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San Jose Mercury News - Mon, Aug. 19, 2002

Los Altos Hills residents rally to ban land sales

By Chuck Carroll
Mercury News
Los Altos Hills residents who've rallied to prevent the sale of some city-owned land say they will press forward with a ballot initiative that would ban such sales without voter approval.

Their decision comes despite the city council's pledge last week to let voters decide certain land sales.

Some residents say the pledge doesn't go far enough and a binding ballot measure is what's really needed.

Nancy Couperus, a founding member of Friends of Westwind Barn and of a new group called Los Altos Hills Open Space, said the latter group has instructed its attorneys to start drafting a ballot proposal.

They plan to begin gathering signatures on a petition by the end of September in hopes of getting the measure on the March 2003 ballot.

According to the group's lawyers, if the council were to adopt the citizens' initiative, it would become city policy without having to go on the ballot, and no current or future council could sell any affected lands without voter approval.

The Westwind property is the largest and most valuable of several pieces of salable city-owned land. Council members figuratively lighted a barn fire earlier this year when they suggested they'd be willing to consider selling the Westwind land as long as they got a good price and the barn's programs could be relocated to the adjacent Byrne Open Space Preserve.


Contact Chuck Carroll at ccarroll@sjmercury.com or (650) 688-7598

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