By Roz Rogoff
Faria ForeverUploaded: Jan 8, 2014
I was finishing up shopping at Nob Hill Market a few weeks ago when a man recognized me. He came over to chat. He told me he's been reading the San Ramon Observer for several years.
He was one of my readers before I moved to the San Ramon Express. He reads my blog on the Express now. He asked if I still go to the City Council meetings, but since I switched to writing a blog instead of reporting on the meetings, I don't go to them much anymore.
He wrote his name, email, and phone number on the back of one of my business cards Robert Klingner. Mr. Klingner is a resident of Thomas Ranch, adjacent to the Faria property. He told me he has opposed development of the Faria Preserve for years.
I said it was approved in 2006. I was at the meeting when the City Council voted to approve it, but Klingner said plans for it go back to 2002. He's done a lot of research on it.
When the new Faria project came up before the Planning Department, I wondered what happened to the plans the City Council approved in 2006. Everyone seemed to be on the same page back then, and now there is a new page. I wanted to find out why it is starting over again; so I decided to go to the next public hearing on it in January.
Klingner was dissatisfied with the answers he got from the Planning Commissioners at the Public Hearing held on December 17, 2013. He's particularly concerned about the community park planned for the site. He said Commissioner Donna Kerger wouldn't listen to anything she didn't want to hear.
I've known Donna Kerger since I moved to San Ramon 17 years ago. She takes her responsibilities on the Planning Commission very seriously, as do all of the Commissioners. Being on the Planning Commission is not an easy job. Most residents do not understand the fine line Commissioners walk between residents' concerns, property rights, and State laws. They just cannot say "Yes" or "No" because someone wants it.
I called Donna the next day to ask her if she wanted one of my San Ramon Observer T-Shirts. I already promised a T-Shirt to Planning Commissioner Dennis Viers; so I planned to bring the T-shirts with me to the Public Hearing on the Faria property on January 7, 2014.
Mr. Klingner was at the meeting and spoke in public comment. He was critical of the proposed Community Park for the new development. Parks Commissioner Dominique Yancey was at the meeting but she did not speak at the meeting. Planning Commissioner Kerger praised the Parks Commission for their work in designing the park for this project.
The main issue discussed at this meeting was the entrance/exit to the North side of the plan from Purdue Road. There's an entrance from Deerwood Road to the southern portion of the development and another road from the northern section that would connect to Purdue Road.
However there are several reasons why Perdue isn't an ideal access to the property. Purdue is in an "industrial" area and the street isn't wide enough for bike lanes. So the bike lanes planned for the arterial road on the north end of the Faria plan would end at Purdue, which isn't very practical.
Jim Gibbon, who also opposes the current design for the project, questioned the safety of the Purdue Road exit because a fault line parallel to it is under that portion of the development. Gibbon suggested eliminating the entire northern portion of the plan and keeping the only the Deerwood entrance.
Gibbon said that the State Department of Fish and Game would reject the project as it is currently proposed because of sensitive land and ridges in the northern portion. Fish and Game did not allow the original developer, Claremont Homes, to move a creek bed and that's why the property changed hands.
After the meeting was adjourned, I gave T-shirts to Commissioners Viers and Kerger. Donna said she would wear it to her training session at Fitness 19 on Wednesday morning. I told her I just joined Fitness 19, so we arranged to meet after her training session. Now I not only have Cholo pushing me to go, but Donna too.