Two bills aimed at the controversial bullet-train program created a significant win for critics of California’s high-speed rail project.
Recently, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 940 — a bill by state Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford. In the event land taken through eminent domain or purchased by the state for right of way is no longer deemed needed for the High-Speed Rail project, the authority must notify landowners that their property will be offered for sale. The authority must wait at least 30 days before they can sell the property to anyone else.
The rail authority has been able to obtain about 841 of the 1,590 needed parcels to complete phase one of the project, a 520-mile segment that is supposed to go from Anaheim to San Francisco. Critics are concerned that if the project fails and is never completed, the state could own property it no longer needs.
The rail authority “is trying to take farms, land, businesses and homes, many of which have been in the same family for generations,” Vidak said, as quoted in the Fresno Bee. “Folks deserve the opportunity to get back what belonged to them if the state plans to sell property it bought or seized” for the project.
A second win comes from Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno. Assembly Bill 2847 is on its way to Brown’s desk after being unanimously approved by both the Assembly and the Senate. If the bill is signed, it would strengthen legislative oversight of the $64 billion rail project by implementing a pair of recommendations from the Legislative Analyst’s Office.
The bill would require the rail authority to provide detailed information about the cost, scope, schedule of each project segment, and — for the first time — require the authority to include the costs of financing the construction of the project.
The bill was a response to the authority issuing a draft to its new business plan that would start construction on the northern segments of the rail — a major change from the earlier plans to start in the southern segment.
“With every change order and subsequent demand for millions of unplanned-for funds, it becomes more and more clear that the (rail) authority is making things up as they go along,” Patterson said as quoted in the Fresno Bee. “Many of my Democrat colleagues are having buyer’s remorse and are finally demanding accountability.”
If you think your property or business may be taken for the high-speed rail project, you can learn more about your options by giving us a call at (866) EM-DOMAIN.