KB Homes: Wrecking our hillsides one acre at a time Around Town, posted by Derek, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Mar 1, 2012 at 2:47 pm
Perhaps a story ran here on D.E. a while back about this, but I am curious how many of my fellow Danville-ites are aware of the development that is about to commence along the West side of San Ramon Valley Road, a bit north of the Greenbrook overcrossing ? I usually drive on the east side of 680 along Camino Ramon, but today I took the "scenic route" - such as it is for the time being. Due to and probably only because of, our lack of bedrock, the development won't rise up the steeper flank of the West hills, but it is certainly going to cover one of the few remaining lovely open spaces adjacent to SRV Road. Likely with KB's typical high density ricky ticky tacky cookie cutters.
How the heck do these projects keep flying through the process with so little public input - or did I miss something? Is it rime to take local voting more seriously when it comes to our city council? I believe that it is.
Maybe this was covered well once before and I failed to realize the actual location, but somehow I doubt it.
Posted by Derek, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Mar 2, 2012 at 8:00 am
Way too late for that I'm afraid; this is apparently a done deal and the land was purchased by KB a long time ago. My understanding is that grading will start very soon.
Well, there's that and the fact that we don't have 1.3 mil an acre to shell out. Don't know how may acres are involved, but there are over 80 units planned. With streets and all, it might be 30 acres or so?
Posted by Paul, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Mar 2, 2012 at 10:03 am
Quite a few Tri Valley residents live in homes that sit on land that was once pristine. As much as I like natural settings, it strikes me as disingenuous, or perhaps even hypocritical, to lament land development so others might enjoy what I have had for the past 25 years.
Posted by Old Danvillain, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Mar 2, 2012 at 11:11 am
Can't be any cheaper than the junk that was built in Greenbrook in the 60's. Talk about cheap ticky tack! But you know what, that's what people can afford to buy and people need a place to live. The "I got mine" late comers to Danville are just going to have to stop their complaining and put up with it, or get more up to speed on what's going on.
Posted by John Tanner, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Mar 2, 2012 at 11:18 am
Do get involved in land conservation in the area. The decisions for these developments are contested and negotiated all the time. If you don't have the time to get involved, perhaps leverage your time by donating funds to an organization like Save Mount Diablo or the Tri Valley Conservancy. If you don't volunteer or donate consider yourself a mostly useless airbag.
Posted by Joseph, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Mar 2, 2012 at 3:00 pm
Unless we are more selective in the future, our hills will look like the heavily crowded hills of San Francisco. What an ugly sight.
It seems to me the reason for our City Council's acceptance of this type of expansion is the income that will be obtained from future property taxes. Never mind the added cost of police, fire, etc that will be required.
Posted by Geoff Gillette, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Mar 2, 2012 at 3:44 pm Geoff Gillette is a member (registered user) of Danville Express
Just wanted to take a second and touch on a few things. After following this thread today, I spoke with Principal Planner David Crompton about this property and got the following information.
Approvals to allow for construction of homes on this site, known as the “Elworthy Property” were granted by the Town in July, 2008, following a three year review process. This approval followed extensive neighborhood outreach, completion of an environmental impact report and widely noticed public hearings. KB Homes has purchased the entitlement and will be starting construction later in spring 2012.”
The site includes over 459+/- acres, stretching from San Ramon Valley Boulevard to the west, up and over the top of Las Trampas Ridge. A total of 84 single family homes and 12 apartments will be built on the lowermost 12 +/- acres located adjacent to San Ramon Valley Boulevard.
The entitlement retains almost 440 acres of the site as scenic open space, including the highly visible east-facing slope of Las Trampas Ridge. Approximately 232 acres of the upper hillside and ridgeline area will be dedicated to the East Bay Regional Parks District and will be added to the Los Trampas open space. A staging area will be built as part of the project to provide public access to the open space.
The highly visible and scenic nature of the site was a major consideration in the environmental review. Widening of San Ramon Valley Boulevard to match the segments located north and south of the property frontage will occur as part of the project.
Posted by Greenbrook ELDER, a member of the Greenbrook Elementary School community, on Mar 2, 2012 at 7:23 pm
Mr.Gillette,can you be more specific, just what were the conclusions drawn from the "extensive outreach"efforts ,was there public support,did the EIR take into account the USGS REPORTS completed 30+yrs. ago(of which I have a copy) that indicated that this property is extremely unstable,unsuitable for structures,did sufficient numbers of interested parties attend,and comment, at the public hearings? You give no hint as to the outcome of these events,reporting that they occurred is of no value,the value is in what they produced and what value was given to the input!!
Posted by Laine, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Mar 2, 2012 at 11:35 pm
Thank you for your response Mr. Gillette, but I, like Greenbrook ELDER would like to know what the conclusions from the extensive outreach efforts were? And, how does public opinion affect the final decision of the Planning Commission?
Posted by jrm, a member of the Vista Grande Elementary School community, on Mar 4, 2012 at 7:01 am
I remember this process well, and numerous articles in the paper alerted citizenry that this parcel was up for review. In my view, the mitigation efforts were the result of public input. The prominent scenic hillside will be preserved and the East Bay Parks gets a nice chunk of what was previously private property. As much as I lament the loss of green space it does seem the process worked in this case. Lastly thank you again Geoff for the information.
Posted by Alamo resident, a resident of the Alamo neighborhood, on Mar 5, 2012 at 7:25 am
I was raised in San Ramon and attended San Ramon Valley High in the 1970's. I had my horse boarded on the Geldermann Ranch, which was near Montevideo. I spent many Saturdays at the barn and riding the beautiful hills of the San Ramon Valley. It was a beautiful valley filled with orchards, cattle and horses. Slowly over the last couple decades, everything changed with the development of homes, office parks and shopping centers. I still love our area but miss seeing kids riding horses, or working/volunteering at the barn, like I had the chance to do.
The best I could do to preserve my memories and lifestyle, was to move to Alamo years ago. I am sorry to see the Elworthy project being developed as this is the last hillside in Danville.
Posted by John Tanner, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Mar 5, 2012 at 10:08 am
Actually 12-acres being developed out of a total of 459 is a huge win for the preservation of the east slope of Las Trampas Ridge. The land that will be dedicated to EBRPD provides a very useful ridge top connection between lands currently owned by EBRPD.
If you drive in the California Chateau development, and go up to Peters Ranch, there is a water tank at the top. The land nearby on the ridge at this location is owned by EBRPD. The Elworthy Ranch dedication to EBRPD will bridge the gap to the currently open EBRPD land at the top of the ridge accessed from Prospect / Remington.
The reason that EBRPD is not accepting the entire open space lands is more than likely their not wanting to own the lands immediately upslope from the development, due to management issues and risk associated with landslides and fires.
The California Chateau development is built on the same earthquake fault system. It appears the original developer left a green belt through the entire development where the fault line is purported to be. I am assuming in this day and age, with all the increased knowledge that we have regarding earthquakes and landslides and how to geo-technical engineer for these risks, that that was taken into account. The iPhone isn't the only advancement made in the past 30 years. And yes there were a ton of meetings and publicity about this already.
Posted by Josh, a resident of the Diablo neighborhood, on Mar 5, 2012 at 10:12 am
If you want to stay abreast of development issues, support your local land conservancy's with your time or money. If you donate/join, you will get on the communication lists and provide the organizations with funds by which to support the cause.
Posted by Geoff Gillette, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Mar 5, 2012 at 4:29 pm Geoff Gillette is a member (registered user) of Danville Express
After reading some of your responses, I spoke further with Principal Planner David Crompton and got some additional information regarding the process to share with you.
As part of the Town’s outreach efforts, all residents within 1000 ft. of the proposed development were notified by mail of the public hearing process. It should be noted that the state only mandates that residents within 300 ft. be notified. This resulted in approximately one thousand residents being notified directly of the development application and approval process.
In addition, a large sign was posted along the frontage of the property on San Ramon Valley Boulevard giving information on the project as well as providing David Crompton’s phone number.
Articles were written about the development application in the Town’s Quarterly newsletter and the press was notified of the process, which resulted in a number of stories being written in the Danville Weekly and in the San Ramon Valley Times.
Public hearings on the project were held before the Town Planning Commission and Town Council. At the hearing before the Town Council there were only two speakers. One in support of the project and one voicing concerns about increased traffic generated by the development.
An Environmental Impact Report was completed, which included a study of the geological stability of the site. The Town hired a third party geotechnical firm to peer-review the adequacy of the report prior to incorporating it into the EIR. The findings of the report were, in part, responsible for the location and design of the subdivision.
The question was asked regarding what effect public input has on the decision-making process. The Town Council gets information from staff regarding whether or not a development application is consistent with the Town’s General Plan and other Town criteria for development.
During a public hearing, the Council gives residents an opportunity to voice their concerns about a specific application which they then take into account in their deliberations.
The value the Town places on public input can be illustrated through the development of the Elworthy property. In 1998, an application was submitted by another developer which proposed over 200 homes spread out over the entire hillside.
Using the same public notification methods described above, the Town received considerable input and the developer ultimately abandoned the project. Several years later when the current application was submitted, it incorporated many of the concerns voiced earlier by residents.
Posted by tom, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Mar 6, 2012 at 9:25 am
the first post states it all Wrecking OUR hillside..because you look at it does not give you ownership..perhaps you would like to give the real owner of this property a check for at least half of the tax paid over the years since it is YOUR HILLSIDE
Posted by jenni, a resident of another community, on Mar 6, 2012 at 4:31 pm
I was raised in San Ramon. Knew the Elworthys well. So much of what was San Ramon has changed. The freeway took us out in 1964. We moved to Danville and I'm now in Pleasanton. I remember my father saying in the 50's someday it will be solid homes all the way to Pleasanton.
How right he was!
It's just sad, especially to those of us who grew up there.
Posted by Josh, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Mar 7, 2012 at 8:29 am
Come on Sue, have you read the emails, are you literate. 12/450 is less than 3% of the land that is going to be used for houses. I think the cows can live off the remaining acreage. In fact it is likely that EBRPD will continue grazing as that is their policy, and there is a good chance the homeowner association will also lease out their land for cattle ranching. So the cows go the same spot. Maybe you can give up on a few hamburgers per year so that the one cow that doesn't get to graze anymore doesn't starve. And perhaps you should mention to your daughter that our society serves those same cows on dinner plates every night of the year. Sorry to burst your daughters bubble, but those cows are in the Safeway manufacturing line.
Posted by Old Danvillain, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2012 at 8:52 am
Where would the no-growthers be living today had we listened to them when their developments were being planned? Not here, obviously. The truth is Danville has been well planned and beautifully executed. It's a joy to live here because of the sane planning by our developers, careful consideration by our city and county staff, and we wisely ignored the bleating of the self-interested, uninvolved complainers.
Posted by Fed up with Traffic, a member of the Los Cerros Middle School community, on Mar 8, 2012 at 9:12 am
Thanks, Patty, for bringing up the SummerHill Homes' application for 78 homes, plus possibly another 45 or more second residential units, to be built on Jed Magee's remaining 410-acre ranch in the scenic eastern Diablo Road corridor.
Under the current A-4 (Agricultural Preserve District) zoning for about 200 of those 410 acres, SummerHill would only be able to build one home per twenty acres. The rest of the acres are currently zoned A-2, one home per 5 acres. But SummerHill is trying to get Danville to rezone the 200 A-4 acres to A-2, one home per 5 acres, to accommodate SummerHill's plan.
WE MUST ALL GET INVOLVED TO STOP THAT REZONING FROM HAPPENING!! The Draft Environmental Impact Report for the project is expected TO BE MADE PUBLIC IN APRIL OR MAY. PLEASE LOOK FOR AN ANNOUNCEMENT ABOUT THE PUBLIC HEARING and SHOW UP FOR IT, OR SEND YOUR COMMENTS TO DANVILLE!
Also, get on the www.save-our-creek.com website and SIGN THE PETITION against the ill-conceived SummerHill proposed project and donate money via paypal to our grassroots organization dedicated to stopping it. Also, indicate if you would like to offer your assistance. Save-Our-Creek has hired an attorney and a traffic expert to oppose the traffic nightmare, flooding/erosion, loss of general-plan protected scenic beauty, and habitat destruction that SummerHill's plan will cause.
PLEASE GET INVOLVED BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE---LIKE IT IS WITH ELWORTHY!!
Posted by josh, a resident of the Diablo neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2012 at 11:55 am
I am sorry Sue. I just think it is important to connect the dots.
As for Old Danvillian mentioning the "sane planning by our developers" I don't believe you would agree to the original Elworthy proposal being sane. It was to cover the entire hillside including on the ridge over 200 homes. If it were not for local activists, there would be nothing sane about how the hills would be covered with homes. There is not one ridgeline in the area that has not had homes 'planned' for development. And if not for these same local activists, the Town Councils and county staff and board of supervisors, would have rubber stamped insane amounts of leapfrog developments.
The lasting legacy of Ken Behring and the leap frog Blackhawk Development will be the motivation it provided for local activists to come together and stop development this kind of insane development. Thank the people for passing county urban limit lines so we can preserve our ridgelines and open spaces. In every urban limit line election, developers have spent millions to defeat them. They are not sane, they are self-interested in makeing money.
Posted by Worried about Traffic Nightmare on Diablo Road, a resident of the Diablo neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2012 at 9:43 am
Although I would be broken hearted by the loss of lovely trees and open land along Diablo Road if Danville changes their zoning to allow Summerhill to build 123 homes along the Diablo Road corridor, a more horrific problem would be the traffic congestion. If you have ever traveled Diablo Road before school opens at Los Cerros or Monte Vista HS on any weekday morning, you will know that traffic is already a nightmare, and there are no alternative routes! Try it some morning, and you will understand why we are all so worried!
Posted by ERIN, a member of the Green Valley Elementary School community, on Mar 9, 2012 at 10:32 am
Summerhill will build and bolt and the residents in this area will be left sitting in the parking lot that is Diablo Road at various times of the day. Careful consideration needs to be made to the assumptions Summerhill will use in its analysis of traffic projections. Under estimating persons/household and vehicles/household is a technique used by builders to paint a more palatable, albeit false, picture of the impact of their development.
Let's also be on the alert lest the concept of Eminent Domain isn't advocated as a tool to steal property. "In the good of the community" is used all too often to mask "in the good of these individuals." When the private property of private citizens can be taken at will, we all risk losing our freedoms. Traffic would then be the least of our problems.
We ALL need to speak up. It may not be your neighborhood today, but what of tomorrow?
Posted by gong, going, GONE, a member of the Los Cerros Middle School community, on Mar 9, 2012 at 10:50 am
When I first became aware of this project, it was through SummerHill homes by mail. I almost didn't open it because it looked EXACTLY like junk-mail. I was truly horrified. You see when I bought my home in 2002, I was told by multiple sources that the hills and open space surrounding our neighborhood couldn't be built upon. I actually went to TOWN OF DANVILLE and checked-They said that was true. I am fine with Mr. Magee having the "right" to sell his land. Where I and many others have a problem is that he doesn't have a "right" to rezone it in order to fashion a lucrative and sweetheart deal with the builder facilitated and to my highly involved eye coddled by the town. This is NOT for so many Save our Creek and other involved community members a case of the NIMBY'S. Why can't we just want to preserve natural beauty, sensitive habitats and ecosystems, prevent a MORE abysmal ride to school and work, prevent flooding and erosion and dang, just simply not ravage and ruin every last green space? I have a kid. I want every last piece of green for her future world. Call me a tree-hugger-I don't care. Why do we need MORE houses for godsakes when there literally are hundreds for sale or foreclosure in Danville?
Posted by Arlene Reed, a resident of the Diablo neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2012 at 10:54 am
We, too, are VERY concerned about the Summerhill Development along the Diablo Road Corridor for many of the reasons listed above. Traffic will be HORRENDOUS!!! There will be real danger from creek erosion. Zoning laws would be severely compromised and the rural beauty of the area diminished. All of this affects our property values. IT IS SO IMPORTANT THAT WE CLOSELY MONITOR THE SITUATION, VOICE OUR CONCERNS TO THE PLANNING DEPARTMENTS, SIGN THE PETITION MENTIONED ABOVE BY "FED UP WITH TRAFFIC - LOS CERROS COMMUNITY PARENT", AND ATTEND ALL PUBLIC HEARINGS!! As Geoff Gillette, Public Information Coordinator, said in his message of March 5th above - PUBLIC INPUT IS VERY IMPORTANT AND HAS MADE A DIFFERENCE IN THE APPROVAL PROCESS.
Posted by Mike, a member of the Greenbrook Elementary School community, on Mar 9, 2012 at 12:02 pm
Old Danvillain, I live in the Greenbrook neighborhood you are calling junk at take offense. I like where we live and my home is not junk. My home was built in the late 70's. Not sure if you are calling the current Greenbrook homes junk or not. If so, I find your comment as cheap and ticky tack.
Posted by Left L.A., a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2012 at 12:25 pm
Believe it or not. the L.A. suburbs used to be beautiful also. What is happening here will become L.A. North. There is a new proposed project along Diablo Road by Summer Hill, which will add crowded housing to the scenic hillsides, and make the roads in the area unpassable with gridlock. This is the time for Danvillians to say enough is enough, now.
Posted by concerned citizen, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Mar 10, 2012 at 9:48 am
All those that agree that Diablo Road traffic is OVER its capacity, and that flooding and erosion in the area are already unacceptable should email the 5 Danville Council members and 8 Planning Commissioners (emails are available on the Town of Danville website) and tell them that! Many of the decisionmakers for the REZONING necessary for this proposal to be approved are involved in real estate and real estate-related businesses. Maybe if they think it will hurt their businesses they will vote against the insanity that is being proposed by SUmmerHill Homes!
In any case, let's not let Jed Magee and SummerHill Homes make a SPECULATIVE bundle by getting a REZONING and TAKING PROPERTY VALUE from all of us! NO ONE HAS A RIGHT TO REZONE!!
Posted by More like Surrealist..., a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Mar 11, 2012 at 10:51 am
To "Realist" -
You're not being remotely real; you're being disingenuous. A major issue re the SummerHill development is the capacity of the land and infrastructure to absorb the impact of the development. This includes traffic, flooding, erosion, schools. Serious safety concerns are neither "selfish" nor "hypocritical." There is little to be done to increase the capacity of the creek or Diablo Road, and both are beyond capacity at present, despite extraordinary mitigation measures. And yet Jed Magee and SummerHill want to profit from overburdening these systems even further. It's like having a pipeline that can safely accommodate 40 gallons per minute. First someone puts in 10 gpm. A second puts in another 10 gpm. Two additional each put in 10 gpm. The pipe is at capacity. Would you have everyone who wants to keep adding more flow, just because some others got to before? The only thing you'll end up with is a burst pipe and loss of life or property. Those of us living in Danville want the Town council and staff to protect us and our children, not developer's profits. Rezoning the property should not be allowed. What are zoning laws for, after all, if not to protect us from unchecked and unsafe development? Danville residents, speak up and make your voices heard, because your community may be next. Ask not for whom the bell tolls - it tolls for thee.
Posted by going, going, GONE, a member of the Los Cerros Middle School community, on Mar 11, 2012 at 4:46 pm
To "realist"-Your arguments are simplistic and just plain wrong. This cause is not about the effected homeowners being selfish and having what you state in an immature "I've got mine, no one else can have theirs" mentality. Really? Why don't you do a little research. Google how many homes are for sale or forclosure already. Do you have a clue how many hours of work/research a lot of us have dedicated to this project? HAVE YOU gone to ANY of the city council or Mornings with the Mayor meetings? Spoken to to the council members at any of the Farmer's Market's? I didn't think so. Like I said, you have no idea what you are talking about, you are probably a finance guy working with SummerHELL. It's a democracy, you have the right to voice your opinion, I have the right to tell you that the "FACTS" you present do not bear out your "argument". Perhaps you just don't care about natural beauty and trivial things like flooding, erosion, traffic, pollution. The reason the DEIR is probably taken so long and I believe 3 traffic studies is that they can't get a "good" number for the traffic as it is now with staggered school start times and buses (which aren't guaranteed). Save the sanctimony and your little hissy.
Posted by Tena, a member of the Montair Elementary School community, on Mar 12, 2012 at 8:18 am
Just got the notice over the weekend. There is another preliminary Development Plan submitted by Ponderosa Homes for the area just north of the Elworthy property. It's for 112 acre property owned by the Podva Family Trust. They plan to create 20 single family homes on the lowest 9.2 acres near Midland Way. The remainder if the site would be designated permanent open space. Rezoning from A-2 to P-1. Don't know any more than that yet.
Posted by Concerned in Danville, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Mar 12, 2012 at 9:03 am
Our Town Council and General Plan advocate rezoning that fosters clustering of homes in the case of new development. Clustering allows for higher density housing that, in theory, preserves more of the land to be open space. So, if you take a look at what is being proposed by Bummerhill, you'll see that they want to take 200 acres zoned for one house per 20 acres and cluster homes on a small portion of it and then zone the remainder permanent open space. Open space is good, right? NOt so fast... First, take a look at where the clustered and other homes proposed by Bummerhill will be placed - on Diablo Road or up against existing homes. I run an drive along Diablo Road today at street level and I see open space. Place the homes where Bummerhill proposes and none of will see the beauty we currently see. We'll see only houses. All the beautiful open space that Bummerhill says it will retain will be behind these homes and out of sight from street level. And what about access to this wonderful open space?? How do we the public (who will be asked to pay for it) get access to it? There is no plan for that. Bummerhill just boasts of the open space like it's Mom or apple pie but it's all just window dressing - their way of making this project sound like it's good for our community when it's not.
Don't be fooled - this proposed project is bad for our community on so many levels - traffic, flooding, erosion, impact on schools, enviromental, aesthetics. Please get involved and speak up. Tell our Town Council that we don't want this project or ones like it in our community. Let's try to save what is left of the Danville we love. Check out www.save-our-creek.com to see what is being done to stop Bummerhill and what you can do to help the cause. Thanks.