Friends of Bay Meadows vows to stay course

Although their petition to subject the Bay Meadows redevelopment to a public vote was disqualified, the Friends of Bay Meadows have vowed to keep fighting the project in an effort to save the storied racecourse and — they say — represent the wishes of San Mateo.

“It’s certainly a situation that we’re not going to go quietly into the night on, and if we don’t appeal it and take it to the [state] Supreme Court, then the citizens of San Mateo have been denied a right to vote on very questionable actions by the developers,” said Linda Schinkel, leader of Friends of Bay Meadows, the group opposed to the development of the racetrack.

The group gathered more than 5,500 signatures supporting a referendum of the City Council vote in favor of the Bay Meadows development agreement. Schinkel maintains that members of the Bay Meadows Land Co. impeded the group’s attempts to gather signatures between November and December 2005.

Although the Court of Appeals panel upheld the decision to invalidate close to 100 signatures from the petition, Schinkel said they haven’t given up on the referendum, and would be looking into the court’s reasoning for invalidating some of the signatures in question.

San Mateo City Attorney Shawn Mason said the chances of getting a state Supreme Court hearing on the issue are unlikely.

Schinkel said her group plans to look at the current planning process — including environmental impact reports — to find a way to stop the project.

“It has been suggested that there may be enough current changes that the EIR is no longer valid and a new one should be made,” Schinkel said.

Throughout the hearings, Bay Meadows Land Co. spokesman Adam Alberti said the company had continued to work with the city to hammer out details on the plans. As proposed, the 73-year-old track will be transformed into 750,000 square feet of commercial space, 100,000 square feet of retail and 1,067 housing units.

“We’re pleased that it’s behind us, and we look forward to getting on with delivering on the promise of the Bay Meadows Phase II redevelopment,” he said.

jgoldman@examiner.com

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