Citizens approved the Costco project on Johnson Drive by a 63% to 37% margin in 2016 and nothing has been built. Anti-Costco groups sued twice contending the environmental impact report was inadequate—the city fixed the potential shortcomings and approved the project only to see another legal action filed. A Superior Court judge ruled against the group’s action and it was appealed.
Parties to the suit are awaiting the appellate court decision which could be several months city spokesman Nick Binzoni wrote in an email.
Speaking of elections, it was way back in 2008 that voters statewide were lulled into approving a $10 billion bond issue to build high-speed rail from San Francisco to Los Angeles that would deliver passengers in three hours. The total cost was estimated at $40 billion and the measure promised no more public money would be used. President Obama’s infamous shovel-ready jobs bill in 2009 included $3 billion for the project. When Obama left office in 2017, not a single rail had been laid and the cost had skyrocketed.
High-speed rail agency leaders have since redefined the project as the timeline has stretched and stretched and stretched. The first phase is now 192 miles from Bakersfield to Merced where it could connect with other rail lines into the Bay Area. It’s questionable whether the authority has the money to complete the first phase, let alone the entire project.
The latest business plan puts the cost at $105 billion, a number about $35 billion more than an earlier estimate that former Gov. Jerry Brown shied away from during his first term and downsized the project.
Agency leaders are hoping, according to an Associated Press report, that the federal infrastructure bill and a rail fan in the White House will result in billions of federal money headed to the project. It’s notable that the Trump Administration clawed back $1 billion of the original money because the agency had not met the deadlines associated with it despite guidelines that were rewritten by the Obama Administration. Biden has since restored it.
Fortunately, leaders in Sacramento, particularly Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, have correctly been skeptical of the project and openly discussed using the money for more needed projects in metropolitan areas such as the Bay Area and Los Angeles.
It’s clear that the authority continues to throw good money after money that is ill-spent. Kill the boondoggle now.