‘Martinez Open Space & Park Protection Committee’ launches Initiative

MARTINEZ, Calif. – A new Initiative has been created by “Friends of Pine Meadow” and “Thousand Friends of Martinez” founders Tim Platt and Mark Thomson, along with Kerry Kilmer.

The following was released Monday by the “Martinez Open Space and Park Protection Committee”:

“The Martinez Open Space and Park Protection initiative was launched today (Monday,  March 27). The Initiative will increase protections for all open space and park land in Martinez by requiring approval by Martinez voters for changes to more intensive development on these lands.

“Currently the City Council has the ability to convert these lands to other uses.  They have repeatedly voted to convert open space to housing. Open space and park land will be under even more pressure in the future, as our population grows and the demands for development increase.

“Martinez open space and park lands are too important to allow them to be converted to development by the vote of just the five people on the City Council. The Initiative says these lands can still be converted to more intensive development uses like housing or commercial, but the Initiative will require that any such change be approved by Martinez voters.

‘‘‘This Initiative looks to the future.  Our open space and park lands will be under more and more pressure from population increases in and around Martinez. The Initiative gives us all a voice in the future of these treasured places,’ states Mark Thomson, one of the proponents of the Initiative.

“The Notice of Intention for the Initiative was signed by Thomson, Kerry Kilmer and Tim Platt.  It is being supported for signature-gathering by the local group, Martinez Open Space and Park Protection Committee.

“The Initiative has been endorsed by the Sierra Club and Thousand Friends of Martinez.

“Jim Blickenstaff from the Sierra Club says, ‘This Initiative makes sense in helping to stop the piecemeal dismantling of open space in Martinez. Open space and parks are a ‘quality of life’ issue, and we applaud this local effort to help protect these lands in the face of ever-increasing demands for more development.’

“The Initiative has been submitted to the City for their preparation of an impartial Title and Summary, which can take up to 14 days. The next step is for supporters to collect approximately 3,500 signatures of Martinez voters to put the Initiative on the ballot.  Then a public vote will be held to turn the Initiative into law.

“Kay Cox, speaking for Thousand Friends of Martinez, said, ‘This Initiative gives all of us a say in the future of our open space and parks.  That makes sense, because open space and parks affect everyone’s quality of life. We ask the citizens of Martinez to sign the Initiative to get it on the ballot. Get in touch with the local group on its website or via e-mail to tell them you will sign. And support them by volunteering and donating. In today’s world, we need to be looking to the future and protecting what is important to us.  This Initiative does just that.’

“To help the City in its State-mandated planning for the Marina area, and to provide fairness and continuity on private open space lands, the following two provisions are included in the Initiative:

“1) Because a high level of protection is already mandated by State law, and because the City must have flexibility to prepare and submit a trust lands use plan to the State Lands Commission no later than January 1, 2020, the Initiative does not apply to the areas of the Martinez marina and harbor waterfront governed by the Public Trust. These areas of the Martinez marina and harbor waterfront are governed by Senate Bill 1424 (Statutes 2014, Chapter. 628) and are shown in the Initiative.

“State law requires that Public Trust lands be held ‘…for the benefit of all the people of the state for purposes consistent with the public trust doctrine, including the protection of maritime or water-dependent commerce, navigation, and fisheries, the preservation of the lands in their natural state for scientific study, open space, wildlife habitat, and water-oriented recreation.’

“2) The Initiative adopts historic 1973 General Plan (the current general plan) provisions regarding housing allowed on private open space.  The Initiative does not change the amount of housing that is allowed on open space. The 1973 General Plan explicitly allows a certain amount of residential development on certain privately owned open space.  This Initiative readopts those provisions in order to maintain continuity and provide fairness to those private property owners. The Initiative also readopts requirements in the 1973 General Plan limiting environmental impacts of any such residential use in the Franklin Hills sub-area.

“Information on signing the Initiative petition and how to help or make a donation is on the Martinez Open Space and Park Protection Committee website:  www.martinezopenspace.org.

“The Committee can also be contacted on their Facebook page, Martinez Open Space and via e-mail at:  martinezopenspace@outlook.com.”

Initiative in full: http://martinezopenspace.org/files/MartinezOpenSpaceandParkProtectionInitiative.pdf

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