"Value Beyond Price..."
Dedicated to protecting our open space assets for the future

Home     Background
Information
    Press
Room
    How can
I help?
    Make a
Donation
    Maps     Pictures     Useful
Links
   

To the Honorable Clerk of the City of the Town of Los Altos Hills:

We, the undersigned, registered and qualified voters of the City of the Town of Los Altos Hills ("Town of Los Altos Hills"), hereby propose an initiative to amend the Town of Los Altos Hills General Plan and General Plan Diagram. We petition you to submit the initiative to the City Council of the Town of Los Altos Hills for adoption without change, or to immediately submit the initiative to a vote of the people of the Town of Los Altos Hills at a special election, or, if the initiative does not qualify for a special election, to submit the same to the voters at the earliest regular election for which it qualifies. The measure provides as follows:

Los Altos Hills Open Space and Public Recreation Initiative

The people of the City of the Town of Los Altos Hills hereby ordain as follows:

Section 1:    Purpose

  1. Protection and long-term preservation of outdoor recreational and open space areas in the City of the Town of Los Altos Hills ("Town of Los Altos Hills" or "Town") is of critical importance to Los Altos Hills residents. The Town was founded as a semi-rural residential community and many residents moved to Los Altos Hills because of this distinctive feature. The Town's unique character and the quality of life of its residents depend on protecting the significant environmental, scenic, and recreational benefits that these lands provide to the community. Indeed, the preservation of these recreational and open space lands, many of which are owned by the Town itself, is critical to the vitality of the Town's native environment, social fabric, and long-term quality of life.

  2. The Los Altos Hills General Plan declares that the "residential character and rural atmosphere of Los Altos Hills result primarily from the open space and natural qualities of the area." The General Plan further states that "[a]ll residential areas should have public land available for recreation within approximately one-half to one mile distances" and that this requirement "may be met by open space preserve land in public ownership and public recreation areas."

  3. The General Plan establishes as Town objectives "the maximum feasible preservation of open space in and adjoining the Town," the preservation of the Town's "natural beauty," and the provision of "open space for outdoor recreational needs." The General Plan further notes that the "character and quality of Los Altos Hills" is "dependent upon maximum preservation of existing open space lands at all scales."

  4. The State Legislature has similarly declared in section 65561(a) of the Government Code that the preservation of open space land is necessary for the economy of the State, for the enjoyment of scenic beauty, for recreation, and for the use of natural resources. The Legislature has further noted in Government Code sections 65561(b) and 65562(a) that "discouraging premature and unnecessary conversion of open-space land to urban uses is a matter of public interest" and that these "limited and valuable resource[s] . . . must be conserved wherever possible."

  5. Los Altos Hills residents wish to protect the Town's scenic beauty and to serve as good stewards for future generations by preserving Town-owned recreational and open space areas. These lands specifically include:

    • Albert Barnitz Byrne Preserve. Byrne Preserve is the largest and most significant open space area in Los Altos Hills. Purchased by the Town in 1968, the Preserve offers hikers, joggers, riders, and those merely seeking a moment of solitude in a pastoral setting a welcome refuge from the hectic pressures of daily life.

    • Westwind Community Barn and its facilities. This historic 24,000 square foot, "U" shaped barn sits on approximately 15 acres of land acquired by the Town in 1975, and provides boarding, riding, and equestrian events to residents, non- residents, and handicapped children.

    • Little League Fields on Purissima Road. This ten-acre area includes four maintained playing fields with public facilities, provides a play park for younger children, and is the location of several summer sports camps offered to Los Altos Hills children through the Los Altos Hills Recreation Program.

    • Juan Prado Mesa Preserve. This Town-owned site, reached by off-road pathways leading from either Dawson Drive or Stonebrook Drive, is criss-crossed by several off-road pathways and provides a number of scenic, open space, and recreation opportunities for the Los Altos Hills community.

    • Edith Park. Located at Edith and Fremont Roads along Adobe Creek, this Town- owned "gateway" to Los Altos Hills features benches and a meandering path through a wooded setting, and is used by children as a route to Bullis-Purissima Elementary School.

    • O'Keefe Property. This beautiful area north of Highway 280 along O'Keefe Lane features a number of scenic, conservation, and recreational resources, including two recreational pathways, a magnificent Heritage Oak, and shady, creekside thickets which provide shelter for both land animals and pond-dwellers.

    • Rhus Ridge Properties. These three scenic and undeveloped Town-owned parcels are intersected by two popular and valuable recreational pathways and provide access to the Mid-Peninsula Regional Open Space Preserve by way of the highly scenic route to the Windmill Pasture.

    • Murietta Ridge. This Town-owned, 13.9 acre area serves as a valuable open space buffer between Hidden Villa and the Mid-Peninsula Regional Open Space Preserve. This steep property is home to a variety of native tree, mammal, and bird species, as well as a dense, heavy underbrush creating a sanctuary for small mammals and reptiles.

    • Central Drive. This narrow, approximately one-acre strip of undeveloped open space land is contiguous with a section of the western boundary of Byrne Preserve and provides open space and passive recreation opportunities.

  6. These critical community resources have become threatened in recent years by land use development demands, and most lack any permanent long-term legal protections preserving their open space and recreational uses. For example, the Juan Prado Mesa Preserve and portions of Edith Park and the Rhus Ridge properties are currently designated in the General Plan for residential development despite their important open space and recreational values. Similarly, the California Department of Transportation has recently removed encumbrances restricting the O'Keefe property to public use. At this time, both the O'Keefe property and the Westwind Community Barn property could be sold to a developer with few if any constraints upon their use. Even Byrne Preserve, the Town's largest and most important open space area, may revert back to its donating agency if any future change in use does not meet with the agency's approval.

  7. The purpose of this Initiative is to ensure that these Town-owned open space and recreational lands are not sold to private interests or converted to higher density urban uses. Accordingly, the Initiative reaffirms and readopts the protective General Plan designations of several Town-owned parcels, and, in some cases, adopts more appropriate General Plan designations. The general location of these properties is shown on the map attached hereto as Exhibit B. Once this Initiative is approved, these protective designations will be subject to revision only by a subsequent vote of the people, providing a major safeguard against any future development plans. In addition, the Initiative requires, with limited exceptions, that Town voters approve any proposed conveyance, sale, or abandonment of the specified Town-owned open space and recreational lands. The Initiative thus preserves the Town's flexibility in making land use decisions while ensuring the public a more effective voice in preserving the Town's recreational and open space resources, semi-rural character, and overall quality of life.

  8. The following documents are attached to this Initiative as exhibits for illustrative purposes. These documents are:

    • Exhibit A: Town of Los Altos Hills General Plan Diagram, adopted January 2, 1974.

    • Exhibit B: Map of the general location of the specified Town-owned properties affected by this Initiative.

    • Exhibit C: Town of Los Altos Hills General Plan, Open Space Element, dated May 1, 1975.

    • Exhibit D: Town of Los Altos Hills General Plan, Recreation Element, dated May 1, 1975.

    • Exhibit E: Town of Los Altos Hills General Plan, excerpt (pp. 9-10) from Land Use Element, dated November 15, 1994.

Exhibits A, C, D, and E, which are portions of the Town's General Plan, provide context for the Initiative's specific amendments to that document. All references in this Initiative to the "General Plan" are to the Town of Los Altos Hills General Plan adopted on May 1, 1975, as modified by any amendments to that General Plan adopted up to and including October 1, 2002. Except as expressly provided in this Initiative, this Initiative does not amend or readopt the Town's General Plan, including the Exhibits listed above.

Section 2    General Plan Amendments

This Section of the Initiative enacts amendments to the Town of Los Altos Hills General Plan.

  1. Amendments to General Plan Diagram: Designation of Specified Publicly-Owned Lands as "Open Space Preserve" and "Public Recreation."

    The General Plan Diagram, attached hereto as Exhibit A, is amended by this Initiative as follows:

    1. The "Open Space Preserve" designations of the publicly owned lands commonly known as Byrne Preserve, Central Drive, and the O'Keefe Property and identified by the Assessor's Parcel Numbers ("APN") listed below are hereby reaffirmed and readopted in their entirety.

      APN 175-39-012     APN 182-21-016     APN 182-22-014     APN 182-22-022
      APN 182-22-023     APN 182-29-045     APN 182-48-020

    2. The publicly owned lands commonly known as the Rhus Ridge Properties and identified by the Assessor's Parcel Numbers listed below are hereby redesignated from "Residential - Very Low to Low Density" to "Open Space Preserve;" such redesignation does not amend the "Open Space Conservation Area" overlay applicable to a portion of these properties.

      APN 336-30-012     APN 336-31-022     APN 336-31-023

    3. The publicly owned land commonly known as the Juan Prado Mesa Preserve and identified by Assessor's Parcel Number 336-42-019 is hereby redesignated from "Residential - Very Low to Low Density" to "Open Space Preserve;" such redesignation does not amend the "Open Space Conservation Area" overlay applicable to a portion of this property.

    4. The publicly owned land commonly known as Murietta Ridge and identified by Assessor's Parcel Number 351-37-001 is hereby redesignated from "Private Recreation" to "Open Space Preserve."

    5. The "Public Recreation" designation of the publicly owned land commonly known as the Little League Fields on Purissima Road and identified by Assessor's Parcel Number 182-04-073 is hereby reaffirmed and readopted in its entirety.

    6. The publicly owned land commonly known as Edith Park and identified by Assessor's Parcel Number 175-25-059 is hereby redesignated from "Residential - Very Low to Low Density" to "Public Recreation;" such redesignation does not amend the "Open Space Conservation Area" overlay applicable to this property.

    7. The publicly owned land commonly known as the Westwind Community Barn and identified by Assessor's Parcel Number 182-28-039 is hereby redesignated from "Private Recreation" to "Public Recreation;" such redesignation does not amend the "Open Space Conservation Area" overlay applicable to a portion of this property.

    The general location of the lands designated or redesignated by this section are indicated on the map attached as Exhibit B to this Initiative.

  2. Amendments to General Plan Text: Limitation on Conveyance, Sale, or Abandonment of Specified Publicly-Owned Open Space and Recreation Land.

    The following text, shown in bold italic type, is hereby added to the General Plan as: (1) Principle 11 of the Open Space Element at page 46, immediately following Principle 10; and (2) Principle 8 of the Recreation Element at page 57, immediately following Principle 7. The Open Space Element and Recreation Element of the General Plan are attached hereto as Exhibits C and D, respectively.

    Residents of Los Altos Hills accord the highest value to the Town's open space and recreation areas. These areas, many of which are owned by the Town itself, help supply and preserve the unique character and semi-rural atmosphere of Los Altos Hills, provide important balance to the more densely urbanized San Francisco Bay plain, and provide numerous recreational, scenic, open space, and conservation resources and opportunities for the Town and its residents.

    Accordingly, the lands owned by the Town of Los Altos Hills commonly known as Byrne Preserve, Central Drive, Juan Prado Mesa Preserve, O'Keefe Property, Rhus Ridge Properties, Murietta Ridge, Little League Fields on Purissima Road, Westwind Community Barn, and Edith Park shall not be conveyed, sold, or abandoned in whole or in part for any purpose, except pursuant to a vote of the Town electorate; provided, however, that this paragraph shall not require a vote of the electorate for any conveyance by the City of a leasehold, easement, or other property interest in these lands for a use consistent with the property's General Plan designation.

Section 3:    Conforming Amendments

In light of the General Plan amendments set forth above in Section 2 of this Initiative, the General Plan is hereby further amended as set forth below to promote internal consistency among the various elements of the Plan. Text to be inserted into the General Plan is indicated in bold italic type while text to be stricken is presented in strikeout type. The language adopted in the following amendments may be further amended as appropriate, consistent with this Initiative, without a vote of the people in the course of future updates and revisions to the General Plan.

  1. Amendments to the General Plan Diagram.

    The following text is hereby added as a textual amendment or legend to the General Plan Diagram, attached to this Initiative as Exhibit A:

    This General Plan Diagram was adopted in January 1974 and may not reflect General Plan amendments made since that date. For information regarding specific land use designations at this time, consult the Town of Los Altos Hills Planning Department. In particular, note that pursuant to the Los Altos Hills Open Space and Public Recreation Initiative, the voters of Los Altos Hills adopted or readopted the following land use designations:

    1. Byrne Preserve (APN 182-21-016; 182-22-014; 182-22-022; 182-22-023; 182-48-020): Open Space Preserve.

    2. Central Drive (APN 182-29-045): Open Space Preserve.

    3. O'Keefe Property (APN 175-39-012): Open Space Preserve.

    4. Rhus Ridge Properties (APN 336-30-012; 336-31-022; 336-31-023): Open Space Preserve.

    5. Juan Prado Mesa Preserve (APN 336-42-019): Open Space Preserve.

    6. Murietta Ridge (APN 351-37-001): Open Space Preserve.

    7. Little League Fields on Purissima Road (APN 182-04-073): Public Recreation.

    8. Edith Park (APN 175-25-059): Public Recreation.

    9. Westwind Community Barn (APN 182-28-039): Public Recreation.

  2. Amendments to the Open Space Element.

    Section 310 of the General Plan Open Space Element, attached hereto as Exhibit C, is hereby amended by adding the following text on page 52, immediately following the two paragraphs beginning "f. Neary Quarry."

    1. O'Keefe Property - This beautiful area north of Highway 280 along O'Keefe Lane features a number of scenic, conservation, and recreational resources, including two recreational pathways, a magnificent Heritage Oak, and shady, creekside thickets which provide shelter for both land animals and pond- dwellers.

    2. Rhus Ridge Properties - These three scenic and undeveloped parcels at the intersection of Moody Road and Rhus Ridge Road form the gateway of the Rhus Ridge pathway, which is used by hikers and equestrians for convenient entrance to the Mid-Peninsula Regional Open Space District by way of the highly scenic route to the Windmill Pasture. These parcels also provide a scenic pathway that connects the off-road trail from Hidden Villa to the Rhus Ridge hiking area and further on to Summit Road.

    3. Juan Prado Mesa Preserve - This site, reached by off-road pathways leading from either Dawson Drive or Stonebrook Drive, is criss-crossed by several off- road pathways and provides a number of scenic, open space, and recreation opportunities for the Los Altos Hills community.

    4. Murietta Ridge - This 13.9 acre area serves as a valuable open space buffer between Hidden Villa and the Mid-Peninsula Regional Open Space Preserve, and provides a heavily wooded refuge for a variety of mammals, birds, and native plants and trees.

    5. Central Drive - This narrow opproximately one-acre strip of undeveloped open space land is contiguous with a section of the western boundary of Byrne Preserve and provides similar open space and passive recreation opportunities.

  3. Amendments to the Recreation Element.

    Section 406.3 of the General Plan Recreation Element, attached hereto as Exhibit D, is hereby amended on page 59 to read as follows:

    1. Recreation Areas - Public. Most small-scale recreation areas for daily recreation needs of adults and children are supplied on residents' own lots, in the form of yards, play equipment, swimming pools, riding facilities, and, in some instances, tennis courts. Large-scale recreation areas, however, must be provided at public recreation areas and school sites.

      The only Town-owned recreation facility is facilities include the Little League field Fields on Purissima Road. The three elementary school and college sites provide a vital supplement to the Little League Fields.

      Town-owned public recreation facilities also include the Westwind Community Barn, a historic 24,000 square foot, "U" shaped barn on Altamont Road. The Community Barn and its approximately 15 acres of surrounding land were acquired by the Town in 1975 from the Hungarian Countess Margit Bessenyey, and provide boarding, riding, and equestrian events to residents, non-residents, and handicapped children. The Barn and its adjacent facilities currently house the Westwind 4-H Riding for the Handicapped program, the Pacific Ridge Chapter of the United States Pony Club, and Town of Los Altos Hills recreation programs.

      Town-owned public recreation facilities also include Edith Park, a "gateway" to Los Altos Hills located at Edith and Fremont Roads along Adobe Creek. The park features a meandering path through a wooded setting and a plaque commemorating the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail, and is used as a route by children to Bullis-Purissima Elementary School.

  4. Amendments to the Land Use Element.

    1. The General Plan Land Use Element subsection entitled "Town Government," starting at page 9 and attached hereto as Exhibit E, is hereby amended by adding the following text on page 10 as Procedure #2 immediately following Procedure #1:

      As required by Principle 11 of the Open Space Element and Principle 8 of the Recreation Element, the lands owned by the Town of Los Altos Hills commonly known as Byrne Preserve, Central Drive, Juan Prado Mesa Preserve, O'Keefe Property, Rhus Ridge Properties, Murietta Ridge, Little League Fields on Purissima Road, Westwind Community Barn, and Edith Park shall not be conveyed, sold, or abandoned in whole or in part for any purpose, except pursuant to a vote of the Town electorate; provided, however, that this paragraph shall not require a vote of the electorate for any conveyance by the City of a leasehold, easement, or other property interest in these lands for a use consistent with the property's General Plan designation.

    2. The General Plan Land Use Element subsection entitled "Town Government" is hereby amended by adding the following text on page 10, immediately following the paragraph beginning "Present Town Hall facilities. . . .":

      Residents of Los Altos Hills accord the highest value to the Town's open space and recreation areas. These areas, many of which are owned by the Town itself, help supply and preserve the unique character and semi-rural atmosphere of Los Altos Hills, provide important balance to the more densely urbanized San Francisco Bay plain, and provide numerous recreational, scenic, open space, and conservation resources and opportunities for the Town and its residents.

Section 4:    Implementation

  1. Effective Date. Upon the effective date of this Initiative, the provisions of sections 2 and 3 of this Initiative are inserted into the Town of Los Altos Hills General Plan as amendments thereof, except that if the four amendments of the General Plan permitted in a calendar year have been utilized prior to the effective date of this measure, this General Plan amendment shall be the first amendment added to the General Plan on January 1 of the following year. At such time as the General Plan amendments enacted by this Initiative are inserted into the General Plan, any provision of the Town's Zoning Code inconsistent with this Initiative shall not be enforced.

  2. Interim Amendments. The Town of Los Altos Hills General Plan in effect at the time the Notice of Intention to circulate this Initiative was submitted to the Town's election official (October 1, 2002, "submittal date"), and that General Plan as amended by this Initiative comprise an integrated, internally consistent and compatible statement of policies for the Town. In order to ensure that the Town's General Plan remains an integrated, internally consistent and compatible statement of policies for the Town as required by State law and to ensure that the actions of the voters in enacting this Initiative are given effect, any provision of the General Plan that is adopted between the submittal date and the date that the General Plan is amended by this measure shall, to the extent that such interim-enacted provision is inconsistent with the General Plan provisions adopted by sections 2 and 3 of this Initiative, be amended as soon as possible and in the manner and time required by State law to ensure consistency between the provisions adopted by this Initiative and other provisions of the Town's General Plan.

  3. Other Town General Plan Provisions, Ordinances, and Policies. The Town is hereby authorized and directed to amend other provisions of the General Plan, Zoning Code, and other ordinances and policies affected by this Initiative as soon as possible and in the manner and time required by State Law to ensure consistency between sections 2 and 3 of this Initiative and other provisions of the Town's General Plan, the Town Zoning Code, and other Town ordinances and policies.

Section 5:    Severability and Interpretation

This Initiative shall be interpreted so as to be consistent with all federal and state laws, rules, and regulations. If any section, sub-section, sentence, clause, phrase, part, or portion of this Initiative is held to be invalid or unconstitutional by a final judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction, such decision(s) shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of the this Initiative. The voters hereby declare that this Initiative, and each section, sub-section, sentence, clause, phrase, part, or portion thereof would have been adopted or passed even if one or more sections, sub-sections, sentences, clauses, phrases, parts, or portions are declared invalid or unconstitutional. If any provision of this Initiative is held invalid as applied to any person or circumstance, such invalidity shall not affect any application of this Initiative that can be given effect without the invalid application. This Initiative shall be broadly construed to achieve the purposes stated in this Initiative.

Section 6:    Amendment or Repeal

Except as otherwise provided herein, this Initiative may be amended or repealed only by the voters of the Town of Los Altos Hills.

Exhibit List:

Exhibit A: Town of Los Altos Hills General Plan Diagram, adopted January 2, 1974.

Exhibit B: Map of the general location of the specified Town-owned properties affected by this Initiative.

Exhibit C: Town of Los Altos Hills General Plan, Open Space Element, dated May 1, 1975.

Exhibit D: Town of Los Altos Hills General Plan, Recreation Element, dated May 1, 1975.

Exhibit E: Town of Los Altos Hills General Plan, excerpt (pp. 9-10) from Land Use Element, dated November 15, 1994.


To provide feedback on this website or be kept informed via Email, please contact The Webmaster