Tuesday, June 1, 2010

NIMBY rage not satisfied with taking my train station, wants the whole PVL

Residents in the neighbourhood east of UC Riverside are really, really getting on my nerves. Were it not for their incessant complaining, the Perris Valley Line would already be up and running, and it would be stopping on my campus as well. RCTC officials delayed the project two years and removed the UC Riverside station to appease them, and yet they still aren't happy.

Ladies and gentlemen- YOU BOUGHT A HOUSE NEXT TO A TRAIN LINE. If, when you looked out the back windows of your home when considering buying it and saw train tracks, you didn't think "Hey, maybe trains call on this area from time to time. Trains are a deal-breaker for me, I should go look at that shiny McMansion in La Sierra or Woodcrest," then you are an idiot. You did not adequately consider all of the factors involved in the purchase of your home, and you are asking the entire I-215 corridor to suffer on account of your shortsightedness. This is ridiculous- either shut up or move.

I lived on Watkins Avenue immediately across from the train tracks for a year- the freighters that came through at night were noisy, yes, but we got used to it. And Metrolink trains will be MUCH quieter than freight trains, considering their comparatively light weight, minimal length and higher speed. Furthermore, the PVL line improvements will actually make EVERY train that passes through your neighbourhood less noisy- the standards to which passenger tracks must be built are higher, and the tighter tolerances mean less noise. If you knew a damned thing about trains (which you don't, obviously), you'd ask for the project to be built with a quiet zone at the two grade crossings, rather than all of these sound walls and window treatments that even you all can't agree on. And the safety arguments are crap. You're seriously shouting "Won't somebody think of the children?!?!" in this debate? Once again, track improvements will mitigate any chance of derailment or disaster- and when freighters and Metrolink trains go by, for the most part, your precious little snowflakes won't be in school! Metrolink trains run during commute hours, and freighters travel that route late at night. If your child is still in school at 5pm, I think you have bigger things to worry about than this train thing.

Seriously, Watkins Avenue neighbourhood- it's six measly trains a day. Odds are you'll be off in your SUVs to your jobs for at least a few of them. It won't be as bad as you think- in fact, it might be better than the trains that already rumble past your homes- and at any rate, you have no right to complain, because YOU BOUGHT A HOUSE NEXT TO A TRAIN TRACK. (Normally, I'm not a big fan of arguments like that- often, it's low-income residents who can't afford to live anywhere else. Not in this case- that's a very affluent middle-class neighbourhood.) There is only one place for any sort of eastward rail line to leave Riverside on the current rail network, it goes by your house, so bloody deal with it.

Worst of all, this article quotes Save Riverside's Kevin Dawson as part of the Watkins Avenue Resistance- Mr. Dawson was formerly a contact of mine when we were dealing with the Greyhound debacle last year. It just goes to show you that there is no concerted coalition for transit and livability out here in Riverside. (Note: Kevin mentions in the comments that, while he is affiliated with Save Riverside, his advocacy on this issue is related to his membership in the University Neighborhood Association.)


Anonymous said...

First off, the PVL will start with 12 trains per day, so get your facts right. Second, we have asked for quiet zones for the THREE crossings in the neighborhood but RCTC wants the city to pay for it. Its RCTC project, and as such, RCTC should pay to mitigate the impacts of its project. Third, this is a working class neighborhood, not "very affluent." The house around the corner just sold for $200K. Hardly enough to leverage a trade up to a McMansion. Forth, the time to ask for mitigation is before the project is built and the money spent. Not afterwards and the coffers are dry. Fifth, those rail lines have been hardly used in almost 100 years. To see a train was a novelty. The developers changed all that in the past couple of years in building warehouses and such. Ken Calvert, Marion Ashley,and the Bob Wolfe investor types have been major promoters and land owners who will benefit. Sixth, it is not a sin to stand up for yourself. As the great philosopher Pumba said, from the Lion King,"home is where your rump rests." My rump rests here and I will fight to protect my neighborhood. Seventh, while you argue that we are selfish about wanting to keep freight out, I think you are selfish to want to force your way through and impose yourself on us. Eighth, Don't you have a problem with BNSF getting a sweatheart deal to never have to pay to use this, now publically owned line, while they get to charge Metrolink to use their's? What's good for one, should be good for all. Nineth, UCR stats show only 22-26 campus people use Metrolink. Current users can ride a bus for free from the downtown station 6 blocks away. Why should tax payers shell out $230million, plus the original cost of buying the line, just so you can cut a 6 block bus ride. Get real. Don't be used by developer interests, who want to package this as a public transportation project, when it is really to benefit their commerical projects and get it paid for out of the public coffers.

I believe in public transportation but it has to make economic sence. It has to be run often, on time, and cost an arm & leg. I look to Portland OR for inspiration. It's town and gown like Riverside but more progressive.

Kevin Dawson

Anonymous said...

A correction. The next to last sentence should say "not cost an arm & leg".

While I am with Save Riverside and believe in the good work that group has done. My family and I live in the UCR area and belong to the University Neighborhood Association. My comments and position are on behalf of the UNA.

Erik said...

Funny, there's never a discussion of the "sweet deals" that the trucking companies get from the Caltrans Freeway system.

Eric said...

I have to side with JNelson on this one...

JN said...

Kevin- I'm with Eric on this one. I'm not seeing how a passenger rail line is a give-away to developers. If you mean commercial developers, nobody is seriously going to ride the train to Perris to do a little shopping. If you mean residential developers, the residents are already there- the give-away was I-215, not the PVL. If you mean industrial developers, well, the freight trains are already there, as you are no doubt aware.

I'd be fine if you wanted to keep freight out, and if there were any regulatory mechanism that we could accomplish that, I'd he happy to help organize and agitate for it. The fact is that you can either have freight on those tracks, or freight and a handful of Metrolink trains. Upgrading those tracks to passenger standards will mitigate the worse impacts of the freighters that are going to be running anyway.

I'm sorry, but if you think that yours is a "working class neighbourhood", then I suggest you go take the #10 bus down to the Eastside and see what a working class neighbourhood actually looks like. After that, change at downtown to the #49 into Rubidoux and you can see another one. A $200k home, especially after the housing crash, is quite solidly middle-class. Perhaps "very affluent" isn't a fair characterization, but the point I was making was that everyone who lives up there had a choice where to live- unlike many who live in the Eastside, Casa Blanca or Rubidoux- and they, like you, CHOSE to live next to an active rail line.

As far as UCR Metrolink riders, you fail to mention that that bus only shows up every 30 minutes or so. Sure, Metrolink ridership is low to UCR right now, but that's because the number of people who are willing to ride a train, wait half an hour for a bus to come, and then spend 15 minutes on a bus is a lot smaller than the number who are willing to simply ride a train. It's a fact of public transit life- one I'm not fond of, but a fact nonetheless. Austin, TX's Capital METRO rail system is failing to meet ridership projections as we speak because most of the employment destinations are connected to the train via shuttle-bus, rather than a quick walk- and those buses are timed to meet the train. Forcing riders, especially fickle suburban riders, to transfer to a bus to complete their trip kills ridership. Plus, I'm still not sure why your organization objects to having a train station within walking distance of your home- I'd love to be able to walk to a train station, and take that train all over Southern California.

I hope you get the quiet zones you ask for- they've been a great success along the UP mainline. Beyond that, the staunch opposition to this project (and that's what your mostly-unreasonable mitigation demands amount to) is un-called for. Metrolink trains, especially if they are running through a quiet zone on new rails, will do very little to alter the quality of life in your neighbourhood, and will actually improve the noise aspect of freighters in the same. Your neighbourhood cannot hold up a vital transportation project for our entire county. I also shudder to think what it's going to look like in 5 years or so, when it's time to build the LA-Riverside-San Diego HSR, which is also slated to use the San Jacinto Branch/Box Springs Pass alignment.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Mr. Dawson, of all the things to be up in arms about. LOL

Anonymous said...

What a disappointment this was. After five years living in what would have been walking distance of this station, I have happily sold my house. A project that could have benefitted the whole neighborhood and actually attracted some businesses worth patronizing was shot down by a handful of backward-looking fools who prefer smog and stagnant property values to a vibrant, dynamic community.