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March 3, 2010 > Letter to the editor: Congratulations to all our volunteers, residents, and community leaders

Letter to the editor: Congratulations to all our volunteers, residents, and community leaders

On February 26, the Masonic Homes of California announced the cancellation of plans to develop within Union City's protected hillside area along Mission Boulevard. The proposed 63 acre development would have included a three-acre public benefit space, 1,400 residential high-density units and commercial space. The economic downturn in the economy and associated development costs were noted as the primary reasons for the project not moving forward.

The development would have required Union City voters to approve a ballot measure moving the protected Hillside Area boundaries to allow housing on prime farmland directly next to unique places - historic Masonic Home, last horse ranch within Union City, historic Dry Creek Cottage and gardens, gateway entrance to Dry Creek Regional Park and unobstructed views of the hills along Mission Boulevard.

Last year, the Save Our Hills Committee was created to stop this housing development while encouraging other uses of the land consistent with the Hillside Area Plan's goals and polices approved by voter in 1996.

Opportunities such as an event center, outdoor amphitheatre, u-pick farm, farm to school program and educational center and a winery are among many ideas that meet the recreational, agricultural and open space goals outlined in the Hillside Area Plan. Save Our Hills would like to pursue these opportunities working with the Masonic Homes of California, the East Bay Regional Park District, local agencies and community leaders to create a unique area that benefits our community in an economically sustainable way.

Thank you for your incredible efforts and dedication to retain Union City's beautiful hills and diverse places for our children and future generations.

Special thanks go to Cathy Keesee (Treasurer), Kathleen Wade (Assistant Treasurer), Virginia Cummins (former Measure II Treasurer, campaign meeting and volunteer coordinator), Bob Garfinkle (former Councilor and Measure II campaign chairman), Subru Bhat (volunteer coordinator and committee member), Tim Swenson (local historian and committee member), Donna Olson (Founder and Chairperson of Tri-City Ecology Center), Lynn Ragghianti (political advocate for open space), Dan Ondrasek (The Friends of Coyote Hills), Lorrene and Michael Ritchie (Heart Foundation), Vinh Pham (webmaster), Maria Grazia (graphic artist), Father Jose (Our Lady of the Rosary Church), Alameda County Office of Education, California Food and Justice Coalition, Sierra Club, Senator Ellen Corbett and Union City Councilor Carol Dutra-Vernaci for their expertise, encouragement and support.

Elizabeth Ames
Chair, Save Our Hills
(510) 429-8960

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