City Council to decide whether to dedicate more than 10,000 acre - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

City Council to decide whether to dedicate more than 10,000 acres of open space

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A proposal to designate more than 10,000 acres throughout the city of San Diego as open space or parkland was passed by the City Council's Land Use and Housing Committee Wednesday.

The plan is a result of state legislation by Sen. Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego, which was signed into law last month.

Land dedicated for open space by the City Council cannot be used for any other purpose -- except roads or utilities -- without a two-thirds majority in a public vote. A road or utility exception would require City Council approval.

The original staff proposal was to set aside 5,881 acres. Another 5,000 acres had been put forward by community planning groups, but they were held back by city staff so that they could review various legal issues and restrictions on the properties or because there were other potential uses.

Councilwoman Sherri Lightner moved to include all of the proposed lands and have staff return with an explanation of why certain properties shouldn't be included. Their report would be heard when the item goes before the full City Council next month for final approval.

"Let's not take some of these parcels off the table before they need to be taken off," said Councilman David Alvarez, who backed the addition.

Lorie Zapf, the committee chairwoman, cast the dissenting vote. She said one month would not give staff enough time to vet all of the properties.

Among the issues raised by staff that affect the additional acreage:

-- adjoining property owners may have encroached onto the public lands, so staff has to resurvey the properties;

-- around 2,000 city-owned acres are in the San Pasqual Valley, outside city limits;

-- some of the land does not have assigned parcel numbers, which are required for dedication; and

-- the San Diego Association of Governments envisions using land in Rose Canyon to build a second railroad track, according to Charles "Muggs" Stoll, the agency's director of land use and transportation planning. The City Attorney's Office will have to decide whether that fits in the roadway and utility exception.

Eric Bowlby, the executive director of San Diego Canyonlands, said most of the properties originally excluded by staff don't have any other apparent possible use.

Most of the land that would be dedicated is in urban canyons that run through areas like City Heights, Normal Heights, North Park and Tierrasanta.

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