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April 07, 2004

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Publication Date: Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Decision time for open space expansion Decision time for open space expansion (April 07, 2004)

By Marion Softky
Almanac Staff Writer

After 10 hours of public hearings and almost 200 speakers, the super-heated issue of whether the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District should expand to preserve land on 220 square miles of the San Mateo County Coastside is ready for a decision.

The Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) will deliberate -- and possibly act -- Wednesday, April 7, starting at 2:30 p.m. in the Board of Supervisors chambers, 400 County Center (corner of Bradford Street and Hamilton Avenue) in Redwood City.

Eighty-three people spoke at the third public hearing -- the second in Half Moon Bay -- on March 30. Forty-five supported the expansion. Thirty-eight, mostly from the rural South Coast and the forests around La Honda, focused their deep fears and hostility toward government on "Mid-Pen."

Since it was founded in 1972, the district has acquired almost 50,000 acres of open space on the Bay side of San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. It manages its lands for resource protection, agriculture, and low-intensity recreation. If the expansion is approved, it plans to buy up to 12,000 acres of land in 15 years from people who want to sell.

During the three hearings in March, 183 people spoke, 96 in favor, 85 opposed. Two were neutral.

Outside of the hearings, support seems to be building for the expansion. Almost 20 cities support it, including Portola Valley, Atherton, Redwood City, Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, San Jose, Half Moon Bay, and Pacifica. Also supporting it are the Silicon Valley Manufacturers Group, and -- on the Coastside -- the Half Moon Bay Coastside Chamber of Commerce and the San Mateo County Farm Bureau.

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