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PRESS RELEASE

February 13, 2004

For immediate distribution

Rotating contact person: Marilyn Cooney, save.the.spur@recursor.net

CITIZEN COALITION APPLAUDS MILLBRAE COUNCIL DECISION TO PARE BACK THE LAND SALE PROCESS

Millbrae Tomorrow participants were encouraged by a series of decisions made by the city at the February 10th Council Meeting. First the city staff eliminated all of the Spur parcels from the list of parcels recommended for preliminary work to prepare them for sale (surveys, etc.). This left only the parcels on Sequoia Avenue adjacent to the Spur to be considered for the pre-sale surveys and other work. But the council deferred a decision on even that remaining Sequoia location until a later Council Meeting.

Millbrae Tomorrow also applauds the City Council Members Larson and Quigg who spoke up against the development of the Spur property, and Council Member Hershman who moved to delay vote on preparation of even the Sequoia site until a later session in March.

The motion to delay a vote on the remaining parcel passed, although some local newspapers incorrectly reported that the motion to prepare the Sequoia site for sale had passed during the February 10th meeting. Marilyn Cooney, one contact person for Millbrae Tomorrow, said, “The fact that the Council postponed the vote on preparation of the remaining Sequoia property gives the public some time to reflect on the modified recommendation. We polled our fellow participants, and they believe that these actions (and lack of action) all show movement in the right direction.”

The coalition’s internal poll showed that an overwhelming majority is against selling the Sequoia parcels because they see them as important recreational assets. They gave several examples of how they personally had seen the grassy area being used for recreation. No one said that they favored selling the Sequoia parcels. The sentiment of the coalition is very clear, and it has been a good reflection of public opinion so far.

While the coalition applauds the City Council for what it did NOT do on Tuesday night, it still has not seen any definite statement from them that this is the last of any attempt to sell Spur property. Is this over, or has the idea of selling Spur property just been put on the back burner for a while? At the very least, Millbrae Tomorrow would like to see the Council issue a resolution stating that the Spur property will not be considered for sale within the next five years or more.

The Millbrae Tomorrow coalition continues to see the Tax Increment Recapture (TIR) option as the most promising option to provide Millbrae’s general fund with the funds that it needs. Some information about the option is available on the coalition’s Web site, www.MillbraeTomorrow.com. Ms. Cooney said, “If it works as described, once understood, the TIR could be implemented very quickly.” The coalition believes that this option should be exhausted, including exploration, if necessary, by an impartial third party before land sales of any kind are considered. The coalition also supports the simultaneous exploration of revenue raising measures other than land sales, such a Fire Assessment District, although consideration should be given to somehow reduce or eliminate the impact on older seniors on fixed incomes and others unable to pay.

In the workshop presentations by the city, land sales were presented as a way to produce cash quickly for the city. However, land sales could be slowed considerably by various types of challenges. Also, the Sierra Club stated in a letter to the mayor that a change in zoning from open space to residential would require an environmental review.

Nearly every respondent to the coalition’s internal survey indicated that he/she believes that their work is not over, and that they need to actively monitor the situation, including having participants attend upcoming Millbrae City Council meetings. Some describe this process of working with the city as a marathon, not a sprint.

Beyond the next five years, Millbrae Tomorrow also urges the City Council to take steps to transfer the Spur property into an ownership arrangement that will in some way preserve the Spur and other significant recreational land as open space forever. Ms. Cooney said, “In that way future generations will continue to enjoy a Millbrae that looks something like the Millbrae that we know and value so much.”

[About Millbrae Tomorrow]
Millbrae Tomorrow began when concerned residents spontaneously started talking to each other in the auditorium and on the phone immediately after the city sponsored group, Millbrae Now!, presented its first workshop for Millbrae citizens on Saturday, January 31st. These citizens have contributed time and effort toward the rapid creation of a coalition to convey their message and to alert other citizens who were unaware of the proposed land sales. Cash outlays by all of the Millbrae Tomorrow participants to build the Web site, buy copies of documents, and make copies of fliers have totaled less than $100 to date, but a lot of volunteer time and energy has been contributed. At this point the coalition is informal, and is not a political action committee subject to regulation by the FPPC. More information about the coalition is available at its Web site: www.MillbraeTomorrow.Org