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Thursday, April 18, 2002

For More Information, Contact:
Kristina Loquist at (916) 651- 4011


SACRAMENTO – Assemblyman Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) announced today that his Assembly Bill (AB) 953, designed to help preserve open space, has been signed into law by the Governor. The bill contains an “urgency” clause and takes effect immediately.

The bill, sponsored by the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD), will make it easier for the District to go about its business of preserving open space on the Midpeninsula. Simitian noted that, “As the Midpeninsula becomes increasingly developed, it becomes harder and harder to hang on to our open space. Sometimes, a little creativity is required. This is an attempt to foster some creative solutions to the challenges of open space preservation.”

The bill would allow the District to exchange open space easements in the same way it now exchanges pieces of property. “In this way,” explains Simitian, “open space can be preserved more often and less expensively than would otherwise be the case.”

Simitian observed, “In a tough budget year, it’s a good time to look at what we can do that doesn’t cost any money but helps the District preserve open space. In fact, AB953 will give MidPen more flexibility, and that should lead to cost savings in the long run.”

Larry Hassett, MROSD Director Ward 6, said, “We looked to Joe Simitian to carry the bill not just because he’s our local representative, but also because we know how much he values open space conservation. When push comes to shove in Sacramento, you want to make sure that you’ve got someone on your side who’s committed to your issues.”

Simitian further noted, “Development pressures continue to escalate here on the Midpeninsula, so if we can give open-space districts another tool to facilitate conservation, that’s a good thing. I’m gratified by the Governor’s signature on the bill.”

In an effort to decrease the cost and expense of entering into small contracts, the bill also provides the District with the authority to increase the amount of a contract the Executive Director can enter into on his own authority. “By reducing administrative costs,” said Simitian, “more resources can be devoted to open space preservation.”