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An Update from SummerHill Homes on the Magee Ranches Development Proposal

Original post made by Wendi Baker, SummerHill Homes on Oct 10, 2011

A number of articles have recently been published in the Danville Express regarding SummerHill Homes's Magee Ranches Development Proposal to build 78 residences on the south side of Diablo Road, east of McCauley Road.

The most recent article, written about a Traffix bus delay on October 3, grew from the reporting of a delay (caused by a last-minute bus driver change and traffic on I-680 from the bus yard) to a forum about traffic on Diablo Road and how much existing conditions would be impacted by the proposed neighborhood by SummerHill Homes.

As the discussion continues, let us remember that an Environmental Impact Report is being drafted, and its findings—about traffic, land use, the East Branch of Green Valley Creek, and the natural habitat—will be available to the public some time in the Winter of 2011.

In the meantime, please keep in mind these facts about the proposed community:

FACT: The application for development by SummerHill Homes is NOT for the right to build; that was decided in the General Plan, which allows for 78 large home sites scattered over the entire 410-acre property—and SummerHill is NOT trying to build more homes than the General Plan allows. The Development Proposal is to build these 78 home sites on a smaller portion of the property rather than on the entire 410 acres.

In addition, SummerHill has chosen to work with a local land planning and architecture firm, Dahlin Group, to plan the home sites for the flattest portions of the property, and dedicate as permanent open space 290 acres of hillside, instead of building on it.

FACT: The Town of Danville has an Affordable Housing Ordinance, which is in compliance with regional and state planning. This requires that new residential construction provide a fair share of dwelling units that could be considered "affordable" should they be rented. This is the "casitas" concept, in which 25%, or 20, of the homes are required to have a 500 sq ft +/- attached unit—for the owner to enjoy or rent. It should be noted that any residential lot in Danville which meets certain development guidelines, including the majority of homes in the immediate region, can acquire a building permit for a casita.

Traffic is an existing problem. It is SummerHill's goal to become a part of the solution, and create opportunities to alleviate some of the traffic problems for the existing residents who currently travel this corridor.

As the Project Manager for the Magee Ranches Development Proposal, I encourage anyone with questions or comments to please contact me at wbaker@shhomes.com, or 925-244-7534. The Development Proposal is explained at the project website, at www.mageeranches.com.

Comments (27)

Posted by Concerned in Danville, a resident of Danville
on Oct 10, 2011 at 4:38 pm

In response to Ms. Baker's posting, I'd like to highlight a few facts she conveniently left out.

FACT: SummerHill and/or the current landowner, Jed Magee, is asking that the property be REZONED to allow for the clustering of homes on the property. We all agree the right to build exists but only consistent with the current zoning.

FACT: Please don't make it sound like SummerHill is doing us a favor by asking to cluster the homes. The motivation for clustering is that it is consistent with the General Plan and thus SummerHill avoids putting this project to an expensive and risky vote on the ballot required under Measure S.

FACT: The motivation behind clustering is also economic - there is no way that building homes in accordance with the current zoning of one home per acre is economically feasible. Scattering homes across that land requires far too much investment in infrastructure for SummerHill or any other developer to make a profit developing it. You have admitted that in public meetings.

FACT: Numerous studies prepared by credible institutions have convincingly shown that converting agricultural land (that's the current zoning on and use of the property in question) to residential homes is a net tax burden on the existing property tax base. In other words, rezoning that property will result in a windfall increase to Magee in the value of his property, a profit to SummerHill and current Danville taxpayers are left holding the bag.

Thanks, Ms. Baker, for giving us yet another opportunity to refute the myths SummerHill is pitching. You can try to sugarcoat this project but there are many of us in Danville (and the number is growing) that see it for what it is. We don't want your project or your "good deeds".


Posted by The Real Facts, a resident of Danville
on Oct 10, 2011 at 4:39 pm

This salesmanship piece by San Ramon-based development corporation SummerHill Homes doesn't tell you the real picture.

FACT: 78 LOTS containing 78 primary dwellings plus a MINIMUM of 20 second dwelling units is a MINIMUM of 98 dwelling units! The maximum number of dwelling units is limited only by market demand. It could be as many as 138 dwelling units on this project!

FACT: Additional dwelling units (no matter what quaint name SummerHill gives them) means more people, and more traffic, and more students, generated by this subdivision. Just look at Windemere and Dougherty Valley. The trend is for more and more multiple families to crowd into homes of this nature, attracted by the second dwelling units. This generates far more traffic, and far more children crowding the schools, than the number of lots would indicate. Just look at the schools out there. They are brand new, the housing isn't even built out yet, and yet the schools are well over capacity and diverting students.

FACT: Without the rezoning, this project will not be built. The rezoning to a higher density (for which there is NO right or entitlement) is what makes this PROFITABLE for SummerHill Homes Development Corporation. Any insinuation to the contrary by SummerHill Homes Corporation is simply dishonest. Ask them. They won't build this project on the existing zoning.

FACT: Not even building in the current zoning is an absolute right or entitlement, as SummerHill claims. That is what the environmental review process and CEQA is all about. If the traffic, life-safety and other environmental impacts of this project cannot be adequately mitigated, SummerHill Homes Development Corporation is NOT entitled to build.

OPINION: (Hey, I'm honest!) There's no way addiing this major subdivision and all of these people and cars to this narrow, already overburdened corridor can do anything but drastically exacerbate traffic conditions, and seriously impair our life safety and lifestyles. Assuming the Environmental Impact Report (which is paid for by SummerHill Homes) is fair and accurate, we will see this borne out.


Posted by just the facts, a resident of Danville
on Oct 10, 2011 at 4:39 pm

Fact: SummerHill Homes' proposed development can can not be built without a REZONING of Jed Magee's property to allow building on 10,000+ square feet lots. The General Plan does NOT grant Jed Magee a RIGHT to REZONE his property. The 2010 General Plan states that it "designates a majority of Magee Ranch... for agricultural use. Application of the Williamson Act to retain these areas for grazing is strongly supported. Consistent with the Danville 2005 General Plan, nearly half of the site has been designated for rural residential use, with maximum desnsities of one unit per five acres."

THE DANVILLE TOWN COUNCIL MUST VOTE WHETHER OR NOT TO ALLOW SUMMERHILL HOMES AND JED MAGEE TO REZONE HIS RANCH.

Fact: If Jed Magee kept his current zoning which allows a maximum density of one home per 5 acres on most of his 400 acres, no developer would be interested in buying the entire parcel and developing the 78 lots. It would not be profitable, given the expense to put in the roads, grade the land, construct the power lines, sewer lines, and water lines, cut out the slides, and do all the other work that would be necessary to develop the entire parcel in 5 acre lots.

Fact: Adding possibly 1000 car trips per day to Diablo Road traffic (per the International Traffic Engineers Trip Generation Manual, available on the web) will not and cannot improve traffic.


Posted by Traffic Solutions, a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 10, 2011 at 4:54 pm

SummerHill is right. There ARE traffic solutions if the Town Council members want to develop this agricultural property into a higher-density subdivision. It is done all the time, as SummerHill knows. It will change the community, but if the Town Council wants to see it happen, the traffic issues can be solved, as SummerHill points out. The are just becomes a major suburban thoroughfare, like Ygnacio Valley Road in Walnut Creek.

There is enough land available to widen Diablo Road to four lanes (two in each direction) from Blackhawk to the Green Valley intersection. The hillside could be cut back with retaining walls, and the Creek rerouted, or simply channeled or entubed under the new lanes. Northbound lanes could be added on Macauley. The setbacks of some homes and HOA's along Diablo Road would have to be taken (condemned) up by existing Magee Ranch and Diablo communities, but the space is there. Full traffic signals could be placed at Tennis Club, Magee Ranch Road, Still Creek Road, Jillian, Mt. Diablo Scenic, Avenue Nueva, Alameda Diablo, and Fairway (at St. Tim's). These could be timed to remain green during non-commute times, and to regulate traffic in four lanes all the way through the corridor during peak hours, much the way traffic is regulated on any other major urban thoroughfare. Additional dedicated turn lanes could be added at Green Valley. (I doubt it would require relocating the fire station, just taking some of the setback.) Green Valley Road itself (from Diablo to Stone Valley Road) is a bit of a problem. Widening it there would requires some additional condemnation of private property, but it's doable. And the new cut-throughs the Town Council approved as part of the Weber Development could be used to route through-traffic (680 commuters) and Monte Vista traffic into Alamo through Ackerman Road and those communities. It would be a different community - more like the highly developed portions of San Ramon or Dublin -- but it's doable. And you can't stop progress if that's what the Town Council want for the Town.


Posted by Concerned in Danville, a resident of Danville
on Oct 10, 2011 at 5:24 pm

Traffic Solutions has given us really good food for thought. The traffic problems that exist along Diablo Road and nearby could all be solved with large amounts of asphalt and concrete. While what Traffic Soultions outlines may be feasible (and add to that paving McCauley Road and Merano Street all the way through to Blackhawk Road), but are we really willing to pay the price by sacrificing the natural beauty that prompted us to choose this area to live in the first place? Do we really want to live along something that resembles Ygnacio Valley Road? Wake up, Danville! It's time to make your voice heard. Contact the Town Council and make sure they know you don't want this project to be approved. Remind them that it's not about what they want - it's about what we the voters want. Remind them they work for us! Make your voice heard!


Posted by [removed], a resident of another community
on Oct 10, 2011 at 7:01 pm

Dear Editor,

No matter what excuse Ms. Baker gives for being the core of a problem created by an illegitimate approval by Danville government, her corporation is still an absusive part of Diablo Road issues.

As stated in purposeful ingnorance by Ms. Baker, "Traffic is an existing problem. It is SummerHill's goal to become a part of the solution, and create opportunities to alleviate some of the traffic problems for the existing residents who currently travel this corridor."

That is an excuse and a hollow promise by a commercial real estate interest that is only focused on its own profits. More specifically, it is nonsense.

Just how much did Ms. Baker and fellow executives provide as contributions to Mary Piepho and the Danville counsel?


Posted by Don't pave paradise to put up a four-lane road, a resident of Danville
on Oct 10, 2011 at 8:37 pm

To "Traffic Solutions": You have got it all wrong. It's not "progress" to destroy General- Plan- protected Diablo Road scenic vistas and country ambiance. And it is not what the "Town Council wants" for the Diablo Road corridor that is determinative. It is what "the People" want.


Posted by No free ride on taxpayers' back, a resident of Danville
on Oct 11, 2011 at 8:40 am

"Traffic Solutions" conveniently left out a key matter: what will his/her "solution" to traffic congestion cost and WHO WILL PAY FOR IT!!! SummerHill Homes will run the other way if it has to pay for creating 2 more lanes along Diablo and Blackhawk Roads. Certainly the Danville taxpayers will not want to finance the building of two lanes of roads so that SummerHill and Jed Magee can reap huge profits. And you have forgotten that there are other serious issues surrounding SummerHill's proposals, such as flooding and erosion. Any ideas on "solving" those other issues, "Traffic Solutions"?


Posted by Bill Doazer, a resident of Diablo
on Oct 11, 2011 at 11:23 am

Traffic on that stretch of Diablo Road has been terrible at commute/school times for At Least Thirty Years. Posters here act like it's something new -- it's not.

I think the widening needs doing, and the bulk of it should be paid-for mostly by we who live in the corridor from Green Valley to Crow Canyon Road. Others who use that route occasionally should pay a little, too. Special assessment time?

If you take all the unproductive money you-all and Summerhill will spend on lawyers and EIRs and devote it instead to capital improvements, you can pay for a significant chunk right there. Then you can have your country OM-Bee-Onse, and convenience, too.

So many lawyers -- too few engineers.


Posted by Macro picture, a resident of Danville
on Oct 12, 2011 at 7:59 am

Friends and neighbors,

Has anyone else noticed the development south of Los Cerros Middle School and the future development of the farmland on San Ramon Valley Blvd south of Podva Road?

How many more houses do we need?


Posted by Tango, a resident of Danville
on Oct 12, 2011 at 8:22 am

Wendi Baker is obviously on Summerhillls payrol given the content and " tone " of her article !


Posted by Angry, a resident of Alamo
on Oct 12, 2011 at 8:25 am

Why do some residents of Danville think they can solve their traffic problems by diverting traffic to Alamo streets? We didn't cause the problem and we don't want to be the solution. There are many neighborhoods whose only entrance and exit is from Stone Valley Road. Why should these residents be inconvenienced just so Danville can build another housing development that the infracture cannot support? And certainly we are not going to support a special assessment just so we can go to work in the morning and return home in the evening. When Summerhill completes the development, just were will the students going to Monte Vista park? The parking lot is already full. So, then these students will park on the side roads off Stone Valley or Green Valley that are barely one lane roads. With parking on these roads, not only are we house-bound, but emergency vehicles (fire, ambulance) cannot possible navigate the roads if any of the residents need help.


Posted by [update], a resident of another community
on Oct 12, 2011 at 9:48 am

Dear Editor,

It is likely reasonable to provide Wendi Baker's e-mail address, wbaker@shhomes.com, so your readers can ask SummerHill their direct questions or make direct comments.

In addition, CDSI Research members in our region are not the authors of postings such as "Angry" above but do support actions to limit Danville's government from imposing traffic on neighboring communities for the sake of tax and fee income.

This issue is gaining attention in Alamo and various neighborhoods and community meetings are including such discussions in their agendas. The AIA, as direct and representative members' independent voice for Alamo, will have a board meeting on October 13 at 7PM, Creekside Church, that would be an appropriate place for Alamo region neighborhoods to pursue public commentary on the imposition of traffic from the Magee and Weber Ranches developments on the Green Valley/Stone Valley corridor, www.alamoca.org.


Posted by Cardinal, a resident of Diablo
on Oct 12, 2011 at 9:54 am

Uh, Tango? Thanks a bunch for restating the blindingly obvious affiliation that is stated in the Ms. Wendi's self-identification.


Posted by Tango, a resident of Danville
on Oct 12, 2011 at 11:09 am

Cardinal ! In a hurry this am and had not had my venti coffee yet !


Posted by Cheryl, a resident of Los Cerros Middle School
on Oct 12, 2011 at 11:10 am

Thank you, Summerhill Homes, for clarifying the FACTS. With Summerhill and Dahlin at the wheel, this community will be an improvement to our beautiful area. I get a little tired of the narrow view taken by some in the neighborhood who, in an attempt to prevent healthy growth, misrepresent the plans of home builders, and misplace blame for community ills (traffic, etc.) This negativity from some in our community is really just the old, tiresome, selfish attitude, "I've got mine ..". It's great that we have open communication both pro and con, but hope everyone will keep an open mind as this project moves forward. I look forward to seeing the EIR.


Posted by Mike, a resident of Danville
on Oct 12, 2011 at 11:39 am

By all the comments, this proposed development has generated a lot of angry anti-development (anti-Summerhill) sentiment in the area. I am sure all of the negative comments come from people whose homes are on land that one was farm land or pasture. This development is an example of "in-fill" in which new housing is developed within areas that are already developed. It will continue to happen throughout the East Bay and makes sense now and over the long term. Projections are that California will grow in population over the next 20 years by another 10 million residents. In-fill is a far better solution than sprawl.


Posted by Get over yourselves , a resident of Danville
on Oct 12, 2011 at 12:49 pm

OMG? Really? Growth in California? We've heard this all before, except how many homes sit vacant due the bank's foreclosures? Do we really need more new homes in this economy? And squeezing dense housing in an area that is already greatly impacted with traffic woes, not to mention the potential land erosion due to widening Diablo Road. Sorry, I don't see a "need" for housing but only a "greed" for money here plain and simple.


Posted by cardinal, a resident of Diablo
on Oct 12, 2011 at 1:06 pm

Tango: thanks for not going ballistic -- you must be new around here. ;-)


Posted by Derek, a resident of Danville
on Oct 12, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Well Mike, you are right about growth projections, but you are incorrect about who is posting here. I live a good mile as the crow flies and this project won't effect me traffic-wise. I just happen to be one of those enviro-loonies who finds open hillsides to be appealing.

There are two unrelated points I would like to make that on one here seems to be discussing.
The first is the assumption by SummerHill and most of the people posting that these expensive properties will SELL. I have my doubts. I know there are still Diablo-country club wannabe's out there, but how many? A very small "green" development (average price per home with in-law unit: 2.1 million) close to us & adjacent to the Iron Horse trail with a mere eight units didn't sell. Three sat vacant for ages, one may still be, and at least one turned into a very costly rental for the owner. It was built about 3-1/2 years ago.
I am unconvinced of the further need for high-end yuppie dwellings.

Second, and one nobody likes to talk about: we will always need more houses until the human race curbs it's breeding habits. I am strongly against this project, but I would also say there is a bit of hypocrite in anyone posting that has a large family.


Posted by tango, a resident of Danville
on Oct 12, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Cardinal ! Nope, a resident for over 25 years !


Posted by Nicole, a resident of Blackhawk
on Oct 12, 2011 at 4:47 pm

Get over yourselves and Derek

Thank you for making the points I was about to make. In Blackhawk alone, there are currently 129 homes for sale. And, for those whose only exit from their homes is Diablo Road, is it really smart to be adding when someday we could (God forbid) have an Oakland Hills fire situation. Also, although California's population will continue to grow, a majority will be the illegal immigrants from south of the border and their families who shouldn't be here in the first place and definitely cannot afford a home here!


Posted by [removed], a resident of another community
on Oct 13, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Dear Editor,

Subscriber news service and CDSI Research members have combined efforts to respond to Wendi Baker in distribution to corridor e-exchanges and news service subscribers:

#1 - There is very questionable demand for homes on the Magee Ranch property and likewise for Weber Ranch development due to Diablo Road access and available properties in established neighborhoods such as Blackhawk, Danville and Alamo.

#2 - Environmental Impact Report noted by Wendi to be available in the winter of 2011 is reportedly still in process and our county should be primary in the traffic and infrastructure study due to impact outside of Danville's boundaries.

#3 - Danville's general plan, including low cost housing provisions, is built to state and regional requirements that were established before the housing market reduced occupancy of current homes, destroyed demand and prices, and placed much of Contra Costa's housing in distressed positions.

#4 - Wendi's commitment to be part of Diablo Road traffic solutions simply obligates SummerHill to eliminate the impact of trafffic additions created by Magee development. The same obligation is applied to Gayle Uilkema and Mary Piepho in leading the county's effort to restrict the imposition of Danville-created traffic on surrounding communities.

With questionable demand, difficult traffic and infrastructure issues, and Danville voters questioning Danville's council's willingness to serve their neighborhoods' will and interests, SummerHill has a very risky business proposal in process.

Journalism, and not PR releases, are needed to fully tell the growing discontent among Danville and region neighborhoods for the disregard of Danville government's planning and their devotion to developers such as SummerHill.


Posted by Rufous, a resident of Alamo
on Oct 14, 2011 at 9:30 am

I like to pretend I'm still living in the '70's and this area is still rural.
we raise chickens and sheep, meet at the grange on sundays and get fresh whole milk from farmer Jones. My jalopy gets 18 rods to the hogshead. Ha ha ha.
Widen the road and put in a safeway so I dont have to go to Alamo for deli chicken. And make sure each of the new homes has a fire sprinkler system installed so we can keep more union fire department desk jobs.


Posted by Angry, too, a resident of Danville
on Oct 14, 2011 at 4:09 pm

I so agree with you, Angry. I am angry,too, at Danville's Planning Commissioners and Council members---none of whom live in the Diablo Road corridor--- for endangering our lives by imposing a lot more traffic on us. Can't they get the FACT that Diablo Road is OVER ITS CAPACITY! Apparently Danville has now asked its consultants that are preparing the Draft Environmental Impact Report to STUDY DIABLO'S ROADS! Are they planning to divert Diablo Road traffic through Diablo???


Posted by safety first, a resident of Danville
on Oct 17, 2011 at 8:27 am

I live in Danville but try to avoid the dangerous, winding, hilly portion of Danville's Diablo Road that is adjacent to Diablo by driving through Diablo. I have seen several accidents on that winding portion of Diablo Road. Can you imagine what that winding portion will be like with hundreds (probably thousands) of huge construction vehicles driving there if SummerHill gets its rezoning?


Posted by Molly, a resident of Danville
on Oct 23, 2011 at 10:25 am

I'm not for or against this development, since I live in Greenbrook and not affected by the traffic complaints. But as others have pointed out, we all live in homes that were built on former ranch, pasture or farm land. Just because Jed Magee waited and held out on selling his property, doesn't mean his rights go out the window. There used to be less than 300 people in Danville not too long ago. If everyone's property rights were taken away, none of us would be living here. I also find the "other new homes didn't sell" or "there are enough homes for sale" a hollow argument. Whether or not homes can sell? Yes address the environmental issues. But I have to say, clustering homes seems way more environmental that spreading them out and disturbing more land, and following a prescribed zoning without thinking though real solutions.


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