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City Hall project gets the go-ahead from San Ramon Council

Original post made on Oct 10, 2013

Plans to develop a new city hall adjacent to Central Park received unanimous approval from the San Ramon City Council Tuesday night, as well as overall support from residents. The city also discussed plans to renovate the library and relocate popular basketball courts.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, October 9, 2013, 4:19 PM

Comments (12)

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Posted by yuck...
a resident of Danville
on Oct 10, 2013 at 6:01 am

What a giant waste of money! No fireworks, but let's spend millions to add ANOTHER city hall. What a backwards government! Apparently, this is a local government initiative created, voted, and approved by the government, but funded by special interests and our hefty taxes.

Our government folks only see the dollar signs. I wonder what Sunset gets for the $14 million they're donating for this monstrous beast. Oh well, I believe the facts are conclusive - our representatives have been bought and paid for because a center that's originally deemed as too expensive is no longer such when you're getting donations from private interests. Hey, San Ramon! I'll give you a new city hall if you give me...

I'd be willing to bet this new city hall will cost more than $40 million (governments keep budgets?!) and the taxpayers will be forced to cover the gaps, but our representatives are content because this will have their names all over it and perhaps be where they rest their hats in a few more short years. Yuck! I wish our representatives had true moral character/compass and actually represented us...

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Posted by spcwt
a resident of Danville
on Oct 10, 2013 at 7:24 am

Wow, that’s ugly.

Who designed it? The Jetsons?

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Posted by FanDanville
a resident of Danville
on Oct 10, 2013 at 9:09 am

Once again, a building that appears to have INSUFFICIENT PARKING from the start.

Sunset Corp is not GIVING $14 million, they already OWE that money to the city (as unpaid interest on land purchase from SR).

This is a plan to accommodate future bigger and more expansive Government, i.e., more employees, more empires, more cost (taxes/bonds).
And not real added benefit to the lives of the citizens.
This is the dreams of politicians. Wonder who will be granted NAMING rights--to this building or the previous City Hall?

Notice the known lack of information to its citizens and the refusal to put this to a vote by its citizens.

Good luck, San Ramonians.

1 person likes this
Posted by miSFit
a resident of Diablo
on Oct 10, 2013 at 9:45 am

Wow, that is ugly. [removed] Very short-sighted design. Not what our little piece of the planet here requires.

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Posted by Derek
a resident of Danville
on Oct 10, 2013 at 11:08 am

Ugly indeed, in a hulking battleship sort of way. They must be colluding with our fine Danville planners on the concept. That or the good folks who built the one in Milpitas.
Parking, yes, that is a huge issue. And is there not already enough congestion on Bollinger? How about just expanding the San Ramon park? A ton of people use it rain or shine now, but of course a park won't generate revenue for Sunset, or kickback money for city officials.

1 person likes this
Posted by long time resident
a resident of Danville
on Oct 15, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Eliminating well used basketball courts and a skate park just to house some bureaucrats. What a shame!

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Posted by Julia
a resident of Alamo
on Oct 16, 2013 at 9:33 am

Dear folks in San Ramon...don't blame the so called leaders YOU PUT INTO OFFICE. The blame goes to the folks in the mirror.

But you all know that already, you just don't want to admit it.

Just My Opinion...Thanks for listening, Julia Pardini

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Posted by Julia
a resident of Alamo
on Oct 16, 2013 at 9:39 am

WOW...I just noticed not one comment from the folks in San Ramon...I guess they really don't care or even worst they don't understand.

What a shame. I am glad I live in Alamo

Just My Opinion...Julia Pardini...yes from Alamo

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Posted by Mike
a resident of San Ramon
on Nov 10, 2013 at 7:24 am

I think it is a good start to a downtown area. Obviously the people that comment the most on these sites have the worst things to say, but let me be the first San Ramon resident to say I am glad they are getting the ball rolling on this. I am excited to think that San Ramon will one day have a downtown!

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Posted by resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 18, 2014 at 2:26 pm

For some reason, the following comments can no longer be found on the San Ramon Express web site:

Posted by resident, a resident of San Ramon,
on Mar 18, 2014 at 1:16 pm

The exterior of the new city hall is mediocre and has the look of just another average office park building. No creativity there, and it does not set any style or add anything interesting for the vaunted and in the words of the mayor, the much anticipated "city center" project.

Unfortunately, San Ramon is a "hotbed of apathy", where only 21% even bothered to vote. The many residents I've talked with don't even consider speaking in front of city council because they don't think they will be listened to.

The above comment "San Ramon residents don't give a hoot for how impressive our City Hall is" simply isn't true, People live here because they like the quality of life here, and most certainly would want a buildiing that speaks to a good quality of life, not just something "impressive", and certainly don't want just another bland office park building,

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Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Mar 18, 2014 at 2:36 pm
Roz Rogoff is a registered user.


I love that saying, "Hotbed of apathy." I don't know if you came up with it or read it somewhere else but it certainly applies to San Ramon. San Ramon residents don't care about the appearance of the City Hall and only care about "threats" real or perceived to their neighborhood and property values. San Ramon is a City of NIMBY's.

Most residents don't know what the City Council does or is supposed to do. They believe it is supposed to protect them from State and County plans that might affect their neighborhoods. That's why they believe the Council won't listen to them, because they ask for things the Council can't do.

Our City Council is responsible for managing the City, period! We have representatives on regional committees, but that's primarily to find out what they are doing or planning. Our Council has to find ways to work with it or around it and in rare cases might be able to change it.

Our Council plans the activities in the City, gives staff direction on their priorities, and sets the budget. I've lived here 17 years next week, and except of a brief period of profligate spending ten years ago, our Councilmembers have done a very good job of keeping within the budget while providing quality services and keeping the city safe and attractive.

The City Hall is a much-needed replacement for the small, old, and unattractive buildings they have been using since I moved here 17 years ago (and probably a lot longer). The new building will be much more suitable for staff and residents and will not impact our budget.

The exterior of the building, which appears to be what most complaints are about, is nothing but "window dressing." I was originally dissatisfied with the architectural simplicity of the box.

If all you are griping about is the color, change the color! It can be painted any color residents want. Put it to a vote on "Open San Ramon," and get the usual few hundred comments out of the population of 72,000. If residents really gave a hoot, they would be hooting by now.

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Posted by resident, a resident of San Ramon,
on Mar 18, 2014 at 7:13 pm

The city council needs to protect the good quality of life for the residents and homeowners that have chosen to invest their lives and homes in San Ramon, that is job one. Furthering the interests of Bishop Ranch/ Sunset Development st the expense of the local residents is just plain wrong.

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Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Mar 18, 2014 at 10:33 pm
Roz Rogoff is a registered user.


How is saving the city millions of dollars by getting a free professionally designed and built City Hall "Furthering the interests of Bishop Ranch/ Sunset Development at the expense of the local residents?"

This is furthering the interests of residents and the City. It saves the City money for other projects like parks and police protection, while providing residents with conveniently located City offices and meeting rooms for residents to use. This is all at no expense to residents, so it must be just plain right.


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Posted by Harry S. , a resident of San Ramon,
on Mar 19, 2014 at 9:04 am

I feel obligated to remind people of the past; in the early 2000's San Ramon had plan for a $120 million PUBLICLY financed city hall, library, community center and children's museum complex that would be paid for with PROPERTY TAX increases and maintained through the city's GENERAL FUND.

Not exactly good government financing, see Stockton about these types of deals.

A decade later it's a trading of two parcels of city owned land for a city hall building and a renovation of the current library. It's Sunset will provide design and build and the city will gain sales tax revenue. It's no property tax increases for residents, no debt for the city, retail for shoppers and restaurants for eaters. It's less is more and it's primarily private sector financing.

I will continue to ask about landscaping that is drought tolerant, the DERWA recycled water goes through Central Park and we have talked about that. No one is talking about the interior of this building which will be very nice and residents of our fine city will appreciate the upgrades compared to what we have now.

While some may dislike Bishop Ranch and their architecture, I find the newer buildings much more visually pleasing than many office parks in the Tri-Valley. They are smartly landscaped and always clean, inside and out. For those who say I am merely a mouthpiece for Sunset Development, please see my comments on HOV ramps and Bishop Ranch being a part of a Community Financing District (inside politics, you gotta watch the council video :).

I know the silent majority of residents in San Ramon are supportive of how the city is moving forward on the creation of a downtown. It may not be perfect but I think, for a variety of reasons, it is much better than what other cities have undertaken.

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Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Mar 19, 2014 at 12:31 pm
Roz Rogoff is a registered user.


There's an old saying, "A camel is a horse designed by a committee." Most residents of San Ramon are not professional architects. Jim Gibbon is, and some of his suggestions should be taken into consideration.

Still I'm glad this is finally getting underway. Our City Council has always found a way to partner with the business community, developers, and the School District to provide amenities for residents while keeping costs down. That's why this is such a nice place to live.


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Posted by Ms. bunny, a resident of San Ramon,
on Mar 20, 2014 at 8:59 am

I never really thought it would be anything more than what it is DESIGNED to be, an office building within the Bishop Ranch like "community" that houses staff to operate our city. That's what it is. No big deal. No real "bells or whistles" necessarily and each of us has our points of desire in the architecture, understandably. I presume you've all been in the existing city offices that are WOEFULLY inadequate and HAVE BEEN for SOME years. I'm pretty much fine with the current design, though sure, hoped to see something beyond the one box-like structure and of course, I'm still opting for synthetic turf and native LS. I never expected a palatial city hall whatsoever, just one environmentally sound; fitting the footprint of the area with reasonable ingress/egress. This plan has been "around the block" in all the years it's taken the city to get to, well, HERE. I have no problem seeing it go forward with a few "tweaks" along the way. Architecture and Construction is always, even once you're underway, "a work in progress".

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Posted by MLOliver, a resident of San Ramon,
on Mar 20, 2014 at 1:08 pm

I read all the comments with interest. For much of the time that I spent on the council, I argued against building another city hall because there were so many other things required of public funds that in my mind, a new city hall was fairly far down the list. That is no longer the case. San Ramon has grown to the point where more people who want to attend council meetings, especially when issues are controversial, should be able to in moderate comfort. To have it built at little cost to the taxpayers is icing on the cake. In this market, the buildings currently owned by the city can relatively easily be sold or repurposed.

As far as the architectural design is concerned, I am somewhat concerned about the windows. I hope due consideration has been given to the heating and cooling costs of all that glass, especially on the south and west sides of the building. I\\\'m reminded of the Emeryville City Hall which is all glass on the north side, visible from the street, not in keeping with the area architecture, and always looks very messy messy because of the papers, books, files etc stacked in the offices against the windows. I would hate to see that view from Bollinger. At least the San Ramon building architecture will blend with the rest of the Bishop ranch. The interior seems very well laid out as well.

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Posted by resident, a resident of San Ramon,
on Mar 20, 2014 at 1:44 pm

Last night on TV news, there was a short segment on the high vacancy rate in the business spaces that are located in high density mixed use transit center housing (mandated by ABAG) in Walnut Creek. The mandated high density mixed use (housing with businesses on ground floor) is just not working as few businesses are moving in.

What does this have to do with this current blog? Well------the new S.R. city hall is the first phase of the much hyped S.R. "city center", also largely mixed use high density. The unremarkable/ office park style new city hall sets the tone, the ambience, of this much talked about (by council) "city center", in otherwords, the new city hall is the cornerstone of the new "city center". It doesn't take much of a crystal ball to forsee that the new "city center" will end up being just as unremarkable as the new city hall, and will not draw many people in for shopping or dining. The new "city center" will likely also be full of vacant business space just like in Walnut Creek.

I already avoid Dublin because of its traffic & high density construction. Danville is a much more enjoyable place to shop and go for dinner, for obvious reasons.

The S.R. council, settling for the only architectural proposal that was presented to them paints a drab picture and assures more mediocre buildings to follow in the "city center".

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Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Mar 20, 2014 at 2:23 pm
Roz Rogoff is a registered user.


That's Walnut Creek. Walnut Creek doesn't have Alex Mehran or Sunset Development. Mehran knows what to build when and how to attract tenants. I am not worried about our City Center not doing well.

Also residents want a convenient place to shop, and stay for dinner or a movie. Some of the 40,000 people who work in Bishop Ranch will live and shop there too.

San Ramon was built around Bishop Ranch, not the other way around. Our City leaders, including MLO above, managed this City's growth and prosperity well, and our current ones are still doing a good job of it.


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Posted by resident, a resident of San Ramon,
on Mar 21, 2014 at 12:20 pm

That is just one persons opinion.

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Posted by Tim Blevens, a resident of San Ramon,
on Mar 21, 2014 at 2:19 pm

This City Center City Hall thing has been bantered around for 25 years - and I think that most of the citizens are sick and tired of the numerous "start and stops" of this over the many years. One of the top issues Council Candidates always report that they hear from citizens when they campaign door-to-door is that the citizens want to finally see this built and get rid of that ugly dirt lot on Bollinger. How can you argue with free? This is one example where we maybe should be thanking the "Gang of Three" because had they not fired Turner Construction - we may have gone forward with the plan at that time, which would have come out of our general funds. What part of "free" do some of these naysayer not understand? You will never get everyone to agree on what the building should look like. It looks to me like a first class design. Sure, there are dozens of other "designs" - but do we really need to once again slow down the progress of this project so that we can look at 25 different designs? And really, how many citizens will chime in on the designs? This could go on forever if we allow it. Time to move forward and stop all the nit picking people! BUILD IT.

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Posted by longtime resident, a resident of San Ramon,
on Mar 22, 2014 at 1:58 pm

The issue isn't "free" (cost as long as it is independently audited). The issue is not having "25 different designs". The major issue is ending up with appealing external architecture that doesn't look like just another Bishop Ranch office building, and also a city hall that will set the look of & blend in with the so called future "city center". If city council was properly minding the store, several external architectural concepts should have been presented for selection of the most appealing by council.

Residents did not vote for Alex Mehran/Sunset Development to pick the look of THEIR city hall. Long after the current city council is forgotten, San Ramon residents will be stuck with this as THEIR city hall.

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Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Mar 22, 2014 at 2:35 pm
Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

Longtime Resident,

If you are so concerned about selecting from alternate designs instead of accepting whatever Sunset proposed, why didn't you attend the last Council meeting and say so? The existing design has not been approved yet, so you and other residents who want input into this design can still attend the next meeting to say so.

I don't disagree with making external modifications to the appearance of this building, but if nobody shows up for the meetings, the City Council can take that as defacto acceptance by residents for whatever the City Council approves.


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Posted by resident, a resident of San Ramon,
on Apr 5, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Was an independent land appraisal done to determine the fair market value of the land the city "traded" to Sunset Development in exchange for Sunset development designing and building the new city hall?, and, is an independent (from Sunset Development) architect/engineer determing the $ value of the new city hall?,----or is the fox minding the henhouse?

It appears that the city is relying way too much on trusting Sunset Development here. The S.R. City council & city manager appear to be in bed with Sunset development. A little clarity needs to be shed here by the City of San Ramon.

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Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Apr 6, 2014 at 3:23 pm
Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

I guess the City Council doesn't want to look at a gift horse in the mouth. Sunset may have pulled some teeth or not, I don't know, but the horse can still trot.


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Posted by resident, a resident of San Ramon,
on Apr 7, 2014 at 1:08 pm

The "horse" you allude to may in reality be a fox that is minding the henhouse. Without clear and independent accounting, this can not be known for sure.

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Posted by critical thinking resident, a resident of San Ramon,
on Apr 14, 2014 at 1:17 pm

The following was copied from the San R. Express blog on the new city hall--(seems a bit strange someone closed it for further comment, wonder why?, was it getting too close to the truth?)

Posted by resident, a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 12, 2014 at 4:57 pm

Maybe it is incumbent upon the city to post the full contract on their website so all residents can be informed regarding the cost of the new city hall & the dollar amount the city got for its land "traded" to Sunset Development.

Recently in the last few months, Sunset development purchased the AT&T building in Bishop Ranch for a reported $250,000,000----that is 1/4 of a billion. It would be very interesting to "back out" from that number, the value of the land that the ATT building sits on and determine the dollar amount per acre for the land. Then, apply that land value to the dollar amount the city of San Ramon received for the land it "traded" to Sunset development. The result might be very eye opening to some critical thinkers in San Ramon. If the land value in the ATT sale was 1/2, then that land value is $125,000,000. This is not chump change. Hopefully the residents will realize the significance of this transaction.

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Posted by Resident?, a resident of San Ramon
21 hours ago

Just so know, it costs over $250 per square foot to build Class "A" office space. The AT&T building is about 1,000,000 square feet. That means the building alone is worth about $250,000,000. The land is extra.

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If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

----------------------- 4-14-14 critical thinking resident: It seems clear that the land value for the ATT building sale needs to be disclosed, and then compared cost per unit area to the $ amount the city of San Ramon got for the land they "traded" to Sunset Development so clarity can be shed on whether or not a fair deal transpired. This needs to be brought out into the open.

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Posted by Roz Rogoff, a resident of San Ramon,
on Apr 14, 2014 at 1:42 pm

I didn't close it, but this "discussion" has been going around in circles for a month now.

The City Council made a decision. I think it was a good decision. If some of you don't like it or have questions about it, go to the next Council meeting and ASK. Posting speculation on a blog will not get you the answer.

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Posted by resident, a resident of San Ramon,
0 minutes ago

Posting valid questions on a blog is a form of free speech and ought to prompt other objective thinkers to come forward and pressure the city of San Ramon to provide clear answers. How was the land "traded" to Sunset Development valued, and how is the dollar value of the new city hall, provided by Sunset, being determined. Is there an independent method being used to assure everything is honest and above board. The residents of San Ramon deserve clear answers.

Anyone that thinks San Ramon is getting a "free" city hall from Sunset Development simply is not living in the real world.

3 people like this
Posted by David m.
a resident of San Ramon
on Sep 12, 2014 at 6:20 pm

it appears to me that sunset development does not want the basketball courts located next to their high
end condos or hotel rooms. What about all the people who use the existing basketball courts, do we care about them, or do we want to chase them out of town?.what about all the parking a city hall requires are we taking away from the parking that is available now to Central Park users.what about the fact that we're taking away Park open space paid for by the San Ramon taxpayers and spending more money then to recreate basketball courts elsewhere that are not nearly as visible to the citizens or the police that can drive by and check on erratic behavior. 12 to 15 months to fix the skatepark? ,is it that we don't want the skate park there while they are building the new City Hall, and what is the future of the skatepark is that going to be taken away from the citizens of San Ramon also.what about the bathrooms located next to the skatepark? what is happening with them ? one idea to put the basketball courts at the corner in the meadow may be a good idea as who wants to have a picnic on a green lawn at the corner of a major was the City Council who decided to put City Hall on the existing basketball courts, it appears to me that they were prompted to do this by sunset development. The result is that the basketball courts need to be relocated costing more money and taking away a feature of Central Park that is heavily used by people from many different communities surrounding San Ramon. Isn't that what parks are for, for people to use and not to build a new City Hall in?isn't City Hall a business related item that should be over in a business park that is open from 830 to five p.m as others have stated and there is also plenty of parking. I still do not get the reasoning of the City Council except for the idea that sunset has persuaded them to do this. This was a beautiful park with all the necessary features of a park, who needs a City Hall located at the corner of your park. Not me!

1 person likes this
Posted by jackman
a resident of San Ramon
on Sep 13, 2014 at 9:06 pm

What is the plan with the skate park? My son uses this with his friends. He actually uses Dublin and Val Vista because he feels safe at those parks and the existing park is in need of some repair. A new one would be great!

I can't seem to find any information if this is going to remain at all, be renewed or a new one built elsewhere.

Thank you.

- Jackmans

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