Mountain View Voice

Opinion - May 23, 2014

Vote yes on open space to protect legacy

by Norma Jean Galiher

I appreciated the Voice's endorsement of Proposition AA, the bond measure on the June 3 ballot about which I'm excited.

Personally, I nearly skipped to the polls to vote yes on Measure R back in 1972, since I delight in hiking weekly on trails that the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD) has built, and am excited by what the proceeds of selling these bonds would make possible.

The open space district has done a superb job in protecting 62,000 acres so far, creating the beautiful greenbelt we enjoy seeing every day, building trails, and managing all these properties. Because of the district's work, this area hasn't turned into another L.A. with its ugly urban sprawl, few places to go to get away, dirty air, and lack of flowing streams. What the district has made available is literally the most important reason I choose to continue living here.

Visitors marvel at the amount of open space that we, through the district, voted to create and that we had the foresight to protect the opportunities for recreation on these lands. The accomplishments of the district serves as a model that other regions, and other nations, are seeking to emulate.

But existing (Measure R) funding has not been sufficient to allow the district to open to public access 40 percent of the lands they have protected.

This is the first time in its 40-year history that the district has sought additional funding. Proceeds of the sale of these bonds would be used to: open more of the currently protected lands for public access; clean up streams to protect watersheds and provide us with safe water; and for strategic acquisition of properties that would be especially valuable to protect redwoods, connect existing preserves and provide habitat and migration corridors for wildlife.

Specific projects these bonds would fund were defined based on input from the public as to what we would like to see our open space district accomplish on our behalf over the next four decades. Preventing more forests from being lost to continuing development, by acquiring and protecting them forested land is, quite literally, important for the ability of the earth to continue to support life as we know it, since trees absorb CO2 and release oxygen.

The cost to a homeowner would be very modest. For a $1 million (assessed value) house, the increase in property tax would initially be $10 a year, gradually increasing over several decades to a maximum of $30 a year. In the early years, that would mean that property taxes for the average homeowner would go up by about the cost of two or three cups of coffee per year.

By voting yes, for the cost of two to three cups of coffee per year, we can make a significant, lasting gift to our children, leaving them a beautiful place to live, with expanded recreational opportunities.

Because this measure requires a two-thirds vote, each vote is crucial. Once you've studied the measure, I hope you'll join me in voting yes on Proposition AA.

Norma Jean Galiher lives in Mountain View.

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