Measure Y: Danville voters to settle debate on Magee Preserve project | News | DanvilleSanRamon.com |

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Measure Y: Danville voters to settle debate on Magee Preserve project

Approved by council and challenged via referendum, project would develop 69 homes on ranch property with rest of 381 acres slated to become open space

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Measure Y asks Danville residents to vote on the Magee Preserve project, which consists of building 69 single family homes across about 29 acres and permanently preserving an additional 381 acres as open space. (Image courtesy Town of Danville)

Voters in the town of Danville will have the final say in deciding the fate of the long-contested Magee Preserve development project located along Diablo Road, when Measure Y appears on the March 3 primary election ballot.

Located on a 410-acre property on the south side of Diablo and Blackhawk roads and proposed by Walnut Creek-based developer Davidon Homes, the Magee Preserve project consists of building 69 homes clustered on approximately 29 acres of land, with the remaining 381 acres preserved as open space on a permanent basis.

Approved by the Danville Town Council in July 2019 and placed on the ballot as a result of a referendum petition submitted by residents opposed to the proposed new development, a Yes vote on Measure Y would result in the approval of the Magee Preserve project while a No vote would result in its denial.

“(The Town Council) encouraged a plan that clustered the homes on a small amount of acreage (29 acres) and maximized the permanent open space available for public benefit (381 acres). We see a Yes vote on Measure Y as validating the way Danville was designed -- clear views of the hills, clustered homes, and large open spaces for hiking, biking, and wildlife corridors,” Danville Mayor Karen Stepper told DanvilleSanRamon.com.

Broken up into a larger and smaller cluster, 66 homes would be located on the eastern portion of the property with the main entrance to the housing complex being based adjacent to Jillian Way, while an additional three homes are proposed to be constructed in the western half near the corner of Diablo and McCauley roads.

If approved by voters the newly preserved land would be maintained within the East Bay Regional Park District boundaries or by the new homeowners via a new geological hazard abatement district (GHAD), and would open up now-agriculturally zoned private land to the public for the first time through a series of hiking and biking trails combing through the property.

Magee Preserve proponents say the hiking trails will be used to connect Mount Diablo State Park to Sycamore Valley Regional Park and the Iron Horse Trail, filling in an “important gap” in the regional trail network.

“Yes on Y delivers a substantial net conservation gain for Danville families and the public while providing the missing link to already conserved parklands including Sycamore Valley Regional Open Space,” said Seth Adams, land conservation director of environmental group Save Mount Diablo. "It protects all of the property’s hills, ridges and 1.5 miles of Green Valley Creek."

In order to mitigate the impact 69 homes would have on traffic in the area, the project also proposes to add a stoplight at the Athenian School/Mt. Diablo Scenic Boulevard intersection and adding a new turning lane through the Green Valley Road/Diablo Road constricted intersection from the east to the north, according to Stepper.

The proposed project would also include an easement along the notoriously dangerous to cyclists Diablo Road, where the town could construct a paved bicycle/easement path -- although the town would need to acquire funds and develop that project at a later date.

Opponents to Measure Y have shown great concern over potential risks to local plant and animal life, the loss of any open space to an outside developer and increased traffic on the already oft-congested Diablo Road -- town staff estimate an extra 841 daily trips to Diablo Road/Blackhawk Road.

“Preserving open space by building a major housing subdivision on existing open space makes no logical sense and is wrong for Danville,” said Bob Nealis, a No on Measure Y campaign leader.

“A 69 home major subdivision feeding at least 840 car trips per day onto an already overcrowded, narrow and windy two-lane country road increases traffic congestion for all of Danville, creates a higher risk of road safety issues and exposes hundreds of residents to serious injury or worse in the event of wildfire or emergency evacuation necessity,” he added.

Measure Y opponents have further voiced concerns over how effectively residents can evacuate down the narrow winding Diablo Road in the event of an emergency event such as a fire.

However San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District personnel and town staff have said that neighbors ability to evacuate in an emergency should not be significantly impacted by the project -- with town staff adding that project would include a series of new evacuation trails enabling residents to evacuate in multiple different directions.

Measure Y was placed on the ballot as a result of a resident-submitted petition that garnered more than 5,000 signatures from Danville residents who opposed the project on various grounds, some of whom have opposed development of the area for the past decade.

Davidon's is only the most recent proposal for the Magee property that has been long eyed for development with housing, including a previous version of the project proposed by developer SummerHill Homes in 2013 that resulted in a lawsuit that reached the state Court of Appeal before that developer bowed out.

Developers say that not only does Davidon’s version of the project preserves more land than SummerHill’s version of the project, but it is endorsed by leading environmental groups such as Save Mount Diablo and the East Bay Regional Park District as well as recreation groups Bike East Bay and Mount Diablo Cyclists.

“We worked painstakingly and for years together with the Town Council and community to make sure this is a balanced project that puts the environment and the community first,” said Steve Abbs, vice president of land acquisition and development at Davidon.

Residents interested in learning more about Measure Y can visit the town of Danville’s official website where town staff have provided informational resources and ballot arguments for voters to read.

We need your support now more than ever. Can we count on you?

Comments

19 people like this
Posted by Todd Gary
a resident of Danville
on Jan 29, 2020 at 7:36 pm

And to learn more complete reasons why this rezoning ordinance and development project is Wrong for Danville, visit www.No-on-Y.com


21 people like this
Posted by Danville homeowner
a resident of Danville
on Jan 29, 2020 at 9:18 pm

Ryan Degan. This is a very one-sided article. You didn’t even include Danville resident’s website, but you included Davidons. The town of Danville is lead by an architect, developer and a full planning commission of developers and realtors. Sadly, this article misses the mark about the real reasons why residents oppose this development. To learn the truth about this measure, visit www.No-on-Y.com

The traffic impacts and added fire risk should be enough for any reasonable person to Vote No on Measure Y.


13 people like this
Posted by What!
a resident of Blackhawk
on Jan 30, 2020 at 6:35 am

Vote "NO" -- bad for Danville! Unfortunate, because I live in Blackhawk (unincorporated), I am NOT able to vote!


17 people like this
Posted by Marie
a resident of Danville
on Jan 30, 2020 at 7:07 am

Please consider voting no and asking the town to go back to the drawing board. This will not be good for our town.


20 people like this
Posted by Herman Glates
a resident of Danville
on Jan 30, 2020 at 7:37 am

We all know Diablo Road is a nightmare due to cyclists and cars together using this very narrow road with blind corners. Someone is going to get killed. And traffic jams pile up behind slow moving cyclists. Adding 800 additional car trips per day to this road is going to make things worse.

The Yes on Y folks try to trick voters, saying their plan will provide, “new safer options to Diablo Road for walkers and cyclists. And all of it at no cost to taxpayers.” They make you think a bike path will be built on Diablo Road.

In fact, the plan would only give an easement to Danville to build a bike path. Danville would need to acquire funds and develop that project at a later date. Where’s that money going to come from? How long until the path would be built? How much would it cost?

Be upfront about all this. Stop trying to deceive us.


45 people like this
Posted by Clarissa
a resident of Danville
on Jan 30, 2020 at 8:23 am

This project is wonderful for Danville. Small, planned growth, open space, beautiful design. This development is not responsible for the existing traffic on Diablo Rd, they do have to mitigate future traffic. The Diablo residents have led a NIMBY campaign and they do not even have a vote on this project.


15 people like this
Posted by Danville Lover
a resident of Danville
on Jan 30, 2020 at 9:23 am

Existing traffic is a nightmare on two lane Diablo Road! This development would add more! Proud to wear the badge NIMBY if it keeps my neighbors safe. Not the right location unless they can widen Diablo Road my vote is NO!


40 people like this
Posted by Jake
a resident of Danville
on Jan 30, 2020 at 11:43 am

Why would anyone be opposed to this? I see no negatives to this project: 1) it develops only 29 acres and the rest is protected forever from development, 2) it converts 381 acres of private property to an EBRPD park for access for all, and connects important trails together 3) improves traffic conditions and bike safety on Diablo Road and 4) the fire district says there's no concern. Definitely a Yes on Y for me.


47 people like this
Posted by Tom
a resident of Danville
on Jan 30, 2020 at 12:04 pm

I am somewhat surprised at the lack of understanding and the misinformation that continues to surround this proposed community - It seems that many of us would prefer to simply complain, and repeat sound bites like "any new homes are too many" or "I'm proud to be a NIMBY, if it means 1 more car on the road". I think many of us are simply not digging deep enough into the issues to become well informed. It's understandable since we are all very busy with our lives, but take one example - the bike path. Someone posed some good questions about the bike path, but finished their comment with "stop trying to deceive us" I have read quite a bit about the bike path from both sides of this argument, and I can't confirm one way or the other that anyone is trying to deceive, or mislead us regarding this issue, but it does take a bit of investigation to find the answers to this question, as well as answers to any of the questions relating to this proposed community.

The city has already conducted a feasibility study of the bike path. You can find this on the city website. In addition, the city already has funding of approximately $2 million dollars in place for creating a proper bike path. This money has been in place for a very, very long time. Yes, there will still be more money needed to fully fund the bike path, but the central issue that has inhibited further funding and moving forward has been obtaining an easement over the land. The approval of this community will finally grant that easement to the city and a bike path will finally be able to be constructed once the balance of funding is obtained and a final design is complete.

We all know the bike path is needed - it will not only help to prevent injuries to bicyclists, but will improve traffic conditions as vehicles no longer have to compete with the cyclists for space on an already very tight road. I am not a cyclist, but all of the cyclists/cycle groups I have spoken with are in favor of this community.

If we vote no, it is a given that the city will not obtain the easement and the bike path will definitely not happen no matter how much money the city has sitting in it's account to build this path. After looking at all of the information I can find, at this point, I am of the opinion that if we truly say we want a safer road, then we should vote YES.


42 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Danville
on Jan 30, 2020 at 12:37 pm

Voting yes on this. The No—side scare tactics aren’t working on me.
Good for Danville . Preserve open space, sustainable and controlled growth. Minimal impact for most residents.


40 people like this
Posted by Frank
a resident of Alamo
on Jan 30, 2020 at 1:09 pm

The project is a very well thought through proposal that delivers an excellent public benefit for a relatively minimal amount of development. The land will be developed one way or another, and in light of the State legislature demanding more dense housing development in future residential projects, this project should be approved as soon as possible for the maximum benefit of all stakeholders.


7 people like this
Posted by Westside Resident
a resident of Montair Elementary School
on Jan 30, 2020 at 4:08 pm

Thank you all for your thoughtful comments. Does anyone know how much the bicycle path will be projected to cost? There is already $2 million in the bank. How much more will be needed? A concern I have is around the zoning. It has not been possible to find out the history of the zoning of this land. That is important to me because Measure S is supposed to require a vote of Danville citizens when zoning changes are requested. A council majority can also change zoning, which was done for this project in the middle of the night. About half of the land has been under some kind of rezoning that the owners did for 10 years for some kind of tax purpose. I would like to understand the details. Until then, it is difficult for me to accept the statement that the property will be developed with housing eventually. I agree with previous comments that this article reads as for the measure. I know it is difficult to find the facts about this, but I would prefer to read a more balanced article. How was it that the council missed the amount of interest that this has generated and created a situation that required lawsuits and the cost of an election?


13 people like this
Posted by Frances
a resident of Danville
on Jan 30, 2020 at 4:32 pm

If Diablo Road was wider with shoulders this project wouldn't be so highly contested. Sorry, but I feel Danville Town Council got this one wrong. Voting NO.


40 people like this
Posted by Joanne
a resident of Danville
on Jan 30, 2020 at 4:41 pm

Thank you for the balanced article that shows the facts of the Magee Preserve project! This is a win-win for Danville.

It is not open space now - the property is owned by Jed Magee. His family is one of Danville's longest ranching families - real pioneers of our region. They are offering the open space (381 acres) in exchange for just 69 homes on 29 acres. If you've not been up there, you should speak to Jed or his son, Tom. They are happy to welcome you and give you a tour.

Traffic will be mitigated through the widening of Green Valley / MacCauley / Diablo AND a smart traffic light at Mt. Diablo Scenic. This takes this intersection from and "E-F" rating up to a "B" rating, for its level of service.

Moreover the fire district has stated that the project meets or exceeds fire code regulations.

Definitely a firm YES from me! I really appreciate the work the Town Council and staff have done to present the facts.


40 people like this
Posted by stanigu
a resident of Blackhawk
on Jan 31, 2020 at 9:24 am

I think 69 homes in exchange for the improvements and new trail system over 381 acres is a good trade off. I'd love to have new hiking area that would connect Diablo and Sycamore. Plus the new bike lanes on Diablo Road would add safety.

Would the traffic increase? I would assume so. But in reality we're talking about 69 homes--not a huge development of 100's of homes. So the impact would be limited, and with the new bike lanes, may even actually improve. (we live in Blackhawk, our kids went to Monte Vista, so yes, I know how bad the traffic can get).

Yes on Y for me.


38 people like this
Posted by Diablo Hacienda
a resident of Danville
on Jan 31, 2020 at 10:56 am

Measure Y, is asking if you agree with the town councils decision (Ordinance No 2019-06) to rezone a 410 acre parcel to create 381 acres of permanent open space. That’s it!

I asked our Town Planner if Y fails, will or can the land be developed as private homes?
Here is the answer I got from the Town Planner (1/30/2020 @ 4 PM)
“Our analysis found that the property could be subdivided into up to 78 lots, most of them five acres in size.“ So, if I understand this correctly, a NO vote equals more driveways on Diablo Rd. 78 private estate over 410 acres land, no park for the community. Just 78 very private estates. There is already one very private estate in that area with a driveway on Diablo Rd very near Clydesdale. The town maps show that there will be more driveways in that area exiting onto Diablo Rd if Y fails and and definitely no pubic park land.


8 people like this
Posted by Duy Dang
a resident of Vista Grande Elementary School
on Feb 1, 2020 at 4:51 pm

The open space, easement for bike path, 3-5 miles of trail are compelling reason to vote for the development. But unresolved issues with traffic safety, traffic congestion and fire hazard are the most compelling reason to vote against Measure Y.


11 people like this
Posted by Tom
a resident of Danville
on Feb 1, 2020 at 5:17 pm

A Yes vote on Measure Y would be a no brainer for me IF it included the developer coughing up the extra costs (above the $2MM already saved) of building the 'already designed' bike path, so that it can be constructed prior to the houses going up. I'm a "No".


4 people like this
Posted by Long Term Resident
a resident of Danville
on Feb 2, 2020 at 9:40 am

The addition of 69 homes will increase property tax revenue. Danville is one of a handful of the most financially sound cities in the state with zero long term debt. The town council has a long standing policy of "pay as you go". I don't know the exact numbers, but I have to think the added tax revenue from the new houses will help fund the bike path and other improvements (hopefully including Diablo Road)


9 people like this
Posted by Fish
a resident of Danville
on Feb 3, 2020 at 3:17 pm

As a Green Valley Rd resident who already has a miserable time getting out of their driveway during the day, I'll be voting no. Along with the rest of my street. The last thing this part of town needs is more houses. If they connected all those driveways to their own ramp on 680, it may be worth it. Until then, no way.


13 people like this
Posted by Rocky
a resident of Danville
on Feb 4, 2020 at 11:56 am

Thank you for the facts. I hope our wonderful Town welcome 69 new households into the community. This project is well planned out and makes sense.


3 people like this
Posted by DanvilleLife
a resident of Danville
on Feb 5, 2020 at 9:22 am

Wow, I was going to vote “yes” for bicyclist’s safety (not a biker, hate sharing narrow roads with them) until I read the fine print....Danville “COULD” create a safe biking trail but would need more money for improvements which = another bond = higher property taxes. No thank you! I voted NO!


5 people like this
Posted by Katie
a resident of Danville
on Feb 6, 2020 at 4:20 pm

Voting Yes. Someone asked earlier about the zoning. That question was already answered in court. The no people tried to claim this private land is open space. It is not. It's private just like where our homes are - some past rancher built our neighborhoods so we could live here.


Like this comment
Posted by Olivia
a resident of Blackhawk
on Feb 24, 2020 at 10:46 am

Measure Y is not on my ballot and I’ve lived in Danville 25+ years. I’m an absentee voter and ready to vote!


2 people like this
Posted by Charles
a resident of Danville
on Feb 25, 2020 at 4:00 pm

This is as close to a no-brainer as it gets. Definitely yes on Y for me. It trades off 381 acres of forever open space for 69 houses on 29 acres, all at the bottom of the hills with no homes on hillsides or ridges. It provides the easement for the construction of a bike path - you would need to raise money for a bike path either way, but currently there is no easement so it is a moot point. The smart traffic light and new turning lane will decrease the wait time at the light dramatically.

The No on Y argument contains a lot of misinformation. The land is NOT open space, it is privately owned and zoned for development - all of it, including hillsides and ridges. Traffic volume would increase by 4% when all homes are built, which can easily by handled by the proposed road improvements. There will be public access to the 381 acres - it is currently closed off because it is private, but there are a number of entry points that can be accessed simply by unlocking locked gates. It seems that the main reason for opposing Measure Y and to prevent any development in the Diablo area, even if it benefits Danville residents.


Like this comment
Posted by Singh
a resident of Danville
on Mar 3, 2020 at 12:24 am

The misinformation about this development and what a No on Y means for homes being built on this property is ridiculous. It’s beyond me folks do a little research. The main point is:
- if this project fails at the current unit count then the applicant will not appeal they will simply withdraw the application and remove apply for the full amount of units permit able by the current zoning. Which means 78 period and they will get it and there is nothing voters can do about it.
The above is true because the state has passed legislation that specifically speaks to referendums and Local Jurisdictions that limit the units being approved to a lesser amount then is approval by current zoning.
So I’m a nut shell the No on Y folks are the only ones misleading the public as they are not informed and don’t know State Law.

As for making the developer cough up more fees and money for bike lanes and paying for things that 20 and 30 year Danville residents that only paid $30,000 for their homes want is ridiculous. The amount of fees that are in place today from simple permitting, plan check, impact fess etc. in many cases out pace the cost of the land itself. This cost is passed on to the folks that have to buy homes today at the inflated price points, which feeds this false idea that developers are making a killing so let’s make them pay. All this does is make the millennials that are now actually entering the home buying market have to pay and feeds the housing crisis and the reason SB330 was passed. When the main cost in a project is fees you have a huge problem, the idea that the Developers are rich make them pay is such a fallacy that NIMBY folks have fueled for a very long time.

Why is traffic a nightmare on Diablo because you have people traveling from Alamo Creek and Blackhawk to a high school on the west side of Danville not because of a few more homes on Diablo. Get educated prior to jumping on the NO band wagon!!!


Like this comment
Posted by AC
a resident of Danville
on Mar 3, 2020 at 9:10 am

I am for it overall however very skeptical that East Bay Regional Park District will do a decent job of maintaining the trails or expanding. EBRP does NOTHING to expand the current trail system, the maintenance is horrible.

Much of EBRP land is leased to ranchers and trails covered with cow manure, will this be the case for Magee? Adding 5 miles of trails is really not much.

We have beautiful land and one of the worst trail systems in the country, its sad.


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