Fact Sheet

The Open Space Vote ballot measure would amend the Redwood City Charter to let voters decide before we lose any open space or parkland to development. The measure would require a vote of the people for development to occur on any open space lands in Redwood City, including the 1,433-acre salt pond site owned by Cargill.

This Ballot Measure:


  • Costs the City nothing; no vote of city residents is required unless the City Council approves a project to destroy open space lands with development

  • Allows new parks, as well as flood control, or wildlife habitat restoration, without a vote of city residents

  • Encourages expansion of public recreation; projects to build or expand playing fields or senior centers are unaffected

  • Allows anything currently allowed or permitted to go forward, including already approved projects, and development and land uses already allowed under current zoning

  • Gives voters the final say; the City's planning process, environmental review and Council approval are not affected

  • Below are straight answers to misrepresentations made about Open Space Vote:

    The City can rebuild a new senior center in Red Morton Park

    ANSWER: Open Space Vote specifically permits the construction of public recreational facilities such as a teen center or senior center, and the upgrading of existing facilities such as playing fields; no vote is required for these uses by the Open Space Vote measure. Parks are among the areas covered by Open Space Vote, and a public vote is required only if the City Council approves development not currently permitted in an existing park.

    Private homeowners are not affected

    ANSWER: Open Space Vote is triggered only by changes in zoning or the General Plan. Open Space Vote has no impact or application on uses consistent with existing residential zoning. Under Open Space Vote, private homeowners can remodel, rebuild their homes, install docks, and do anything allowed by the current zoning, like any other homeowner.

    The City can approve a new General Plan

    ANSWER: The City can update its General Plan without triggering a vote under the Open Space Vote measure. Should the City Council approve a General Plan update that allows development on current open space lands, a public vote would be required.

    Redwood Shores' water treatment plant is not affected

    ANSWER: The existing zoning explicitly allows for "operation and maintenance of the existing South Bayside System Authority facility." Open Space Vote has no impact on any uses allowed under current zoning.

    The Port of Redwood City or the proposed Ferry are not impacted

    ANSWER: These assertions have been laid to rest by the City, which agrees that there is no impact on the Port's land, because they are not open space lands, but instead designated and zoned for industrial and/or commercial uses. Therefore Open Space Vote would have no impact on the proposed ferry. As explained by the City, "the Port could expand on its lands without voter approval." Nor is there any impact on surrounding San Francisco Bay Waters, which are not owned by the City. Open Space Vote contains a provision which pertains to the Port Commission's permitting authority under the Charter. It simply makes explicit that with respect to any proposed development on open space lands, the City Council must act first before the Port Commission could approve any related leases or permits.

    Note that Open Space Vote does not change other state and federal regulatory requirements that may apply to construction in and near the shoreline of San Francisco Bay, including requirements by BCDC, Regional Water Quality Control Board, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and others.

    No Impacts

    Many red herrings have been and will be raised by opponents of OSV; here is a list of issues where the City agrees with Open Space Vote: there is no impact.


  • Canada College
  • County property / County jail
  • Courthouse Square
  • New parks
  • Oracle
  • San Carlos Airport
  • West Point Marina
  • The Open Space Vote ballot measure is sponsored by Friends of Redwood City, a citizens group of Redwood City residents formed in 1982, and Save The Bay, a regional organization dedicated to protecting the health of San Francisco Bay since 1961. Save The Bay has hundreds of Redwood City members and provides outdoor education for hundreds of Redwood City students each year.