12/14/2007 1:00AM

Bay Meadows protest fails

EmailA California court has ruled that a referendum aimed at blocking development of Bay Meadows did not have enough valid signatures to be placed on the ballot.

The Friends of Bay Meadows, a group fighting development of the 83-acre racetrack, circulated petitions in 2005 to overturn the San Mateo City Council's approval of a plan to build offices, stores, and homes at the site.

San Mateo County elections officials invalidated more than 1,100 signatures, leaving the referendum 56 signatures short of the 4,661 needed to put it on the ballot. Referendum sponsors challenged decisions on 67 signatures, but the First District Court of Appeal of California ruled Thursday that enough were properly disqualified to keep the referendum off the ballot.

A spokesman for Friends of Bay Meadows indicated it was unlikely the group would file another appeal.

The decision further clears the way for the development to begin next September.- Chuck Dybdal