Silicon Valley voters will decide in June whether they want to open their wallets to protect more open space.
By a 7-0 vote Wednesday night, the board of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, a government agency based in Los Altos, placed a $300 million bond measure on the June 3 ballot in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.
The measure, which requires a two-thirds majority vote to pass, would increase property tax bills from the current rate of $17 a year per $100,000 assessed value by $3.18 per $100,000 of assessed value. The extra money would add up to 28,000 new acres to the district's total of 62,000 acres, build new trails, restore wildlife habitat and open all of the agency's preserves to the public, including the summit of Mount Umunhum south of San Jose. Currently, because of tight funding, only 54 percent of the district's lands are open to hikers, bicyclists and horse riders.
The district, founded by voters in 1972, operates 26 preserves that stretch from the Crystal Springs Reservoir area near San Carlos down to the foothills south of San Jose and Los Gatos.
For the past year, the agency held public meetings to ask residents their priorities for the coming decades, and from those, drew up a list of 25 projects to fund. On the top: $50 million to buy and preserve redwood lands, $27 million to open the summit and lands around Mount Umunhum, $27 million to open Miramontes Ridge, east of Half Moon Bay, and restore endangered fish streams and other parts of the landscape there.
"As our population has grown, so has the demand for outdoor recreational opportunities and the cost of land," said Steve Abbors, the district's general manager. "After hearing from the public on their vision for the future of open space, we now take it to the voters to see if they support funding the vision."
To see the full list of projects, go to: http://www.openspace.org/news/bond_measure.asp.
Paul Rogers covers resources and environmental issues. Contact him at 408-920-5045. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulrogerssjmn.