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Palo Alto Daily News News - Saturday, Dec. 21, 2002

Open Space Approved

By Christina Bellantoni
Daily News Staff Writer
In a major surprise, an open space plan has been embraced by the Los Altos Hills City Council, which also voted to repeal a controversial decision on the town’s pathway system. The moves brought about two standing ovations from the audience.

The issues made it on the council agenda after citizen volunteers gathered more than 1,000 signatures for each, over the minimum needed to be considered by council.

Late Thursday evening, council unanimously adopted the Los Altos Hills Open Space and Public Recreation Initiative, though it could have been sent to the voters in a special election.

Initially, the initiative’s supporters were confident it would pass because of the election of Breene Kerr and Dean Warshawsky, who openly supported the initiative during their campaigns. With the support of sitting council member Mike O’Malley, organizers thought they could secure at least a 3-vote majority to adopt the initiative.

But before the vote, initiative organizer Nancy Couperus said she had learned that Warshawsky, who lives within 500 feet of the Westwind Property protected in the initiative, could not vote. “This is not a slam dunk,” Couperus said.

Warshawsky excused himself from the vote, and council voted 4-0 to adopt the initiative that will now protect 157 acres out of 168 town-owned properties such as the Juan Prado Mesa Preserve, the Westwind Barn and the O’Keefe Property.

Organizers were so happy and surprised by the vote, they gave council a standing ovation.

Earlier this fall, council created its own open-space initiative for a future ballot. Since the council initiative was not on Thursday’s agenda, council members could not revisit it until next year.

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