to San Jose would further destroy even more farmland on its route.  

Additionally, the proposal would orient the train station to servicing cars instead of public transit.  A downtown location would encourage customers to arrive and depart by public transit, while the Highway 101 location would require auto use.  The potential Highway 101 station would make it easier for sprawling hillside subdivisions to be created an hour’s drive away in multiple directions from Gilroy, where commuters would drive in on the highways and then take the High Speed Rail to their jobs.

Placing the station east of Hwy 101 in Gilroy completely ignores and is counter to the HSR Authority’s prescribed criteria for HST Station Area Development: 1

·          To be considered for a station, the proposed site must have the potential to promote higher density, mixed-use, pedestrian accessible development around the station.

·         As the HST project proceeds to more detailed study, and before a final station location decision is made, the responsible local government(s) are expected to provide (through planning and zoning) for TOD around HST station locations.

·         Give priority to stations for which the city and/or county has adopted station area TOD plans and general plans that focus and prioritize development on the TOD areas rather than on auto-oriented outlying areas.

·         As the project proceeds to more detailed study, local governments are expected to finance (e.g., through value-capture or other financing techniques) the public spaces needed to support the pedestrian/bicycle traffic generated by hub stations, as well as identifying long-term maintenance of the spaces.

Committee for Green Foothills opposes any use of the limited transit and high speed rail funding for the further planning of this destructive site proposal.

1. Draft: HST Station Area Development: General Principles and Guidelines, August 6, 2010 

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