Palo Alto set to 'enthusiastically' back open-space bond

Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District asks voters for $300 million to pay for new trails, habitat-restoration projects

Palo Alto officials are set to offer their endorsement tonight to an ambitious bond measure that would fund 25 open-space projects, including fresh trails in the Baylands, a new welcome center at Rancho San Antonio and the opening of upper La Honda Creek Preserve for public recreation.

The projects are included in the $300 million bond that the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District will ask voters to approve on the June 3 ballot. If approved, the bond would cost voters in the district's area an estimated $3.18 per $100,000 assessed value per year. The bond measure, known as Measure AA, would also improve trails along Alpine Road, preserve the San Gregorio Creek watershed; and develop new trails at Windy Hills.

The open-space district comprises 17 cities in Santa Clara, San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties, including Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Atherton and Mountain View. The bond measure requires a two-thirds vote for approval.

If the Palo Alto City Council follows staff's recommendations and endorses Measure AA, it will follow the lead of the League of Women's Voters Bay Area, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce, and 300 elected officials and community leaders, according to a report from the office of City Manager James Keene. The report states that the measure will result in "expanded public access to protection land, protection of redwood forests, land and natural habitat restoration and preservation of agricultural land along the San Mateo Coast."

A resolution prepared for the council's approval notes that the measure "would improve recreational opportunities for Palo Alto residents by increasing access to hiking and biking trails, as well as restore and protect natural habitats in the District, improve the scenic beauty of the region, and reduce forest fire risk." The resolution ends with the City Council pledging its "enthusiastic support" for the measure, which is known as the Regional Open Space – Access, Preservation and Restoration Bond.

Read related stories:

$300-million Open Space bond wins approval


Posted by Save the Trees, a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 21, 2014 at 10:00 am

A 2/3 majority is a high bar. If those pushing this want to make headway with Palo Alto voters, they'll remember that all politics is local, and because of the last election, there is an active and very large segment of Palo Alto voters who are now connected to each other. The support of our City Council is meaningless for convincing local voters.

You want to convince local voters? Get the City Council to temporarily purchase the Maybell property to give the residents time to come up with the money to buy the park. That's the urban open space most of us around here would like to see. That's easily 8,000 votes for almost no skin off their nose in the end...

Posted by Save the Trees, a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 21, 2014 at 10:02 am

I of course meant:

"You want to convince local voters? Get the City Council to temporarily purchase the Maybell property to give the residents time to come up with the money to buy the ORCHARD. That's the urban open space most of us around here would like to see. That's easily 8,000 votes for almost no skin off their nose in the end... "

(I was thinking of how the orchard would then be part of the park across the street from it!)

Posted by Vote-Opposite-the-Palo-Alto-Council, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2014 at 10:44 am

If this City Council is for it .. let's hope the Voters recognize their incompetence at running local affairs, and ignore their endorsement of matters they know nothing about.

Vote NO on this boondoggle.

Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 21, 2014 at 10:50 am

I will vote FOR this bond, because I support conservation efforts. Doesn't really bother me that our CC is for it.

Posted by Robert, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2014 at 11:09 am

You mean they are enthusiastically for this bond issue in the same way they were enthusiastically and unanimously for Prop 1A in 2008, the HSR (high-speed rail) boondoggle-albatross-fiasco bait-and-switch fraud?

I will vote for this bond issue, not BECAUSE OF but IN SPITE OF the incompetent PA CC's support for it.

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 21, 2014 at 11:09 am

This was the same council that enthusiastically endorsed the high-speed rail measure in 2008.

Posted by jerry99, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 21, 2014 at 11:27 am

If the City Council wants more open space they should vote against the endless building of new apartments, businesses and hotels. Stop spending all their time thinking about stealing endless amounts of money from residents. Last week they talked about millions in windfall tax profit this year. Instead of their ideas of giving it to marginal charities, especially subsidized housing, give it to this fund and buy some land.
Seems like there is a new proposal every week on ways to spend Palo Alto residents money.

Posted by Save the Trees, a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 21, 2014 at 11:28 am

I didn't mean for my extreme cynicism about the City Council to be taken as opposition to anything they might support! I just meant, this City Council's support is irrelevant if someone is looking for votes, especially since they are such hypocrites when it comes to supporting the environment and open space.

I will probably be for this bond as I am for more open space! I just wish there were an urban open space component to it, too! Open space in urban areas is important for health, quality of life, water renewal, and to create patchworks for wildlife between open spaces. But that's the kind of open space no one is providing for. And this City Council is antagonistic toward.

I will have to look at whether I can afford it -- it's one thing to pay through the nose to live here when the quality of life was good, but in the last few years, it's degraded so much.

Posted by Richard C. Placone, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 21, 2014 at 11:54 am

To "Save the Trees": Please send your corrected message to the City Council, sine the information I have is that most do not read these posting, believing them to be mostly from "naysayers". Other posters may also consider letting the council know directly their feelings about this and other issues. That is the only way the council members will wake up to the fact that many residents are dis-satisfied with their performance.

Posted by Marie, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 21, 2014 at 12:37 pm

Marie is a registered user.

I am ambivalent about the bond. City council support is meaningless to me. With all the additional tax revenue, when is the police station going to be built? Instead the PACC is frittering away the increased revenue on nice-to-have projects, and still ignoring the needs. They are hiring more managers - rather than workers. We need code enforcement officers not a new manager for two code enforcement officers we have, as proposed a couple months back.

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 21, 2014 at 1:16 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Please consider the unintended consequences of more open space acquisitions. Having talked to some former coastal area former farmers who were literally driven out of business by these acquisitions I wonder what really is the impact on our food supply and on farmers such as these. We cannot eat open space.

Posted by Save the Trees, a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 21, 2014 at 1:56 pm

@Richard Placone,
I do try to communicate with this Council, but the trouble with these guys is they either don't hear it if it disagrees with what they want, or they just pick out the parts that support what they want and leave the rest, even if the result is believing I said something completely different.

Said as someone who tried to tell them people in the area would be really opposed to upzoning at Maybell, for all the reasons that were ultimately brought up, back before even any of the planning commission votes. Yet during the referendum, Nancy Shepherd was out demanding to know why people hadn't spoken up earlier. The question she should have been asking herself is why she was so deaf to the very same input until it was impossible to avoid it.

Posted by Agree with Trees, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 21, 2014 at 4:55 pm

I second Save the Trees. I support the open space initiative, and agree we should save the Maybell orchard.

But I too tried to tell city council that the upzoning was a non-starter. I wrote letters. I spoke on more than one occasion spoke in front of city council and I showed pictures of the traffic safety problems. Everything that I said--and that my neighbors said or showed which did not agree with what council had already determined they wanted--was ignored. To ignore legitimate safety concerns as they did is nothing short of abusive to the residents of Palo Alto.

Based on that experience, I have come to the unfortunate and disappointing conclusion that the only way to effectively communicate with council is via referendum or other form of legal action.

PAHC recently signed a contract to sell the Maybell orchard. To my knowledge, exploring the possibility of preserving that land as open space or a park was never even explored as an option.

Posted by JP, a resident of University South
on Apr 21, 2014 at 7:50 pm

I would say I am astonished by the comments but, Palo Alto is staying true to form-Blame city council for everything, claim everything is always at the expense of voters, business's are the only ones who benefit. Get real, house values are high because of business success, innovation is coming to Palo Alto and yes-city council does should get credit along with city officials who are working to bring global innovators to our community.
Do they get it right all of the time-No, of course not. Do you or any of us get it right all of the time.
If we could learn to be more synergistic in our approach and understanding-we could certainly accomplish more. Voters seem to have the say so. business pays the cost and city council gets the blame. Doesn't sound like synergy to me.

Posted by Save the Trees, a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 21, 2014 at 9:08 pm

I've been here for decades, and this is by far the worst Council ever. I have never written letters like this nor felt it was so necessary before. And never been ignored like this. In case you didnt realize it, us residents who don't like this Council selling out Palo Alto to developers and seriously degrading quality of life are the people who innovated and created and built and worked in those successful buinesses. The business cycle goes through booms and busts, there's no great benefit to destroying the natural environment in the long term.

I agree with you "Agree" - thankfully, this is a democracy and we can hopefully set thngs back on a more sensible course.

@JP - you're so naive you're funny. You say "house values are high because of business success" not schools? I LMAO Do you know why real estate agents put the schools in their ads and never the companies or state of the business economy in our town (or any other)? Schools are one of the primary drivers of property values, particularly in Palo Alto with one of the top ten high schools in the state.

You even have a really strange, almost cartoonsh take on the Residentialist revival. Residents are against the building of new office space at the expense of retail businesses and residents. Why, really, do we need to cover every inch of this place in office space? We really don't.

Posted by Oh Well, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 21, 2014 at 11:01 pm

MidPeninsula Regional Open Space District is the same organization that covertly placed an open space fee on county taxpayers property tax bill without voter approval. After being sued by taxpayers, the organization was forced to return money collected to taxpayers but only after litigation brought on by MPROSD costing taxpayers even more money. MPROSD is in the business of forcing sale of property owned by private landowners and claiming that it is in the interest of the public. The organization does not provide any additional access to the public of land acquired with taxpayer money and simply uses public money to buy land under the guise that somehow we will benefit by this organization owning the land instead of private landowners. This $300 million bond measure is merely an attempt by the MPROSD to reclaim money illegally acquired from taxpayers after a lengthy litigation lawsuit filed by this covert organization.

Posted by amused, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2014 at 12:15 am


"city council does should get credit along with city officials who are working to bring global innovators to our community."

Innovation is not exactly new around here, who are these "global innovators" that CC is working to bring? Why?

Posted by OpenSpace!, a resident of Nixon School
on Apr 23, 2014 at 3:25 pm

Fabulous. I will vote for this and look forward to the chance to enjoy being surrounded by more peaceful nature. Open Space makes the peninsula a delightful place to live and it also helps keep our real estate values high. Can you imagine how fast those hills would be covered in houses if they weren't protected? Zoom!

Posted by Quinton, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 26, 2014 at 4:12 am

Don't allow any new single family homes in the area so that home prices continue to soar until I am ready to sell.

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