Faria Preserve discussion extended again

San Ramon council holds second hearing on development project; third to follow next month

The San Ramon City Council extended its Faria Preserve development public hearing for the second time after much discussion during a well-attended, four-hour special meeting Monday.

"I'm just not comfortable approving a project without absolute clarity on the mitigation and how much," Mayor Bill Clarkson said toward the end of the conversation.

The council ultimately opted to delay decision-making Monday night, voting instead to continue its discussion of the proposed residential development next month.

The current proposal by Lafferty Communities for the Faria Preserve property would include single-family homes, town houses, condominiums, apartments and senior housing totaling 740 dwelling units. There are also plans for a community park, house of worship and educational facility.

The project property occupies approximately 286.5 acres near Deerwood and Bollinger Canyon roads in northwestern San Ramon.

The development has been in discussion for more than 10 years and has undergone several revisions over that time. After eight public hearings, the San Ramon Planning Commission unanimously approved the Lafferty's current proposal in May.

"Some of us on the current planning commission have spent over 12 years of our lives reviewing this project and looking into this project for the benefit of the whole community," Donna Kerger, vice chair of the planning commission, said during Monday's council meeting.

Councilman Harry Sachs called a formal review of the project nine days after the planning commission's approval, prompting the council to debate the issue during its July 8 meeting.

At the end of that meeting, the council asked city planning staff to revisit five issues: impacts to Interstate 680 on- and off-ramps at Bollinger Canyon Road, a proposed off-site walkway, increasing senior housing, traffic study estimates for the area during commute hours and ways to reduce negative creek impacts.

More than 100 people came back to the council chambers for the follow-up discussion Monday night.

City associate planner Cindy Yee gave a presentation during the public hearing, outlining mitigations the developers could implement to address the council's five concerns.

Yee presented two options to increase senior housing as part of the project, a measure aimed at reducing traffic and school impacts.

The first option was to increase senior units by 65, reduce non-age restricted units by 65 and reduce affordable units by 28, which would add more senior units and keep the overall unit count at 740.

The second option included reducing the total number of units by 30 to a total of 710 units. In order to achieve the reduction, developers would reduce the amount of affordable housing by about 35 units.

"I'm really struggling with which is the better option," Councilman Scott Perkins said after the presentation. "None of them really solves our problems. We have an affordable housing need so anything that decreases affordable housing is going in the wrong direction."

According to Yee, there would not be significant impact to I-680 intersections and based on the city's 2010 traffic evaluation for the project, "all intersections will operate at acceptable level of service."

An off-site walkway at the intersection of Bollinger Canyon and Norris Canyon roads was deemed infeasible, according to Yee. Because the intersection is an all-way stop, it "does not meet warrants for pedestrian enhancement devices," she said.

The developers suggested installing two radar speed display signs to enhance traffic and pedestrian safety in that area.

To reduce creek impacts, the project would not fill the eastern drainage channel and would have limited filling of the central drainage channel, according to Yee.

The developers said they would also include on-site mitigation for the creek and wetlands and off-site mitigation for species protection, which would include an enhancement and restoration process of land outside the development.

After the approximately 30-minute presentation, the floor opened up to the public to voice their opinions and concerns.

About 15 speakers took to the podium. Many other people submitted comment cards for the council record but chose not to verbally address the council.

Some of the issues discussed at the July 8 meeting were brought up again Monday night, including concerns about increased traffic, overcrowding schools, water service and quality of life.

There were a few speakers who said they were not totally against the development, but felt the size needed to be reduced.

After citizens spoke for about 45 minutes, the council took a 10-minute break -- at which time about half the attendees left. The council then discussed their opinions about the presentation.

Sachs said the developers were "applying static data" by using 2004-06 numbers to analyze traffic despite the population increasing by 47% since the data was collected.

Sachs also suggested lowering affordable housing down to 15% and explore "in-lieu" fees that could be allocated to other locations in San Ramon where affordable housing is planned to be built, such as the City Center site at Bishop Ranch.

Sachs suggested that city staff and Lafferty reconvene to develop a new option that would reduce affordable housing to 15%. Perkins said that affordable housing should be reduced but 15% may be too low, so he suggested seeing an option that would lower affordable housing units to 20%.

Councilman Dave Hudson made a motion to approve the current plan approved by the planning commission, but none of the other councilmen seconded his motion.

The mayor said he was "not too crazy" about reducing affordable housing because it is good for the community and it is necessary.

In the end, the council decided in a 3-1-1 vote to have city staff and the developers find a way to reduce affordable housing between 15-20% and present again before the council. Hudson abstained and Clarkson opposed.

The next Faria Preserve public hearing is currently set for Sept. 9.


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Posted by Ms. bunny
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 5, 2014 at 8:17 pm

How can EBMUD give "assurance" and "certainty" when we've had 2 dry years?
We now know El Nino will be most mild here in the north - HEAVY in the south?
We're already in a depleted state with volunteer cutbacks...
Will that turn to MANDATORY by NEXT summer or sooner?

"Developer rights" or not? WHEN is common sense going to PREVAIL between BOTH county and city in putting reasonable "brakes" on this project of waaayyy too many (740) housing units?


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Posted by WeAreSR
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 5, 2014 at 9:19 pm

I think I know how EBMUD can give assurance water won't be a problem... aren't they in the business of selling water?? More customers, more revenue, right? Even if they do require mandatory water rationing, I heard they can still raise your rates even if you're using less water (someone has to pay for their ongoing maintenance). Again, more customers, more revenue, regardless of how much water we are or aren't using.

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Posted by Ms. bunny
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 6, 2014 at 7:57 am

What you "heard" is correct...Know that historically here in San Ramon? Water increases have been a yearly habit SINCE 1995. That said, something rather specious does appear to be going on these days with them, in particular. Particularly? Where comments regarding this one, last largest parcel of development.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 6, 2014 at 8:13 am

San Ramon is prohibited by state law from making a decision on this project based on water or schools. If the local water agency says they have enough water then the city MUST accept their analysis. EBMUD may raise rates to provide services but they have already said they can provide the water.

The school district must provide sufficient school space. They can charge large mitigation fees to accommodate those students but cannot deny the project for lack of space.

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Posted by Dr. Developer
a resident of Danville
on Aug 6, 2014 at 9:11 am

Time for a reset. This projects density and total population needs to increase by 3x or more. There is water, the freeway intersections will operate at acceptable levels of service. there is power, creeks get too much respect. There is WAY too much meddling by the council in trying to develop this project. What gives them the right to demand reductions in affordable housing.

The reason the numbers should go up, is first, more tax money for schools, more money to fund our city, more people for our businesses, more housing close to where workers work. We need to start somewhere. THis is a logical place. It is on the edge of the city, so nobody would have to drive by this locale.

I plead with Lafferty to stop this hijacking of your project. You are not thinking out of the box. You are going through the same tired motions that all the developers go through... submit a project with larger number of homes, lower amount of amenities, do a perfunctory EIR, sit through endless council meetings and public input sessions, negotiate by adding amenities and reducing units to make you look like the good guys. Go back to the drawing board! Submit a manly proposal with over 2000 units and don't negotiate on that number. Because there is increased profits, offer San Ramon something useful, like new homeless shelters, ice skating rink, cineplex, downtown shopping district?

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Posted by member
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 6, 2014 at 11:52 am

I live close to this purposed development. San Ramon is a Bedroom community, majority of people commute to work some where else so the argument that it brings people closer to their work is not true.
It seems also that the city already has decided on this project to go forward and it putting up a theater with all these meetings, developer knows that and plays along. Counsel members seem to have been influenced heavily, specially Mr. Hudson.
I would not be surprised when some of them end up as consultants later on the payroll of the developer, collecting on the favor they have done.
Calculating 1.8 member per family and basing everything on that is crazy. Just visit local Danville costco and see how many multi generation families, mostly from India you'll see, My guess it is more like 6 or 7 the average family size.
Here is democracy at work, just like in Washington, only in smaller scale.

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Posted by JRM
a resident of Vista Grande Elementary School
on Aug 6, 2014 at 1:16 pm

You are spot on. This project is a fitting remnant of "Pavem Abram" Wilson years. I remember so well his feeble attempt to remain politically relevent when he kept running against Joan Buchanan, where was his kickoff fundraiser event? Well surprise surprise, it was at his good friend developer Sid Corrie's mansion in Alamo. And now of course we have Abram shilling for Sid's cemetary. The only good thing about the Fort Ugly KB project on the San Ramon border is that it gradually warns you as you drive South of the ticky tacky schlock San Ramon embraces eagerly.

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Posted by Ms. bunny
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 6, 2014 at 1:25 pm

"Dr." Developer? You are one crazed guy for believing this project should increase in size. None of this is "acceptable" IN LIGHT OF WHAT'S BEEN developed to date in SR, and unfortunately, isn't "tempered and measured" enough in regard to life flow for this area, IN PARTICULAR. Also? In KEEPING with "quality of life" factors that are meaningful to this community and at the very heart of ALL these issues and environmental factors of this hillside in question. "Manly proposal" ? Wow. You DO need a lobotomy. As someone who spent many a year in this same type of development? I can tell you for FACT that roughshod handling of people and community efforts to restrain these yahoos has been SECONDARY to pure unadulterated GREED (ashamedly stated!) It ISN'T a question of the NIMBY attitude - it is a question of? WHEN IS ENOUGH - ENOUGH. AT WHAT POINT DO WE SEE THE GREATER POTENTIAL FOR DAMAGES OVERALL - vs. the almighty dollar "speaking". Developer-mentality such as you exhibit? Makes me want to puke (preferably?) ON YOU. I learned what development SHOULDN'T be through the "school of hard knocks" but? AT LEAST? I LEARNED!!! I sorely doubt, with your pompous approach? -That you ever will...

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Posted by Drank The Cool Aid
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 6, 2014 at 4:06 pm

Everyone needs a place to live. If Obama can give out free Cell phones & govt. subsidized medical care, why wouldn't we in San Ramon follow that compassionate example and vastly increase the amount of "affordable" housing.(whatever that really means.) Faria project should be increased by 200% in affordable dwelling units, and those tree-huggers that are concerned about grading and filling in the creek ought to worry not about the displaced wildlife, but rather about things that really matter, like opening their homes and spare garages to house some of the tens of thousands of children seeking shelter across our southern border. We all need to be compassionate and import many low paid workers to live and work here so they too can enjoy what we have. Don't be selfish. Quit worrying about insignificant items like the fact that traffic here will become twice as heavy or that the freeway is already frequently stop/creeping at commute hours. Don't worry about the traffic, after all, traffic is being studied to death all the time by the same agencies that brought us the new West span of the Bay Bridge, so what could go wrong?? We have plenty of unelected agencies including ABAG to think for us, what me worry? (Or does history repeat itself?, Whatever happened to the old Soviet Union, remember the one that relied on bureaucratic central planning and subsidized housing?)

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Posted by Drank The Cool Aid
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 6, 2014 at 4:11 pm

The above should read "new East span", for those of you prone to confusion. Sorry about that.

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Posted by Derek
a resident of Danville
on Aug 6, 2014 at 7:08 pm

I don't know Bunny; I am still trying to figure out of Dr. D is just trolling us and having a little laugh at our expense, or if he is actually as deranged as he/she/it appears.
Maybe we should scrap the housing tract altogether and build a mega-Walmart complex. That would be lovely......

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Posted by Ms. bunny
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 6, 2014 at 7:17 pm

His idiocy on a subject close to the hearts of MANY was worth addressing and so? As usual?

He was fair game...

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Posted by Dr. Development
a resident of Danville
on Aug 7, 2014 at 12:36 pm

@Drank the Cool-Aid... You are conveniently ignoring the fact that most all homeowners are unabashedly proud recipients of government handouts in the name of tax deductibility of home loan interest payments. I wonder how that feels for all the mud slinging ignorant hypocritical republican mooches. Oh, to be sure they have their own excuses as to why being a person that takes from the government dole is OK for them but not for others.
And to be sure, they can't possibly come up with any more examples of other government handouts that benefit republican types.

Do you think the profit that Faria will make on this project has anything to do with the Home Loan Interest Deduction? Of course it does! With the interest deduction, they can charge a higher sales price. Money in their pockets.

And since there are so many home owning interest tax deducting republican mooches out there, perhaps they can voluntarily give up this handout by not taking the deduction.

And @Ms Bunny... I believe in property rights, the right to make money and the certitude of free markets. Let developers build whatever they want, where they want. Some times they will put in high density and sometimes low density, depends on what they think best serves the current market demand. Do you realize how much money cities counties and developers are wasting by going thru this tedious process. Our homes would be cheaper. I say let them put up the number they think is right.

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Posted by Dr. Development
a resident of Danville
on Aug 7, 2014 at 12:44 pm

That is where I agree with Cool Aid. Let the builders build as many houses as they want, and affordable housing will take care of itself without government meddling! But when it takes 10 years for this project to get to this stage, of course housing is going to be far less affordable. The China example is crazy but shows the way. See last weekends 60 Minutes about all the empty housing people purchased. The more housing the more affordable. Ms. Bunny and you must be either liberal NIMBY's or conservatives that just want leverage government to their own greedy advantage.

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Posted by Drank The Cool Aid
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 7, 2014 at 2:41 pm

Unfortunately the use of irony goes right over the heads of those with room temperature I.Q.s We are doomed if those people vote.

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Posted by Ms. bunny
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 7, 2014 at 3:46 pm

You two boys have clearly been sipping a bit more than "koolaid" (snicker) -Suggest you get a real spine and stand up and be counted for something worthier than the almighty dollar you deem the leader of your lives and your cavalier attitude of "anything goes" in this community (or any) I feel LESS than SORRY for developers per se after having worked for 4 major ones in this valley over the years and observing the speciousness that goes on above and under "the table" of development very often. While the reins are tighter during these years than in the past? A few "wild hare" laws give a tad too much freedom to the developer to develop their land with few constraints, as opposed to taking into consideration timing, natural resources, quality of life and existing situations if not issues that have "changed the game plan" to date. Yeah MR. Development, you can take your philosophy and shove it where the sun doesn't shine and the moon doesn't glow.

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Posted by farmer hoe
a resident of Danville
on Aug 7, 2014 at 3:48 pm

We should just revert all land use to agricultural in San Ramon and get rid of all these houses and businesses that ruin the beautiful valley. Yee-haw! Now that is a council I would vote for.

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Posted by Ms. bunny
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 7, 2014 at 5:24 pm

Dream on, farmer hoe...Cheerful note of history that you express and what many of us wish for in the depth of our hearts? It's neither realistic nor feasible in this day and age. Tempered and measured progress?


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Posted by Danville resident
a resident of Danville
on Aug 8, 2014 at 1:22 pm

You San Ramon residents had a chance to vote for someone for council ( I forget his name--I live in Danville) that would have put the brakes on this kind of overdevelopment and you voted the same lying lackeys for developers back into office. You got what you deserve.

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