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— Kathryn Burton is also afraid that environmentally sensitive lands will disappear. "I am fearful of what this city council and this mayor are willing to do to cover up their own mistakes," she says. Open space is either designated or dedicated. A vote of city council can overturn a designation, but voters must agree to reverse a dedication. Yet there was a dedicated parcel inside the ballpark district. Instead of going to the voters, as required by law, the city simply claimed it had made a mistake in declaring the dedication and grabbed the land. "Open space is absolutely threatened," says councilmember Donna Frye.

Penelope Bourk has been an active opponent of the recent council decision to suspend open-space policy so land in La Jolla could be used for Hillel of San Diego. Late last year, two people were outside her house, looking for the potential Hillel site. "They were appraisers from the Real Estate Assets Department, and they had to rush off because they had a list of 100 properties" to appraise, she says. Later, the department denied that any appraisers had been sent out.

Joanne Pearson, a Sierra Club activist, relates the story of a 104.2-acre parcel in Mira Mesa. In 1996, a plot of 47 acres was to be dedicated in perpetuity as open space, and the rest was to be developed. "The city approved it but to this day has never submitted it to the coastal commission," probably because it wants to develop the dedicated space, she suspects. Meanwhile, grading has been done, in violation of statutes. The council has dealt with the matter in closed session. Frye got 36 acres dedicated as public park land, "but that hasn't gone through the coastal commission," and Pearson is worried about what the city will do in secret. "This project is a poster child for everything that is wrong with city government," says Pearson.

And there is much wrong. Business interests are once again lobbying for a strong-mayor system. But both mayoral candidates are Golding clones -- beholden to fat-cat donors, not the people.

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