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Another house, another HILL, what's up, Alamo?

Original post made by Hillary Oaks on Jan 26, 2008

Posted from another Forum e-chain:

There is a project slated for Ridgewood Rd that violates at least five county ordinances and ignores other county requirements that the county seems absolutely intent on approving. It will likely be greater than 35' from the bottom to the top of the roof, but we will never know because the county has not required an elevation from the applicant.

This project (information removed by Danville Weekly staff) is proposing a 5700 square foot house on a lot that has greater than 29% slope and is surrounded by, so far, unblemished oak ridgeland. Neighboring houses are no larger than 3600 sq ft. The average house is approximately 2000 sq ft.

The project puts neighboring houses at great risk for mudslides. The concerns of the neighbors have been ignored. We feel that we are sitting on a train track, bound, and waiting for the train to run us over.

Make no mistake, this could happen to you if you live in Alamo. It can happen in any neighborhood because the available land is either on the skyline or on the ridgeline.

Our local planning organization who works hard to preserve our quality of life and preserve it for the future have been unable to stop 257 outsize houses that have been constructed against their recommendations.

An appeal to our Supervisor, Mary Piepho was blown off. Issues surrounding the legitimacy of the process and the lack of public hearing were dismissed as merely issues to be considered in approving or denying the project.

We have no regional planning organization that is effectively looking after our interests. We will all suffer for this. It is time to have more care exercised on projects that have such a high impact and risk to the community.

Comments (25)

Posted by Alamo Ron, a resident of Alamo
on Jan 26, 2008 at 2:11 pm

So you think maybe a bit more local choice in such matters would be warranted?

Concentrate on this for moment: "The Incorporated Town of Alamo"

Don't you feel better already...

Posted by Oxymo Ron, a resident of another community
on Jan 26, 2008 at 3:28 pm

In humor, Ron, you have cleverly overlooked the issues that motivate construction and the sponsors that pursue such construction in expansion of the Alamo region as a taxable asset. With governments always being the source of such expansion, it would be valuable to our neighbors to better understand how any specific government would be any change from another. A new city government would use the same county general plan, zoning, codes and need for an increased tax base.

Once again, a clever oxymoron that, without detail, hides your self-cancelling phrase.

I applaud your cleverness,


Posted by Hal Bailey, a resident of another community
on Jan 27, 2008 at 9:35 am

Thank you, neighbors, for your many e-mail comments,

It is quite clear that Contra Costans, in unincorporated communities and cities, are concerned about the increasing numbers of new homes and renovations that are out-of-character with their neighborhoods. More importantly, Contra Costans are disturbed by the construction reaching more than 50 feet skyward on our hillsides and on our ridgelines.

The question is raised by many Contra Costans about who represents them in their communities, cities and county. Many do not know their Contra Costa County Planning Commissioner or how to communicate with various Contra Costa County departments, including Community Development and Public Works. It appears even more difficult in cities to determine and effect communication channels with city planning commissions and personnel.

This Alamo example as "another HOUSE, another HILL" provides for a scope of representative issues. Where are District 3, San Ramon Regional Planning Commissioners, Contra Costa County District 3 Planning Commissioner, Contra Costa County Community Development Department, Alamo Community Council, and Alamo Improvement Association in these issues? What claims can incorporation proponents propose for exceptional planning results in contrast to other cities' record of development?

This is an exceptional subject that should interest all Contra Costa County communities and neighborhoods.

What are your concerns?


Posted by Alamo neighbors, a resident of another community
on Jan 28, 2008 at 8:00 am

Reposted as a request from Alamo neighbors in the Iron Horse corridor:

District 3 Commissioner, Mr. Michael Murray, Contra Costa County Planning Commissioner (and) Alamo neighborhood representatives (were) planning a meeting to discuss establishment of an Alamo Regional Planning Commission, as a so-called SuperMAC, to advise county commissioners, departments and supervisors in planning land use, infrastructure and services for Alamo. An Alamo Regional Planning Commission would consolidate all county agency committees, including AIA planning, SRV Regional Planning Commissioners, and neighborhoods' community counsel into a commission and sub-committees as ONE VOICE for Alamo.

We request that you submit your ideas (and issues) to Mr. Murray at You might further post a comment on the Town Square Forum, Danville Weekly on-line, for Alamo neighbors and regional readers to consider.

Posted by Iron Horse neighbors, a resident of Alamo
on Jan 28, 2008 at 12:43 pm

Posted as reference information:

San Ramon Valley Regional Planning Commissioners from Alamo California

McPherson, Karen (Former Chair/Alamo Area Council)

Gibson, Michael (AIA Board Member, AIM Committee Member)

Bowlby David, (AIM Committee Member, VP Communications/Contra Costa Council)

For Information Contact : Tallman Lin, Phone: +1.925.335.1211, Division: Community Development

Posted by Sam J., a resident of Danville
on Jan 30, 2008 at 9:30 pm

Don't you clowns have anything better to do?

Posted by Standup for the little guy, a resident of another community
on Jan 30, 2008 at 9:54 pm

Hay Sam. So this is the site.

Not sure what part of "IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT THEN MOVE" they don't understand. I guess they forgot about how they over took this land that was wrongfully taken away from the Indians.

Posted by Oxymo Ron, a resident of another community
on Jan 31, 2008 at 9:02 am

Our Gross Regional Product seems to be the oxymoron stated as if obvious and non-cancelling. We love to repeat phrases we likely do not fully understand or appreciate their impact. We love to phrase our disrespect for the rights of others. And we care little about protecting our neighbors from the impact of individuals, groups and governments that would somehow redefine our neighbors' rights and interests.

For the majority in Alamo, through personal experiences with individuals and governments, we have learned to act as neighbors and ignore the contents of oxymorons that demand neighbors move rather than rightfully protect themselves.


One HAL of a Pal

Posted by Robin Hood, a resident of another community
on Jan 31, 2008 at 1:23 pm

Here is an update:

The people whom are making these postings are (post edited by Danville Weekly staff) They have had issues with neighbors before. I am one of them.

Yes, she is a granny thus the name Granny Alamo. She wears the pants around the house. Poor Fred has to follow her directions. The guy doesn't want to get involved in this dispute, yet he has to follow the wife's directions. I heard how they tried to buy this vacant lot that they are so opposed to.

They tried to buy it for literary next to nothing. (Pennies on the dollar). Obviously the previous owner rejected it.

Now they are all pissed and are giving this new home owner a hard time.

Shame on you.

Posted by Oxymo Ron, a resident of another community
on Jan 31, 2008 at 1:46 pm

Dear Robin,

The postings in the forum chain are for a broader audience of neighbors along the Iron Horse Trail and are made by more than one individual. The specific concerns as a series of lots on hillsides from Hillgrade to south of Ridgewood. The issues are the monsters that will be built and not the interests of any one neighbor's issue with any one project.

Our hillsides and ridgelines are being erased in Alamo by monster homes that are NOT specifically contrained to height limits or other code requirements. The important service of this forum chain is to identify the planning contacts so neighbors can pursue rational resolve of issues with such hillside projects.

Thank you for your concerns and commentary,


One HAL of a Pal

Posted by Robin Hood, a resident of another community
on Jan 31, 2008 at 3:06 pm

Thanks OX.

Point very well taken.

I do hear what you are saying and respect it very well.

I need to point out that this specific case is not about one neighbor caring for ridgeline or monster homes. A home owner is angry at another home owner and is using Alamo beautification and height limits as an excuse to level the playing fields. Many years back, I was put on the spot by neighbors like them. Now I support people that are being victimized.

I promise you if their mother, uncle or sisters were building a mega home next door to them, they would not have any issues or concern.

Posted by s. Huff, a resident of Danville
on Feb 2, 2008 at 4:23 pm

Here Here. Well said.

Posted by Mary Nejedly Piepho, a resident of another community
on Feb 2, 2008 at 4:32 pm

My office was made aware of concerns on the proposed Ridgewood Drive house as expressed by a constituent on January 17, 2008.

We contacted the county's Community Development Department and were advised that the Zoning Administrator's (ZA) Hearing was scheduled for February 4, 2008. We informed the constituent that this is the opportunity for community comments or concerns to be expressed on the proposed project. The staff report would be avaialbe 96 hours prior to the ZA Hearing and the Hearing takes place at 651 Pine Street in Martinez.

All those wishing to provide comments should attend this hearing or send written comments to the Contra Costa County Community Development Department, Attention: Zoning Administrator by regular mail to 651 Pine Street, 4th Floor North Wing, Martinez, CA 94553 or by phone at (925) 335-1210.

With regard to the county's compliance with the Brown Act and its mandated community notification requirements, my office has confirmed that a notice was mailed to all residents whose property is within 300 feet of project site on January 23. An advertisement was placed in the San Ramon Valley Times and ran on January 25th, and the Alamo Improvement Association (AIA) was notified as requested. In addition, comments provided by the AIA have been included in the staff report. Additional notices were sent to adjacent property owners and the AIA early December, 2007.

I have been advised that the Community Development staff are recommending that the project be modified in response to the comments received to the county by the Alamo community.

The ZA Hearing allows an additional opportunity for residents to express their views on the project. The ZA decision can be appealed by either party to the San Ramon Valley Planning Commission which, as indicated above, includes a number of members from Alamo.

If anyone has any questions on this proposal or any others in the county's jurisdiction, please contact my office at 820-8683 or via e-mail to Dist3@BOS.CCCounty.US

Thank you.

Posted by Hal Bailey, a resident of another community
on Feb 2, 2008 at 5:48 pm

Dear Supervisor Piepho,

Thank you for your thorough response to the specific issue that started this forum chain. Please understand the Iron Horse neighborhoods are concerned about several lots on Ridgelines and hillsides that are being initially developed for permit and construction. The area reaches from Rudgear on the north to south of Ridgewood.

It is the concern of Iron Horse neighbors that construction will be very large homes out of character with neighbors that will create stress on the ridgeline and hillside environment and endanger the neighbors on surrounding property. Further, the concerns are the height of such monsters and their impact on the skyline of the Iron Horse neighborhoods.

Finally, in the past, there were fees charged for any neighbor to raise concerns through Community Development and it should not be a cost to neighbors to protect themselves.

Once again, thank you for your response and please address the concerns of neighbors.

In kind regards,

Hal Bailey

Posted by Susan West, a resident of another community
on Feb 3, 2008 at 11:23 am

Posted at request of the author

Dear Supervisor Piepho and neighbors,

We must appreciate our supervisor taking specific interest in a single project among the many being considered on the western hillside and ridgeline of the Alamo (Diablo Vista) region. These very steep lots will be covered with homes that reach far above 35 feet height limits and will be major structures in our skyline view.

Among the Iron Horse neighbors north of Alamo Plaza, we hope the supervisor will take a collective view in planning how homes fit our neighborhoods, provide drainage and hillside stability and impact the overall skyline view of our region.

Susan West
North Iron Horse neighborhoods

Posted by James C., a resident of Alamo
on Feb 6, 2008 at 2:08 pm

I welcome any home that is built on Ridgewood rd. The bigger the home the better. The home acts as a barrier for any land slide. It is like a retaining wall.

Posted by CJ, a resident of another community
on Feb 6, 2008 at 2:13 pm

Dear Susan West

I am a contractor. During design review, one does not submit grade or drain plans.

Posted by Perry, a resident of another community
on Feb 6, 2008 at 6:39 pm

Big homes are good for the hill side. They prevent slide.

Posted by Oxymo Ron, a resident of another community
on Feb 7, 2008 at 7:43 am

Dear neighbors,

AS we review the defense of monster boxes that will erase our skyline and fill our view, we should simply, together, claim the nature of how homes should fit our neighborhoods in character and preservation of our hillsides and ridgelines. Careful consideration of the stress put on the slopes and distribution of drainage should be part of fitting every project into its neighborhood.

Any claim that large construction aids our neighborhoods must be proven in clear demonstration of how such results will match the character of a neighborhood, hillsides and ridgelines.


One HAL of a Pal

Posted by CJ, a resident of Alamo
on Feb 7, 2008 at 11:54 pm

You can not compare today's home with homes built in the 60's.

Back in the 60's, a 2000 sqft home was considered a mega home.

Today, only a condo is 2000 sqft.

How can you fit a new home with old homes and call is compatible.

I am an engineer that lives on the hill. I designed my own foundation. It is common sense that large homes aid hill sides. Please pick up a phone and call a soil engineer and have him tell you if a home acts or doesn't act as a wall against the hillside.

Posted by Oxymo Ron, a resident of another community
on Feb 9, 2008 at 6:49 pm

Dear CJ,

The issue is the scar that a large home does to our skyline and the lack of real review of any planning of the building site. In Alamo, we have seen ugly, monster boxes, one after another, placed on hillsides and we must look at that oversized, over-height reality in our skyline and all the issues created downhill.

The character of a neighborhood is the issue and the reality that planning does not resolve hill stability and drainage is a larger issue. Contra Costa County does not have authority for drainage because such issues are the responsibility of a State Special District.

Ugly monsters are an oxymoron. Thank you for your opinion and the Iron Horse neighbors would support a rational addition to our skyline.


One HAL of a Pal

Posted by Robin Hood, a resident of another community
on Feb 12, 2008 at 10:23 pm

You are entitled to your opinion.

I will give you an example. I was at a dinner party not too long ago. There is this guy (information was removed by Danville Weekly because it contained unsubstantiated claims and allegations). He says he is an architect, yet he can't design worth a dime. He has had a client that once complaint about him. I can't remember what it was. Now he is going up and down Ridgewood rd telling people he is an expert architect and wants to design homes for other people.

There is this new construction on the corner of GranVia and Ridgewood. This guy actually criticized the architect for this beautiful house.

The point is that these people have nothing but time on their hand and are just a useless part of our society.

Posted by Susan West, a resident of another community
on Feb 14, 2008 at 8:50 am

Dear neighbors,

Please refer to "Conflicts in the Iron Horse Corridor" for continuation of discussions of hillside and ridgeline in-fill as only one of the issues of the Iron Horse Neighbors within the Diablo Vista (Alamo) Region. The specific discussion of one example of in-fill has become personal and inappropriate for discussion among neighbors.

Susan, Iron Horse neighbors.

Posted at the request of the author

Posted by Sam J, a resident of Alamo
on Feb 20, 2008 at 1:43 pm







ALL YOU PEOPLE MAKE ME ( just speechless ).

Posted by no name, a resident of another community
on Feb 26, 2008 at 10:04 pm

you are so correct. These people are just a bunch of old people that need to get a 9 to 5 job rather than stay home and cause problems. It is a shame.

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