Open Space Vote Initiative Empowers Redwood City Voters to Protect Precious and Limited Open Spaces from Inappropriate Development

March 6, 2008

The Open Space Vote Coalition announced today that it is filing the Open Space Vote Initiative in Redwood City to require a public vote to approve any development in existing open space.

“By enacting this Charter Amendment, the voters of Redwood City ensure that current and future residents have the right to protect open spaces from the threat of inappropriate development,” said David Lewis, a member of the Open Space Vote Coalition and Executive Director of Save The Bay.

The Open Space Vote Coalition is a broad group of local and regional environmental and grassroots organizations, including Save The Bay, Friends of Redwood City (FORWC), Committee for Green Foothills and Sequoia Audubon Society.

Threats to Redwood City’s open spaces are growing as developers seek to build on lands that the city currently designates as open space. For example, the Cargill Salt company is considering plans to build a massive development on retired salt ponds where open space and recreation are permitted but housing is not. Requiring that two-thirds of the voters approve any development on open space lands will provide strong protection for the environment and the community.

“The protection and restoration of the Bay has long been a priority of Redwood City voters. This measure ensures that Redwood City residents have a say in any proposed development of our parks and open space, now and into the future,” said Ralph Nobles with the neighborhood group Friends of Redwood City. Mr. Nobles led Redwood City’s fight to save Bair Island in the 1980s.

With the Bay Area population growing steadily, development, pollution and loss of wetland habitat continue to significantly threaten the Bay. Save The Bay and other groups point out that the Redwood City salt ponds were formerly part of the Bay and should be restored to tidal wetlands and Bay wildlife habitat. Unchecked development has already reduced the Bay’s size by one-third. Further, locations subject to flooding from sea level rise are inappropriate for development, particularly when the City has thousands of new housing units planned for more suitable places such as downtown.

“Destruction of our limited open space harms our precious environment and denies our children an opportunity to connect with nature. The voters of Redwood City need to be the final decision-makers when powerful special interests suggest that building on open space is good for children and the environment,” said Nobles.

City residents are encouraged to sign petitions to place this measure on the November 2008 ballot. Petitions will be available at locations throughout Redwood City or are available by calling (650) 369-7268 or e-mailing <info@forwc.org>.

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

Open Space Vote Coalition
Redwood City, CA