Varying views on Measure C: Initiative protects city's parks, public lands

Measure C is simple. Measure C lets residents decide whether to give up our land to developers and special interests or to keep it for our public use.

Measure C protects parks, land that many consider to be parks but legally aren’t (Hillview ball fields, Whistle Stop playground, apricot orchard), as well as the civic center and downtown parking lots.

Who do you trust to make such irreversible decisions, such as putting a private office building in the orchard or on a parking plaza? The city council, with three votes needed? Or the residents? That’s the core decision you’ll make when you vote on Measure C. If you trust yourself and other residents, vote “yes.”

So why the noisy opposition? They have offered many arguments, but they all turned out to be false. Friends of Los Altos refuted them all (see FriendsOfLosAltos.org). Here are three:

• Leases? Measure C does not affect our libraries, fire stations or other existing leases. No vote is required – for a new lease or renewal – when public land is used for public benefit. The cost of voting on leases for libraries, fire stations and a hypothetical cafe at the new community center is therefore zero. There will be no such votes. A lease of the orchard to build a private office building? Well, yes, that would require a vote.

• Chaos? That’s a scare tactic that residents see through. No existing leases would have required a vote under Measure C. No land has been sold in the past 15-plus years that would have required a vote. So you have to ask: How much public land is the council planning to sell or lease in the future to cause this “chaos”?

• Not needed? What about the new law that “protects” parks, passed by the council Oct. 9 to “cut the heart out of Measure C” (per former Mayor Roy Lave)? Councilwoman Lynette Lee Eng objected that this law has two big loopholes: It doesn’t cover the Hillview ball fields, apricot orchards, parking plazas and other land covered by Measure C; and it can be reversed at any time by another vote of the council. Only Measure C protects parks and other public land until changed by the residents.

• Who is the opposition? The long list of endorsements by prior politicos, downtown land owners and special interests tells us a lot. Ask yourself:

If Measure C passes, who wins? The residents.

If Measure C is defeated, developers and others who want to profit from our public land win.

It’s that simple. Vote “yes” on Measure C.

Frank Martin is a Los Altos resident.

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