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Developing open space: Should voters decide?

A broad coalition of environmental groups wants to qualify an initiative in Redwood City to require two-thirds of city voters to approve any new development in the city's open space areas.

Members of the Open Space Vote Coalition launched their initiative to amend the city charter at a press conference in front of City Hall on March 6.

"The protection and restoration of the Bay has long been a priority of Redwood City voters," said Ralph Nobles, who has already led two successful referenda blocking Bayfront developments of Bair Island and Marina Shores. "This measure ensures that Redwood City residents have a say in any development of our parks and open space, now and in the future."

The "Open Space Vote Initiative" will require signatures of 15 percent of Redwood City's registered voters to qualify for the November ballot. The charter amendment will take a simple majority vote to pass.

The most obvious, though nor the only, current target of the initiative is the proposal by Cargill Salt and DMB Associates to develop 1,433 acres of retiring salt ponds between Bayfront Park in Menlo Park and Seaport Boulevard into a mixture of uses including housing, recreation and open space.

DMB has been engaging Redwood City residents for almost two years in an extensive outreach effort to devise a plan for the property that would have solid public support. "A strong majority advocates a balance of uses -- including both wetlands restoration and development," said John Bruno, vice president and general manager of DMB Redwood City Saltworks.

DMB is developing a specific plan based on a 50/50 concept, Mr. Bruno said. This will restore at least 50 percent of the site as wetlands and natural open space, and utilize the remaining 50 percent for a mixture of developed uses.

Mr. Nobles and the Open Space Vote Coalition want to see all the property returned to the Bay. "Destruction of our limited open space harms our precious environment and denies our children an opportunity to connect with nature," he said.

"Today our Bay shoreline is under assault, and tomorrow the threat could be to our city parks and hillsides," said Lennie Roberts of the Committee for Green Foothills. "Voters should have a say on massive development on our baylands, just as we voted to save Bair Island, Bayfront Park, and the Palo Alto Baylands."

Supporters of the initiative include Friends of Redwood City, Save The Bay, Committee for Green Foothills, and the Sequoia Audubon Society.

Comments

Posted by Let The People Decide, a resident of Oak Knoll School
on Mar 10, 2008 at 5:04 pm

Absolutely, let the Redwood City residents decide if and how their city should spread out. After almost 2 years of DMB schmoozing the residents into thinking the only question on the table is how the salt ponds should be developed, let's change the music and ask if there should be any encroachment into the bay for offices and housing. The current zoning is in place for a reason. Tell this Arizona multi million dollar development company to go home and leave our precious San Francisco bay alone. Free dinners and this company's dog and pony show is an insult to the Mid Peninsula.


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