Poll Finds 7 in 10 Redwood City Voters Want Voice on Open Space

April 23, 2008

Seventy-one percent of registered voters in Redwood City said they would support an amendment to the city charter requiring two-thirds voter approval to place development on any open space lands in the city, according to poll results released today by the Open Space Vote Coalition.

When asked why this proposition was a good idea, voters strongly affirmed that the Bay and its wildlife have already suffered enough from development, pollution and oil spills, and that stronger protection was needed prevent further degradation. The poll was conducted by the well-respected California polling firm J. Moore Methods.

At the same time, the Open Space Vote ballot measure effort is gaining new momentum through endorsements by the Sierra Club (Loma Prieta Chapter) and Clean Water Action. With 2500 signatures already collected in just three weeks, the Open Space Vote petition has about half of the signatures needed to qualify for the Redwood City ballot.

“Our polling simply confirms what is clear from talking to voters on the street – Redwood City residents want a voice in protecting open space,” said David Lewis, Executive Director of Save The Bay. “Voters understand that it takes a two-thirds vote to provide funding to create open space; it’s only fair to require a two-thirds vote to destroy open space.”

The depth of the public’s resistance toward development on open space lands has been documented by other current public opinion research. For example, recent polling by “Threshold 2008” and the Center for Deliberative Democracy at Stanford University reported that 72 percent of San Mateo County residents agree that “any new housing should go in already developed areas.”

“Sometimes citizen action is urgently necessary, particularly when government does not appear to be truly listening,” said Sierra Club member and Redwood City resident Marianna Raymond. “If thoughtful citizens had not taken action, Edgewood Park would be a golf course, Bair Island would be paved over, and plans for Marina Shores would not have been substantially scaled back.”

Privately-held Minnesota-based agricultural giant Cargill Inc. is preparing plans to build a massive development on retired salt ponds in Redwood City, where open space and recreation are permitted, but housing is not.

“The Open Space Vote measure ensures that Redwood City residents have a say in any proposed development of our parks and open space, now and in the future.” said Ralph Nobles with the neighborhood group Friends of Redwood City. Mr. Nobles led Redwood City’s fight to save Bair Island from development in the 1980s. Pointing out that the city has thousands of new housing units planned for downtown, Mr. Nobles said: “As our cities grow denser, residents will need more open space, not less. The City should continue to focus on its award-winning downtown development.”

Redwood City residents are encouraged to sign petitions to help place this measure on the November 2008 ballot. Petitions are available at locations throughout Redwood City, Monday through Friday, 3 - 5 p.m. at the Main Library, or are available by calling (650) 365-8326 or e-mailing <info@redwoodcityopenspace.org>.

The Open Space Vote Coalition is a broad group of local and regional environmental and grassroots organizations, including Friends of Redwood City (FORWC), Save The Bay, Sierra Club, Committee for Green Foothills, Clean Water Action, Sequoia Audubon Society, and the Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge.

The polling was conducted of registered voters by J. Moore Methods in February 2008 (N=350; margin of error 5.7%).