To sue or not to sue, that's the decision the Bakersfield City Council will have to make Wednesday night regarding the High Speed Rail project. City officials say the High Speed Rail Authority glossed over California Environmental Quality Act standards and that could cost the city millions and create problems for residents.
Residents who live near 16th Street, right next to one of the proposed high speed rail lines, have many concerns. "More worried about the noise, more worried about the demolition. That's really what they're worried about," said Mario Salazar, who lives on 16th Street.
Or a few blocks away on 18th Street. "I'm against it completely. Have been from the beginning. I don't think our town will profit by it," said Reta Bidwell, who lives on 18th Street.
A lot of residents say they’re being pushed aside as the High Speed Rail project moves forward.
"I don't think they thought too much about what would happen to us. What it would detail. Because their main thought is from L.A. to San Francisco," Bidwell said.
But city leaders now say Bakersfield is being treated the same. After months of discussions with the authority about the High Speed Rail project, officials say their concerns have simply been ignored. Even the actual route of the project is still a mystery.
"It seemed as if we were moving towards some kind of understanding. Then, when they came out with their document, they pretty much blew us off one would say,” said City Manager Alan Tandy.
At the heart of the city's planned lawsuit is the Authority's Draft Environmental Impact Report released in July. The city says the report doesn't address how it will handle moving or bulldozing city property. Bakersfield High School, the city's Corporation Yard, freeway projects and Rabobank Arena, to name a few, could all be affected.
"They have not, to date, talked to us, say what the mitigation plan is, what the form of compensation will be," Tandy said. Answers Tandy says are worth filing a lawsuit over and the City Council will decide whether or not to start that process.
High Speed Rail Authority Administrators say they are pledging to be more transparent and work closer with the city.
The city council meeting starts at 5:15 p.m. at the City Council Chambers on Truxtun Avenue (map