MARTINEZ, Calif. – With the new year comes a new challenge for the City of Martinez – this time in the form of a proposed initiative measure to amend the City’s General Plan.
The paperwork, submitted by “Friends of Pine Meadow” founder Tim Platt, proposes that all lands currently designated as open space, or lands with similar use designations in the General Plan remain as open space, or for park or outdoor recreation use only. This would include both private and public lands.
The title and summary for the initiative measure specifically proposes that privately owned lands designated as Open Space/Conservation Use, be restricted regarding residential use. Dwellings, roads and parking areas would be restricted to less than two percent of the entire land area. Lands within the Alhambra Creek Watershed would be restricted to one dwelling unit per acre, and those outside the watershed restricted to two dwelling units per acre. The same would hold true for the Franklin Hills sub-area.
The paperwork also proposes that there would be no change to the amendment without an election.
Councilwoman Lara DeLaney expressed concern over the proposal during the Dec. 21, 2016, City Council meeting. The proposal had been submitted earlier in the day.
“I’m very concerned about what the impact of this may be on our plans for the marina and marina development, and [I’m] just concerned about the impacts on property that is privately held but may be designated Open Space at this time,” she said during council comments near the end of the meeting. DeLaney asked City staff what the procedure is for considering initiative measures that could potentially be put before voters.
Senior Assistant City Attorney Veronica Nebb said the City would study the proponents of the measure and ultimately order a report to analyze what the effects of the measure would be. That report would become public, she said, but would only be ordered after proponents of the measure turn in verified signatures from Martinez voters declaring they want the proposed initiative to move forward.
“So that report will take place before you call an election, or have the opportunity to call an election,” Nebb said. “There’s research to be done.”
Councilman Mark Ross said the same question was asked of City staff during the closed session of the meeting. Ross asked if council could receive an expedited report on the proposed initiative.
“A little bit of balance goes into [the question of] when do we pull the trigger on starting to look into the fine grain detail of the measuring itself,” Nebb said. “We have this other timeline ticking in the background of the statutory requirements of the bill that transferred the marina to the City,” she added.
That bill, specifically SB-1424, transferred control of the marina from the State to the City – a move in the right direction concerning possible marina improvements. But with that bill comes a deadline to adopt a Land Use Plan for the marina.
It’s yet unknown what effect the proposed initiative would have on that Land Use Plan, or whether the proposed initiative will be put before Martinez voters.
Read to full Title and Summary here: title-and-summary-for-initiative-measure-re-open-space-overlay-12-21-16