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A bullet train will make us forget about those lost Central Valley farms

To the editor: Farmers in the Central Valley find themselves in the path of progress. Their agricultural land is being paved over to make way for tract homes, a trend that Gov. Jerry Brown hopes the bullet train will discourage. ("Critics fear bullet train will bring urban sprawl to Central Valley," Feb 24)

It wasn't long ago when Orange County farmer Henry Segerstrom found his bean fields to be where some people wanted to build a shopping center. Segerstrom, being the visionary he was, threw in the proverbial towel and sold off a few acres of his land. And then he sold some more, and then some more.

Before you knew it, Costa Mesa was the home of South Coast Plaza. Does anyone mourn the loss of those bean fields?

Rob Macfarlane, Newport Beach

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To the editor: The "sprawl inspiration" was one of a few major failures in planning California's high-speed rail system.

Given that Central Valley cities wanted badly to have rail stops, the High Speed Rail Authority failed to take steps to make these already-sprawling areas enact local anti-sprawl zoning as a requirement to have a station.

To assume that most families want to live in single-family homes is an assumption from the 1970s. Studies done in recent years show that younger people want to live in denser, walkable communities with community gathering spaces. High numbers are eschewing cars, driving and are looking for good transit or bike lanes.

The High Speed Rail Authority should take measures to force Fresno, Modesto and Bakersfield — arguably the "Orange counties" of the Central Valley — to put a halt to sprawling development, to reduce parking requirements and to add efficient transit connectors. It would have been easy enough to say, "No rezone, no train," but, of course, the planners didn't.

Rob Bregoff, San Francisco

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