Developers' Lawsuit Attacks Open Space Victory in East Bay
Brian Smith, Earthjustice, 415-627-6700
Laura Hoehn, Earthjustice, 415-627-6725
Trent Orr, Earthjustice, 415-206-0898
Dick Schneider, Sierra Club, 510-482-1553
Environmental and smart growth groups joined the defense of the Save Agriculture and Open Space Lands Initiative ("Measure D") in Alameda County Superior Court this week against a legal attack by development interests who had opposed it. Measure D passed in the November 2000 election in Alameda County with a 57% majority (243,094 in favor, 186,682 against.)
Measure D was placed on the ballot by citizens' groups and supported by a majority of voters because it will preserve vanishing agricultural lands and protect open space, watersheds, and wildlife habitat. The measure limits sprawl development by setting a county urban growth boundary, preventing subdivisions on the farms and ranches of eastern Alameda County and in the canyonlands east of Castro Valley, Hayward, Union City and Fremont.
Having lost at the ballot box, developers Shea Homes Limited Partnership and Trafalgar, Inc. filed suit against Alameda County and its Board of Supervisors earlier this year claiming Measure D violates the California Constitution and other state laws.
"This really is a blatant attempt to silence the will of the voters of Alameda County for the financial gain of a few developers. A majority of voters supported Measure D because what makes Alameda county such a special place is the beauty of its natural environment -- being able to take kids out into natural areas and open space so close to our urban neighborhoods," said Dick Schneider, coordinator of the Yes on Measure D campaign for the Sierra Club.
Groups granted intervenor status this week include the Sierra Club, Golden Gate Audubon Society, Preserve Area Ridgelands Committee, and Greenbelt Alliance. The cities of Berkeley and Oakland are expected to file briefs supporting Alameda County's and the citizen groups' defense of Measure D.
"We believe Measure D was one of the best-written smart growth initiatives in the country. It is well crafted and because of that gained strong support by a majority of voters in the county," said Laura Hoehn of Earthjustice, who is representing the groups seeking intervention in the case. "We look forward to supporting Alameda County in defending this measure in court on behalf of the citizens who fought for its passage."
"If these developers are really interested in building affordable housing near public transit and cutting down on the traffic congestion that makes life miserable for Bay Area commuters, I'd be glad to take them on a tour of neighborhoods and communities, within the current urban boundaries of Alameda county, just waiting for such an investment," said Schneider.
The Measure D campaign was endorsed by: Over 80 community and environmental organizations and regional politicians including: U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee, State Assemblymember Dion Aroner, former State Assemblymembers Tom Bates and Audie Elizabeth Bock, Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown, Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean, Pleasanton Mayor Tom Pico, Albany City Councilmember Bob Good, Berkeley Vice-Mayor Maudelle Miller Shirek, Berkeley City Councilmembers Polly Armstrong, Margaret Breland, Linda Maio, Betty Olds, Dona Spring, Diane Woolley, Kriss Worthington, Hayward City Councilmember Doris Rodriquez, Livermore City Councilmember Tom Reitter, Oakland City Councilmembers Jane Brunner, Nancy Nadel, Dick Spees, Danny Wan, and Union City Councilmember Richard Valle.
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