Without a doubt, if implemented, Vision California will be the greatest growth inducing measure implemented in the state since the discovery of gold in 1848. It is the Law of Unintended Consequences. Underwritten as a support document by the California High-Speed Rail Authority, to help justify the rail and its impact on the California, the report says one thing but will generate something else. It is critical to understand that this rail line will reach into regions of the state like no other man made transportation structure since the interstate highway system of the late 1950s to today.
Let’s look quickly at the system as proposed and ultimately hoped for. One line runs the length of the Central valley from to San Diego. A second line starts in San Francisco goes south to about Gilroy then east to Merced where it joins the Central Valley line (a variant starts in Oakland and goes over the Altamont to meet south of Stockton). A number of stops are proposed along these lines and every stop requires significant development and support. The largest is where a huge maintenance facility needs to be built to service and build the trains (build here means to connect the cars to each other to form a “train”). One is proposed in the Merced area if this is where the San Francisco merge occurs. Thousands of employees will needed along with the required support of homes and services.
Approximately 26 station locations have been picked for stations, by whom I am not sure, some obvious, some political. But the one thing that is sure is that every community, not on the list but on the line, will have trains racing through their town at 100 miles an hour (or more) and they will have train envy. They want a station in their town – now. They know that each station will have a huge multiplier on their town and region – they want a piece of the pie and they do not want to be left out. They want it in their general plans, downtown plans, sphere of influences – and they want the revenue from the housing, jobs, fees, and sales taxes. They want an "interchange" not a bypass.
Vision California, through its “miraculous” tools, will tell these communities how to grow, where to grow, and what type of growth. They will tease and wave carrots, offer incentives and services, and expand the state’s role throughout the planning process. Remember this is all about “saving ourselves from ourselves.” It revolves around AB 32, SB 375 and the mitigation/reduction of California’s carbon emissions through increased urbanism, density, and state control of development. I absolutely believe that the High Speed Rail and the Law of Unintended Consequences will do just the opposite – it is an incredible catalyst for growth into the farther reaches of the state, it will push affordable growth from the coast toward the Central Valley and the Inland Empire, increase vehicle use, and give small valley towns a second life. And is this a bad thing?