Open space advocates start gathering signatures

San Mateo Daily News
April 13, 2008

Open space advocates start gathering signatures

Redwood City council set to discuss the measure

By Melanie Carroll / Daily News Staff Writer

Just days before the Redwood City City Council is slated to discuss a proposed ballot initiative aimed at giving voters a say over the future of the Cargill Salt lands, members of the Open Space Vote Coalition kicked off their signature drive outside the Redwood City downtown library.

Volunteers and organizers armed with clipboards and petitions Saturday talked with voters about the ballot measure they hope will end up before them in November.

“We’re seeing very strong support” for the measure, said Stephen Knight, political director for Save the Bay.

In about two hours early Saturday afternoon, Knight had collected 26 signatures — completely filling all his petition pages with names, addresses and signatures.

The initiative was the brainchild of the coalition, an informal group whose members include representatives from Save the Bay, Friends of Redwood City and the Committee for Green Foothills. Members say there should be no development on the open space and contend it should be restored to wetlands. If approved, the measure would require a two-thirds approval from voters before any development on “open space” land, including Redwood City parks and the 1,433-acre site east of Highway 101, which is zoned as tidal plain..

Developers DMB Associates aim to build a large-scale development on the salt lands, said Ralph Nobles, a longtime Redwood City resident and open space advocate.

The property should be turned back to the Bay because it would help prevent flooding, said Doris Dahlgren, who helped collect signatures Saturday. Dahlgren said people are fed up with excessive development and really want a democratic process.

“I’ve never felt so confident” about a ballot measure, Nobles said. “We’re on a roll.”

Advocates are seeking 5,300 signatures — at least 15 percent of the city’s registered voters — to put the measure on the November ballot. The city council is scheduled Monday to discuss the measure that would amend the city’s charter if passed.

E-mail Melanie Carroll at [email protected].

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