Open Space District launches massive 'vision plan'

Plan will seek public input with future land conservation, natural restoration, recreation and access

A vision plan to determine how the public wants open space to be used was launched by the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District on Tuesday, March 26.

The year-long project entitled Imagine the Future of Open Space seeks public input on land preservation, environmental stewardship, and public access and recreation to create a regional open space blueprint for the next 40 years.

"We're celebrating our 40th anniversary, so it is especially fitting that we are beginning a vision plan right now," General Manager Steve Abbors said.

The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District was formed by a group of concerned citizens who wanted to preserve the regional greenbelt. The district has preserved more than 60,000 acres with 26 preserves in Santa Clara, San Mateo, and a small part of Santa Cruz counties.

The new project is composed of two distinct parts: public input into land use of existing open space under district control and habitat planning for district properties and adjacent lands.

The project is expected to cost the district $792,539, according to a plan report, which can be reviewed here. Full details regarding expenditures are available at this web link.

Consultants will receive the lion's share of the funds, with Public Dialogue Consortium receiving $223,000 and Jodi McGraw Consulting garnering $367,039, according to the report. Public Dialogue will handle the public outreach, and Jodi McGraw will handle analysis and the planning of the vision plan.

The district plans comprehensive public outreach and communication, including a newly launched online forum at

A Community Advisory Committee (CAC) made up of nearly 25 representatives, from cattle ranchers to environmentalists, will assist in developing the plan. The public can attend the advisory committee's monthly meetings, which begin April 17, and district board meetings for additional opportunities for input and review.

The district is also working with Public Dialogue Consortium, a public-engagement firm, to conduct one-on-one interviews about the future of regional open space at public events or by individual or groups.

A series of vision-plan public meetings will be held in fall of 2013, along with board workshops throughout 2013 and 2014. The final draft vision plan is scheduled to be presented to the district board of directors in April 2014.

The district plans a detailed analysis of its preserves and adjacent lands to examine wildlife habitat, creeks and watershed land, recreational trails and connections, agriculture and other topics to assist in future planning and environmental maintenance decisions.

More information about Imagine the Future of Open Space can be found at or by sending an email to

The online interactive website can be accessed directly at


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Posted by access
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 27, 2013 at 10:17 am

Open space is great, but the biggest improvement it needs right now is better accessibility without encouraging private car use. Almost all the open space is west of Hwy 280, while most of the population lives east of Hwy 280. Safe non-car routes across the highway are very limited and even if you do make it across, the roads to the open space are generally very narrow with no shoulders or sidewalks and too many speeding cars. Public transit is non-existent. I hope the open space district can work with local communities to improve access routes to our open space so that the general public can enjoy it more without the pollution of private cars.

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Posted by Hilary
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Mar 27, 2013 at 10:46 am

I love, appreciate, and utilize the open space that we have on the Peninsula. I remain amazed at the vision the MPOSD founders had in preserving open space before it got gobbled up.

Thanks you MPOSD (and the other local land trusts).

My only suggestions are to make expand the preserve trails system and involve the community more. Looks like this process is under way!

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Posted by resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 27, 2013 at 11:32 am

While I appreciate the open spaces, I feel they are going too far. We need to encourage local holisic farms and maybe even some dense affordable housing. Also watch TED talk Web Link to learn more, though it applies more to grasslands.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 27, 2013 at 11:39 am

I would like to see better facilities at the Baylands. The interpretive center is closed and that is a big shame. I would also like to see better bathroom facilities there.

The other thing is bikes and hikers sharing the same trails. It is a problem in many areas. If you have families hiking together who keep having to get away from groups on bikes it is hard to enjoy nature. There are also problems when groups of bikers going in opposite directions meet each other, particularly when hikers are around. The trails are often not wide enough for two way traffic as well as hikers. Many trails have not been well thought out for the volume of users at popular times. I think there should be some trails that are bikes only and others that are hikers only.

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Posted by Good job open space
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 27, 2013 at 1:40 pm

Good job Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District.

The parks are accessible enough. Turning them into amusement parks with huge parking lots and what have you is not a good idea. The main purpose is to protect nature and wildlife and allowing the public to enjoy them in as natural a state as possible.

As to dense housing... in the hills? Do you want our area to become the next LA with hills built up and no nature left?

Let's be serious. Not here!

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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 29, 2013 at 12:18 am

Maybe it's a misconception but I believe plenty of the open space along the coast is in the form of conservation easements, i.e. the development rights have been purchased by a conservation organization, but the land is still privately owned by farmers or ranchers who farm or ranch or may sell to others to farm or ranch. A win-win solution in my book, but no fun for land speculators, real estate agents, or tax assessors. Can anyone point me to a statistical summary? I'll note that the 60,000 MROSD acres are only 4 percent of the land area of the 3 counties. I'm hoping the other 96 percent won't be completely paved over.

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a resident of Barron Park
on May 30, 2014 at 8:51 am

Land is already scarce enough around here and there is plenty of protected open space. Regular people want to live in the hills also. Stop buying up all the land so only the super rich can afford it!!!!!!

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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