Environmental group accuses town of illegal planning practices
Original post made
on Apr 3, 2012
Save Our Creek, a citizens group opposed to development at Magee Ranch in Danville, recently accused the town of Danville of illegally limiting voter approval of the controversial [Web Link
SummerHill Homes] project.
Read the full story here Web Link
posted Tuesday, April 3, 2012, 5:50 PM
Posted by Todd Gary
a resident of Danville
on Apr 5, 2012 at 7:07 pm
Mr. Barlow, your assumption begs the question: Has the Town made a "thoughtful and well-reasoned decision here," and would this major new subdivision in this traffic-bound corridor be a "wonderful and well-planned" community, or is the Town rather pushing through a pro-development agenda that disregards traffic, life safety, the environment, the rights of current residents, the Town's General Plan, and ultimately the law? It is the latter.
Please don't be fooled by the statements of Town spokespersons. I regret to say they are not being straightforward.
Danville's principal planner David Crompton says in this article: "We're not planning for development, but we know that the land, as it is, has some development rights and potential. We want to provide guidance for how that development should occur when the application comes in." Really? The Town received the development application for the subdivision in 2010, and has been acting on it ever since. The Town's own website says: "The proposed project consists of a development application by SummerHill Homes to subdivide an approximately 410-acre site into 85 single-family lots…" You can read the awful details here: Web Link
Danville's Town Manager Joe Calabrigo, speaking through Danville's Public Information Coordinator Geoff Gillette, comments above: "P-1 zoning is appropriate for consideration in most of the General Plan land use categories identified in the Danville 2010 General Plan, including lands designated for Agricultural use." This is blatantly false. The P-1 zone (through which they will cluster the homes on Agricultural land) is absolutely NOT consistent with an Agricultural land use designation under the Town's General Plan.
Here is the proof. While the language gets "legal," as you might expect, the principle is simple: You can't "zone" land preserved for agricultural use into residential development without first amending the General Plan.
Danville is required to have a General Plan by state law. Any zoning districts must be consistent with that General Plan under state law. (Cal. Gov't code § 65860.) The Town must deny approval of a subdivision tentative map if it is inconsistent with the General Plan. (Cal. Gov't code § 66474.)
"A key component of a general plan is a land use map indicating…land use designations and the specific land use restrictions that apply to each designation." (Danville 2010 General Plan, p.1)
"The land use designations are a set of official definitions for the land use types and intensities found in Danville. Each land use designation addresses the specific uses permitted…." (Danville 2010 General Plan, p.4)
"Descriptions of the specific designations in each of these land use types…indicate …the consistent zoning districts…." (Danville 2010 General Plan, p.43)
The General Plans specifically lists those zoning districts that are permissible in each type of land use designation. The P-1 zone is consistent with many commercial and residential land use designations, but not Agricultural. For example, the General Plan states:
"Single Family Residential-Low Density
Zoning: Zoning districts of P-1, R-40, R-20, and R-15 are consistent with the Single Family
Residential-Low Density designation."
However, for Agricultural land (which includes the land on which the Town proposes to cluster the vast majority of the subdivision homes for the SummerHill project), the P-1 zone is NOT permitted to be used:
Zoning: The A-2 zoning district is consistent with the Agricultural Designation." (Danville 2010 General Plan, p.52)
Instead, the Agricultural designation is reserved for agricultural uses, and any other uses require a General Plan amendment:
"Description: [Agricultural] land use designation is applied to lands which are currently under Williamson Act Contract or in agricultural use. Agricultural uses, including grazing, are permitted and encouraged. In the event that Williamson Act contracts for sites with this designation are not renewed, General Plan amendments to permit other uses may be requested." (Danville 2010 General Plan, p.52)
Simply stated, they can't put a P-1 zone on Agricultural land without first amending that land use designation. Even the Town's zoning regulations for the P-1 district make clear that the P-1 district must be consistent with the General Plan:
"32-63.1 General. … Intent and Purpose. … The planned unit P-1 district is intended to … ensure substantial compliance with the General Plan…."
"32-63.2 Uses. … Uses. The following uses are allowed in the P-1 district: Any land uses permitted by an approved final development plan which…are consistent with the General Plan;
" 32-63.5 Rezoning. … Rezoning and Development Plan Application. … [T]he application for rezoning to P-1 district…consists of each of the following: … A statement of how the proposed development conforms to, and is consistent with the general plan…."
Not under state law, not under the General Plan, not under the zoning regulations, can the Town rezone this land to a P-1 to accept the residential cluster homes and approve this subdivision, without first amending the General Plan to designate the land for residential use. If the Town amends the General Plan, we get to vote on it under Measure S, the law designed to protect Agricultural land from being converted to residential development without first securing voter approval. If the Town doesn't amend the plan, as they are currently stating they can do, and thereby circumvents Measure S and our voting rights, they are acting illegally.