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Measure W: How best to plan for the future?

General Plan 2030 approval includes so much more

Proponents and opponents of San Ramon's Measure W agree on one thing: It is the hot-button item on the Nov. 2 ballot for San Ramon residents. While Danville residents don't vote, the nearby unincorporated Tassajara Valley is of interested to the town.

Measure W asks San Ramon voters to approve the city's General Plan for 2030, which includes plans to redevelop the North Camino Ramon area. But the biggest conflict is on whether to extend the city's urban growth boundary to include rural Tassajara Valley to the east, the Norris Canyon region to the west, and a slight parcel on the southwest, which are now in unincorporated Contra Costa County.

Proponents of Measure W include Mayor Abram Wilson and the San Ramon City Council. City officials want to extend the city's urban growth boundaries to protect the open space, not to develop it, said Planning Commissioner Eric Wallis.

"If Measure W wins, Tassajara Valley would not be developed," said Wallis, who joined the Planning Commission this year. "The urban growth boundaries are designed for land-use management in specific areas, such as Tassajara Valley and Norris Canyon."

Tassajara Valley is outside the county's Urban Limit Line, passed in 2006. Wallis said San Ramon, Danville and the county are working to determine spheres of influence in the area and San Ramon's will probably be west of Camino Tassajara and south of Highland Road to the Alameda County Line.

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Phil O'Loane, a San Ramon planning commissioner until earlier this year, heads up the No on W campaign. He says there's only one reason the city desires to expand its urban growth boundaries, and it's not to preserve open space.

"The only reason to expand the urban growth boundaries would be if the city intends to do development," O'Loane stated emphatically.

Wallis says the Citizens for San Ramon group, which supports Measure W, has received only $1,000 in donations as of Oct. 5, while the No on W camp has racked up more than $53,000, most of that coming from environmentalists.

"If you look at who's financing the No on W campaign the most, it's coming from people who don't even live in San Ramon," Wallis said.

O'Loane agrees that the No on W campaign is supported by environmental groups such as the Greenbelt Alliance and Save Mount Diablo.

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Opponents point out that Measure W allows the development of 1,624 acres in Tassajara Valley, as well as 608 acres in the hills along Norris Canyon, west of Interstate 680.

But Wallis, speaking on behalf of the city, says these parties are wrong in claiming that a revised urban growth boundary will cause massive development in Tassajara, such as what occurred in the Dougherty Valley, most of which has been annexed to San Ramon.

Dougherty Valley development, begun in 1996, was scheduled for 11,000 housing units including single-family homes, townhouses and apartments. The development has slowed due to the recession and 70 percent has been built thus far.

When Dougherty Valley was being developed, it was under county control. As each of the new neighborhoods in the master-planned Gale Ranch and Windemere communities was built and new residents moved in, San Ramon annexed them, sometimes block by block, according to Wallis.

"The Dougherty Valley was inside the urban limit line for San Ramon at the time it was first being built," says O'Loane. "Look at it now."

The only way to keep Tassajara Valley rural is to secure the area under local control, said Wallis, and Measure W opponents are ill-advised in thinking the county will keep the Tassajara Valley agricultural.

"What No on W ignores," Wallis said, "is that area is within the county's planning standards and not San Ramon's."

O'Loane says he does not understand why San Ramon officials will not focus their attentions elsewhere before trying to swallow up the Tassajara Valley.

"The city has so many other areas to focus on," he says. "Finish the Dougherty Valley. The city should also focus on building the City Center. There's no reason to expand at this point."

O'Loane also says that with expanding boundaries comes the potential for moving school boundaries, another contentious issue with families who move to certain neighborhoods so their children can attend high-performing schools.

"That's one thing I'm concerned about," says Maria Medrano-Davies, a San Ramon resident. Her family lives in Gale Ranch, and she's fearful that one day her two young children will not be able to attend nearby Coyote Creek Elementary.

"I'm concerned about the city growing the way it has," Medrano-Davies said. "The city is growing so fast, and traffic getting across town along Bollinger (Canyon Road) is a mess in the morning, and it's a mess in the afternoon."

San Ramon, incorporated in 1983, has been on a fast track for growth since the mid-1980s. For two decades, homes were concentrated in southern San Ramon along Alcosta Boulevard, and in the northwestern section of the city, west of San Ramon Valley Boulevard.

When the 585-acre Bishop Ranch Business Park opened in the early 1980s, anchored by major employers Chevron, AT&T and Toyota, the city looked at zoning other areas for homes for employees. Today the business park has more than 300 companies with 30,000 employees.

San Ramon's population is estimated at 65,000, up nearly 23,000 residents from the 2000 census. The city predicts its population will grow to 100,000 by 2030.

Measure W opponents such as O'Loane say the move to expand the city's urban growth boundaries should make voters think about the city's future intentions.

"One planning director told me once that growth in the Tassajara Valley is inevitable," O'Loane says. "It makes people wonder."

But Wallis says San Ramon officials are continually looking at ways to develop policies that would combat global warming and cut down on the amount of traffic throughout the region.

"Along with smart growth policies, we are preparing an element that encapsulates all of these provisions," he said.

While Tassajara Valley remains rural, farmers and ranchers lease some of the land from developers, who bought the property more than 25 years ago, said Wallis.

Plans have been submitted to the county for a development for Tassajara Valley called New Farm with 186 houses; also a cemetery has been proposed. Both sides note that homes in the area use well water and water would have to be procured for more development. The approval process would include deciding whether these projects violate the county's urban limit line, whether they are considered urban uses.

Farther north on Camino Tassajara, Alamo Creek and Wendt Ranch developments have been built in the last few years on the eastern edge of Danville, and the town is currently doing an analysis to determine whether it makes sense to annex them.

Danville will likely request that its sphere of influence extend only as far south as Finley Road, per an agreement worked out with San Ramon and the county, said Danville Councilwoman Candace Andersen.

"The town has not changed its position that the voter-approved Urban Limit Line should be honored," she added.

If there were any kind of threat that Danville town officials have their eyes on the Tassajara Valley, O'Loane says, that's not the case.

"Danville has expressed no interest in expanding its urban growth boundary line," he said, adding there is no reason for San Ramon to extend its boundary to encompass Tassajara Valley to protect its open space.

Measure W also includes extending Ordinance 197 for another five years "to protect ridgelines, creeks and open space," although opponents say any areas covered by the ordinance have already been developed or are protected by other means, and this is a smokescreen to make the measure appear environmentally friendly.

Residents of San Ramon -- and Danville -- will be watching closely Nov. 2 to see the results for Measure W.

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Measure W: How best to plan for the future?

General Plan 2030 approval includes so much more

by /

Uploaded: Thu, Oct 21, 2010, 4:50 pm

Proponents and opponents of San Ramon's Measure W agree on one thing: It is the hot-button item on the Nov. 2 ballot for San Ramon residents. While Danville residents don't vote, the nearby unincorporated Tassajara Valley is of interested to the town.

Measure W asks San Ramon voters to approve the city's General Plan for 2030, which includes plans to redevelop the North Camino Ramon area. But the biggest conflict is on whether to extend the city's urban growth boundary to include rural Tassajara Valley to the east, the Norris Canyon region to the west, and a slight parcel on the southwest, which are now in unincorporated Contra Costa County.

Proponents of Measure W include Mayor Abram Wilson and the San Ramon City Council. City officials want to extend the city's urban growth boundaries to protect the open space, not to develop it, said Planning Commissioner Eric Wallis.

"If Measure W wins, Tassajara Valley would not be developed," said Wallis, who joined the Planning Commission this year. "The urban growth boundaries are designed for land-use management in specific areas, such as Tassajara Valley and Norris Canyon."

Tassajara Valley is outside the county's Urban Limit Line, passed in 2006. Wallis said San Ramon, Danville and the county are working to determine spheres of influence in the area and San Ramon's will probably be west of Camino Tassajara and south of Highland Road to the Alameda County Line.

Phil O'Loane, a San Ramon planning commissioner until earlier this year, heads up the No on W campaign. He says there's only one reason the city desires to expand its urban growth boundaries, and it's not to preserve open space.

"The only reason to expand the urban growth boundaries would be if the city intends to do development," O'Loane stated emphatically.

Wallis says the Citizens for San Ramon group, which supports Measure W, has received only $1,000 in donations as of Oct. 5, while the No on W camp has racked up more than $53,000, most of that coming from environmentalists.

"If you look at who's financing the No on W campaign the most, it's coming from people who don't even live in San Ramon," Wallis said.

O'Loane agrees that the No on W campaign is supported by environmental groups such as the Greenbelt Alliance and Save Mount Diablo.

Opponents point out that Measure W allows the development of 1,624 acres in Tassajara Valley, as well as 608 acres in the hills along Norris Canyon, west of Interstate 680.

But Wallis, speaking on behalf of the city, says these parties are wrong in claiming that a revised urban growth boundary will cause massive development in Tassajara, such as what occurred in the Dougherty Valley, most of which has been annexed to San Ramon.

Dougherty Valley development, begun in 1996, was scheduled for 11,000 housing units including single-family homes, townhouses and apartments. The development has slowed due to the recession and 70 percent has been built thus far.

When Dougherty Valley was being developed, it was under county control. As each of the new neighborhoods in the master-planned Gale Ranch and Windemere communities was built and new residents moved in, San Ramon annexed them, sometimes block by block, according to Wallis.

"The Dougherty Valley was inside the urban limit line for San Ramon at the time it was first being built," says O'Loane. "Look at it now."

The only way to keep Tassajara Valley rural is to secure the area under local control, said Wallis, and Measure W opponents are ill-advised in thinking the county will keep the Tassajara Valley agricultural.

"What No on W ignores," Wallis said, "is that area is within the county's planning standards and not San Ramon's."

O'Loane says he does not understand why San Ramon officials will not focus their attentions elsewhere before trying to swallow up the Tassajara Valley.

"The city has so many other areas to focus on," he says. "Finish the Dougherty Valley. The city should also focus on building the City Center. There's no reason to expand at this point."

O'Loane also says that with expanding boundaries comes the potential for moving school boundaries, another contentious issue with families who move to certain neighborhoods so their children can attend high-performing schools.

"That's one thing I'm concerned about," says Maria Medrano-Davies, a San Ramon resident. Her family lives in Gale Ranch, and she's fearful that one day her two young children will not be able to attend nearby Coyote Creek Elementary.

"I'm concerned about the city growing the way it has," Medrano-Davies said. "The city is growing so fast, and traffic getting across town along Bollinger (Canyon Road) is a mess in the morning, and it's a mess in the afternoon."

San Ramon, incorporated in 1983, has been on a fast track for growth since the mid-1980s. For two decades, homes were concentrated in southern San Ramon along Alcosta Boulevard, and in the northwestern section of the city, west of San Ramon Valley Boulevard.

When the 585-acre Bishop Ranch Business Park opened in the early 1980s, anchored by major employers Chevron, AT&T and Toyota, the city looked at zoning other areas for homes for employees. Today the business park has more than 300 companies with 30,000 employees.

San Ramon's population is estimated at 65,000, up nearly 23,000 residents from the 2000 census. The city predicts its population will grow to 100,000 by 2030.

Measure W opponents such as O'Loane say the move to expand the city's urban growth boundaries should make voters think about the city's future intentions.

"One planning director told me once that growth in the Tassajara Valley is inevitable," O'Loane says. "It makes people wonder."

But Wallis says San Ramon officials are continually looking at ways to develop policies that would combat global warming and cut down on the amount of traffic throughout the region.

"Along with smart growth policies, we are preparing an element that encapsulates all of these provisions," he said.

While Tassajara Valley remains rural, farmers and ranchers lease some of the land from developers, who bought the property more than 25 years ago, said Wallis.

Plans have been submitted to the county for a development for Tassajara Valley called New Farm with 186 houses; also a cemetery has been proposed. Both sides note that homes in the area use well water and water would have to be procured for more development. The approval process would include deciding whether these projects violate the county's urban limit line, whether they are considered urban uses.

Farther north on Camino Tassajara, Alamo Creek and Wendt Ranch developments have been built in the last few years on the eastern edge of Danville, and the town is currently doing an analysis to determine whether it makes sense to annex them.

Danville will likely request that its sphere of influence extend only as far south as Finley Road, per an agreement worked out with San Ramon and the county, said Danville Councilwoman Candace Andersen.

"The town has not changed its position that the voter-approved Urban Limit Line should be honored," she added.

If there were any kind of threat that Danville town officials have their eyes on the Tassajara Valley, O'Loane says, that's not the case.

"Danville has expressed no interest in expanding its urban growth boundary line," he said, adding there is no reason for San Ramon to extend its boundary to encompass Tassajara Valley to protect its open space.

Measure W also includes extending Ordinance 197 for another five years "to protect ridgelines, creeks and open space," although opponents say any areas covered by the ordinance have already been developed or are protected by other means, and this is a smokescreen to make the measure appear environmentally friendly.

Residents of San Ramon -- and Danville -- will be watching closely Nov. 2 to see the results for Measure W.

Comments

SanRamonQualityofLife
San Ramon
on Oct 21, 2010 at 5:03 pm
SanRamonQualityofLife, San Ramon
on Oct 21, 2010 at 5:03 pm

While Danville residents can't vote on Measure W, they can volunteer! If you want to keep the Tassajara Valley and our Western Hills protected from development, help educate San Ramon voters about the need to keep our Urban Growth Boundary in place. Don't break our growth boundary. Vote on NO on Measure W.

To volunteer, you can come by the No on Measure W Campaign office at 2100 San Ramon Valley Blvd., San Ramon, CA Monday-Friday 3-7pm and weekends from 10am-2pm. It's best to call first (925) 286-8242 because the volunteers are often running around town to help defeat this horrible measure.

BTW - The Contra Costa Times called Measure W "horrible policy" and the Views Magazine, which includes the Danville Express and the San Ramon Valley Express, also editorialized against Measure W.


Raymond
San Ramon
on Oct 21, 2010 at 5:43 pm
Raymond, San Ramon
on Oct 21, 2010 at 5:43 pm

Do you want the county to control this area or do you want the city of San Ramon to control this area?

The question is as simple as that and the answer is also simple. The county's track record is atrocious. Don't reward what you don't want.


Common Sense
San Ramon
on Oct 21, 2010 at 9:36 pm
Common Sense, San Ramon
on Oct 21, 2010 at 9:36 pm

W is not about local control, it’s about giving up control–if W passes the voters will have no more say. “Local Control” is just the scare tactic city officials are using–they can’t develop it now but they want to.

Right now the Valley is outside of the County Urban Limit Line (ULL), and outside of the San Ramon Urban Growth Boundary (UGB). No major development is allowed outside of the ULL or UGB unless the voters approve a change to expand one or the other of them – which is what San Ramon city officials are trying to do.

This is county land we’re talking about. The only thing the county has done is to make it harder, not easier, to develop the area. They tightened the ULL to exclude the Valley in 2000, and they sponsored the ballot measure in 2006 that tightened the rules so that only the voters could change the ULL or the UGB.

The other scare tactic is, “look what the county did at Dougherty Valley.” Ignoring for a moment that the city was involved every step of the way in Dougherty Valley development, DV is INSIDE the boundaries. That’s why it got developed.

The ONLY reason to expand the Urban Growth Boundary is to allow more urban growth. Local control means keeping areas outside of the UGB so they can’t be developed.

And Measure W isn’t just the Tassajara Valley – it includes a whole new General Plan–the city is trying to break the line in 3 different places, and W also includes the major approval of the North Camino Ramon Specific Plan – more high density housing and millions of square feet of commercial. That’s on top of 4600 units already approved but not yet built-in the city and Dougherty Valley–more kids for schools that are already full.

If W passes, we lose control. If it fails, the line stays where it is and nothing changes.

San Ramon please vote NO on Measure W on Nov. 2nd.


Raymond
San Ramon
on Oct 21, 2010 at 11:10 pm
Raymond, San Ramon
on Oct 21, 2010 at 11:10 pm

How much control do you think you will have with the county in control? Would you rather talk with local people or the county bureaucrats?

If it remains in county hands, the entire county will have a say in development. San Ramon will be outvoted by a wide margin. Stay small, stay local.


YES on W
San Ramon
on Oct 22, 2010 at 10:51 am
YES on W, San Ramon
on Oct 22, 2010 at 10:51 am

“look what the county did at Dougherty Valley.”

I am, maybe you should to..

San Ramon wanted Elderly and Assisted living Care in Dougherty Valley (aka Windemer)

the County wanted SECTION 8!

guess who had the 'control' the county - now we have Section 8 housing in San Ramon.. care to take a guess where most the crime is occurring in San Ramon?

Windemer-- thanks to the county and Section 8 housing..

dont think for a second the county wont dont the same in future..

personally i dont want a bunch of CCC boards members who dont even live in SR deciding our future..

i.e. Mary N. Piepho District III Supervisor- resides, Discovery Bay..

YES on W.. Plan Your Future....


jrm
Registered user
Vista Grande Elementary School
on Oct 22, 2010 at 3:45 pm
jrm, Vista Grande Elementary School
Registered user
on Oct 22, 2010 at 3:45 pm

You can count on me to volunteer to defeat this deceptive ballot measure. I hope the San Ramon voters do the right thing and realize their city does not have to be beholden to developers interests any longer, enough is enough. Their home equity is vanishing and the specter of another Mountain House is very real. Take a quick look West of 680 at the hills next to the Glass House and you will get a glimpse of what the future looks like if Measure W passes. In San Ramon scenic hills are to flattened and built upon...the legacy of the "Pave'em Abram" years of unchecked development. NO ON W !!!!


kevin
San Ramon
on Oct 22, 2010 at 7:25 pm
kevin, San Ramon
on Oct 22, 2010 at 7:25 pm

Step back and look at the big picture of measure w: 1500 high density housing in about a 4 square block area, 4.6 million square feet of additional commercial,urban growth line expanded in the West side of the freeway and acquisition of the Tassajara Valley. The 2030 plan is projecting a growth of an additional 34,000 people living in San Ramon. Add 4600 homes approved but not yet built in Dougherty Valley (has the city condoned those?)plus 1500 additional in downtown; 6100/38,000=6.2 persons per house. Can you see why San Ramon has included Tassajara Valley in measure W ?????

Why are they doing this? The city is hoping to fund current city jobs and retirements by developing more retail sales taxes, residential property taxes and building fees.

I have been a resident for 54 years and am tired of seeing this valley turned into developer and city paychecks and retirement for city officials who move on and we continue to pay with our environment. I will vote no for measure W AND finally start to pay attention to my city government for next years election concerning three of the city council officials.


Mr.Windemere
San Ramon
on Oct 24, 2010 at 8:43 pm
Mr.Windemere, San Ramon
on Oct 24, 2010 at 8:43 pm

A NO VOTE ON W IS FOR MORE DENSELY POPULATED DEVELOPMENTS IN THE AREA AND GROWTH CONTROLED BY THE COUNTY.

IF THE CITY DOES NOT GAIN CONTROL NOW, THE COUNTY WILL HAVE CONTROL AND BUILD MORE HIGH DENSITY HOUSING IN TASSAJARA VALLEY ! AND THEY WILL !

VOTERS MUST UNDERSTAND THIS ! DO NOT BE BRAINWASHED BY ALL THE DECEPTIVE MISINFORMATION !

THE CITY DOES NOT WANT TO WILDLY BUILD - THEY WANT TO GAIN CONTROL AND REGULATE MASS BUILDING !

IF THE CITIZENS OF SAN RAMON HAVE CONTROL OVER THE AREA, WE CAN LIMIT AND REGULATE THE FUTURE BUILDING OF THE TASSAJARA VALLEY AND SAN RAMON ! iF THE COUNTY HAS CONTROL, WE CANNOT ! THE VOTERS CAN ALWAYS REPLACE OR INFLUENCE THE CITY COUNCIL AND REMAIN IN CONTROL OF THE AREA IF WE CHOOSE TO !

WINDEMERE WAS A COUNTY DEVELOPMENT, NOT A CITY DEVELOPMENT ! THE COUNTY WILL DO THE SAME TO TASSAJARA VALLEY ! DO NOT BLAME THE CITY !

A YES VOTE ON W IS TO CONTROL GROWTH, REGULATE BUILDING AND SAVE TASSAJARA VALLEY FROM THE COUNTY !


Mark
San Ramon
on Oct 31, 2010 at 12:55 pm
Mark, San Ramon
on Oct 31, 2010 at 12:55 pm

Funny how both sides claim they have the same goal: stop development. It shouldn't matter who wins, . . . as long as the winner follows through on their promises.

Of course that boils it down to a matter of trust. I am naturally suspicious of government, and the City seems to have left out a few key details. On the other hand, the No On W campaign has resorted to emotional hyperbole, portraying as fact extreme examples of what 'might' happen -- and they're just as guilty of leaving out key information. I don't trust either side to be honest and informative.

Instead of a simple Yes/No on the ballot, there should be a third option that says, "Give both sides a good hard spanking and start over again." That would get my vote!


Confused
San Ramon
on Nov 1, 2010 at 2:29 pm
Confused, San Ramon
on Nov 1, 2010 at 2:29 pm

Mark, I think your comment sums it all up. Both sides are afraid of development, it all boils down to who you want to trust. I've also noticed that neither side has listed any specific sources for their "facts" besides, "it's in the plan."

Right now, I'm leaning more towards Yes. Most of the opponents of W simply state "the ONLY reason to expand is to build houses." Give me some proof.


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