News

Danville: Opponents submit referendum petition over Magee Preserve housing project

County election officials working to verify signatures; 3,000 valid names needed

The Magee Preserve project] consists of building 69 single-family homes on the south side of Diablo Road and Blackhawk Road, in addition to a series of trails for public use. (Image courtesy the town of Danville)

The long-debated Magee Preserve residential development could be headed to the ballot, after a group of opponents last week filed a referendum petition seeking to overturn the Danville Town Council’s July approval of the project.

The petition, delivered to town staff last Tuesday by a resident group dubbed Danville Open Space Committee, contained 5,487 signatures from Danville residents, according to the proponents. They would need 3,000 valid signatures to potentially force a referendum.

The document has been forwarded to the Contra Costa County Registrar of Voters' Office for signature verification. If an adequate number of signatures are verified by the county, then the Town Council would have the option to reverse course and deny the Magee Preserve project outright, or put it on the ballot for consideration by Danville voters in a future election.

“I personally validated probably half of (the signatures),” Bob Nealis, a former Town Council candidate and leader of the Danville Open Space Committee, told DanvilleSanRamon.com. “And I can assure you that voter signatures came from all four corners of Danville not just out of one area.”

Danville Open Space Committee is a different citizen group than Save Open Space Danville (SOS-Danville), which previously sued to prevent a previous iteration of Magee Ranch development -- though there are some common members, Nealis said. The group is also not affiliated with the town government, which does not have an open space advisory committee like some municipalities, including San Ramon.

To oppose the council’s approval of the most recent project, Nealis said a collection of approximately 30 paid and volunteer signature gatherers fanned out throughout the town and over about two weeks -- from grocery store parking lots, to churches, to residents' front doorsteps.

Proposed by Walnut Creek-based developer Davidon Homes, the Magee Preserve project would consist of building 69 single-family homes on the south side of Diablo and Blackhawk roads, as well as a series of hiking and biking trails that would be open to the public.

Located on a 410-acre project site, the Magee Preserve would develop approximately 29 acres -- or 7% -- of the site, with the remaining 381 acres of open space preserved by the town on a permanent basis.

The project was endorsed by the Town Council during its July 2 regular meeting, and then confirmed for adoption by the council two weeks later. However some residents have taken issue with the project, claiming it will create more traffic, limit evacuation routes in an emergency situation such as a fire, and obstruct parts of the area’s open space.

A similar Magee development project -- proposed at the time by developer SummerHill Homes -- was approved by the council in 2013 but was eventually halted after SOS-Danville sued the town.

“You know it’s not that hard to get signatures when you have paid signature gatherers,” countered Steve Abbs, vice president of land acquisition and development at Davidon Homes.

When asked if he considered if public support was still in favor for the project, Abbs said “absolutely,” citing the multiple groups that support the project such as the Town Council, Planning Commission, Save Mount Diablo, Bike East Bay and Mount Diablo Cyclists, as indicators that public support is with the project.

“If they are successful in getting the required signatures (validated), Davidon will continue its efforts in making sure that the town of Danville is properly informed about this project by having on site hikes and tours and open houses,” Abbs told DanvilleSanRamon.com.

He added that Davidon officials are still reviewing possible next steps, but if the petition is validated then community members can count on hikes and other events taking place this fall.

As of Monday, county election officials are working on validating signatures. They have 30 days after filing to complete their count.

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Comments

6 people like this
Posted by Ben Aberghast
a resident of Danville
on Aug 20, 2019 at 8:55 am

These people who are opposing this project are denying us open space that we have never had and worst yet are denying people homes to live in. They are simply selfish and self-centered


6 people like this
Posted by Mark S
a resident of Danville
on Aug 20, 2019 at 8:55 am

Resist the selfish NIMBYs and support this project!


7 people like this
Posted by Claude D.
a resident of Danville
on Aug 20, 2019 at 8:59 am

Danville has close to 45,000 residents and they collected only 5,500 signatures. We'll see how people really feel. NIMBYs are so self-centered.


2 people like this
Posted by Joanne
a resident of Danville
on Aug 20, 2019 at 10:11 am

Claude, Ben and Mark are correct! Magee Preserve guarantees 381 acres of Open Space that Danville residents have never had before! That's why the Town Council voted UNANIMOUSLY to support this project for the amenities it provides our community. I went up with the Danville Chamber on a tour and encourage others to do the same so you can visualize what having Magee Preserve would mean for Danville residents - more hiking trails, more biking trails, more scenic views! I signed up here to support the project and encourage you to do the same! Web Link


19 people like this
Posted by Dennis
a resident of Danville
on Aug 20, 2019 at 11:01 am

I appreciate the open space, but does Danville need more housing, more traffic, and more people? At what point does such population growth degrade quality of life. As it is, the area around this preserve is gridlocked when the school day starts and ends. Leave the area alone and let the cows graze. This is not a "NIMBY" thing, this is an overpopulation thing. Unless we want to turn Diablo into a 4 lane road, and add another freeway access point.


32 people like this
Posted by Preserving Danville
a resident of Danville
on Aug 20, 2019 at 12:26 pm

This project does NOT do what the developer and the Town claim, or what folks in favor of it think it does.

It does NOT dedicate any new permanent open space. There is no change in land use designation to permanently preserve the land. Instead, it can remain owned by Magee, grazed by Magee, and it would be newly zoned P-1 PUD with future development potential. The only thing that “protects” it is a scenic easement in favor of the Town – which the Town can abandon if it wants more housing in the future.

It does NOT create or require a bike path alternative to Diablo Road S-curves (which most folks in favor of it think it does). It dedicates an easement south of Diablo Road, which stops short of Green Valley. There is no funding source for the trail. To connect to the trail on the north side, it would require an at-grade crossing of Diablo just west of the S-curves, exacerbating traffic and danger to both motorists and cyclists. It’s a “Trail to Nowhere”.

There are no real traffic mitigations for the additional 840 daily car trips (minimal) it will generate. A stoplight at Mt. Diablo Scenic is NOT a condition of the project, since that intersection is controlled by the County. Even if put in, a light would merely shift the mile-long backup west to the Green Valley intersection, and back up into the hazardous S-curves. The changes to the turn lane at Green Valley won’t do anything (except remove heritage oaks), because Green Valley is already clogged to capacity during commute hours.

The project conditions have NO consideration whatsoever for impact on emergency evacuation of this corridor. This area is designated as having the highest wildfire rating possible, by both Cal-Fire and the CPUC. SRVFPD has only opined on their ability to respond on a timely basis to single emergencies within the project, and has NOT evaluated its impact on broad-area evacuation – because SRVFPD has no evacuation plan for this corridor. We don’t want to be the next Paradise.

This project does NOT represent significant compromise. After being “upzoned” twice (on a discretionary basis, NOT as a matter of right), the project could hypothetically support 78 homes. We have 69 homes in the project (with many more potential secondary units attached).

Danville residents are opposed to this project because it is not right for Danville. We will send it back to the Town for REAL compromise and REAL mitigation, so that the project does not exceed the infrastructure in place, and so that our community and families are protected.


Like this comment
Posted by McDave
a resident of Danville
on Aug 20, 2019 at 1:11 pm

“You know it’s not that hard to get signatures when you have paid signature gatherers,” countered Steve Abbs, vice president of land acquisition and development at Davidon Homes.

You know, it’s not hard to feign community support on an unverified comment section with paid “citizens.”


22 people like this
Posted by Stacy
a resident of Danville
on Aug 20, 2019 at 2:09 pm

The Town of Danville by passed Measure S. This development does not have the infrastructure to safely support it. Calling opponents NIMBYS of this Davidon 69 Plus subdivision marketing itself as Open Space along two lane windy, Diablo Road is selfish. Safety First!!


27 people like this
Posted by Real Resident of Danville
a resident of Danville
on Aug 20, 2019 at 2:39 pm

The first 4 posts are obviously paid for by Davidon.
I have received mail from Magee Preserve aka Davidon soliciting signed support for more open space without disclosing what the underlying issues are. And coincidentally, by signing the return postcard you also agree to withdraw the petition you might have signed for Danville Open Space Committee!


19 people like this
Posted by Joe Hearst
a resident of Danville
on Aug 20, 2019 at 8:14 pm

I signed the petition to put the thing on the ballot because I had received so many fliers supporting it I wanted a second opinion on it. I think that the comments above give me the kind of information I wanted, and the arguments on the ballot will clarify it for me.12g8KL


25 people like this
Posted by Caring Danville Citizen
a resident of Danville
on Aug 20, 2019 at 11:46 pm

Oh, by the way ..Steve Abbs and Davidon Development Company, when you offer your "open space hikes" please make sure they can envision the 69 homes, clustered together in the valley along two lane Diablo Road with the hundreds of cars backed up during commuter time...then imagine 800+ more car trips daily bottling up at Diablo Scenic and Green Valley intersections!! Then make sure you talk about egress if there is a wildfire...Town of Danville should be looking out for the safety of their current tax paying residents before they approve projects like this! Unbelievable!!


Like this comment
Posted by Jack M.
a resident of Danville
on Aug 21, 2019 at 8:44 am

It's interesting to read all the comments from the NIMBYs attempting to justify why Danville doesn't need this project. Sad. They probably voted for Individual-1.


22 people like this
Posted by Caring Danville Citizen
a resident of Danville
on Aug 21, 2019 at 9:31 am

Supporters of this subdivision continually calling opposers NIMBYS is ineffective. The Danville citizens and neighbors have valid safety concerns.


4 people like this
Posted by Joanne
a resident of Danville
on Aug 21, 2019 at 9:56 am

Let's be clear: a small, vocal group opposes Magee Preserve. Many of them aren't even residents of Danville! The Town of Danville is one of the most fiscally responsible, best run, best planned communities on the planet! All of the concerns including safety, traffic mitigation and open space have been addressed. One only needs to read the reports or attend the public meetings to see that.

This comes down to whether you favor current zoning of 78 homes spread across the farmland or 69 clustered homes, out of view from the community, with 381 acres of open space preserved forever for hikers and bicyclists. The Town made the unanimous decision because of the amenities the project will provide. East Bay Regional Parks, Save Mt. Diablo and all major bicycle coalitions support the project because it is good for Danville.


26 people like this
Posted by Matt
a resident of Danville
on Aug 21, 2019 at 10:07 am

There are thousands of citizens and neighbors who live near this proposed development that are opposed to it. Many of them, including myself, can't vote. We are literally across the street from it but considered County and unfortunately can't vote. Our neighbors across town who are residents support our opposition as well as they know Diablo Road and how it can't support this. The Developer is trying to be clever market this as some environment gift and we aren't buying it. You are not being truthful saying most are not residents opposing this.


2 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Danville
on Aug 21, 2019 at 11:56 am

There is a free, fast, safe, environmentally responsible option to the residents of the Diablo corridor. Voluntarily cut your driving trips by a third. This costs nothing - might even save fuel costs let alone construction costs to upgrade the road, can be done today - no need to wait years for a better road, will immediately improve safety for drivers and cyclists, and cut vehicle emissions. All of these align with the principles of the project opponents. But, it would require one to have the courage of their own convictions.


30 people like this
Posted by Jacob
a resident of Danville
on Aug 21, 2019 at 12:37 pm

The obnoxious over-marketing should tell you all you need to know. Greedy developers trying to shove their housing plan in under the guise of improved safety and open space.


15 people like this
Posted by miSFit
a resident of Diablo
on Aug 22, 2019 at 12:44 pm

Supporters of this Davidon ‘Preserve’ envisioning their bucolic hikes is so laughable. Jeb Magee is maintaining his grazing rights no matter what happens. Have a relaxing hike while being charged by mama cows protecting their calves! ....and how will you know when the white horned bull is out and about?


12 people like this
Posted by Preserving Danville
a resident of Danville
on Aug 22, 2019 at 5:39 pm

The so-called "support" for this project is exemplified by Joanne above, who said: "a small, vocal group opposes Magee Preserve. Many of them aren't even residents of Danville!" Um, let's see. $5,487 Danville residents signed the petition? I'd call that a LARGE vocal group of DANVILLE residents who oppose it. But who cares about facts, when you have smear, insinuation and innuendo in your arsenal. Don't be fooled by the developer's flunkies, folks.


13 people like this
Posted by Sally SIMBY
a resident of Blackhawk
on Aug 23, 2019 at 7:50 pm

SIMBY Safey IN MY Back Yard!

The Danville that I grew up in didn’t have landowners, influencers or investors calling people names like NIMBYs. I road my horse down Camino Tassajara, I supported local stores like Alamo Hay & Grain and Neigbors included those families in downtown and those families who lived on ranches. While we can’t go back, we have to look closely pat what we are doing like making a small country road like Diablo into a major traffic disaster. Sally SIMBY is here to say—- SAFETY FIRST!


6 people like this
Posted by Long Term Resident
a resident of Danville
on Aug 24, 2019 at 5:56 am

Sorry folks, but those of us who have been here for 50+ years also opposed Blackhawk, Magee Ranch, and many other developments along Tassajara Road. In fact, we worked to incorporate Danville in the 1970's and early 1980's to get Danville incorporated to allow decisions to be made locally rather than at the county seat in Martinez. As anyone can see, the town council has done an excellent job over the years as stewards on Danville. Much of the funding has come from the increased tax revenue due to the controlled growth that has taken place. Many of you would not even be living in Danville today if the opposition to all the development on the east side of 680 had been successful.

More recently, what started as NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) has become BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone). Anyone with opposing views to a project is either deceitful, being paid off, corrupt, etc. Let's try to look at the merits of the project without all the name calling. It is not constructive.


14 people like this
Posted by Tommy
a resident of Danville
on Aug 24, 2019 at 8:43 am

@Long Term Citizen... BANANA? NIMBY? Slipping in another name for the opponents then you say "stop the name calling"..you HAVE to be tied to the developers or land owners with that rhetoric. Look, the current residents are grateful to live here. We are just sayin' you can't keep building and building with no improvements to Diablo Road. We are not satisfied with the Davidon Development plan. It has NO merits other than making some people rich and alot of people unsafe. The traffic is a REAL problem.


4 people like this
Posted by Ginny from Danville
a resident of Danville
on Aug 25, 2019 at 3:45 pm

Hi everyone -- I have read some of these comments and they really are interesting to me. I've been a Danville resident now for 12 years - chose to come here because we wanted our children to live in a well planned community in one of the top school districts. I really hope that everyone will be able to see the opportunities offered by the new Magee Preserve. There's all this focus on making it sound "bad" when it really is "good" for the community. There WILL be amenities for residents who love recreation in our community. I'm kind of surprised -- with East Bay Regional Parks backing as well as Save Mt. Diablo (who usually backs no development of any kind) and the Town Council's 100% support -- it sounds like a great deal for Danville. Today, this is privately owned agriculture land. The landowners have a right to sell their land. What they're offering provides a great community benefit and prevents larger ranches dotting the hillsides. Nobody can argue with the facts, if they are willing to do the research. This is great for Danville!


12 people like this
Posted by Danville Resident
a resident of Danville
on Aug 25, 2019 at 4:34 pm

This proposed development is called a "Preserve" when it is really a 69 home subdivision with no improvements to traffic on Diablo Road. Developer trying to make it sound good when it really is not the right thing for that area of Danville. Nobody's arguing that the landowner can't sell his/her land. They just don't have to cram 69 homes on it when the two lane country road can't support it. Yes, please do your research on this project! You will find it is not what they are marketing. Not even close.


2 people like this
Posted by Ginny from Danville
a resident of Danville
on Aug 27, 2019 at 12:29 pm

Hi "Danville Resident". I did do my research. I don't understand why you would say that there are "no improvements to traffic on Diablo Road".

They are building a smart signal at Mt. Diablo Scenic and also widening Green Valley. They are also providing traffic funding for the TRAFFIX Bus program, which is a traffic mitigation agency.

Here's the Town of Danville Fact Sheet, for anyone who wants to review it. They've done their homework. Web Link


9 people like this
Posted by Danville Resident
a resident of Danville
on Aug 30, 2019 at 11:46 am

Ginny, you obviously are want these 69 homes to he built along Diablo Road. Please read several posts above for Diablo Road clarification. There are already existing school buses in place, stop light does not make 2 lane country road any safer and bottle neck at Green Valley will still happen during commuter times. Hopefully, our voices will be heard at the ballot box. Peace...


2 people like this
Posted by Long Term Resident
a resident of Danville
on Sep 11, 2019 at 11:58 am

Evidently, it doesn't necessarily need to the ballot box. If it does, I hope both sides will agree to the final outcome. No accusations of Russian collusion or some other far fetched reason the vote didn't favor your position. There are many people in Danville not immediately affected by many of the arguments against the preserve, and in fact will enjoy the open space.


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