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By Roz Rogoff

About this blog: In January 2002 I started writing my own online "newspaper" titled "The San Ramon Observer." I reported on City Council meetings and other happenings in San Ramon. I tried to be objective in my coverage of meetings and events, and...  (More)

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Déjà Vu all over again

Uploaded: Nov 9, 2010
When Kevin L'Hommedieu spoke at the October 26, 2010 City Council meeting about the North Camino Ramon Specific Plan and his concerns that rezoning his business' location to Mixed Use would force him to move when his lease expired reminded me of the same worries by service commercial business owners on Beta Court four years ago.

At that time the Planning Commission and City Council were preparing the Crow Canyon Specific Plan for the area between Crow Canyon Blvd. and the Danville border and West of I-680. One of the more controversial elements of the Crow Canyon Specific Plan was a proposed housing overlay on Beta Court.

Measure G requires three public hearings and a 4/5 vote of both the Planning Commission and the City Council before the General Plan can be amended. Twenty to thirty business owners from Beta Court and other parts of the CCSP came to Planning Commission and City Council public hearings to voice their concerns.

After three public hearings the Planning Commission voted to move the housing overlay from Beta Court to north of Perdue. Since a supermajority of the Planning Commission did not vote to change the zoning on Beta Court, the City Council went along with the Planning Commission's decision against it.

Hassan Sharifi, who was part of the community group that recommended the zoning changes, complemented the Planning Commission for correcting his mistakes. Here's a portion of a letter he read at the July 18, 2006 Planning Commission meeting, which Mr. Sharifi and gave me permission to post in my San Ramon Observer site

"As you know I served on the advisory committee for Crow Canyon Specific Plan. When the plan was presented to the commission, I assumed that we had done such a perfect job that the Planning Commission would approve it without a hitch.

How little I knew about the process involved in the approval of the plan! Soon I found myself on the wrong side of at least one issue with every commissioner. Some did not like the overlay zoning. Some did not like the number of units. Some did not like the boundaries; some did not like to displace people, etc. etc.

I said that I was on the wrong side of the issue, not the right side. I got involved in discussing the various items one by one. After many, many months, many, many letters, many hours of discussion we all ended on the right side, and I do not mean the political right. We all ended on the side that best serves the citizens of San Ramon."

As Mr. Sharifi found, just because a plan is proposed doesn't mean that's the way it will end up.

Like most zoning changes and specific plans, the North Camino Ramon Specific Plan has been under development for several years. It isn't something new or hidden. It was announced in the Spring, 2009 City Newsletter , which is mailed to everyone in the City. Several workshops have been held on it over the last two years and more will be held before any decisions are made.

I remember attending an Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC) workshop in 2005 which presented the rationale behind the North Camino Ramon Specific Plan. The same consultant from that workshop presented the same information at an Economic Development Strategic Workshop held on October 27, 2010. As I said, it was déjà vu all over again.

This new workshop was announced at the City Council meeting the night before and publicized on the City's website. It was held in the Fountain Room of the Community Center with enough chairs for 100 people, but only about 10 residents attended.

As Donna Kerger pointed out in her comments at the October 26, 2010 City Council meeting, hardly anyone showed up for the Planning Commission's public hearings on the 2030 General Plan. I attended most of them and I don't recall anyone objecting to the North Camino Ramon Specific Plan. Most of the objections, in fact all of the objections, were to moving the Urban Growth Boundary to Camino Tassajara.

The "No on Measure W" campaign used the North Camino Ramon Specific Plan as one more scare tactic to convince voters to vote against Measure W, despite the fact that they said they would not oppose anything in the 2030 General Plan if the move to the Eastern (not Western) UGB was removed.

The North Camino Ramon Specific Plan does not require voter approval so defeating Measure W does not prevent it from happening, but it won't have the dire effects proclaimed by "No on W" either.

According to Planning Services Manager, Debbie Chamberlain, "The adoption of proposed Specific Plan will not require that any existing business leave or will it impact the ability of property owners and businesses to enter into leases for those established uses moving forward."

If businesses and residents want input into the North Camino Ramon Specific Plan, they need to attend the meetings and workshops held on it. They can ask the City Clerk to be put on the mailing list for those announcements.

The City Clerk also offers an 8 week program on Government 101 that answers a lot of the questions business owners and residents have about how the city is run. Graduates of the most recent workshop were awarded certificates at the November 9, 2010 City Council meeting. All of them said they learned a lot about how the city works and complemented the staff and the City Council.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Scott Perkins, a resident of San Ramon,
on Nov 11, 2010 at 7:42 am

Thanks for your review of events. Your memory is amazing! I truly hope that those that are concerned about the plan take the time to learn some of the details and ask questions about any problems they see. Those problems and concerns that remain need to be discussed in open forum.

Scott Perkins

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Nov 11, 2010 at 11:03 am

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.


My memory is rather strange, since I can remember all of these old city meetings but I can't remember what I did yesterday or where I put my car keys! Actually I have a resource of all of my old commentaries, so I can go back and look at what I wrote at the time which helps jog my memory too. Please correct any mistakes, because I want to be sure whatever I write is accurate.


Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Nov 11, 2010 at 11:27 am

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

Just to update Mr. Sharifi's comments about the 2006 Planning Commission, Jeff Rhoton and Mike DiGeronimo chose not to reapply and were replaced with Harry Sachs and Phil O'Loane, who were both on the Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC).

Sachs was reappointed this year but O'Loane was replaced with Jeanne Benedetti on a 3 to 2 vote, with Councilman Dave Hudson and Vice Mayor Carol Rowley voting for O'Loane and Mayor Abram Wilson, and Councilmen Scott Perkins and Jim Livingstone voting for Benedetti.

Bob Patrino resigned earlier this year for family reasons and Eric Wallis (also on EDAC) was appointed to fill the vacancy. Wallis', Kerger's, and Vier's terms will be up for reappointment in 2012.

There is a city election in 2011, which could change the makeup of the City Council and affect who is appointed to the Planning Commission in 2012.

Posted by kevin, a resident of San Ramon,
on Nov 11, 2010 at 12:48 pm


As you pointed out, MS. Kreger pointed out that 2-8 citizens showed up at City Council meetings to understand or voice their opinions to the 2030 plan. Ms. Kerger also stated that she served with a total of 32 people on the formation of the 2020 plan, no such committee was formed of residents or businesses to the best of my knowledge, please feel free to give me the specifics of my error. This would mean that the 2030 plan was formulated by ????????.... the City Council. This is why it reflects my belief that the North Camino Specific Plan does not reflect my desires for San Ramon, but also no other supporting opinion other than those who work for the City. The plan reflects an increase in population of 50% and 95% of our current population working in San Ramon(59,000). The voters consistently state their resistance to "Urban Growth".

The statement on page 3 of the NCSP states,"The adoption of the General Plan 2030 would re-designate all properties within the Specific Plan area not currently designated "Mixed Use" to "Mixed Use". This sentence is very clear. It clearly states that when the general Plan is passed, the re-zoning occurs. Rezoning is very clear,a business cannot exist on land that it is not zoned for. Unless you can show me where in the City laws it states that businesses can be exempt from zoning or zoning changes(not someone's opinion) then I take literally the words of the General Plan, which also stated: 745,000 sq. feet "To Be Retained" and 2,650,000 sq. feet "Displaced". The last page of the NCSP even has a map of what the final build out will look like.

If the current General Plan is passed no one will be able to complain they "did not understand it". The words are clear, 30,000 more residents,10,000 more students,1500 more homes downtown,5,000 more people living downtown,2,000 more students downtown, 20,000 more people working in San Ramon, more traffic, less water.

Please feel free to factually correct my incorrect assessments of the General Plan 2030.

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Nov 11, 2010 at 2:46 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.


The North Camino Ramon Specific Plan (NCRSP) has been part of the Economic Development Strategic Plan for at least five years. The EDSP has been discussed in several workshops that were open to the public.

The committee of 32 people who prepared the original 2020 General Plan was required by Measure G, which was voted on in 1999. Measure G does not require another committee to update the General Plan. Amendments are added to the General Plan with three public hearings by the Planning Commission and a 4/5 vote to approve them and three public hearings of the City Council and another 4/5 vote to approve them.

Donna Kerger's comments about 8 to 12 people attending Planning Commission Public Hearings on the General Plan were not about who planned the NCRSP or the General Plan. She was saying that with all of the public hearings that were held, hardly anyone from the public attended them. She expressed frustration that people were not coming out to find out what was being planned and giving their input to the process. That's when citizens should show up for these meetings, but hardly anyone did.

At least the business owners on Beta Court came to the meetings on the Crow Canyon Specific Plan. Twenty or more of them showed up at those meetings.

Why didn't you come to the meetings on the NCRSP? The [Web Link City's Newsletter for Spring of 2009] announced "North Camino Ramon planning begins."

Following that announcement in the Newsletter, the Economic Development Advisory Committee and Planning Commission held a joint workshop on the NCRSP. This was also open to the public. Here's a link to [Web Link the presentation from the July 2009 Workshop]. This presentation includes the history and timeline of the planning that went into the NCRSP to that date. The city isn't hiding any of this information from you, but it is up to you and everyone else who wants to know it to follow up on what is announced.

You can also view a [Web Link draft of the EDSP] on the City's website, so you will know what else is being planned. I attended the Workshop on October 27th this year, and as I said in my Deja Vu commentary above, this workshop was held in a room large enough to hold 100 people but almost nobody, including you, attended. If you want to know about these things and all of the details and history and facts, you must attend these meeting and ask your questions then and there.

You came to the last two City Council meetings and asked the Council to represent you. They do represent you, but you must be at the public hearings and workshops for the NCRSP to tell them what you want or don't want them to approve. You must also be willing to listen to what others are telling you and not fixate on your fears. I'm trying to catch you up on five years of city history, but you are reading one sentence in the 2030 General Plan and believing that's all there is to it.

I quoted Debbie Chamberlain in my commentary that your lease will NOT be canceled. This is not "someone's opinion." Mrs. Chamberlain is the Planning Manager for the City and it is her job to KNOW what the zoning laws are.

I'm not an expert in zoning laws or auto repair (although I ought to be with all of the times my 1973 Maverick Grabber has been in the shop!), so I contact experts when I have questions about these things.

Contact Mrs. Chamberlain with your questions. She's very cooperative. She will answer everything you want to know. Debbie's phone number is (925) 973-2560. You can email her at dchamberlain@sanramon.ca.gov.


Posted by H. Sachs, a resident of San Ramon,
on Nov 11, 2010 at 3:06 pm

Kevin- instead of someone correcting your inconsistancies, which will result in you discounting that individual as a hack for the city, why don't you go talk to Debbie Chamberlain or Phil Wong at City Hall. Why don't you go ask any and all the questions you have to city staff and see if that helps you.

By the way, the population numbers are projections on what "could be" they are not numbers San Ramon is trying to get to. I think I will ask staff to lower that number to 1 person over current population just so this "hypothetical" does not get used for political purposes it is necessary for General Plans in every city to provide forward looking population projections. I look forward to having you attend any meetings about this in the future, one should not rely on blog sites to form one's opinion of land use planning.

Posted by I Voted No, a resident of San Ramon,
on Nov 12, 2010 at 4:56 pm

Sure, let's all give up some of our limited family time to attend city planning meetings chaired by the same set of folks who roundly ignored us about not proceeding with W. The voters of San Ramon have spoken. Honor it. Kill the NCRSP. We don't want it. We like San Ramon the way it is. Focus the energy instead on fixing the city's cost structure.

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