News

Open space district puts $300M bond measure on ballot

Board's vote is unanimous to put measure on June 3 ballot

The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District Board of Directors voted unanimously Wednesday night to put a $300-million bond measure on the June 3 ballot.

The vote was the culmination of a year of public outreach aimed at developing a vision plan for the district and its 62,000 acres of open space.

To pass, the bond measure must be approved by two-thirds of the voters in the district, which includes large parts of San Mateo and Santa Clara counties and a portion of unincorporated Santa Cruz County.

According to the district, the bond measure money would pay for projects to protect local redwood forests; add hiking, biking and equestrian trails; and restore and conserve watersheds and farm land.

The measure would increase local property taxes by $3.18 a year per $100,000 of assessed value.

The district's public affairs manager, Shelly Lewis, said the $300 million amount was chosen after talking to public and partner agencies, environmental groups, bicyclists, walkers, runners and hikers about their visions and desires for local open spaces.

She said there were a total of 24 opportunities in the past year for the public to voice opinions on the topic.

"We've heard from the public," she said. "They want more access. They want us to be able to have the funds to preserve land when it becomes available."

She said that 54 percent of the land the district oversees is open, while 46 percent is not.

"We want to open that land," she said. "We need the funds to do it."

For more information about the bond measure proposal, the visioning plan and the 25 proposed projects, go to openspace.org.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Timothy Baker
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 28, 2014 at 12:15 pm

Increase my property taxes to take away my neighbor's land by eminent domain? How about simply opening up the large percentage that is closed and have the district live within their means? Raise revenue by allowing deer hunting during hunting season. Hunters would pay a premium for the opportunity. Every few can take advantage of equestrian trails.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hill Mom
a resident of Woodside: other
on Feb 28, 2014 at 1:23 pm

MROSD, a public entity, should quit allowing POST, a private entity, to hand over (sell) land to them to manage and instead focus on managing the land that they already own. If this bond measure passes, it should be used solely for management,accessibility and restoration and not for more acquisitions. How can MROSD budget their funds appropriately when POST is determining their course of action?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Chim Chumby
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 28, 2014 at 3:22 pm

I'd rather see all the money used for acquisitions and none of it for management, myself. I mainly value the viewshed and rural atmosphere in the hills.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by empty wallet
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Feb 28, 2014 at 3:58 pm

Who else wants to float a bond issue and raise property taxes by supposedly small incremental amounts? Sequoia High School District $265 million, Menlo Park City School District and other elementary schools all want approval for more bonds too.....it all begins to add up to lots of dollars....aren't we already taxed enough?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Aquamarine
a resident of another community
on Feb 28, 2014 at 4:13 pm

You have to appreciate the folks from Atherton who call themselves "Empty Wallet" :-)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Scott h
a resident of another community
on Mar 1, 2014 at 2:58 pm

How about they actually pay property taxes on the land they own? They have basically taken millions of $ out of those rural school districts that so badly need it.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by SM Coastsider
a resident of another community
on Mar 1, 2014 at 5:20 pm

How is Mid Peninsula or POST compensating the Pescadero and La Honda schools for the thousands of acres they acquire and take off school tax roles? Pescadero schools are Title I which mean 40% or more of the students are at poverty levels. Coastside families want access to decent public schools for their children.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by JL
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 2, 2014 at 7:58 pm

When is it enough? Every time you raise taxes and take more land you contribute to rising housing costs. It is already out of reach for the middle class and even our kids if we don't help them (assuming we can). We have plenty of open space here already. The elitist limousine liberals are simply protecting and expanding their own "cherished rural atmosphere". That is great if you already live here and can afford it but lets not kid ourselves who this is for and who it benefits. The hundreds of millions spent on this will primarily benefit the rich. So when is it enough?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 2, 2014 at 8:08 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Much of this acquired land is also sadly being removed from active agricultural use - which is not in society's long term interests.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Mar 4, 2014 at 12:44 pm

It's time to boot this predatory agency out of San Mateo County and let County Parks and Recreation take over that land. Maybe we would then see some recreational uses of the land. They might even use some of it for revenue producing activities.
See:Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Coastsider
a resident of another community
on Mar 4, 2014 at 5:32 pm

I support the mission of MPROSD, but do not support this bond measure. I live in the heart of rural SM County and I think there is plenty of open space that has been preserved. Development is severely discouraged in rural SM County because of the cost and requirements of SM County Building & Planning, more than anything else, so it doesn't seem that over development of the Coastside is a realistic possibility from where I sit. When large properties go up for sale, what doesn't get scooped up by POST or MPROSD gets scooped up by the Silicon Valley elite. Some of them have been great stewards of the land and contributors to the local community. Some not so much. And so it goes...

In answer to the comments of others, when MPROSD annexed the Coastside, they made an agreement with the La Honda-Pescadero Unified School District to pay LHPUSD each year the amount of $$ that LHPUSD was receiving for those properties prior to them being acquired by MPROSD. So, LHPUSD does get something, but not as much as they would get if these properties were kept on the property tax rolls.

[Portion removed. Please don't attempt to guess the identity of anonymous posters.]

Finally, MPROSD has maintained agricultural use on some of the lands that they manage.

I am in agreement with another poster who said they would support this if it was management of the land that they already own, not to procure more land.

And I disagree with the person who said they should leave the land unused. People do actually live out here. It is our home and our community. Our children grow up out here in these hills that you would prefer just to look at from afar. There's plenty of land out here for everyone to enjoy, including our ubiquitous mountain lions, deer, raccoons and owls. Leave some of it for people to live on, too, O.K.?

Thanks for listening.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Coastsider
a resident of another community
on Mar 5, 2014 at 9:24 am

Hi Editor:

I wasn't guessing and he didn't post anonymously. He posted using his name and he is a realtor.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on May 2, 2014 at 3:40 pm

I have commented, in other topics, suggesting that proper stewardship of open space lands should include environmentally compatible revenue producing uses of a small percentage of open space land. One such use is golf courses developed by third parties under a land lease agreement. I suggest that a local entrepreneur, Robert Trent Jones, could effectuate a plan which would produce enough revenue to maintain open space land and obviate the need for a $300,000,000 Bond Measure(Measure AA).
Web Link
Each golf course would require less than 90 acres of active area. The active area of six golf courses would need less than 1% of the total open space land owned by MROSD. Let's think about alternative funding(non-tax}.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Coastsider
a resident of another community
on May 2, 2014 at 4:20 pm

Jack - we do not need nor want a water guzzling, pesticide leaching golf course in the Santa Cruz mountains of San Mateo County. Nor do we need the traffic on roads already stressed by commuters heading for work on the Peninsula and tourists driving, biking and motorbiking out to the beaches and parks and open space. We just need MPROSD to maintain their lands, keep agricultural use viable and open up a reasonable amount of the lands for hiking, biking and horse-back riding. AND we need them (and the residents of the Peninsula who come out here to use these roads and facilities) to support the local infrastructure.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Coastsider
a resident of another community
on May 2, 2014 at 4:23 pm

...and while we're at it, could you folks from the other side of the hill please pick up after yourselves when you come over here? We're getting a bit tired of picking up the trash that you throw out of your cars or from your bikes. This is our home. Thanks.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on May 2, 2014 at 6:35 pm

I was suggesting alternative funding to do the things you want. It would help if Coastsiders paid their fair share of property taxes.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by fwiw
a resident of Woodside: other
on May 2, 2014 at 7:09 pm

> Coastsider wrote: "when MPROSD annexed the Coastside, they made an agreement with the La Honda-Pescadero Unified School District to pay LHPUSD each year the amount of $$ that LHPUSD was receiving for those properties prior to them being acquired by MPROSD. So, LHPUSD does get something, but not as much as they would get if these properties were kept on the property tax rolls."

I was curious about this as it sounded like it must be costing MPROSD a pretty penny to compensate for this revenue. So I went looking for the fiscal analysis and found it here:

Web Link

The estimated loss to the LHPUSD annually was estimated to be (drum roll) $273/yr. ($4100 total over a 15 year period). In lieu of direct cash compensation, the district and MPROSD agreed to permanent funding of an environmental education program satisfactory to the district.

I would suggest that it is unlikely that LHPUSD would be getting more if the property was held on the tax rolls. Most of the land acquired was held as limited liability corp, reit, or partnership which has as a rule exploited the commercial transfer loophole which transfers ownership via the shares without triggering reassessment.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Coastsider
a resident of another community
on May 5, 2014 at 10:06 am

Jack Hickey wrote, "It would help if Coastsiders paid their fair share of property taxes."

What a bizarre thing to say! We pay the same tax rates under the same rules as any other Peninsula homeowner. Our properties get reassessed when they change hands or are significantly remodeled, just like everyone else. If you are referring to Williamson Act land, that applies only to agricultural land. Not everyone who lives on the Coastside is a farmer.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on May 5, 2014 at 11:09 am

Coastsider, I stand corrected. However, your property taxes do not support the MROSD.
See:
Web Link

Funding is provided by a small share of the annual
total property tax revenues collected within District
boundaries, except on the San Mateo County
Coastside.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by fwiw
a resident of Woodside: other
on May 5, 2014 at 2:34 pm

> your property taxes do not support the MROSD

This will be the first opportunity that the residents of the Coastside Protection Program area will have to vote on being taxed since being annexed in 2004. If measure AA passes, the approx 3% of MROSD residents who live in the Coastside area will be taxed at the same $3.18/$100K rate as any other MROSD resident.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on May 5, 2014 at 4:39 pm

Currently, my property tax rate in support of MROSD is $17.85/$100,000. If AA were to pass, that would rise to $21.03/$100,000. While coastsider contribution would be only $3.18/$100,000.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on May 6, 2014 at 11:42 am

Coastsider said: Jack - we do not need nor want a water guzzling, pesticide leaching golf course in the Santa Cruz mountains of San Mateo County. Nor do we need the traffic on roads already stressed by commuters heading for work on the Peninsula"
Currently, many Peninsula golfers travel to Watsonville and beyond for golf. Allowing creation, of 5 "revenue producing" golf courses designed to enhance and protect the environment on less than 1% of open space land, would reduce the total number of miles driven by golfers. And, golfers I know, avoid traveling during rush hour traffic.
___Revenue from land leases would provide sufficient funding for MROSD to further enhance and maintain it's current and future lands without the need for a $300,000,000 Bond measure.
As for water guzzling, these golf course would love to guzzle some of the reclaimed water currently being dumped in the Bay.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by fwiw
a resident of Woodside: other
on May 6, 2014 at 2:35 pm

> my property tax rate in support of MROSD is $17.85/$100,000 .... coastsider contribution would be $3.18/$100,000

Nope, I believe that you will find that you are in error. One of points of annexing the Coastside Protection Program region was to join the MROSD Tax Rate Area in 2004. Does that mean revenues went up? No, others already belonging to the district went down ever so slightly to keep revenue constant. So does that mean that the other TRA's of which Coastsider payed into recevied less? Nope, Coastsider was almost certainly subsidizing cities by paying a greater share of their county of school cost (at a higher TRA rate) then those who live in incorporated cities.

I see from another Almanac posting that you have part of the San Mateo County TRA database on your website. Unfortunately it doesn't include Coastside data for me to illustrate the point more directly. I would note that as somebody who lives in the unincorporated land, you probably "pay" MROSD at an even higher rate than what you quote as I see that my own rate in unincorporated county area is $22.29/$100K.

But I wouldn't take this TRA stuff too literally. LAFCo's are not directly entitled to thier apportionment based upon how much folks in their TRA's pay but rather how high their tax rate was in 1978 which was then retroactively proportioned into the new global 1% rate. TRA's matter in that AB8 improved the original SB154 apportionment plan so that if assessments in your own TRA's increase at a higher rate than other's outside your TRA that your TRA will get to see the increase in revenue.

I might mention on a similar note that if you were ever able to succeed in your mission to dissolve the Sequoia Health Care District that those dollars would NOT simply become available for the TRA's in which you belong. Instead any other LAFCo's which claimed a fiscal impact of your dissolution would be able to make a claim for funds. If dissolution was considered not to be an impact of service then those funds would subject to a decision approved by the SM County Supervisors where they would most probably end up funding either the county or other special LAFCo districts which would be countywide and far from your local area.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on May 6, 2014 at 3:36 pm

"Funding is provided by a small share of the annual
total property tax revenues collected within District
boundaries, except on the San Mateo County"
Coastside. This is quoted from the MROSD website.
I received confirmation of this by phone from the MROSD controller. The District receives NO revenue from property taxes of the coastside annexation area.
___To receive revenue comparable to that which they receive from areas annexed before 1978, other agencies sharing boundaries would have to give up a tiny portion of their revenues. I suggest that that should happen. It does not raise anyone's taxes, but merely makes a slight shift in priorities.

Regarding dissolution of the Sequoia Health Care District, it is most likely that the distribution of those taxes to other agencies would be based upon the percent which they currently receive.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on May 10, 2014 at 8:45 am

I recommend NO on Measure AA


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