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SummerHill Homes project moves to next stage of development

Original post made on May 16, 2013

In a 5-1 vote, with Commissioner Paul Radich opposing, the Commission approved the Magee Ranch/SummerHill Homes project --a 410-acre development at the southeast corner of Diablo and McCauley roads. The development and its associated environmental impact report (EIR) will now be heard by the Town Council, which will conduct its own set of public hearings.

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Comments (24)

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Posted by momof3
a resident of Danville
on May 16, 2013 at 6:51 am

Another case of the Planning Commission not listening to the residents. I am sure the Town Council will approve this, just like the General Plan. My favorite part is how the article says that Summerhill will address traffic by promoting bus ridership. What a joke.

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Posted by David
a resident of Danville
on May 16, 2013 at 7:00 am

Well,once again big money wins. I'm shocked...Hopefully it won't look as disgusting as the former Elworthy property when all is said and done though. Good luck to all who will have to deal with the mess on the Diablo Rd corridor.

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Posted by WTF?!
a resident of Danville
on May 16, 2013 at 7:11 am

This paragraph sums up the problem with our government, even a smaller Town organization of "public servants" is susceptible to corruption and greed:

"By recommending that the Town Council look at the development, Danville's Planning Commission determined that the SummerHill development isn't subject to a public vote under Measure S – a 2000 measure that limits development on agricultural land and requires voter approval by ballot measure in order to move the development forward. In order to accommodate the development, portions of the site would need to be rezoned from A-4 (one home per 20 acres) and A-2 (one house per five acres) to clustered residential development (or P-1) to keep homes off hills and ridgelines."

Isn't it typical that the government officials get to decide what we can and cannot vote for, but it doesn't apply to them... While the majority of residents have decided this isn't something we want in our backyard, the Town Council overrides it and decides they don't need to follow the very rules they create. This isn't a government of the people if we don't get to vote for it.

What residents see:
More homes = more traffic = additional overcrowding in schools = loss of our beautiful hillsides and open space

What town council sees:
More homes = more taxes = more money = more spending = more self-indulgence

This is ridiculous! I'm so disappointed...

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Posted by Diablo res
a resident of Green Valley Elementary School
on May 16, 2013 at 8:05 am

Now that the US Post Office has refused to sign a new lease for the Diablo PO and seems to be planning to relocate operations to Danville Po to save money we can close the development to residence only for bikers forcing them onto the safe new bike paths on Diablo Rd being provided by the town of Danville. Too many unruly and noisy bikers that don't follow traffic laws and cut through the development can utilize there new path.

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Posted by JJ
a resident of Danville
on May 16, 2013 at 8:07 am

MaGee has right to sell his land, just as you and I do. I travel Diablo Road every day and hate the traffic, but I'm also realistic. We believe this project is the least painful. People want to live here and they need homes. We welcome more open space and trails to hike especially in an area that we've never had access to. We're sorry for Mr. MaGee and the headaches he's had in trying to make what I'm sure was a difficult decision to sell the last of his heritage. We're also sorry for those of us who are affected by this development and the continued developments in the Dougherty Valley which will continue to impact our way of life. And they call this "Progress". Sigh

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Posted by Diablo res
a resident of Green Valley Elementary School
on May 16, 2013 at 9:16 am

JJ is missing the point. MaGee has a right to sell his land but it should be developed within the correct zoning regulations not altered by the town officials. See below.

"By recommending that the Town Council look at the development, Danville's Planning Commission determined that the SummerHill development isn't subject to a public vote under Measure S – a 2000 measure that limits development on agricultural land and requires voter approval by ballot measure in order to move the development forward. In order to accommodate the development, portions of the site would need to be rezoned from A-4 (one home per 20 acres) and A-2 (one house per five acres) to clustered residential development (or P-1) to keep homes off hills and ridgelines."

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Posted by Dano
a resident of Danville
on May 16, 2013 at 10:01 am

Sure, let's close off our Diablo to bikers. That is a great solution. Bikers are so unruly!

The biggest obnoxious offenders on the road are those in motor vehicles, whose total level of effort is some minor arm and foot movement, having to get out to fill up the car with gas and exercise their credit cards, and the hardship of squirming around and turning on the AC or heater. Actually, unless the Post Office starts delivering mail to the end of your driveways, the bigger impact on traffic will be y'all driving to get your mail in Danville. Perhaps we can also install stop light running cameras at the entrances to Diablo to slow down the unruly car drivers that see fit to roll right though the STOP signs, clearly either not knowing what STOP means, or being unruly!
Have you ever been in a car and got so scared that you might die or be paralyzed because a biker was going through a stop sign and might hit your car. Oops I had to wait two extra seconds... jerk biker...Unruly scofflaw.

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Posted by Rick
a resident of Danville
on May 16, 2013 at 11:17 am

Diablo res, "Too many unruly and noisy bikers that don't follow traffic laws and cut through the development can utilize there(sic) new path."

Noisy bikers??? What about the construction trucks, gardeners, etc continuously obstructing your roads?

I think Diablo is the most desirable and beautiful community in the county. I truly enjoy riding thru your neighborhood on my way to the mountain where I suffer in the pursuit of fitness. I will do my best to get the people I ride with to stop at your stop signs. You are lucky to live in a place where people come to recreate. Please don't cut off our only safe access to Mt Diablo.

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Posted by Biker
a resident of Danville
on May 16, 2013 at 11:35 am

Rick: You should be showing up at the June hearing to demand that the Danville Town Council address biker safety issues. Danville does not allow through traffic to cut through Danville residential neighborhoods (that was an excuse for why SummerHill traffic couldn't go south to Camino Tassajara). They have even placed barriers on the streets in the St. Tim's neighborhood so that cars can't cut through on their way to Los Cerros and Monte Vista.

Diablo is a residential neighborhood. The safety of local residents and those that would cut through is jeopardized by the overuse of the narrow streets in Diablo. PUT THE ATTENTION WHERE IT BELONGS: ON DANVILLE'S ELELCTED GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS.

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Posted by traffic engineer
a resident of Danville
on May 16, 2013 at 11:40 am

Danville planners and the EIR consultant (hired by Danville but paid for by SummerHill Homes) should not have been free to pick what yardsticks were used to determine whether traffic impacts were found in the SummerHill EIR to be significant (and thus at least requiring mitigation paid for by the developer).

Mark Twain once said "[t]here are lies, damn lies, and then there are statistics". The so-called "thresholds of significance" statistics chosen for the SummerHill EIR well-illustrate Mark Twain’s observation. They were obviously picked so that the traffic impacts would be found insignificant. Yes, the SummerHill EIR is a textbook example of so-called “reverse engineering” at its finest.

Here's an example: the EIR stated the project would add 91 more cars at the Diablo Road/Green Valley Road intersection in the a.m. peak time. In the near future, that intersection is projected to operate at unacceptable Level of Service E (even with continued buses, which is an unreasonable assumption in the EIR). Yet the Town's threshold of significance (a .05 increase in the traffic volume/traffic capacity ratio) chosen just for the SummerHill project told them there would not be a significant impact! By contrast, the wise and caring ELECTED OFFICIALS of other communities have adopted thresholds (subject to public input!) that must be used for evaluating ALL development proposals. Planners in those communities do not have free reign to do reverse engineering.

Here is what some other communities’ ELECTED OFFICIALS have done:

City of Los Angeles: Level of Service (“LOS”) D intersections: Significant transportation impact if the project-related increase in volume/capacity (V/C) is .02 or greater
LOS E intersections: Significant impact if the V/C ratio is increased by equal to or greater than .01

Pleasanton: Uses an alternative called QUALITY OF LIFE LOS, to determine the "livability" of residential streets. These standards are adopted to preserve residential district livability rather than ease of vehicle movement through intersections. It preserves safe and convenient walking and biking although it doesn't include any quantifiable measures. The primary difference compared to traditional LOS is that it actually keeps vehicle volumes and speed low.

Pacifica: LOS E: two or more seconds increase in delay, and the V/C increased by more than .01

Santa Barbara: LOS D an increase of 15 trips
LOS E an increase of 10 trips
LOS F an increase of 5 trips

Danville's elected officials have abdicated their responsibilities to determine the all-important thresholds of significance with the result that the developer-oriented staff and the EIR consultant can engineer the result they wanted: no significant impact at Green Valley/Diablo Road and other intersections evaluated (except for the Mt. Diablo Scenic/Diablo Road intersection).

The public needs to stand up for themselves at the Town Council hearing in June and demand that the phony SummerHill EIR and its phony traffic conclusions be rejected!

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Posted by Derek
a resident of Danville
on May 16, 2013 at 7:08 pm

An immediate recall effort of all five council members, and our mayor, is the only thing that can stop this, mark my words.
Open space is nothing but a green field of dollar signs to any developer. As long as they grease the palms of elected officials, as they have no doubt done here, nothing will change unless those officials face the eminent loss of their seat.

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Posted by Disgrunteled Resident
a resident of Green Valley Elementary School
on May 17, 2013 at 7:35 am

Rick is correct. Lets get the recall underway and make it a Gray Davis statement. This would make national news and show local governments that they work for the people.

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Posted by Diablo res
a resident of Green Valley Elementary School
on May 17, 2013 at 8:04 am

Finally getting traction. Nice article in today's SRV Times regarding the bike issue through Diablo. Needs to be restricted access and put the bikers onto Diablo Rd.

If safety is a problem then a solution expensive as it is, but could keep the esthetics of existing conditions as well as its beautiful history, would be to tunnel under the MaGee property with the costs being borne by Summerhill. Make it a application requirement for project approval.

No need to cut trees or put up high walls as they presented to discourage opponents Tuesday 5/14 put the bike route underground. If they want the project solve the bike traffic issue.

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Posted by Carin Biker
a resident of Danville
on May 17, 2013 at 10:05 am

There is really something totally insulting, obnoxious and wrong about car drivers complaining about unruly bikers because they go through a stop sign, or they exercise their right to use a road.

What I would like to know is how may car drivers have been killed by speeding bikers, by riding abreast or by bikers going through a stop sign? Does anyone respect science in the debate? Momentum, which figures into the energy of a moving body is directly proportional to mass. 200 lbs on a bike versus 5000 lbs on a car. That is 25 to 1 ratio. It would basically be similar to Mike Tyson fighting a 2 year old. Who is going to win that fight?

The biggest problem is the grandiose and misplaced sense of privilege and entitlement that car drivers feel they have to the roads. Anything that gets in their way that slows them down is something to complain about. I suggest that car drivers look themselves in the mirror and start asking what is wrong with themselves that they have to be in such a rush to get places. Are you a procrastinator that leaves too late. Did you not do a good job scheduling your calendar. Do you leave to late because you have this crazy sense that you are the only one on the road, only to find out there are "too many people on the road" and they are slowing you down more than normal.

Complain about yourselves, the true bozos in the equation. Get on the road earlier and if you are just such a busy person, then start making some life choices about how you spend your time, so you are not a snob on the roads, that needs to point their finger at bike riders to make yourself feel better.

It is absolutely idiotic to hear residents of Diablo thinking their roads are unsafe due to bikers going through stop signs. I lived in Diablo. The BIGGEST culprits are the resident car drivers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Posted by LB
a resident of Danville
on May 17, 2013 at 4:45 pm

I'm neither pro or con on the issue of bikes being allowed thru Diablo to access the mountain, but both sides should not forget that those streets in Diablo are private and not city maintained and they do have right to do with "their" streets as they wish. No, I do not live in Diablo (wish I did though).

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Posted by skeptical
a resident of Danville
on May 18, 2013 at 1:20 pm

Suppose, just suppose, that the Town Planners (traffic engineers) deliberately chose thesholds that would allow the Magee Ranch development when other thresholds would have disallowed the Magee Ranch development. Why would they do that?

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Posted by Tom
a resident of Danville
on May 19, 2013 at 6:53 am

The recommendation above to restrict bikes in Diablo to residence only is excellent. Make all who live there post a sticker and ticket any outsider do to restrictive access.

To satisfy the bike issue on Diablo Rd. have Summerhill tunnel under MaGee ranch land a new bike lane. If they want city approval to develop property make it a conditional requirement. No trees need to be cut and no unsightly retaining walls to deal with.

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Posted by Cyclist and Realist
a resident of Danville
on May 19, 2013 at 11:16 pm

The only safe way to get from Green Valley to Magee Ranch by bicycle is through Diablo. Would you send our elementary, middle, and high school students up Diablo Road to ride home? Given the elevation gain, the average speed of a 12-year-old would be about 7 mph. As he or she rides up the street with no shoulder, the newly licensed 16-year-olds are driving home from Monte Vista on the same road.

A tunnel is patently ridiculous. Better to put the utilities underground and build a new pathway where the poles currently are.

Could we perhaps start with some signage in Diablo directed at the offending cyclists? Or use the full-time county sheriff to ticket those who run stop signs? It is hard to believe that a conversation by passing cyclists is noisier and more obnoxious than the mowing and blowing equipment used by the gardeners and Country Club personnel in regular maintenance.

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Posted by Tom
a resident of Danville
on May 20, 2013 at 8:11 am

Cyclist needs to get real. Its not just running stop signs in Diablo its 3 and 4 abreast ridding taking up the street, 3 and 4 plus yelling to each other while golfers are trying to play golf and the hazard they present to children and elderly of the neighborhood.

Non residence don't belong in the development and the town needs to address the bike issue on Diablo Road now while an investor (Summerhill) with deep pockets in MaGee property is the interested group.

Tunnel under the property is expensive but make them pay and do it to clean up the congestion and utilities while maintaining the esthetics of the street.

Otherwise you will be paying in increased fees/ taxes to solve it later after Summerhill leaves.

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Posted by PJ
a resident of Danville
on May 21, 2013 at 7:48 am

Let's be honest. A lot of the folks making commentary here are probably more upset about traffic delays and longer lines at Starbucks...than voters rights and town council "corruption". You know who you are. I'm not saying its wrong to feel this way...just be honest about it. You are entitled to your own taxpaying opinions...but just be straight.

This is one of the greatest places to live and being able to afford to live here is a joy. Concentrate on what you do have and enjoy it. I've lived in many areas of this country and can first hand can tell you that what we have in Danville is incredible. Parks, trails, bike lanes, good schools, weather, access to oceans, skiing, don't get that anywhere. People come HERE to vacation.

If you are THAT against these developments, then do more than sign a petition or air your thoughts at town council meeting (which according to most, goes ignored anyhow...) or even chat boards....keep, post videos, go protest at the job site...anything...just PLEASE stop playing the "i'm a victim" card. I'd bet anything that these people concerned about ruining "rolling majestic hills" by building houses, would be the same ones to complain about our fire protection district if a brush fire broke out in those undeveloped grassy hills and it got too close or even damaged their proprties.

It is tiring and incredibly depressing to hear all the non-stop complaining. There's nothing worse than hearing wealthy people (anywhere, just not Danville) complain that they have it rough...all the time. We know you worked hard to get where you are and where you live. No one is threating your way of life here.

If its that bad here...move on...sounds like you don't want to be here. But if these new homes are really just going to inconvenience you...then be real and get a grip.

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Posted by Local resident
a resident of Danville
on May 21, 2013 at 8:33 am

@PJ:Local residents have been doing everything you suggested and much more to fight SummerHill. Check out the SOS-Danville website for starters. Since 2010, literally thousands of people have gone to and spoke at Planning Commission and Town Council meetings, met with Commissioners and Council members, emailed, sent letters, blogged, hired experts and an attorney, even filed an initiative petition certified by the Contra Costa County Clerk as having nearly 3400 registered Town of Danville voters' signatures on it, all to no avail.

Why have their efforts proved fruitless? Because the process was essentially done before the public was even notified about the SummerHill proposal (Fall 2010). No one that has had anything to do with opposing this project has ANY faith left in the Danville government. Period.

Regarding Diablo's possible decision to allow local traffic only: Diablo's Service District is doing what Danville's government SHOULD be doing. The District is responding to the decades' long history of actual accidents and near misses in Diablo from too many cyclists and too many cars trying to use too small roads frequently travelled by pedestrians. Diablo is not only protecting Diablo residents, it is also protecting the cyclists and car drivers that use Diablo as a cut-through.

Danville's government would do well to follow Diablo's government's example. Listen to the people, Danville. Protect them from the dangers of Diablo Road. Stop ignoring that problem so you can approve yet another development.

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Posted by Nim Beigh
a resident of Danville
on May 21, 2013 at 11:06 am

Blah Blah Blah, All that is done is complain for free. Start putting your money where your mouth is and buy the land. Or maybe we should put Magee Ranch in and remove all homes in Diablo.

Just think of how selfish the original land owner who created Diablo was. He created summer houses for the wealthy in San Francisco and ruined one of the prettiest places on the mountain, and all they can do now is complain about bikers and traffic on Green Valley Road.

In fact in my view Diablo residents are blessed if this development goes through, as the public will get the benefit of permanent open space and Diablo residents will NOT SEE houses all over the Magee "ridgeline." As it is now, residents are NOT allowed to go on the existing Magee property, not allowed to hike to the ridge and can't enjoy the most awesome view of the mountain. From Diablo the views of Mt. Diablo are meager, to say the most.

Just ask the residents of Stonegate at the end of Livorna Rd in Alamo, who are completely upset at the prospect that the ridge, at the western end of Round Hill North, will be developed,, thus spoiling their views of an unspoiled section of a great area!

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Posted by Diablo Road resident
a resident of Danville
on May 21, 2013 at 1:17 pm

@Nim Beigh: Just where is YOUR backyard, nimby? Likely not here. You obviously have no understanding of the FACTS of the matter. It's not views we are concerned about. Do you understand the concept of capacity? It applies to Diablo Road and Green Valley Creek, both of which are OVER capacity now. As to the prospect of publically usable "Open Space": ask the Town what ever happened to the parking lot and trail to Las Trampas Ridge the Elworthy Ranch developer was originally supposed to provide. Never happened.

Magee/SummerHill are asking for special treatment---that is what a REZONING is, nimby. Let the land be developed under EXISTING ZONING. If they want to rezone, force them to follow the law---give the public the right to vote on the rezoning per Measure S.

And by the way, nimby, what happens in my backyard is far more important than what happens any where else on earth.

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Posted by Nim Beigh
a resident of Danville
on May 22, 2013 at 3:56 pm

Guess what, your road traffic argument isn't going to work. If you want to help out, how about reducing your own use of the road. Most of the cars have 1 person in them! How about riding your bike, how about walking, how about stacking up errands, how about leaving for work at different times. How about a minor upgrade of the traffic signal, which they already proposed, to increase throughput due to the capacity increase. So good luck on your traffic argument. I agree to have them follow the law, however you will still lose that argument in the long run too. The only solution is to buy the land, but I can see the $ signs right now in your eyes, thinking you would never invest money in such a thing, but try your luck on the approval process. You have the ULL issue working against you as well, since this is well within the ULL.

I undertand capacity. I have the capacity to strategize, and while you might win an initial delay, eventually this property will be developed and if you strip away the capacity and law issues, and look at the proposal for what it is? It is pretty good.

I would prefer to see the property in public hands, so keep your good work up.

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