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June 02, 2004

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Publication Date: Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Commission to reconsider open space expansion Commission to reconsider open space expansion (June 02, 2004)

By Marion Softky
Almanac Staff Writer

The complicated, controversial, and lingering process of annexing 140,000 acres of the San Mateo County Coastside to the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District has just gained another step.

The county's Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) will act on two requests to reconsider its April 7 decision approving the annexation at a hearing Wednesday, June 2, at 2:30 p.m. in the Board of Supervisors Chambers, at 400 County Center, in Redwood City.

Save Our Bay, an organization associated with Coastside activist Oscar Braun, and San Gregorio rancher Ron Sturgeon have submitted the requests. Save Our Bay raises eight issues for reconsideration. These range from legal and procedural points about environmental law and limits on speakers, to issues relating to the cost of lands to be acquired, the accuracy of maps, and feral pigs.

Mr. Sturgeon asks for a vote by residents of the area to be annexed.

LAFCo Executive Director Martha Poyatos cited state law that LAFCo only has to reconsider a decision if the applicants present "new or different facts that could not have been previously presented."

In an eight-page staff report, Ms. Poyatos analyzed the information in the requests, and concluded they contained no new or different information that could not have been introduced in the hearings. She recommended the commission deny both requests.

LAFCo's April 7 approval of "Mid-Pen's" application followed four well-attended public hearings at which some 200 people spoke for close to 10 hours.

Meanwhile, the formal LAFCo process is continuing. Opponents are already busy collecting signatures on a petition protesting the annexation. These will be presented to LAFCo at a "protest hearing" on Friday, June 11 at 3:30 p.m. at the Ted Adcock Center in Half Moon Bay. If 25 percent of the 16,077 voters in the area sign, there will be an election. If 50 percent sign, the annexation is defeated.

Founded in 1972, the open space district is a special purpose agency that buys and manages land for open space, agriculture, habitat, and low-intensity public recreation. It has preserved more than 50,000 acres in the mountains, foothills and baylands of San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. It has been working for several years to expand its boundaries so that it can buy and manage land on the Coastside.

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