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Is the Sierra Club Losing Focus?

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Conceptual view of a generic high speed rail station interior. | Photo by NC3D for the California High Speed Rail Authority

This weekend, it was reported that the Sierra Club is still undecided on Proposition 1, which would authorize a $9.95 billion bond for High Speed Rail (as in less than three years to train it from Los Angeles to San Francisco). Sierra, along with the Conservation League, feel that the train's route through the Pacheco Pass between the Central Valley and San Francisco would cause sprawl in the otherwise underdeveloped region. They rather see it go via another route that is already in a developed area.

High Speed Rail advocates fought back on blogs and with good points. The California High Speed Rail Blog opines:

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These worries are baseless. Gilroy and much of southern Santa Clara County have strict urban growth boundaries. If those places were going to sprawl they would have already done so given their proximity to the job center and hot housing market of Silicon Valley. HSR doesn't change that dynamic. Nor does it change the fact that sprawl is facing hard times. Sprawl is bad, but it isn't a force of nature. It is instead a product of three major factors: cheap oil, cheap credit, and favorable land use laws. The first is disappearing for good, thanks to peak oil. The second doesn't exist now, and may never return...

And all of this points to transit-oriented development... and an easier way to get to the Gilroy Garlic Festival.