A collection of San Ramon residents have come out in opposition to a proposed five-story, 284-unit apartment complex on the Marketplace Shopping Center property, and while there hasn't been a public review of the project since January, local residents are already organizing and preparing for a potentially long fight.
The locally-based group Responsible Growth San Ramon has come out in strong opposition to the project, with organizers saying that not only does the project -- which has not yet been formally submitted for review by the city -- go against the community character of the city, but that the Marketplace shopping center needs to be preserved for the area.
"When you look at the proposal it just is a monstrosity and does not fit into the neighborhood. The reason that we are against it is simply that it is way too out of scale for the neighborhood," the group's founder Don Routh told DanvilleSanRamon.com.
"It is way too big and out of scale for the neighborhood and we would lose Nob Hill which is another huge reason. That's the only full-service grocery store for that part of San Ramon," he said, adding that his son works at Nob Hill Foods location in San Ramon. "I've talked to almost every business owner and they're not in favor of it either. The increased traffic and the fact that more than 100 people will lose their jobs just doesn't make sense to any of us."
First reviewed by the San Ramon Planning Commission during an informational workshop on Jan. 5, the project has been proposed by Southern California-based TRC Retail and in its original plan would include the demolition of approximately 57,505 square feet of existing retail space -- including Nob Hill Foods, Starbucks, SportClips, a dry cleaners and a pharmacy -- at the shopping area on 130 Market Place.
Of the 284 units, 42 have been proposed to be studio apartments averaging 604 square feet per unit, while 148 have been designated as one-bedroom units averaging 772 square feet per unit and 94 two-bedroom units averaging 1,103 square feet per unit.
The project's January design has also allocated 32 below-market-rate rental units for "very low" and "low" income category households -- with 23 designated for very low and nine for low income households.
Originally proposed during an informational workshop, staff from TRC Retail have not announced plans to proceed with or abandon the project, but have stated that they continue to consider potential development plans.
"We continue to explore various options with respect to the potential future redevelopment of The Marketplace San Ramon. No decisions have been made at this time. TRC will engage with city leaders and the community on any future plans for the shopping center at the appropriate time," TRC Retail spokesperson Audrey Rhoads said.
Staff in the city of San Ramon also wanted to stress that they have not yet received a formal application for the project and that January's meeting constituted a concept review that is not an official project proposal. It served as more of an informative meeting where developers can receive feedback from city staff and the public.
"We can’t comment on a project that hasn’t been formally submitted," city spokesman Steven Spedowfski said. "It helps to have all of the associated studies regarding any potential impacts when making any comment or decision."
While the project has not been officially filed with the city, organizers for Responsible Growth San Ramon say that they have been actively campaigning to rally the community in opposition to this project, adding that they are prepared to fight the project in its current form for as long as necessary.
"We have more than 30 active members of our committee, plus another dozen or so active volunteers plus a couple of hundred people who are supporting volunteers and we've passed out more than 11,000 flyers," Routh said, adding that his group has created a website to provide community updates and is actively talking with current and former city officials on how they can oppose the project.
Routh did acknowledge that while he has seen a swelling of community members who oppose the project, the city would be hard pressed to deny the project if it is officially submitted due to state housing laws.
Routh specifically pointed to Senate Bill 330, dubbed “The Housing Crisis Act of 2019,” which took effect on Jan. 1 2020 and was approved in an effort to meet the growing housing needs of Californian and Bay Area residents.
Designed to streamline the housing approval process, SB 330 limits the ability of communities to regulate residential and mixed use housing developments in order to prevent those local agencies from putting up new barriers to housing production.
Routh said that so long as a housing project meets the state and local requirements for approval, it severely limits the ability of local governments to deny a project, making the future prospect of challenging the Marketplace apartment project a difficult undertaking.
However, Routh said his group is committed to opposing the project, saying, "We'll take it as far as it needs to be taken, we'll appeal the project, we'll consider everything from ballot initiatives to referendums, whatever it takes to stop this we are prepared to do that."
Residents can learn more about the project and view the Jan. 5 concept review by the San Ramon Planning Commission on the city's website.