News

San Ramon council withdraws support for Tassajara Valley cemetery

Water, community resistance, increased traffic among council concerns

More than 200 people filled the room in the Dougherty Valley Community Center on Tuesday night as the San Ramon City Council discussed a proposed Tassajara Valley cemetery and ultimately decided to withdraw city support for the project.

"The people who live within a stone's throw of where this development is proposed, some of them not only live there but their livelihood is there," Councilman Phil O'Loane said during the meeting. "The people who have a real investment in this area overwhelmingly aren't interested in seeing this happen."

The proposal for Creekside Memorial Cemetery from developer Sid Corrie calls for the project to include four outdoor mausoleums, one indoor mausoleum, an administrative office and chapel building, storage building, corporation yard and space for over 100,000 burial plots.

As proposed, the cemetery would be located at 7000 Camino Tassajara and occupy 58.7 acres of an approximately 222-acre space in unincorporated Contra Costa County east of the San Ramon city limits. The cemetery site is within the city of San Ramon's planning area but falls under the county's jurisdiction.

Concerns expressed by San Ramon residents during the nearly two-hour discussion Tuesday night included the project's impact on the environment and lack of water sources to sustain a large cemetery as well as concerns about the habitats of the wild animals living on the land.

A cultural element was also brought into the discussion by several San Ramon residents of Asian descent.

"In the Asian culture, we don't mix the living and the dead in a conflicting way," Windemere neighborhood resident Crystal Lu said. "We respect the elderly, our ancestors, and the dead, but we do not like the concept of death and youth together in a competing way."

Some residents question the need for a new large cemetery, arguing there are cemeteries in nearby cities that have burial space such as Livermore and Lafayette, among others.

The potential impact that a cemetery would have on the youth of the Tassajara Valley was a talking point for some parents in attendance and three student speakers who took to the podium.

The idea of funeral processions driving through school areas and increasing neighborhood traffic were described by speakers as "dangerous" and "psychologically damaging" for kids who walk, bike or play in the area.

More than 100 speaker cards were submitted to the council Tuesday night. About an hour into public comment, which was monopolized those in opposition to the project, Vice Mayor Harry Sachs invited anyone who was in favor of the project to speak. No one in the room accepted.

"This is quite a task here, and we have a lot of points to discuss," Sachs said. "We want people who might find value or benefit to a cemetery to have an opportunity to speak as well because we know from those who are opposed, the reasons that are near and dear to you."

Speakers continued for about 15 minutes after Sachs' comment until O'Loane requested a short recess, saying he felt that life was being "sucked out of the room" as there were many repeated sentiments being expressed.

About 10 minutes after the break, Mayor Bill Clarkson ended public comment and the council presented their opinions about the project.

The lack of water sources available, changing the character of the neighborhood surrounding the Tassajara Valley, increased traffic and community resistance were some of the concerns mentioned during the council discussion.

In 2005, the city council at the time gave initial support for the proposed cemetery along with other Tri-Valley communities, excluding Livermore. O'Loane pointed out that the Tassajara Valley has significantly changed in the last nine years.

"I think this is an idea whose time has come and gone," he said.

Councilman Scott Perkins suggested to the audience members that they attend the county meetings and bring their concerns to county officials.

"If this is really burning in your heart and soul, you need to attend the county meetings just like you attended our meeting," Perkins said. "Coming here and telling us tonight -- should we pass a resolution against this -- is a flea on an elephant. If you really want to take action you and your neighbors need to participate in whatever happens at the county level."

Although the final decision lies in the hands of the Contra Costa County Planning Commission, the council voted 4-0-1 Tuesday to direct city staff to draft a letter -- that the mayor would sign -- to county officials withdrawing the council's support for the project and outlining specific points to explain the city's changing viewpoint. Councilman Dave Hudson abstained from the vote, offering no explanation.

The meeting was moved from its regular location at San Ramon City Hall to a larger auditorium-style room inside of the local community center to accommodate the large turnout anticipated for the discussion.

The council held a well-attended public workshop in June during which more than a dozen citizens expressed opposition to the proposal. Following that workshop, residents teamed up to organize a protest hike in August in which more than 450 people participated.

Comments

5 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Danville
on Dec 11, 2014 at 6:45 am

Not in My Bark Yard, wow how often do we hear that. Talk about a good use of open space. This project would not have impacted anyone in that area. Mass hysteria is the reason this wasn't approved. Folks, people die and we need to have someplace to bury them, or dig a big hole for a community ash pit.


6 people like this
Posted by JJ
a resident of Danville
on Dec 11, 2014 at 7:12 am

Bill, where is the water suppose to come from? During a drought is not the time to be discussing acre upon acre of grass for people to be buried under.


9 people like this
Posted by Peter
a resident of Danville
on Dec 11, 2014 at 8:13 am

For the San Ramon City Council, which approves almost every development proposal presented to them, to withdraw their support for this development, should demonstrate to the cemetery supporters what a horrible idea this cemetery is. Let's hope that the Contra Costa County Planning Commission shows as much enlightenment as the San Ramon City Council did Tuesday night.


3 people like this
Posted by V
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 11, 2014 at 9:58 am

Bill, you can bury yourself very easily in one of the 8 cemeteries in Livermore, 2 cemeteries in Pleasanton, or the 1 in Danville which might be closer to your backyard. There is no waitlist. Cemeteries barely make money these days, they'll be happy to to either get your business or get your tax money to subsidize indirectly.


1 person likes this
Posted by Betts
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 11, 2014 at 10:23 am

Yes, the open space where this cemetery would be built is "in my backyard" BUT I live on the opposite side of the city. Thank you to the four council members who voted to oppose this development for all the reasons that will be stated in the letter.


3 people like this
Posted by Sarah
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 11, 2014 at 10:38 am

OMG-The idea of funeral processions driving through school areas and increasing neighborhood traffic were described by speakers as "dangerous" and "psychologically damaging" for kids who walk, bike or play in the area"-guess children in areas where there are cemeteries are damaged in some way?
I'd much rather live next to a cemetery than a hundreds of houses and apartments.


2 people like this
Posted by Bob P
a resident of another community
on Dec 11, 2014 at 12:04 pm

Bob P is a registered user.

There is one good thing that I can see as an outcome of this series of meetings by the City Council ( I think these meetings are nothing more than political posturing).

Along with the letter opposing the cemetery(which will be ignored), they should strongly suggest that the County Planning Commission hold one or more meetings at the Dougherty Valley Community Center. Driving to Martinez is a monumental waste of gas and time, in my opinion.


1 person likes this
Posted by AAC
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 11, 2014 at 12:58 pm

More people will choose cremation (I surely will), so the cemetery will only benefit some residents' ONE LAST trip, but it'll affect all residents' THOUSANDS of daily commute or leisure trips!


1 person likes this
Posted by San Ramon Observer
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 11, 2014 at 3:05 pm

San Ramon Observer is a registered user.

Water is a non-issue for the cemetery. It is covered on page 1 of the Final EIR which is available on the County website. If there isn't enough water for the grounds, there's no cemetery. If they cared enough to read the EIR they wouldn't keep repeating these issues.

Just because it is a cemetery doesn't mean it has to have a carpet of grass. There are drought tolerant alternatives that could be planted or artificial grass. None of these arguments hold water!

They say they don't want to live near a burial ground, but there are Indian burial grounds all over Dougherty Valley. There are dead people buried where they live anyway.

So what's the alternative for Sid Corrie? He was originally planning a housing development of 4000 homes on that property. Curt Kinney proposed the cemetery back in 2005. Yet Phil O'Loane, never one to miss a political opportunity, sent out mailers against Measure W, claiming that 4000 homes would be developed there if it passed. The plan to make that property into a cemetery had been in place for five years and Phil knew it.

Of course now that San Ramon does not have Tassajara Valley within our Urban Growth Boundary, we have absolutely no influence on any decision Contra Costa County Supervisors make. Thanks for that, Phil!

Roz



2 people like this
Posted by Bob P
a resident of another community
on Dec 11, 2014 at 3:10 pm

Bob P is a registered user.

No influence Roz?? We can hold meetings with the best of them!!


2 people like this
Posted by San Ramon Observer
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 11, 2014 at 8:09 pm

San Ramon Observer is a registered user.

Bob,

There's only one Supervisor that represents San Ramon and Danville and four others that represent other parts of the County. I don't know how the other four Supervisors would vote on this. After all a Cemetery is a permitted use for that property. The County could be subject to a lawsuit if they reject it.

You were a Planning Commissioner. You know more about property rights vs. residents' rights. There's a small group of residents that live near Corrie's property. They might have some say in this, but Dougherty Valley residents living two to three miles away, I'm not so sure.

Roz


1 person likes this
Posted by Bob P
a resident of another community
on Dec 11, 2014 at 9:09 pm

Bob P is a registered user.

Roz, I was being somewhat sarcastic on my last response. We need a sarcasm emoticon here! The facts of the matter are sadly, like you mention, there is only one supervisor who represents the area, so the amount of influence that might have with the other 4 sup's is anyone's guess.

My dealings with the County Planning Commission was minimal, what few dealings I had were not pleasant. Remember, the County gave us Dougherty Valley and that whole process was and still is highly frustrating. Bottom line, something is going to go in that area, cemetery or housing, pick your poison.


Like this comment
Posted by San Ramon Observer
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 11, 2014 at 11:05 pm

San Ramon Observer is a registered user.

Thanks Bob,

I guess my sarcasm detector was on the fritz.

Roz


Like this comment
Posted by local resident
a resident of Danville
on Dec 12, 2014 at 10:26 am

@Roz: How is the cemetery a "permitted use" on Agricultural-designated land? Please provide a citation to and quote from the CC County General Plan stating that.


2 people like this
Posted by Bob P
a resident of another community
on Dec 12, 2014 at 10:49 am

Bob P is a registered user.

Why does Roz have to do that? If I was that concerned I'd look it up myself. And FYI, its a permitted use on ag zoned property, with a special use permit.


4 people like this
Posted by San Ramon Observer
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 12, 2014 at 12:46 pm

San Ramon Observer is a registered user.

Local,

All of the documentation is available for download on the CC County website. Web Link


Roz


1 person likes this
Posted by Resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 12, 2014 at 2:48 pm

For the few that claim a cemetery would not negatively impact anyone, they ignore the many negative impacts; including two or three (or more) lengthy funeral processions every day for the next 30+ years on the two main thoroughfares that feed into that area. If you choose to ignore water & cultural impacts, how would you like to be stuck in traffic three + times a day, every day, for the next 30+ years, oh, I know why, you don't live anywhere near there, so why would you care?

Also, even though the Tassajara Valley is not within San Ramon's Urban Growth Boundary, it is close enough to cause the many negative impacts that the nearby residents spoke about, and therefore the S.R. City Council, who were elected to represent the residents, has a responsibility to communicate to the county planners & supervisors our opposition to the cemetery.


1 person likes this
Posted by winresident
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 12, 2014 at 3:44 pm

There is no point in arguing with people that favour the cemetery on this bulletin board, as they do not listen to any reason and always come up with some comment to negate the various different reasons the cemetery is unfavourable in the neighbourhood.

culture of neighbourhood - who cares
water impact - they will find it somehow it's okay
zoning laws - always have some loophole make it pass
neighbours - should just keep quiet and deal with the consequences

For those that are against this project it is better to spend time and energy finding out how this can be stopped at the county level instead of arguing on this bulletin board


1 person likes this
Posted by winresident
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 12, 2014 at 3:53 pm

according to the New York times article:
Web Link


The county supervisor assigned for San Ramon favours the cemetery, we should focus on our efforts to change her mind and vote against it


Like this comment
Posted by LT Resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 12, 2014 at 4:19 pm

To Resident just above this comment.

The City Council DID vote to express the concern of the community to the CoCoCo Board of Supervisors and the County Planning Commission.


Like this comment
Posted by Winresident
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 12, 2014 at 4:27 pm

I know but they said the decision is with county

It's not a good sign when a county supervisors for the area are quoted in favor of the project


2 people like this
Posted by Longtime Resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 13, 2014 at 11:57 am

Winresident - why is your opinion any more valuable than mine? I had many of the same complaints and concerns about YOUR house before it was built and guess what - I was right about them.


Like this comment
Posted by winresident
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 13, 2014 at 12:43 pm

if your complaints about new development in Windermere were similar to what we are facing now, then please join us to stop this urban development further :)

Even if you live far away please remember the site is nowhere close to a freEeway so all the funeral processions will either come from 680 or 580 so you or someone you know will be affected some or the other way because traffic will be a nightmare with the planned three burials per day for the rest of hundred years

Some say either cemetery or housing, we disagree it will be neither to get housing you need to go to voters who have already voted.

Thanks


Like this comment
Posted by Derek
a resident of Danville
on Dec 13, 2014 at 1:17 pm

I think the real story here isn't what all of you are bickering about, it's that a city council actually took into account the concerns of those they supposedly represent.
Are you listening, Danville council?


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

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