Unfortunately this is looking like a battle between the Palo Alto/San Jose NIMBYs versus Rod Diridon. Rod Diridon is trying to get the state legistlature to remove the language from the budget bill that would require the HSRA to study alternative alignments to the Caltrain corridor in the project-level EIR for the San Jose-San Francisco segment. The NIMBYs in Palo Alto and San Jose are in favor of the language believing that alternative alignments could be chosen that avoid their neighborhoods. Diridon is opposing this claiming the delay caused by further study would force the agency to miss the deadline set by the Stimulus bill and would have to forego funding.
This political tug-of-war ignores reality. First, some of the alternative alignments are very likely to be screened out because of major flaws. Just because a particular alignment bypasses a neighborhood does not mean that it won't cause harm to the environment and stir opposition from others in the community. A proper evaluation would likely show that a Caltrain alignment would produce the least harm.
Second, Diridon's claim of missing the deadline for the Stimulus fund comes from the assumption that the HSRA would submit the entire corridor for Stimulus funding, which timing would either be too tight or impossible to fulfill regardless. This region would not miss most if any of the Stimulus funds if it prioritizes near term improvements that have been studied and received environmental clearance. The near term projects submitted by MTC for the funding costs about 20% of the total $8 billion of the stimulus funds. The projects submitted by MTC are necessary for high speed rail anyway unless HSRA gives up its current preference and repicks an alignment outside the Caltrain right of way, which this language won't do.
Similar to the current events in Iran, the HSRA can only lose trust in the communities by its rush to judgement and its ignorance to their concerns. While the motive of the legislator who placed the language is suspicious, removing this language from the bill will only foster further distrust by those who have the power to cause further delays for the project.
Restoring the trust will likely require some kind of "regime change" at the High Speed Rail Authority currently dominated by Quentin Kopp and Rod Diridon, who both have a history of supporting wasteful transit projects and pick fights against transit advocates to score cheap political points. High speed rail could be way better off with other more competent and less politically divisive boardmembers.