News

County supervisors approve controversial Seven Hills Ranch development

354-unit senior residential facility planned for unincorporated plot near Walnut Creek

The 30-acre Seven Hills Ranch in Walnut Creek, Calif. A group, Save Seven Hills Ranch is working to stop Spieker Senior Development Partners from building an assisted care senior community. (Google Earth via Bay City News)

After hearing from at least 50 speakers - including two callers on other continents - spanning about six hours, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved the Spieker Senior Development residential care facility in unincorporated Walnut Creek.

Spieker will build 354 housing units within 30 single-story buildings, an 85,000-square-foot medical center, a multi-story clubhouse, a recreation building, a maintenance building, and a parking garage on the 30-acre site.

The site, known as Seven Hills Ranch, is unincorporated open space, mostly surrounded by Walnut Creek, near Heather Farm Park. The developer will remove 353 trees from the site, which they said will be replaced by more than 1,000 new trees.

"This is not going to remain pristine open land," said board chairperson Karen Mitchoff, whose District 4 includes the area. "It's private property. It was private property before the developer bought it and it's still private property."

The space is zoned for housing, requiring a change in zoning to accommodate the mixed use. Board members said the property would be developed either way, and there's a need for more senior housing.

Help sustain the local news you depend on.

Your contribution matters. Become a member today.

Join

"(There are) good policy considerations in having this type of infill development for a badly needed type of housing - for seniors," District 1 supervisor John Gioia said. "Every single-family home that a senior moves out of to move into this project frees up that home right for a family."

Speakers showed which side they were on by their green or blue colored clothing. Most were against the project, at least 13 of whom were children. Most identified as students of nearby Seven Hills School, which will be impacted by the development.

Common complaints included the effect of four years of construction on the school and surrounding neighborhoods, additional traffic, lack of emergency access, and lack of public benefits.

Opponents also complained it doesn't meet local affordable housing needs and would remove too much wildlife habitat.

"This project is a huge commercial enterprise with over 225 employees ... plunked down in the middle of a residential area," said Rosalie Howarth, a nearby resident and a leader of Save Seven Hills Ranch, a group which gathered about 4,000 signatures in petitions against the project.

"The developer pretends it's housing when it suits them but then they're very quick to point out that they are not bound by the kinds of restrictions and amenities required of true housing developments because they are not housing," Howarth said. "You can't have it both ways."

Supporters said it's a good use of the land. Spieker has agreed to implement a financial assistance program whereby the facility operator would establish an annuity of $2 million toward subsidies for lower- income households that would not otherwise have the financial means to live in the facility.

Spieker will also pay $3 million over 10 years to county parks, trails or open space in the Walnut Creek area. Spieker has said security concerns preclude it from allowing trails and public access to the site, but the company would dedicate 2.4 acres along the site west boundary for public purposes.

"This project provides much needed independent housing for seniors and it also makes available neighborhood housing for families as those seniors sell their homes to move into this community," said Amy Worth, an Orinda city councilmember and board member of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

County staff said traffic projections for single family housing on the site would be higher than what would be generated by the Spieker development. Staff said the county projects 166 single family homes could be built on the site, not including extra attached units that could be added.

Amenities will include a swimming pool, tennis and bocce courts, dog parks, gardening center, walking trails, gym, auditorium, restaurants, bar, theatre, library, and clubhouse. The site will include 594 parking spaces.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox in our Express newsletter.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox in our Express newsletter.

Follow DanvilleSanRamon.com on Twitter @DanvilleSanRamo, Facebook and on Instagram @ for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Your support is vital to us continuing to bring you political news. Become a member today.

County supervisors approve controversial Seven Hills Ranch development

354-unit senior residential facility planned for unincorporated plot near Walnut Creek

by Tony Hicks / Bay City News Foundation /

Uploaded: Wed, Nov 30, 2022, 12:00 pm

After hearing from at least 50 speakers - including two callers on other continents - spanning about six hours, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved the Spieker Senior Development residential care facility in unincorporated Walnut Creek.

Spieker will build 354 housing units within 30 single-story buildings, an 85,000-square-foot medical center, a multi-story clubhouse, a recreation building, a maintenance building, and a parking garage on the 30-acre site.

The site, known as Seven Hills Ranch, is unincorporated open space, mostly surrounded by Walnut Creek, near Heather Farm Park. The developer will remove 353 trees from the site, which they said will be replaced by more than 1,000 new trees.

"This is not going to remain pristine open land," said board chairperson Karen Mitchoff, whose District 4 includes the area. "It's private property. It was private property before the developer bought it and it's still private property."

The space is zoned for housing, requiring a change in zoning to accommodate the mixed use. Board members said the property would be developed either way, and there's a need for more senior housing.

"(There are) good policy considerations in having this type of infill development for a badly needed type of housing - for seniors," District 1 supervisor John Gioia said. "Every single-family home that a senior moves out of to move into this project frees up that home right for a family."

Speakers showed which side they were on by their green or blue colored clothing. Most were against the project, at least 13 of whom were children. Most identified as students of nearby Seven Hills School, which will be impacted by the development.

Common complaints included the effect of four years of construction on the school and surrounding neighborhoods, additional traffic, lack of emergency access, and lack of public benefits.

Opponents also complained it doesn't meet local affordable housing needs and would remove too much wildlife habitat.

"This project is a huge commercial enterprise with over 225 employees ... plunked down in the middle of a residential area," said Rosalie Howarth, a nearby resident and a leader of Save Seven Hills Ranch, a group which gathered about 4,000 signatures in petitions against the project.

"The developer pretends it's housing when it suits them but then they're very quick to point out that they are not bound by the kinds of restrictions and amenities required of true housing developments because they are not housing," Howarth said. "You can't have it both ways."

Supporters said it's a good use of the land. Spieker has agreed to implement a financial assistance program whereby the facility operator would establish an annuity of $2 million toward subsidies for lower- income households that would not otherwise have the financial means to live in the facility.

Spieker will also pay $3 million over 10 years to county parks, trails or open space in the Walnut Creek area. Spieker has said security concerns preclude it from allowing trails and public access to the site, but the company would dedicate 2.4 acres along the site west boundary for public purposes.

"This project provides much needed independent housing for seniors and it also makes available neighborhood housing for families as those seniors sell their homes to move into this community," said Amy Worth, an Orinda city councilmember and board member of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

County staff said traffic projections for single family housing on the site would be higher than what would be generated by the Spieker development. Staff said the county projects 166 single family homes could be built on the site, not including extra attached units that could be added.

Amenities will include a swimming pool, tennis and bocce courts, dog parks, gardening center, walking trails, gym, auditorium, restaurants, bar, theatre, library, and clubhouse. The site will include 594 parking spaces.

Comments

Cyndie
Registered user
Walnut Creek
on Nov 30, 2022 at 1:08 pm
Cyndie, Walnut Creek
Registered user
on Nov 30, 2022 at 1:08 pm

It is a crying shame that the board would unanimously approve such a project. A project which does not adhere to zoning requirements, is far outside of the scope of acceptable uses for the property, will have significant negative impacts on the environment (as well as the surrounding community) and has so many objectors. What is the use of having a public comment session if the comments will not be taken into consideration? It is just a shame the board isn't listening to the citizens.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

In order to encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, commenting on stories is available to those who are registered users. If you are already a registered user and the commenting form is not below, you need to log in. If you are not registered, you can do so here.

Please make sure your comments are truthful, on-topic and do not disrespect another poster. Don't be snarky or belittling. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

See our announcement about requiring registration for commenting.