Credit where it?s due | The Observer | Roz Rogoff | |

Local Blogs

By Roz Rogoff

Credit where it?s due

Uploaded: Apr 21, 2011

I always try to give credit where it's due, when I believe it is due. In my Friday blog last week I was critical of Seth Adams' attack on the Yes on Measure W supporters in the letter he read at the April 13 City Council meeting, but there was a lot in that letter that I agreed with too.

Adams quoted from Measure G, urging the City Council to, "develop a plan for the acquisition of ridgeline areas and agricultural lands, contiguous to the city of San Ramon to be preserved for open space purposes in perpetuity." Adams said the city should have proposed that in the General Plan instead of moving the Urban Growth Boundary.

The City did have a proposal to purchase open space (sort of) in Section 8 of the General Plan 2030 submitted with Measure W.

Section 8.5 in the General Plan is titled "Measure G Open Space Preservation Action Plan." The Guiding Policy for this plan, 8.5-G (how appropriate)-1 says, "Expand the ridgeline and hillside open space system in the City's Planning Area by joint efforts with East Bay Regional Parks District, Contra Costa County and non profit trustee agencies."

My interpretation of this is it means let someone else buy the properties and the City will work with them. This interpretation is spelled out in more detail under Implementing Policies.

Section 8.5-I-1 "Confer with appropriate agencies and organizations in the creation of an institutional framework and financing mechanism necessary to acquire additional ridgeline areas and agricultural lands, and to preserve, restore, and manage important open space."

So who would the City expect to acquire ridgeline areas and agricultural lands, etc.? Well East Bay Regional Parks is named in Section 8.4 of the General Plan 2030 and non profit trustee agencies could include Save Mount Diablo. The organization's Director of Land Programs, whose job is to locate and purchase these properties to keep them rural and protect the mountain from development, is none other than Seth Adams.

Personally I support the idea of buying rural land to keep it open space. If Save Mount Diablo is doing this, good for them.

However, there's a potential snag in buying properties to protect open space. The No on Measure W FAQs asks the question, "Who benefits if the Urban Growth Boundary is broken and expanded?" Their answer is Tassajara Valley land speculators.

The No on Measure W website goes on to say, "Current zoning allows for the landowners in the Tassajara Valley to make a reasonable profit with a limited amount of development on their land, in keeping with its rural character."

So here's Save Mount Diablo's motive for its assault on Measure W. Seth Adams knows that 4200 homes are not planned for Tassajara Valley now, and if a large scale development were to be planned in the future, it would come under a great deal of scrutiny before a shovel of dirt was turned.

However the prospect of moving the UGB could influence land owners to increase the price of their properties out of range for non profit groups like Save Mount Diablo to afford. So plopping $30K or $40K into a political race against moving the UGB would be a good investment in keeping land prices down, and Save Mount Diablo could continue buying up properties to protect open space there.

What bothers me about this scenario is that Adams and other No on W supporters could have given the real reasons to vote against it instead of a bunch of phony reasons. That would have saved me a lot of time and typing.