Open space up to voters ballot

The battle between environmentalists and lawmakers over the future handling of Redwood City’s open spaces will be decided in the November election.

The architects of the open space vote, which includes Save the Bay, Friends of Redwood City and the Sierra Club, said Monday that the city clerk has validated more than the 5,300 resident signatures needed to qualify the measure for the November election.

If passed, the measure would bar any new development on city parks and open spaces without a two-thirds public vote.

“We expect the Redwood City Council to promptly take formal action to place the Open Space Vote measure on the ballot, and we believe all council members should endorse this measure, which is widely supported among their constituents,” David Lewis, executive director of Save the Bay, said in a statement Monday.

The initiative, however, has been lambasted by some city officials, particularly Mayor Rosanne Foust, as a “hijacking” of public process. It comes amid private plans to redevelop Cargill Inc. salt ponds on a 1,433-acre property at the Bay’s edge in Redwood City, an idea threatening environmentalists’ efforts to restore Bay Area wetlands.

Lewis said residents support the measure because “they are concerned about loss of open space and the health of the Bay.”

But Foust has said that a two-thirds public vote would slow down city projects, stifle economic growth and misrepresent voters’ wishes.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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