Dueling Ballot Measures Seek To Define Open Space In Martinez

May 25, 2018 8:00 am · 10 comments

Martinez residents and city officials are dueling to define open space regulations for new development on the June 5 ballot.

Measure I, a “citizen’s initiative,” and Measure F, proposed by the City Council, are similar in wording. They both call for voter approval when any changes are made in designated “open space” areas, but their definitions of open space are critically different.

Measure I includes public areas and certain locations, like the Franklin Hills, that have both public and private ownership.

Measure F covers only public areas, and City Council members say the measure is designed to protect private landowner rights to expand while protecting public open spaces in other parcels.

Supporters of each measure have accused the opposition of fear-mongering and misinformation, with the City Council describing Measure I as riddled with mistakes, and Measure I drafters saying Measure F will turn Martinez into a developer’s playground.

Tim Platt, proponent of Measure I and founding member of the Martinez Open Space and Park Protection Initiative, said the primary objective of Measure I is to give residents the final say in any development or changes to their community.

He said supporters of Measure I are sympathetic to a growing population that needs housing, but residents still need to maintain a “reasonable” quality of life with open green spaces.

“For us older [residents], boy, that’s where we refuel from the pressures of the everyday world,” Platt said, dismissing the idea that open space is a “luxury,” rather than a basic need.

Platt insisted that Measure I abides by the city’s general plan, and would not infringe upon residents who want to expand their home.

He noted that Martinez is the resting place for John Muir, a pioneer for public parks and wildlife protection, and said it’s critical for children to have a connection with the physical world in their youth.

Platt cited three different projects as examples of what he said is the City Council’s push toward overdeveloping Martinez — homes at Vine Hill Way, Muir Station Road and Pine Meadow. None of those developments
required a public vote, according to Platt.

Proponents of Measure I began petitioning for signatures in April 2017, but the Martinez City Council initially rejected the ballot measure.

A Contra Costa County Superior Court judge ruled that Measure I could remain on the ballot, and the City Council quickly designed Measure F as an alternative.

More than 500 parcels of privately owned land are included in Measure I. California law protects these homeowners from any rezoning, meaning they would not be kicked out of their homes, but Mayor Rob Schroder said Measure I would effectively limit property owners’ freedom.

This would include property additions like a barn, “in-law” units, and other accessory units for single-family homes.

He added that the city’s general plan is antiquated and hasn’t kept up with the needs of the community, which is seeing population growth like the rest of the Bay Area.

Residents from Berkeley, Oakland and nearby cities are moving to Martinez because it is relatively affordable, and Schroder said millennials are attracted to the location because they see it as a “cute little town.”

“If people are going to have places to live, we’ve got to look at some new ways of doing this,” he said, explaining that future development will be focused in transit hubs and the city’s downtown area, rather than large open spaces like the Franklin Hills.

In addition, Schroder said Martinez has directed $30 million over the next 10 years toward refurbishing its dozens of parks, and the city is not lacking in public space.

Measure I is fueled by a “not in my backyard,” mentality that is selfishly opposed to growth in Martinez, Schroder said.

If Measure I passes, Schroder said the city’s lawyers will continue to fight it in court.

“It’s going to be horrendous to try to implement this poorly written [ballot measure],” he said.

RealityCheck May 25, 2018 at 10:15 AM

So what the wording actually says is:

Measure I: We want to use the government to control public AND private property

Measure F: We want to use the government to control public property.

The obvious answer is to vote NO on both.

long time resident May 25, 2018 at 10:27 AM

Yes on I no on F. It is citizens vs politicians.

ZZ May 25, 2018 at 10:32 AM

Martinez won’t be a quaint, cute little town if they build more housing. People were moving to Sacramento for more affordable housing, but naturally the greed set in there and housing is going up as well. Just like what’s happening in Concord and Pleasant Hill. These cities were once affordable for middle to mid lower income bracket. (Walnut Creek, Danville, San Ramon etc. have mainly been higher income bracket.) Homeowners are now renting out rooms, two or more families are living in one house or apartment, adult kids aren’t moving out. When will it end?

HappyPappy May 25, 2018 at 10:48 AM

Sure……go ahead, turn it into another Concord. Martinez doesn’t have enough crime anyway!

Anon May 25, 2018 at 11:57 AM

So the Mayor of Martinez has a vision to make Martinez into another Antioch???
No thanks.
And interesting how he is willing to fight the will of the MAJORITY through the Courts. Give me a break.

AnonA May 25, 2018 at 12:02 PM

No thanks. Nobody wants runaway growth. Martinez is already held hostage by school traffic (one middle school😲).

If the Mayor wants to develop every nook and cranny he is going to be recalled.

HappyPappy May 25, 2018 at 12:27 PM

STOP the construction frenzy that’s been going on since the 1970’s!

The Observer May 25, 2018 at 5:56 PM

Stop the construction frenzy that’s been going on since 1492.

dltravers May 25, 2018 at 6:56 PM

Many had their investments robbed when they bought build-able lots along streets up against and on the hills but the right to build was taken from them.

“New development” should not be placing a house on an existing street on a lot that has been there for decades and in some cases over a century. Carving new streets into the hills is something else entirely.

Martinez has some great flat areas around town that could be knocked down and built on with some townhouse style apartments for the betterment of the town.

Affordability is gone. Rent used to be really cheap but those days are long gone.

3rdrail9er May 26, 2018 at 9:19 PM

Grew up in the MartinezAlhambra Hills. When we bought our house in 77, you could see SAC on a clear day with binoculars. When they developed the Miller Muir Oaks ranch behind our house, they cut down the century oak that shaded our yard( trunk was on other side of fence) and built the houses blocking off the view we actually paid extra for.

Developers DO NOT CARE about quality of life , open space, youth connecting with nature …none of it. All they care about it profit. And all politicians are in the pockets of the developers. All of them. No matter what they say otherwise.

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