Sunday, November 25, 2007

Humboldt Bay's Luddites in The Eureka Reporter
The kayak and bicycle trail activists, bolstered by the recent win of their star anti-development Harbor District commissioner, Pat Higgins, and lawsuit-driven Baykeepers are wasting no time in trying to foist their anti-economic development plan for Humboldt Bay onto the rest of us.

I am 63 and survive on Social Security. There are many of us in Humboldt County who live on fixed incomes or have low-paying jobs and for whom shopping for the cheapest price is a necessity for survival. We don’t run businesses that survive on the local marijuana economy, government grants, student spending or on lawsuits against corporations.

But the community activists whose own economies are supported by just such financing seem to be doing their best to destroy any chance of economic upgrading of our lives. Plovers and mud hens seem much more important to them than us.

Without adequate incomes and community services, people really do suffer. Some even die unnecessarily because there’s nobody there for them, and the community has no surplus capital to invest in needed services for those who are elderly or who for whatever reasons are unable to pay the terrible costs of medical help.

In other California counties that are economically prosperous and not consistently at the low end of the scale, as is Humboldt County, community services are adequately funded and the overall quality of life is improved. We live in a beautiful county, but our overall quality of life here is not anything to brag about healthwise or community relationshipwise. We live in a social war zone.

We have a highly organized and vocal activist community that seems bent on shutting down as much industrial economic activity in Humboldt County as possible. They’ve managed to get another one of themselves into office and we can expect more social warfare, as was the case with their man they got into the District Attorney’s Office.

We must remember that these activists earn their incomes by attacking resource industries and industrial development, so we cannot ever expect cooperative compromise, as keeping open war keeps the funding coming for activist lawsuit organizations. Actual environmental conflict resolution destroys their reason for being, so they are never sources for the type of information we all need — unbiased information.

Take, for instance, Pete Nichols’ recent hit piece on Humboldt Bay and railway development. He uses fear, citing the recent San Francisco container ship oil spill as grounds for never developing our port to receive container ships.

Nichols has Baykeepers’ lawsuit agenda uppermost in mind and never mentions such commonsense solutions as only allowing small container ships to come into Humboldt Bay. And he doesn’t tell you about the reasons they’ve now found for why that container ship hit the bridge support in San Francisco — it seems their port communications systems have been very inadequate for a long time, simple things like ship captains being unable to understand port guidance instructions.

This isn’t to say that ports can be made free of human error and accidents, but it is to say that we must weigh all the issues involved instead of letting ourselves be stampeded by those whose own jobs depend on creating that stampede against port and rail development.

Humboldt Bay as a successful shipping port will no doubt have its share of occasional accidents, but like major ports all over the world, the overall economic activity so greatly overwhelms the relatively minor losses due to accidents that only economic Luddites or those whose jobs depend on blocking port development would call for shutting all port shipping down.

Did San Francisco stop shipping or fishing or will it? No, of course. It will clean up the mess and keep going. Do we let our major storms shut Humboldt County down? No, we clean up the mess and keep going.

We need to watch out for our community and our families and our future. Port development and a railway line can be done and done in such a way that all environmental protection and economics issues are resolved. Let’s put our community heads together and figure out ways of avoiding current shipping problems, e.g., demanding a switch to non-polluting engines of any ships coming into Humboldt Bay. Oil burners are on their way out.

Instead of fighting against the needs of the majority of Humboldt County residents, I urge activists to turn their attention instead to constructive activity such as organizing students and local civil engineers and inventors to solve port development problems instead of throwing up their hands and saying it can’t be done and, therefore, we are going to stop you from even trying.

(Stephen Lewis is a resident of Rio Dell.)

I figure since Ken Miller is finally listening, maybe he'll see the light on this one a little earlier. In Miller's own Op-Ed in the McKinleyville Press he confirms what Stephen has been saying for years. Now we have Miller outlawing grow houses (though I doubt he will give up writing 215 cards)... and advocating for logging... what could be next? Ask Gallegos to step down?


  1. So now you want to demonize kayak and bicycle trail enthusiasts?

  2. No. You read the first sentence again.

  3. It isn't so much those who are for trails, etc, but to those who insist to rip out the railroad, while claiming, they have an open mind. Such as Mike B.

  4. What is so un-open about that?

  5. on one hand he claims he has an open mind and *anything* is possible. Yet wants to rip out the tracks, to make *everyone* happy, when it will not make everyone happy. When I repeat my questions on how long rail banking/rails to trails will take vs rails with trails, he hasn't yet answered. Yet he is *realistic*. In order to rip up the tracks, you have to at least apply for abandonment. It is illegal do so without going through this process. I've checked, with the STB. Yet for all the *studying* he can't yet give a time line, or refute my claims.

  6. Take a deep breath capdiamont. Your personal attacks on those with a different perspective are really tiresome.

    If a train is really going to return to Humboldt it will have to get through the Eel River Canyon geology and Marin County (and by extension state) politics. If it can do that, a trail will not stop it.

  7. 859, how is cap making a "personal attack"

    I may or may not agree with him, but his posts actually make a bit of sense.

  8. A bit. That’s quite an endorsement.

  9. Once again 859/1005, I am responding to your characterization that posts as being "personal attacks".

    Whether or not I agree with what he is saying is irrelevant.

    Please show me in any of his posts above, where Cap is levleling a "personal attack" on anyone, and no, disagreeing with what he is saying doesnt make it a personal attack on you.

  10. Oh, and by the way, I wouldnt say that calling Mike Buettner, aka ROBPUSHEDME to task for purporting to have an open mind while having zero tolrance towards those who are pro-rail, or even pro-rail AND trail a personal attack.

  11. Having a different opinion is not the same as having "zero tolerance".

    By claiming that someone doesn’t have an open mind and then now trying to drag other issues in to this while that person has not said a thing on this post I think that you too are also jumping into the indirect smear of this person. Who, by the way is not even the subject of this post.

    It seems strange that you would do this if you didn't agree a little more than "a bit" with capdimont.

  12. Ah, but 12:30, if you are the the previous poster that I responded, YOU are the one calling cap's responses "personal attacks", not me...

  13. The oil spill in the bay did shut down fishing.

  14. They are personal as they target a specific person, which didn't stop you from piling on.

  15. WTF? 306, you make absouletly no sense. It's not an attack to point out someone's hypocrisy or lack of consistency.

    Let's focus on Cap, who I dont even know, (and, who btw, HAS) been the subject of personal attacks from some of the trail only proponents.

    Please, once again, pray tell, where are his so-called personal attacks?

    I am asking for a specific example, something you have yet to provide; the only thing you have done is try and link me to him in some manner.

    I can assure you, I dont even know him, and the rails/trails issue isnt even a big deal to me.

    I just like to call bullshit when I see it - like your unfounded accusation of a "personal attack".

  16. Mike Buettner11/26/2007 4:44 PM

    Lawrence is full of personal attacks against me. He thought it important to call me on using a blog name rather than my real name (sorta like using Capdiamont instead of Lawrence Labranche). I have been posting under my real name ever since but he is still ol' Capd.

    I would prefer to stick to the issues. And the rail has a big one that is by all accounts insurmountable. That is the cost of rebuilding the rail and keeping it running on a regular dependable schedule. The rail cannot support itself on the dribble of local shipping available now. It can only make a go of it if there is a container port on Humboldt Bay. The container port will require a fast, efficient and reliable railroad. Where will the funds come from to accomplish that?

  17. And Buettner/robpushedme you're calling out cap, who has not denied anything, and seems to have been pretty nice to you all things considered, but you do not call out heraldo... why do I suspect you know full well who heraldo is?

    Too bad you guys don't put all your negative energy towards SOLVING problems.

  18. Wow Rose. So you think that Mike called out Cap? Did you not read what Mike wrote? Do you not read Cap's blog? If you did, you would know it is Cap who did the "calling out" not Mike. How has Cap been nice to Mike and what "all things considered" are you talking about?

    Even so, it dosen't make the train or the port any more feasable.

  19. Mike Buettner11/26/2007 5:46 PM

    Part of the blogosphere... vitriolic responses when no comprehensive thought (or even argument) is available.

  20. So what if I still use capdiamont? I have been using it since the days of BBSing.

    Not like I deleted my real name from my blog. Yawn.

    You, are the one who implied that us rail and trail supporters are closed minded. Nice try to change the subject BTW.

    "Part of the blogosphere... vitriolic responses when no comprehensive thought (or even argument) is available."

    Sounds like your talking about yourself again. You refuse to have any comprehensive talk about the trail. You have to write ANYWHERE a time line.

  21. To call yourself realistic, you have to deal with 100% of reality.

    You are the one who thought it was cute to make fun of rail board members with your photo editing.

    You are the one who put poor baby, no one visiting cap's blog.

    You are the one that I simply respond to, in an attempt to continue the dialog. Yet no reply s at all.

  22. Too boot, you still call yourself Bit and it wasn't "a blog name" it was many blog names. It was really, really hilarious when you used ROBPUSHEDME with the baby avatar.

    How is ok for you to attack others, yet responses to your posts, even simple ones are treated as attacks?

    By your opinion, the railroad can't come back due to economics. Yet you continuously state the more expensive FEMA study VS the more recent study. Why is that?

  23. Nothing wrong with pseudonyms, Buettner - but you still haven't answered the questions. You bite at cap, but not at "heraldo." Cap stays positive, "heraldo" does not...

    You know that using your name has not hurt you.

    Do you think if "heraldo's" name was known it would hurt him/her/she/it/they?

  24. The article was very deep,gave specifics on what the writer feels and why. It also states a fact that the bay is not the only issue for many who say the bays the issue. Why not post some thoughts,suggestions or possible solutions in relationship to it? What Mike and Lawrence think about their blog names or each other is drivel that one expects to see on heraldo. Rose please ask them to use at least 5th grade level communication or go the f--k away.

  25. Or what Rose thinks about Heraldos blog name?

  26. Cap’s questions about the details of how “railbanking” might occur are just deflections from the real question which is; how would a trail keep a train from returning if it is so feasible and needed that it can overcome all of the geologic, economic and political hurdles?

  27. 10:50pm while you say it is a deflection, it is a question that must be answered. Part of what you're inferring, is there can't be a trail, when there is a rail. In order to have a rational discussion, we need to have costs, methods, and time line of all methods. Anybody care to take a guess on the time line? I've had one person on a local blog guess 4 years to fully legally do the process till the trail is usable.

    There is other local uses for the rail that doesn't need the canyon. Transport goods, excursion runs, holiday runs between the city's. I would love to be proven wrong on the economics of commuter rail here.

    As far as how would a trail keep the train from returning, have you ever heard of rail returning anywhere that was rail banked? 2nd the rail returning would mean an interruption in the use of the trail. Like people would really like that to happen.

    Considering we are spending easily over one billion in improvements on 101, a 75 to 90 million as a later study noted, isn't bad. That study noted that once those improvement have taken place, a normal maintenance program can take care of most problems, except for extreme events. Of course the highway system has those same problems.

  28. The fact is all those same obstacles existed when this country was founded, and men made their way here, and built roads and railroads against impossible odds. Not people like Buettner, who we are blessed to have today, who have twisted that spirit into the negative, putting all of their energy into finding reasons why we can't do anything - it's too hard, it's too expensive, it isn't appropriate, we don't like it, it is dirty, it might interfere with the view, it might generate traffic... lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

    Not everything is LNG, Buettner. We can all agree that was a bad idea, without having to decide everything else is equally bad, or necessarily bad at all. What happened to you?

  29. What about solar powered mini rail cars? I keep thinking of doing something similar, like a speeder. That way you reduce weight, needed horsepower, and cost.

    Check out The New Electric Vehicles: A Clean & Quiet Revolution (Paperback) by Michael A. Hackleman published in 1996

    In it he proposes such a vehicle.

  30. See, Buettner, that's how it is done - you imagine what could be, and then you find a way to do it.

  31. another reason for the rail is peak oil production is already past for both national, and global. China and other growing countries, are greatly increasing their oil consumption. This means petrol fuel prices will keep rising overall.

    This means you need the most efficient method of transport, which isn't trucks, and never will be.

    You had lost cost saying they wanted to ship out beer, to save them $1,000 a carload. This is money better spent on other things, like maybe wages, or benefits?

  32. "I would love to be proven wrong on the economics of commuter rail here."

    So prove yourself right.

  33. BTW Rose back when the trian was first buildt you could also just kill off those darn protesting Indians who got in the way of "progress", or just fill in any stream you wanted to drag logs down it. Things are different now.

  34. Obstacles can be overcome. Maybe with innovative new ideas. But only with creative, determined, forward looking innovative people. Not with naysayers and whiners.

  35. "I would love to be proven wrong on the economics of commuter rail here."

    Just go to the Harbor District website where you will find the NCRA Economic Study attached to the Revitalization Plan that references two studies that both say that commuter rail on the north coast is not practical or feasible due to low population densities.

  36. Mike Buettner11/27/2007 11:45 AM

    "See, Buettner, that's how it is done - you imagine what could be, and then you find a way to do it."

    Yes and I am. Building a trail on ROW between Eureka and Arcata. Certainly I am not alone and "we" are finding a way to do it.

  37. 10:45 That doesn't prove me wrong, for I have said in the past it wasn't feasible, just for those reasons.

    Mike, you are still are not dealing with the legal process, and the time to do it. You are so dead set against it, you can't see anything for it.

  38. Rose, tell capdiamont to not be such a naysayer.

  39. Mike said: "Certainly I am not alone and "we" are finding a way to do it."

    Mike - you guys could't find your asses with two hands and a flashlight.

  40. Mike Buettner11/28/2007 11:52 AM

    Nice conversation.

  41. What's wrong, Mike, RobPushYou?

  42. He likes to hit and run. Try having a conservation with him on the railroad.

    Notice how he avoids all questions of legality on rail banking?

  43. Mike Buettner11/28/2007 9:23 PM

    Abandonment is more political than legal. The NCRA board is changing. Soon there will be majority for splitting the ROW and abandoning the north end.

    Show me a case where reversal of rail banking was denied.

  44. How is the NCRA Board changing?

  45. mike Buettner11/28/2007 9:39 PM

    New members from Marin. Ollivier won't be reappointed after this term. Others will see the light.

  46. Ahhh, yes, the light.

    And your reason for saying Ollivier won't be reappointed is.......?

    Would it have something to do with the not-thinly veiled-threats made by Pete Nichols? Toe our line or else?

  47. mike Buettner11/28/2007 10:11 PM

    I just don't see the BOS reappointing Ollivier.

  48. 9:42 That made me smile. True enough, both ways I think you meant it.

    The problem with commuter rail up here, is what does that mean? Passenger rail, but of what type, and frequency?

    Maybe with the sky train, monorail, or mini solar vehicles, it could be done. Problem, is most people say that with the low, spread out population it isn't possible. No study has been done to find out the feasibility of all the options. No study of this area has been done, because of that reason.

    A solar tricycle, can easily propel a human along using less than one horsepower, or 746 watts. So why not mini solar vehicles with differential GPS to keep track and space them? One issue is what about different direction on travel, hard to do with only one track between Eureka, and Arcata. There isn't any sidings to do any meets.

    There is less energy needed using steel wheels on steel rail, than rubber tires, on pavement.

  49. "Passenger Demand Methodology
    In general, the process for evaluating the feasibility of each type of passenger service was
    based upon characteristics of the NWP corridor and the comparison of these
    characteristics to similar service that operates elsewhere in California or previously
    within the NWP corridor. Traditionally, viability of intercity and commuter rail is
    influenced by travel patterns, population densities and travel times. This evaluation
    utilizes the work previously completed for the Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit
    (SMART) Commission corridor in March 2002 and on the Feasibility of Intercity Rail
    Passenger Service on San Francisco Bay Area – Eureka Corridor, No. 01D290, Phase I
    Final Report. The viability of excursion rail was also considered. The market for
    excursion rail is different than the market for intercity and commuter. Excursion rail
    focuses on trips that are made for the experience itself, not for travel between one point
    and another. An excursion trip should be considered “recreation” instead of
    “transportation.” These trips are less time - and cost-sensitive. Also, the equipment used
    as well as entertainment/attractions on-board and off-train are important.
    Passenger/Excursion Opportunities
    The estimation of ridership levels for each of the operating scenarios was based on the
    ridership levels experienced by the other excursion railroads profiled in this report.
    Passenger volumes at six other excursion operations in Northern California ranged from
    about 90 to over 300 per day, or 7,000 to 200,000 per year. Based on this data and other
    analyses, excursion demand was estimated to range from less than 6,000 passengers per
    year to over 100,000 depending on the operating scenario and marketing outlook. Due to
    the relatively low population density along travel times on the NWP corridor, intercity
    passenger service demand was not found to be sufficient to warrant further analysis."

    The purpose of this section is to assess the feasibility for passenger rail service is feasible
    in the Northwestern Pacific corridor. For this study, passenger rail includes intercity and
    commuter service as well as excursion (i.e. tourist-oriented) service.
    8.1 Passenger/Excursion Market Methodology
    In general, the process for evaluating the feasibility of each type of service was based
    upon characteristics of the NWP corridor and the comparison of these characteristics to
    similar service that operates elsewhere in California or previously within the NWP
    For intercity rail, this report examines three Amtrak routes: the Pacific Surfliner, the San
    Joaquins and the Capitol Corridor. Each of these routes operates exclusively in
    California. As a benchmark, they were evaluated based on population served, frequency,
    travel time and length of corridor. This discussion also addresses other modes that
    currently offer intercity service in the corridor.
    The discussion on commuter rail addresses the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit
    (SMART) proposed service as well as the potential for commuter service in the
    remainder of the corridor. Like intercity rail, travel patterns, population and travel times"

    influence the market for commuter rail. This evaluation utilizes the work previously
    completed for the SMART Commission in March 2002.16
    The viability of excursion rail was also considered. The market for excursion rail is
    different than the market for intercity and commuter. Excursion rail focuses on trips that
    are made for the experience itself, not for travel between one point and another. An
    excursion trip should be considered an “entertainment” trip versus a work or other trip
    that is dependent on public transportation. Due to the unique nature of entertainment
    based trips these trips are less time and cost-sensitive. Also, the equipment used as well
    as entertainment/attractions on-board and off-train are important.
    The scope and timeframe for this study did not permit the collection of extensive market
    research, such as stated preference surveys. Instead, this evaluation relies on the
    assessment of service previously operated in the corridor as well as characteristics of
    other, successful excursion rail operations in other parts of Northern California. To this
    end, operators of these services were interviewed and asked to describe factors for
    successful excursion rail in general and the NWP corridor in particular. They were also
    asked to describe characteristics of their operations. The list of interview questions is
    included in Appendix B. Tourism professionals, such as staff from convention and
    visitor bureaus, were also interviewed to characterize visitor travel in the corridor as well
    as their opinion of interest/viability for excursion rail.
    8.2.3 Commuter Rail
    Commuter rail primarily serves local and regional areas. The Interstate Commerce
    Commission (ICC) states that commuter rail includes some or all of the following
    • The passenger service is primarily being used by patrons traveling on a regular
    basis either within a metropolitan area or between a metropolitan area and its
    • The service is usually characterized by operations performed at morning and
    evening peak periods of travel;
    • The service usually honors commutation or multiple-ride tickets at a fare
    reduced below the ordinary coach fare and carries the majority of its patrons on
    such a reduced fare basis;
    • The service makes several stops at short intervals either within a zone or along
    the entire route;
    • The equipment used may consist of little more than ordinary coaches; and
    • The service should not extend more than 100 miles at the most, except in rare
    instances; although service over shorter distances may not be commuter or
    short haul within the meaning of the exclusion.
    A segment of the NWP corridor has been identified for commuter rail in previous
    planning efforts. The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) corridor is located in
    the Northwestern Pacific right-of-way and extends from downtown San Rafael to Cloverdale. It is 68 miles long. Commuter rail service has been proposed in this corridor
    to alleviate congestion in the US 101 corridor and to accommodate future travel demand.
    In 20 years, the population of Marin and Sonoma Counties is expected to increase 26
    percent, from 714,900 people to 902,200 people.23
    Twelve stations have been assumed for this corridor in recent planning efforts. They
    would be located at San Rafael, San Rafael Civic Center, South Novato, North Novato,
    Petaluma, Cotati, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, Windsor, Healdsburg, Geyserville, and
    Cloverdale. There would be a minimum of three trains during each peak period at each
    station, as well as limited midday service. It was estimated that there would be about
    5,100 daily boardings in 2007, and about 6,000 daily boardings in 2020.24 Outside of the
    San Rafael and Cloverdale corridor, there is not sufficient density to support regular
    commuter operations."

  50. That isn't plenty. It doesn't cover all the possible methods, and their costs VS loadings. Where is there amounts of commuters between Eureka and Arcata for instance?

  51. mike Buettner11/29/2007 12:00 PM

    This must be what you were looking for:

    "Due to the relatively low population density along travel times on the NWP corridor, intercity passenger service demand was not found to be sufficient to warrant further analysis."

  52. so nearly nothing has been studied. Thanks for proving my point.


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