Chapter 7


Page 4

"If this is an application for a special privilege, it ought to be rejected because I don't see why the city should part with a franchise which will make money for a private individual and afford no revenue to the city.

"If the application is made by representatives of the Southern Pacific, it ought to be granted, because when the franchise of the Southern Pacific expires on Seventh Street, that franchise will be absorbed by the city. That would mean the abolition of the dead line at Seventh street and the conversion of the south water front into a railroad yard, the destruction of the space between Third and First streets, and the conversion of the same into a place for warehouses and factories in a very short time. While that corporation has been in possession of the street for forty years, the time will come when the franchise will expire, and it will become the duty of the city to disfranchise it and order the removal of the trains from Seventh Street.

"Who are the applicants? The Tesla Coal Company is not the applicant it can't be the applicant."

Mr. Wixson asked why the Tesla Coal Company could not be the applicant.

"It may be the applicant for somebody else," said Mr. Evans. "Let them tell whom they represent and we will be able to deal with the proper people. If this is to be a transcontinental road I am ready to endorse it because those two blocks between Third and First streets will be of value for warehouses beyond the knowledge of man. If it is for a coal road it is invaluable for any purpose. A trans-continental road would make the adjoining property valuable. In that section there it is level land, there are railroads and water and that is the only place where the three come together. Grade-crossing don't cut a figure in it. Grade crossing can be made as safe as any other. It all depends upon the legislation of the granting body. There can be no interference with travel.

"As to the taking of sidewalks, I defy any man to take any sidewalk in this city for a railroad company. The sidewalk is public property by legal decisions. No railroad corporation in the county can encroach on any person's sidewalk in any street in this city.

"The whole characteristic of the application shows it is one of two things. It is either in the interest of the Tesla Coal Company, or for speculative purposes or for some other corporation under cover. If it is for some other corporation or individual let it or him come forward and deal with us."

Superintendent Palmer of the Southern Pacific Railroad was then introduced. He referred to the fact that franchises sought to be extended through private property of the Southern Pacific where the coming company had no property rights and where in order to get through, the new company, would have to acquire right of domain. That, the speaker held, would be conferred upon the concern of the proposed franchise should it be granted.

Mr. Palmer then referred to the proposed right of way from Thirteenth Avenue, the crossing of the Southern Pacific tracks east of Clinton station, the crossing again of the Southern Pacific tracks at Third and Webster streets and, finally, of the termination at Union Street.

"The newspapers," he said, "have stated that these people have acquired 135 acres on the estuary, on which they are to build a railroad depot and locate slips for a ferry line to San Francisco.

"Just how the railroad is to get from the center of Third Street to the estuary is not mentioned in the franchise. Just why it is not mentioned is what we are anxious to ascertain. So far as a competing line with the Southern Pacific is concerned, we care nothing. But, in so far as it hampers the free access to our lines, it is, so far, that we are interested in this franchise. On my pay-roll are men to whom monthly the Southern Pacific Company pays $300,000. Of that amount, it is safe to say that $200,000, yes, $250,000, is expended monthly in Oakland, probably $3,000,000 a year and that's why we think there should be some clause in that ordinance to protect our line.

"In East Oakland, the line of this new company is contiguous to that of our company. The grade at Commerce Street is five feet, at Thirteenth Avenue and Eleventh Street, it is 11½ feet; at Twelfth Avenue, 7 3-10 feet. Unless this line raises the grade at Commerce Street 4 or 5 feet, raises the grade at Twelfth Avenue 4 feet; it must cut along Thirteenth Avenue and Eleventh Street, which is improved for a considerable distance, leaving a wall across which teams and people will be enabled to cross only with danger to both life and property."

Referring to the Southern Pacific line on Seventh Street, Mr. Palmer said that Mr. Evans, perhaps, did not know that that company owned a right of way of 40 feet upon that thoroughfare,

Mr. Evans said he was aware of the fact.

Mr. Palmer continued that that right of way was given by private property owners to the company and that afterward the property on either side was granted to the city of Oakland.

"In the early days," he continued "the company took but three blocks. The rest of the way was deeded by the people who were anxious to have their property improved. Thirty years ago a trestle of a couple of miles in length extended into East Oakland. Since then it has disappeared. The earth has all been filled in. The property has been improved. The Southern Pacific did not take a street as is now sought to be taken, close and use it. It took swamp land and filled and improved it. This new company can do the same thing. There are many ways of getting into Oakland save along a crowded street, and among them are the marshes the same as those which we have filled and improved.

"It has been said that this line is a trans-continental company. We hope it is, the more the better. We had no opposition to the Santa Fe coming into Oakland, but when it did come in reaching distance, it built its line over our tracks. The Santa Fe' is building to the wharf at Emeryville, over which electric cars will probably run. Do they build across our tracks at grade? No. They come to us and say they would like to go under them and we have agreed with them for such a crossing.

"These men said they would meet us half-way, and when we have met, they did nothing but ask questions. There was not a bona-fide proposition made. There has not been a single offer as to what they will do. We ask you gentlemen to put in some clause in this ordinance which will protect us from them."

The speaker referred to the extension of the Southern Pacific line in East Oakland, declaring that when the road was built there that section was a wilderness and that the place had been built up by the company. Continuing, he said; "We are today building a depot at East Oakland. We are moving our freight house back so as to be more convenient to our patrons, back out of the danger of crossing our own tracks. This proposed line runs through our property, perhaps thirty feet from our tracks, and there is only one way to do that with safety, and that is to run upon an elevated plane."

Mr. Wallace asked whether the same proposition was made to cross at Sixth and Seventh Avenue that was made at Union Street would not be satisfactory.

"There is no proposition of the kind," said Palmer. "The line does not run down to the foot of Union Street. It extends only to the western line of Union Street on Third Street. There is also no time limit. If you want to do us justice, you will establish the grade at which this line will cross our tracks."

Mr. Palmer then referred to the building, at present, of the Coast line, through San Francisco, and emphasized the fact that the Southern Pacific Company is buying its right-of-way through private property in that city.

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