Meet the People Getting Screwed Over By Jerry Brown's High Speed Rail

Hundreds in California's Central Valley may lose property to make way for flawed train.


Originally published June 3, 2015. Original text below:

"It's like a field of dreams—if you build it they will come," says Mary Jane Fagundes, a Hanford, California resident in danger of losing her home to California's high speed rail. "But it's just a dream that's never going to become a reality."

Fagundes is one of many Central Valley property owners whose land will be affected by the construction of the high speed rail. Fagundes and her husband, Jerry, first learned that the rail was coming down their street from a cousin. Though the train will run 80 feet from their front door and cause severe vibration and noise damage, the California High Speed Rail Authority will not deal with the Fagundes family because the tracks do not technically touch their property line. 

"We really can't do nothing until they build the train because they're not impacting us," says Jerry Fagundes. "But talking to a lawyer we do have to get involved right now with a letter stating our impacts."  The Fagundes family will have to initiate an inverse condemnation suit against the state to recoup the losses from the damage that will be caused to their property due to the construction of the high speed rail. 

Since the rail was first approved by California voters in 2008, the project has been met with scrutiny from those on both the left and right for being a waste of time and money. Construction for the 800 mile train which will eventually connect San Francisco to San Diego is already way over budget—the proposed $68 billion dollar plan is now expected to cost over $100 billion—and is almost a decade behind schedule. There's also the question of funds—the state only has just over $13 billion in state and federal bonds—in addition to money diverted from California's cap-and-trade taxes—to build the train and it is unclear where the rest of the money will come from to complete construction. 

"Part of the problem is that [California's governor, Democrat] Jerry [Brown] is looking for something to say, 'I did this,'" says Joel Kotkin, an urban studies professor at Chapman University. "[But] the real issue is not getting from San Francisco to LA…you're really just essentially replacing Southwest with a much more expensive system that costs lots of public money."

Despite these significant hurdles, Jerry Brown and high speed rail are moving forward and are ramping up efforts to secure the land needed for the train through the use of eminent domain. 

The Fresno Bee reports that over 200 properties in the Central Valley alone have been targeted for condemnation by the state Public Works board to make way for the train and the first round of eminent domain cases are expected in courts this fall. Property owners in the first and second segments of track that span from Madera, California to Bakersfield, California are beginning to receive appraisals for their land and their have been numerous complaints about the manner in which the appraisals are being done.

Alisa Gomez, a high school teacher in Corcoran, California, is one of the property owners that has experienced problems with the appraisal process. "We got a letter stating that they wanted to appraise our property and they told us to call them when we were ready to setup an appointment. About a week later there were appraisers walking up and down the road and caught my husband at lunch time wanted to do the appraisal right then and there." 

Gomez and her husband rushed home from work to do a last minute appraisal. Gomez then states rail representatives started contacting her ex-husband to get in touch with her about the property. "I don't understand why they were contacting him," says Gomez. "It's a little bit of an invasion of privacy."

After multiple attempts to remedy the situation with the rail authority, Gomez then says she came home one day to find a FedEx package thrown over her fence which contained her appraisal offer. "So I open the appraisals up and there's multiple mistakes. My name is misspelled—spelled right here—misspelled in another area. When I look through it it's kind of sad. They take properties that were foreclosed, properties that were in town instead of in the country, looked at properties that were less bedrooms, less square footage, run down and it was just it was a smack in the face offer what they had appraised us at."

"I think the rail representatives in certain instances are definitely sort of applying pressure tactics to the land owners," says Ray Carlson, a property lawyer who is representing several clients in the Hanford area.  "Some of these appraisals they didn't even know were being made, they just ended up on their doorstep one day." 

Gomez and Fagundes have teamed up with the Citizens for California High Speed Rail Accountability, a citizen watchdog group who's mission is to bring accountability to the high speed rail construction process.  

"I think they probably started here because this is somewhere that is very simple and maybe they thought we wouldn't fight," says Gomez. "But that's definitely not the case. There's some people that really care about their property and the people around them. They do the research and they're going to make sure that they [California High Speed Rail Authority] is held accountable."  

Approximately 7 minutes. 

Produced by Alexis Garcia. Camera by Paul Detrick and Alex Manning. Music by Peterloo Massacre and Peter Rudenko

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  1. This train project is a salad spinner of fuck.

    1. The Train To No Water

      1. There’s water. It’s a hoax.

        It’s called ‘conservation pricing’ and California’s will see an increase in rates of 15 – 25% this year. They just don’t know that yet. The PUC will announce the bad news in July.

        1. It’s called ‘conservation pricing’

          Conservation pricing is to free markets roughly what a botched boob job is to Jayne Mansfield’s breasts.

  2. California politicians are really upset. Boston sort of took the crown for Biggest Money Hole Project with The Big Dig, and Seattle is trying for at least second place with the Alaskan Viaduct Tunnel project. They can’t have that. No, they need a project so money-hole-ish that it actually becomes a singularity. And what better than an already insanely expensive and over-budget project that then subsequently gets sued by every single property owner anywhere near its miles upon miles of tracks?

      1. Couldn’t hurt.

        1. I’m already an asshole, why not?

          1. SLANDERER

            1. Slander Man.

              1. I thought it was libel man.

    1. But now it’s a lovely walk from Faneuil Hall to the North End!

    2. California politicians are really upset. Boston sort of took the crown for Biggest Money Hole Project with The Big Dig, and Seattle is trying for at least second place with the Alaskan Viaduct Tunnel project. They can’t have that. No, they need a project so money-hole-ish that it actually becomes a singularity

      And of course the fuckers can’t waste money on something that would have even a little bit of utility to the residents of the state – like a massive desalination plan or something. Hey asshole central planners, how about a grand scheme to refill lake Mohave. That’d waste a trillion dollars, but at least have some benefit to the public.

      1. You need a new football stadium.

        That’s what you really need.

    3. Governor Moonbeam wants a Big Dick Dig too.

  3. I was expecting a complete list of California residents.

    1. Would save them a lot of hassle in the future. Just take everything by eminent domain, pay off a minimal takings cost by claiming that the ‘fair’ market price of the property nose-dived once it was learned it was being seized, and then finance everything through debt and higher taxes.

      All they need to do then is institute an exit tax and they’re golden.

      1. Well, as long as it’s for the Greater Good…

      2. Agammamon, Good to see you around. Hope everything is okay.

        1. Yeah, everything’s cool – I just figured I would stay away for a few days until things calmed down a bit.

          1. Let us know if you need help if things take a bad direction. Many here are willing to pitch in.

            1. Like me. I’m here, brah. Don’t be shy, or I’ll have to stalk you.

          2. By cool you mean ‘cool’, right?

      3. Good to hear from you!

      4. Good to hear from you!

        1. The squirrels express their concern the only way they know how.

      5. Search him for a wire!

      6. The real show hasn’t even started. This is just the pushback they are getting from the relatively impoverished Central Valley residents. Wait until they try to do the phase that goes through Palo Alto.

  4. Though the train will run 80 feet from their front door and cause severe vibration and noise damage, the California High Speed Rail Authority will not deal with the Fagundes family because the tracks do not technically touch their property line.


    This whole fucking thing is a mess. Those assholes in the early part of the twentieth century were pikers compared to the totalitarian monsters we have now.

    1. On the other hand, as I see it there’s at least a 30% chance that the Fagundes will never have to worry about vibration, because there’s at least a 30% chance that this absurd idiocy will collapse of its own weight, and never get even close to complete.

      Hopefully it will take any number of Professional Politicians with it.

      1. Where Brown will fail, Musk will succeed in grabbing the brass ring Hyperloop.. and then breaking it off in these peoples asses.. If global warming doesn’t become sentient, and smite them first..

        1. Relatively speaking, the $100b would probably be more productively spent if they just gave it to Musk as a birthday present; at least, he’d likely invest it in the stock market or build some company with it, which is a lot better than the destruction HSR will wreak on California.

  5. If we want to create jobs shouldn’t this be a subway under the seabed?

    1. Build it with spoons and long straws to breath through!

    2. Smelt might live by seabeds.. so, it will never make it past the environmental impact studies..

    3. 1/2, the other half should be elevated in a tube.

  6. ofc ourse, the keystone xl hasnt even been approved and yet eminent domain is being abused out the ass. but it benefits the benefactors of the reason foundation so all we hear from the peanut sis crickets and excuses

    1. Got to pick and choose your battles sometimes. At least Keystone will do something people *want* – rather than be a waste of money by doing something that is already done very well (quick along the San Diego/San Francisco corridor) and doing very poorly for a fuck ton of money.

      1. It wouldn’t be an eminent domain issue at all if the government kept out of it. It would simply be two private entities negotiating for land rights. If the landowner didn’t want to sell, the company could either reroute or abandon the project.

        1. Free markets are so few and far between in California, the general populace of the Golden State wouldn’t believe your statement.

          They banned plastic bags, from Christ’s sake. Sodas are next.

          1. “They banned plastic bags, from Christ’s sake. Sodas are next.”

            And in other news.. E. Coli, Salmonella, and Listeria are making a remarkable comeback in CA. Aided by reusable shopping bags, this is a comeback success story that petty bureaucrats can really get behind..

            1. ‘E. Coli ban proposed by CA state assembly! See channel 5 news at 10 o’clock!’

            2. And in other news.. E. Coli, Salmonella, and Listeria are making a remarkable comeback in CA.

              Easy, the legislature will just ban them, and cops will shoot them on sight.

          2. The city I live in just repealed it’s plastic bag ban – so there’s hope yet.

              1. “Which do you want to be? Do you want to be sustainable or not?” Budica said during public comments. “We are taking a step backward in forward thinking. I understand that change is difficult for some people on this council, but the world is changing.”

                Yes, infantilizing you, and restricting your choices (3 kinds of shopping bags is just too goddamned many) is the epitome of progressive, forward thinking. The forced Darwinism of parasite and bacteria poisoning (that we pay a federal agency to occasionally inspect/detect/prevent at the processing and distribution level) is the key to forward thinking. Getting sick from unpasteurized milk is a preventable tragedy, getting sick from your reusable grocery bag is the price paid for a better tomorrow..

            1. I thought it was California-wide as of this year. Last year I lived in one of the few Bay Area enclaves allowing plastic bags, until they were banned state-wide.

    2. Gee, ballsack, maybe you ought to back your claim that “it benefits the benefactors of the reason foundation”.
      Let’s see it.

    3. Must I spell it out for you people?

      It’s a troll, and you’re feeding it.

      1. “It’s a troll, and you’re feeding it.”


      2. If it’s a bearded troll, it’s gotta be Robert Reich.

    4. “the keystone xl hasnt even been approved and yet eminent domain is being abused”

      Nay Nay Buffalo Breath…

      Keystone XL was approved by the State department. Surprisingly not long after The Clinton Foundation and Bill Clinton himself were endowed with a couple of million dollars collectively, IIFC, and it is my opinion only that thinks there might be a connection between the two, just maybe, I’m just guessing there might be, maybe, who knows , probably not.

      1. BTW, out latest troll is CERTAIN that oil is going to remain in the ground and the Koch Bros ™ will suffer if that pipeline isn’t built!
        Yep, it’ll stay right there! I’d bet Jackand Ace is equally convinced, ’cause Koch Bros(tm)!

  7. There’s also an under-delta aqueduct in the works.

    1. Whew! That’s a relief. Just think of all those golf courses which may one day have been forced to trim a little water usage without it.

      1. You’ll be happy to know that the proposed $20 billion under delta pipeline saves zero water whatsoever.

        1. Are they even pretending that’s the reason for it? I thought it was to save a fish or something. Which would also be a lie, but hey.

          1. Yes. It’s a wildlife thingy.

            1. Well, “wildlife” is good so – pay up, sucka!

              1. You will too. We is out of money.

  8. Traveling through China on the high speed rail northwest of Shanghai, I was struck by the number of villages that had been pretty much literally bulldozed to build the railway. There were bunches of homes that looked like someone just drove a bulldozer straight through them to make them uninhabitable, and then left them as monuments to make a point to the passengers.

  9. I have to admit that watching 60 Minutes interview Shariah-ists stirs up my bloodlust against those fucks.

      1. but

      2. “Jerry Delemus plans on holding his own “Draw Muhammad” contest ? despite what happened in Garland”


        1. Yeah. I just don’t get the “What happened in Garland was Just Dreadful” narrative. A bunch of American Citizens were attacked by two idiots, and the idiots died. What’s the problem? Why not try to duplicate that at least once a week?

          1. “..A bunch of American Citizens were security officer was attacked by two idiots, and the idiots died were gunned down by what appeared to be either blackwater mercs, or a swat team waiting their whole lives for that moment”

            Those two fucking idiots didn’t even make it out of the parking lot. Sympathetic, wannabe jihadis might be scared, but the rest of America couldn’t give a shit.. regardless of what the talking heads try to tell us..

  10. cause severe vibration and noise damage

    Unpossible! It’s California! They don’t even allow leaf blowers there.

  11. You’re a CA taxpayer?
    Take a look in the mirror; you can see someone screwed over by moonbeam’s choo-choo.

    1. More like you’re a *US* taxpayer – go look in the mirror to see someone being screwed over to pay for this shite.

    2. Did you buy those bonds? Tax free…

      1. Me?
        Nope. I do look in a mirror every other day or two, and I’d rather not despise what I see.

        1. CA will be junk at some point. Do what you gotta do…

  12. Amtrak is a great example of the govt starting something, and no matter how much it fails, they throw more of other people’s money at it.

    No matter how many cost overruns and lessons of the past, they are building high speed rail because FYTW, and they are taxing folks because FYTW. No one wants high speed rail? We’re building it anyway because FYTW.

    These politicians create jobs at 200K and upwards per job. What if their gardener would write them a bill for 200k because the gardener hired another worker to stimulate job growth and is helping the economy. When the politician scoffs at the bill, the gardener should confiscate the politicians property for failure to pay, and if they resist use violence against them.

    That is the same crap the politicians are doing, yet it’s ok that the politicians do this because ignore the 10 commandments they babble on about while trying to force their religion on others. So it’s ok they force their will through top men and woman…..cause they are more magical than Jesus, who labeled tax collectors sinners…….but shhh, don’t read that part.

    1. You’ve seemed to troll all bases here.

    2. Until the morale improves, the beatings will continue!

  13. It’s never about the value of any given project, program or scheme to the taxpayers, it’s always about the value to the tax-eaters.

    The only metric that matters to politicians is how efficiently money is transferred to their cronies.

  14. And the capper is that even the optimistic projections show it running at a loss… forever.

    1. “Loss” is a matter of portfolio perspective. Some connected interests stand to make a shitload of money.. forever..

  15. It’s amazing to me that this clusterfuck train project is going to cost $100 billion to build and they still wind up screwing the property owners whose land they take. You’d think with them pissing away that kinda cash, they could at least throw the property owners above market value.

    1. Ah, but the Property Owners are Little People. They weren’t part of the lobbying effort to get the damn thing passed in the first place. Their payout won’t be large enough for the politicians who voted for the thing, or the stooges who are building it, to get a kickback. And, this being the Peoples’ Republic of California, they aren’t armed.

      They don’t count.

    2. I’m thinking that property owners are somewhere down the list of people they want to throw money at – like, last.

    3. Really VG? The more they disburse to the peons, the less there is for politician/crony graft..

      1. They’re blowing the money out a metaphorical fire hose.

        I’d think that they wouldn’t mind the peons getting a little bit of it.

        1. Yeah. This.

          It would certainly keep the anti’s voice down a bit. You would think with the billions in over runs they are planning for, a few extra billion to keep the property owners quite would be factored in.

        2. “I’d think that they wouldn’t mind the peons getting a little bit of it.”

          Fuck them.. they get nothing! Cronies need that soft money.. to “re-invest” in election campaigns, and cultivate better graft in the future…

  16. Yeah, but Marco Rubio owns a boat! Or something.


  17. Yeah, but Hillary Foundation Benghazi One Percent!!


    1. Who is going to pay for my salad spinner?

  18. “Part of the problem is that [California’s governor, Democrat] Jerry [Brown] is looking for something to say, ‘I did this.'”

    Sheesh, Jerry, wasn’t doing this good enough?

    1. That’s the old Jerry Brown.

      Todays Jerry brags about not showering.…..s-drought/

      1. As far as several sources in the State Capitol have been able to tell, Governor Brown has not showered or bathed in any capacity since early April.

        Oh, get real, that article has been ripped off from the Onion, hasn’t it?

  19. And, in other news.. Our brave heroes in blue make it home safely one more time, while thwarting hardened criminals and their nefarious plans.. The hero police dog also made it home safely ..

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