Council to act on new rail committee September 9

September 7, 2019 – Palo Alto Matters

Discussion of a new Rail Blue Ribbon Commission to advise the council on political and funding strategies was mostly deferred on August 19. City Council and many public speakers were unenthusiastic about staff’s proposal to comprise the RBRC of former mayors and council members, and many questions were raised about the roles and interaction between the proposed RBRC and the existing Expanded Community Advisory Panel, or XCAP. Staff returns to City Council on September 9 for a full discussion. 

The recommendation for exclusive appointment of former elected officials has been softened, but staff still urges a non-voting role for the Chamber of Commerce, Stanford, Caltrain, the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

A revised staff report clarifies that the XCAP is primarily involved in building an informed understanding of grade separation options – developing and evaluating grade separation alternatives reflective of neighborhood perspectives. While the XCAP informs the process, they are not charged with making recommendations to council. As that process wraps up, the RBRC will engage to consider the political viability of the alternatives and potential funding strategies, leading to a design and funding strategy recommendation to City Council. Unlike the XCAP, the RBRC will report directly to council and be subject to the Brown Act and conflict of interest rules to ensure the RBRC’s recommendations are not tainted by potential real estate or financial interests of its members.

Monday’s continued discussion is scheduled for 6:45 pm on September 9 and will focus on the RBRC’s scope of assignment, its composition, and how members would be selected. 

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