Against California High Speed Rail by Mark R. Powell

Patriots in Kings County Arming to Fight High Speed Rail

Threatened Lawsuit Supplants Musket Balls and Dry Powder
Kings County’s list of grievances with California’s High Speed Rail Authority is long and
arduous. At the heart of the matter is the Authority’s consistent refusal to coordinate the development of their Draft Environmental Impact Report for the segment of high-speed rail spanning from Fresno to Bakersfield with the governing agencies of Kings County as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), California’s Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and other laws.  Ground zero for high-speed rail is Kings County because it is here where the Authority plans to deviate from existing transportation corridors and recklessly trample through homes, businesses, and across prime farmland in building their “train to nowhere”. 

The Kings County Board of Supervisors registered their grievances, staked out their ground, and positioned themselves for a legal battle on August 2 in a twenty-one page letter addressed to Joseph Szabo, head of the Federal Railroad Administration.  Itemizing their grievances against the Authority in a fashion that would have pleased Thomas Jefferson they made their case and threatened a legal battle if their demands were not met.

The Authority has Failed to Cooperate with Local Agencies in its…
• unwillingness to meet and work out land use conflicts;
• illegal top-down driven style of land planning;
• deplorable treatment of Kings County representatives at Authority Board Meetings.

The Authority as Failed to Adequately Consider the Highway 99 Alternative…
• even at the urging of local Congressmen and State Legislators;
• and disclose full reasoning behind the abandonment of this potentially viable alternative alignment;
• and failed to provide a side-by-side comparison of Authority’s preferred alignment with one that would resolve conflicts with Kings County;
• leading to less than full disclosure of impacts and simply a filtered disclosure provided by the Authority’s limited alternatives;
• in violation on four counts of Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations.

The Authority has Failed to Follow Lawful Mandates to Preserve Agriculture…
• in ignoring the Farmland Protection Policy Act (FPPA) which was expressly written to minimize the impact Federal programs have on the irreversible conversion of farmland to nonagricultural uses;
• in a county with one of the highest statutorily protected agricultural land to total county-wide acreage ratios in the State in clear violation of the California Land Conservation Act;
•  and in fact has not yet even notified the California Department of Conservation that the proposed alignment requires the acquisition of these important “protected” lands;
• and instead proposes to destroy prime agricultural land simply because it is more economical in clear violation of State and Federal land conservation mandates.

The Authority has Ignored Kings County Plans Written to Comply with…  
• Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Local Government Reorganization Act of 2000 established to ensure orderly and efficient local agency boundaries that discourage urban sprawl, preserve open-space and prime agricultural lands, and efficiently extend governmental services;
• California Assembly Bill 170 of 2003 requiring all cities and counties in the San Joaquin Valley to include an air quality element in their general plans;
• California Assembly Bill 32 of 2006 creating the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 which set the greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal into law;
• California Senate Bill 375  of 2008  requiring the development of a “sustainable community’s strategy” in each county represented by a metropolitan planning organization to demonstrate how the region will meet greenhouse gas reduction targets, integrate land use, housing and transportation planning.

“Despite all of Kings County’s efforts to embrace forward thinking progressive land use
planning consistent with the State of California’s intent and needs for future generations, the California High Speed Rail Authority, staff, and consultants have acted to completely sidestep and avoid consideration of all of these local plans, policies and efforts. The Authority’s avoidance of such local planning efforts is avoidance of the very framework of good local and regional planning efforts as mandated by the California Legislature”.

The Authority has Ignored the Law Requiring HSR  to Follow Existing Corridors…
• as mandated by the very Proposition that is funding $9 billion of the high-speed rail scheme.

Proposition 1A Wording:
“In order to reduce impacts on communities and the environment, the alignment for the high-speed train system shall follow existing transportation 0r’ utility corridors to the extent feasible and shall be financially viable, as determined by the authority.”

The Authority has Pre-Determined the Outcome of its Environmental Review…
• in clear violation of  NEPA and CEQ by unlawfully pre-selecting a “single”
alternative through Kings County before even completing the environmental review;
• an illegal act made worse due to their ”middle-first approach” which also pre-determines the north and south routes, which must connect to the middle;
• in violation of NEPA which prohibits the pre-commitment of resources to a project because it pre-determines outcomes and defies the law requiring a full study of the environmental impacts of a proposed project.

The Kings County Board of Supervisors and its staff is a little government body preparing to fight the Obama Administration, the Federal Railroad Administration, a Democrat Congress that carelessly approved partial high-speed rail funding, the Governor of California, the State Legislature and its agent, the California High-Speed Rail Authority to protect the rights of its citizens and their liberty.  In the process they are proving once again what our Founding Fathers always knew – smaller government is the better form of government.


Bulleted points and remarks shown in quotations were either paraphrased or lifted directly from the August 2, 2011 letter from the Kings County Board of Supervisors to Mr. Szabo, Federal Railroad Administrator.  The letter can be downloaded by clicking on the link below.

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4 Responses to Patriots in Kings County Arming to Fight High Speed Rail

  1. Florez says:

    A suggestion if you really want to get the national and California media attuned to the controversy growing in California’s Central Valley over CAHSRA’s ignorning of farmers, unnecessary taking of farmland/homes, and all other points in the letter. Someone with 21 envelopes and 45 some stamps could double-side copy the 21 page Kings County Board of Supervisors letter, put a cover letter over it, briefly explaining that Kings County BOS is demanding a response from the Federal Rail Administration (Szabo), Governor Brown, California Politicians, Ray Lahood (federal Transporation Department) etc. within 10 days – August 20, 2011. By sending the letter to these national media/California media reporters that have daily circulation of about 6 million people, you get national/California reporters calling Szabo/LaHood/Gov. Brown and asking questions about issues raised in the letter. It requires a response because no one wants to ignore a reporter from the New York Times, LA Times, Washington Post, etc. Here is the list to send the 21-page letter: A better formatted list of people to send your 21 page letter to, if you want to get a response from Szabo and/or CAHSRA – good luck!:

    Congresswoman Anna Eshoo
    Washington, D.C. Office
    205 Cannon Building
    Washington, D.C. 20515

    US Department of Transportation
    Attn: Secretary Ray LaHood
    1200 New Jersey Ave. SE, Mallstop 5
    Washington, D.C. 20590

    USA Today
    Attn: Reporter Marilyn Adams
    7950 Jones Branch Drive
    McLean, VA 22108-0605

    The New York Times
    Attn: Reporter Keith Bradsher
    620 Eighth Avenue
    New York, NY 10018

    Associated Press
    Attn: Reporter Daisy Nguyen
    303 2nd St., Suite 680 N
    San Francisco CA 94107

    Assembly Member Jerry Hill
    1528 South El Camino Real
    San Mateo, CA 94402-3067

    Fox News Channel
    Attn: Reporter Joy Lin
    1211 Avenue of the Americas
    New York, NY 10036-8795

    CNN – News Service
    Attn: Reporter Steve Kastenbaum,
    One CNN Center, Box 105366
    Atlanta, GA 30348-5366

    Wall Street Journal
    Attn: Reporter Jennifer Levitz
    1211 Avenue of the Americas New York, NY 10036 212-416-2000

    California Attorney General Kamala Harris
    Attorney General’s Office – CA DOJ Attn: Public Inquiry Unit
    P.O. Box 944255 (916) 322-3360
    Sacramento, CA 94244-2550

    State Senator Joe Simitian
    State Capitol, Room 2080
    Sacramento, CA 95814
    (916) 651-4011

    State Senator Alan Lowenthal
    State Capitol, Room 2032
    Sacramento, CA 95814
    (916) 651-4027

    California State Auditor Elaine Howle
    Bureau of State Audits
    555 Capitol Mall, Suite 300

    Sacramento, CA 95814
    California Legislative Analyst Office
    Attn: Mac Taylor
    925 L Street, Suite 1000
    Sacramento, CA 95814

    California Assemblywoman Diane Harkey
    State Capitol
    Sacramento, CA 95814

    San Francisco Examiner
    Attn: Reporter Kathy Hamilton
    71 Stevenson Street
    San Francisco, CA 94105

    San Mateo County Times
    Bay Area News Group
    Attn: Reporter Mike Rosenberg
    477 Ninth Avenue, Suite 110
    San Mateo, CA 94402

    Los Angeles Times
    Attn: Reporter Dan Weikel
    202 W. 1st St.
    Los Angeles, CA 90012

    Honorable John L. Mica
    Ranking Member of U.S. House Transportation Committee
    US House of Representatives
    2313 Rayburn House Office Building
    Washington, D.C. 20515-0907

    Honorable John Boehner
    Office of the U.S. House Republican Leader
    H-204 The Capitol
    Washington, DC 20515

    U.S. Senator Kit Bond
    Ranking Member of U.S. Senate Transportation Committee
    274 Russell Senate Office Building
    Washington, D.C. 20510

    U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell
    Ranking Member U.S. Senate Republicans
    361-A Russell Senate Office Building
    Washington, D.C. 20510

    U.S. Senator Mike Lee
    316 Hart Senate Office Building
    Washington, D.C. 20510

    U.S. Senatort Rand Paul
    Washington, DC
    208 Russell Senate Office Building
    Washington DC, 20510

    U.S. Senator Mark Rubio
    317 Hart Senate Office Building
    Washington DC, 20510

    California State Treasurer
    Bill Lockyer
    State Treasurer’s Office
    915 Capitol Mall, Suite 110
    Sacramento, CA 95814

    California Governor Jerry Brown
    c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
    Sacramento, CA 95814

    U.S. Congressman Jerry Lewis
    2112 Rayburn House Office Building
    Washington, D.C. 20515

    U.S. Congressman Jeff Denham
    1605 Longworth HOB
    Washington, DC 20515

    U.S. Congressman Kevin McCarthy,
    326 Cannon Building
    Washington, DC 20515

    Orange County Register
    Attn: Reporter RONALD CAMPBELL
    625 N. Grand Ave., Santa Ana, CA 92701

    California State Senator Doug LaMalfa
    State Capitol, Room 3070
    Sacramento, CA 95814

    California High Speed Rail Authority Attn: CEO Roelof van Ark
    925 L Street, Suite 1425
    Sacramento, CA 95814

    John and Ken Show
    KFI AM 640
    3400 W Olive Ave Ste 550
    Burbank CA 91505

  2. Florez says:

    I would recommend that the cover letter show all these other addressees – all well as the Kings County BOS address (at 1400 West Lacey Boulevard, Administration Building No. 1, Hanford, California 93230 and phone at (559) 582-3211, extension 2362), so for instance California Gov. Brown/Szabo/LaHood know the letter is also being sent to reporters at NY Times, LA Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post – circulation listed here:

    So that all these politicians/media/federal officials can see who else is getting the letter.

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