Developers’ funds aid parks measure

New sales tax enjoys support from would-be adversaries

REDWOOD CITY — Historically at odds more than in alliance, Peninsula environmentalists and developers have set aside their differences to back the county’s 8-cent parks tax.

The Yes on Measure A campaign has raised nearly $192,000, short of a $250,000 overall goal, according to Executive Director of the San Mateo County Parks and Recreation Foundation Julia Bott, who has lead the campaign for two years. The measure requires a two-thirds majority in Tuesday’s election to pass, and has no registered opposition.

The 8-cent sales tax would raise an estimated $16 million or so a year for 25 years, to be spent exclusively on parks and recreation, including new land purchases and maintenance, officials said. Under the measure, cities and the county would be prevented from reducing their current parks budgets and using Measure A funds instead, Bott said.

To the surprise of some, local developers have contributed substantially to the Yes on Measure A campaign, including a $49,000 donation from the Bay Meadows Land Co. “I’m really kind of excited [developers] have seen the benefit in providing the money for new parks and for maintenance for Peninsula residents,” said Lennie Roberts, legislative advocate for Committee for Green Foothills. The committee contributed $2,500 to the Yes on Measure A campaign.

Bay Meadows supports Measure A, in part, because it will help pay for upkeep of the 10-acre public park the developer plans to construct as the centerpiece of a 1,250-residence development when it demolishes the horse racing track, company spokesman Adam Alberti said.

Other developers have also contributed, including Arizona-based DMB Associates, which donated $5,000, and Ailanto Properties, which gave $500. Both companies have had projects in the area. Richard Izmirian, owner of Izmirian Sheet Metal and Roofing and a San Carlos resident, has donated $5,000.

“I think the key thing here is that parks are part of the fabric of our community and add to the value of our community,” Bott said.

Audrey Rust, President of the Peninsula Open Space Trust, which contributed $10,000 to the campaign, was even more pragmatic.

“The reality is that if you want your development to succeed, you are most likely in favor of things that make it attractive for people to want to live here,” she said.

Who gets paid?

The county would receive 42 percent ofthe funds from Measure A, with 6 percent going to special parks districts — including major supporter Peninsula Regional Open Space District — while the remainder, 52 percent, would be paid to cities. Each city would receive a base payment, estimate at about $200,000, with most cities receiving additional funds based on population, officials said. There are more than 15,000 acres of parks on the Peninsula, according to officials. -Sourcce: San Mateo County Parks and Recreation Foundation

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