Proposed high-end housing development in the Tassajara Valley would break the Urban Limit Line
A 125 single family housing development known as “Tassajara Parks” is proposed for the western edge of the Tassajara Valley (“TV”). Because this nominal 30 acre development is outside the voter approved urban limit line (“ULL”), the development must be approved by 4 of the 5 county’s supervisors and a “finding” must be made to allow the development to go forward. Any development that exceeds 30 acres and is outside the ULL must be approved by a majority vote of county voters.
Tassajara Parks is the first development in the county that attempts to break the voter approved ULL. County residents have continually voted to stop urban sprawl—Measure J in 2004 required the County and all cities within the County to have a voter-approved ULL; Measure L in 2006 required a super majority vote of the Supervisors and for them to cite a “finding” for a development that is 30 acres or less outside the ULL and required voter approval to expand the ULL by more than 30 acres. Clearly the voters of the County have placed a significant hurdle in the path of developers who wish to break the ULL. The hurdle equally applies to the Supervisors.
So what is the path for approval for Tassajara Parks if the barrier is quite high? First, an environmental impact report (“EIR”) must be certified by the County’s Department of Conservation and Development. Second, the County’s Planning Commission must approve the EIR and send it forward to the Supervisors for ultimate approval. Finally, approval must come with at least with 4 out of 5 “ayes” from the Supervisors and a “finding”. A careful reading of the seven allowed “findings” specified in Measure L concludes that only one would qualify as a “finding” to approve Tassajara Parks. That finding is that a “majority of the cities that are a party to a preservation agreement and the county have approved a change to the ULL….”
The EIR for the development contains Appendix L which is a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) intended to be a preservation agreement and be certified as a “finding” by the Supervisors. It is proposed to be executed by the cities of San Ramon and Danville, East Bay Regional Parks and the County. At a meeting held at the Tassajara School House on November 9th and chaired by the County’s Director of Conservation and Development, John Kopchik and District 3’s Supervisor, Mary Piepho, the attendees who are residents of TV strongly objected to the MOU. It added nothing to preserving the valley as TV is already primarily zoned for agriculture (A-80). In fact, the proposed agreement would limit the existing rights of valley residents and would encourage development as a section of the MOU allows any developer who a) dedicates at least 500 acres for non-urban use and b) writes a check for $4 million to the county, be able to place 30 acre developments in TV that is outside but next to the ULL. In essence, it would rain houses in Tassajara Valley. In a letter to the Department of Conservation & Development, Danville’s City Manager stated that “the Draft EIR appears to improperly rely on a yet to be created preservation agreement that is designed to provide the Board with a flimsy justification for approving the extension of the ULL……”
Tassajara Parks is not a done deal. If you care about keeping the remaining part of Tassajara Valley free of ticky-tacky development, if you care about increased traffic congestion, wildlife preservation, greenhouse gas emissions and importantly sending a message to would-be developers and our County Supervisors that you do not want unlimited and unwanted development outside our ULL, please e-mail or write our supervisors. TV is one of the last, most beautiful and largely unspoiled valleys in the County. If you object to this egregious attempt to bypass the expressed desire of County residents to limit urban sprawl by the adherence to the urban limit line, please write or e-mail our supervisors--stat. This development will be coming for a vote most likely before year end. Their e-mail addresses are on the Tassajara Valley Preservation Association or the County’s web site. www.co.contra-costa.ca.us.
Let’s Hold the Line!
Tassajara Valley Preservation Association