News


Danville soliciting public comments for Magee Ranches development

Notice of preparation released for latest project proposal for 69 homes on site

The town of Danville is currently seeking public comments regarding the initiation of an environmental impact report for the Magee Ranches development, a housing project proposed for an oft-debated site near Diablo Country Club.

The proposed development by applicant Davidon Homes for the 69-unit project in the Diablo Road/Blackhawk Road corridor is the second attempt to build on the site, the prior having been stalled by a lawsuit.

The EIR will be revised to address concerns brought up in that lawsuit, and in comments from "responsible and trustee agencies and interested parties concerning the scope of issues to be addressed in the revised draft EIR," according to the notice of preparation (NOP) released by the town of Danville. The town in its position as lead agency will be preparing the revised draft EIR.

Comments are due by Oct. 2, a timeframe that was extended from an initial Sept. 18 deadline.

Davidon Homes proposes to develop 69 single-family homes and seven attached secondary dwelling units on about 30 acres of land -- a small portion of a parcel that totals approximately 410 acres and is currently used for beef cattle operations. The site is bounded by Diablo and Blackhawk roads to the north and McCauley Road to the west and is situated in the midst of single-family residential neighborhoods.

The site was first slated for development in 2010, when SummerHill Homes proposed the development of 85 residential lots. The developer eventually reducied that number to 69, as the project evolved and in light of comments received on their draft EIR.

In May 2013, town officials approved the project. But several weeks later, environmental advocacy group Save Open Space-Danville (SOS-Danville sued the town to challenge the project approvals, alleging that the EIR didn't adequately address traffic impact, bicycle safety, pedestrian safety, the California red-legged frog, emergency access, safety evacuation, flooding, erosion and siltation, among other environmental concerns.

The group also stated that the development should have triggered Measure S, which limits development on agricultural land and requires voter approval by ballot measure in order to move the development forward. They argued that Danville residents have the right to vote on whether to allow clustered residential development on open space land designated for agricultural use.

A year later, a Contra Costa County judge ruled that rezoning without a general plan amendment to change the agricultural land use designation was improper. The judge denied all but the bicycle safety concerns put forward by SOS-Danville.

The town appealed the county court's decision, however, and in 2015, the First District Court of Appeal reversed the previous ruling that the town had acted improperly in rezoning without a general plan amendment, stating that the state's Planning and Zoning Law does not require the project to be completely aligned with the General Plan.

The appellate court did, however, agree with the county court's ruling that Danville had violated state environmental law by not adequately addressing the proposed development's impact on bicycle safety.

In light of this ruling, in March 2016 the town of Danville was ordered by a county judge to rescind its previous approval of the SummerHill Homes development and reconsider the project only after conducting a full public analysis of the potential bicycle safety impacts of the proposal.

In February, Davidon Homes became the project applicant after SummerHill Homes bowed out of developing the site, also proposing a total of 69 residential lots. The project would rezone the entire 410-acre property to a new planned unit development district -- previously, the land was zoned as an agricultural preserve district, general agricultural district and planned unit development district.

According to the recently released NOP, the new proposed project differs from the previous one outlined in the 2013 EIR in a few key manners: 1) the 69 clustered residential lots would be situated upon about 23 acres, 2) a new 100 by 100-foot corral would be built near Diablo Road to replace an existing corral that would be eliminated by the project, in order to maintain cattle grazing operations persisting on most of the project site and 3) each single family residence unit would include an electric vehicle charger.

The revised draft EIR will also specifically address the impact of the project on bicycle safety in its traffic analysis, according to the NOP.

SOS-Danville, however, still has concerns.

In particular, the advocates want the town to address the project's potential to increase flooding risks in the Diablo Road corridor: they state that the culvert under Diablo Road just east of Alameda Diablo doesn't have the necessary capacity to transport stormwater flows during very large storms, citing data from a draft County Flood Control Department hydrology study.

"That means that the project, which will increase the duration of peak flows during major storms, would increase the back-up and overflow of stormwater at the culvert, flooding roads, bridges, and property both upstream and downstream," said Maryann Cella, a spokeswoman for SOS-Danville.

The group also requests that bike safety continue to be a priority for the council, pointing to a Diablo Road sector between Green Valley Road and Avenida Nueva that "was never improved as specified in a 1994 town of Danville road improvement contract," Cella said.

"Rather than 12 feet wide lanes with 2 feet aggregate shoulders on each side per the contract's specifications, that road section has no shoulders and has lanes only in the range of 10 and 11 feet at many points along that 1 1/2 mile stretch," she added.

"SOS-Danville will be asking that the new DEIR consider the actual -- not theoretical -- conditions of the road when evaluating bicycle safety and traffic circulation impacts because the actual road is rarely ever wide enough, with sight lines sufficient, for a car/truck/school bus to safely pass a bicyclist," Cella said.

Comments on the NOP can be sent to David Crompton, principal planner, via mail at 510 La Gonday Way, Danville, CA 94526, or email at dcrompton@danville.ca.gov.

Comments

20 people like this
Posted by Greg T
a resident of Diablo
on Sep 24, 2017 at 6:44 pm

No. No. No!


24 people like this
Posted by DiabloTony
a resident of Diablo
on Sep 25, 2017 at 6:44 am

This project would add at least 800 car trips per day to an already untenable traffic situation. Cluster homes in our area would be an unmitigated disaster. Please do what you can to oppose this poorly thought out project.


20 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Danville
on Sep 25, 2017 at 8:36 am

These are developers who care nothing about our quality of life or the environment. They simply want to make megabucks off of those of us that care about out community and the impacts a development like this will cause. This will be approved because they can outspend and out wait us. Our county and local government can or will do nothing to mitigate this, as they want to get reelected. Remember when you vote who supported this and send the correct message to them.


13 people like this
Posted by Paul
a resident of Danville
on Sep 25, 2017 at 10:02 am

Not only no but HELL NO!!


11 people like this
Posted by vicki
a resident of Danville
on Sep 25, 2017 at 11:59 am

there is too much traffic already. please listen to the Danville People and just say NO>


15 people like this
Posted by SOS-Danville Group
a resident of Danville
on Sep 25, 2017 at 12:48 pm

Thank you for the excellent and informative article, Erika. It is of paramount importance that the public be informed about this ill-conceived, environmentally-appalling project. Despite SOS-Danville Group's repeated requests for expanded notice of the upcoming revised environmental review of the project, the Town of Danville refused to provide more than the legal minimum notice.

One correction to the story: under the ranch's existing land use designations of Agricultural Open Space, Rural Residential, and Single-Family Low-Density, the maximum number of homes that could be built on the hilly, slide-ridden, spring -and -stream-crossed property is 78, not 85. The developer likes to mention 85, which were the number of possible lots being considered with the knowledge that only 78 could be built. The bigger number makes the public falsely believe that the project has been reduced in size by an extra 7 homes, when in fact the reduction was a mere 9 homes.

Don't forget that there are a minimum of 6 homes (due to the Town's low-income housing ordinance) that will have an attached second-residential unit that will likely be occupied by someone with a car. The Town estimates that in fact 15 homes will end up having a second residential attached unit, but there could be about 50 because 3 of the 4 options for home design will allow for such an attached unit.

The traffic from this project will be a nightmare under even the most optimistic scenario. Back-ups in the morning on Blackhawk Road at its Mt. Diablo Scenic intersection are already 100 cars long. It now takes 10+ minutes to get through that intersection. Bicyclist safety for the tens of thousands of cyclists using the Diablo Road corridor to get to Mt. Diablo is now nonexistent. Several more bicyclists have been seriously injured since the Town approved the project in 2013. Existing flooding and erosion in the downstream area is going to be worsened.

This project is all about allowing the landowners---Teardrop Partners and Magee Investment Company---to cash out for maximum value while retaining grazing rights to the property, and to provide a huge payoff for Davidon Homes. It's not about considering and mitigating the serious negative impacts to those that now live and travel in the overbuilt, over-capacity Diablo/Blackhawk Road corridor and near the over-capacity East Branch of Green Valley Creek.

The Town's claim that much new permanent "open space" will be created by the project is false. In fact, no new land will be designated as "open space" by the project, and no parks will be created. In fact, existing ranch land designated as Agricultural Open Space will have 66+ homes on it---there will be less open space. Unbelievably, the Town claims that all the land covered by the homes will still be "in Agricultural use"! The rest of the land----hilly, slide-ridden, difficult to access, economically not buildable currently--- will retain its land use designations of Rural Residential and Single-Family low-density, just waiting for a development sometime in the future. The Town states that it will be getting scenic easements on that land. Why on earth would anyone trust the Town to enforce those easements when the Town denied the public's Measure S vote on the project in the first place and placed a huge development on Open Space?


7 people like this
Posted by Diablo or Bust
a resident of Danville
on Sep 25, 2017 at 1:37 pm

Diablo got their luxurious homes and now they want to ensure that no one else can move in! DIMBY's!!


5 people like this
Posted by Diablo or Bust
a resident of Danville
on Sep 25, 2017 at 1:37 pm

Diablo got their luxurious homes and now they want to ensure that no one else can move in!


10 people like this
Posted by SOS-Danville Group
a resident of Danville
on Sep 25, 2017 at 2:33 pm

@ Diablo or Bust: Those that move in if the project is built will suffer from the same gridlock that has plagued Danville, unincorporated Danville, and Diablo residents of the Diablo Road/Blackhawk Road corridor for decades.

If someone wants to move into this corridor, he or she is more than welcome. That person may buy one of the many existing homes that are for sale. The point is, the current population in this corridor has exceeded the local road and water infrastructure capacity.

By the way, the project's homes will be priced higher than many of the existing homes for sale in the Diablo/Blackhawk Road corridor.


7 people like this
Posted by Arlene
a resident of Diablo
on Sep 25, 2017 at 2:38 pm

We were amazed to see that the Magee Ranch property that we worked so hard to reduce a few years ago is back in the planning as Davidon Homes. It seems that big money can dwarf the will of the people. The same issues are relevant today as they were several years ago with this 69 unit development. The 66 accessed from Blackhawk Road will create tremendous traffic and safety issues. The three across from the Green Valley Parking Lot is an invitation to tragedy as children and their drivers will be deeply affected. The above article posted by SOS-Danville Group is excellent in reporting the truth and covering the many problems that will be created if this development is approved!


8 people like this
Posted by Dan Vegas
a resident of Alamo
on Sep 25, 2017 at 3:00 pm

30 acres, 69 homes? Since when is it a good idea to turn Danville into San Ramon??
What if they put 30 homes on 30 acres? Hey, why not put 10 homes on 30 acres. Traffic wise - at the very least - it would not be as impending for existing locals.


2 people like this
Posted by Arm Stronglance
a resident of Blackhawk
on Sep 25, 2017 at 3:53 pm

Just 4-lane Diablo Road, from Green Valley to Diablo Scenic - problem solved! Might require a bit of straightening, backyarding and wall-building - things that should be done for bike safety, anyway.


13 people like this
Posted by Paul
a resident of Danville
on Sep 25, 2017 at 5:15 pm

Right and who is supposed to pay for the widening? Are you even aware how difficult and expensive the widening would be? There is a creek on one side and a mountain on the other that is right next to the road. Not even room for a shoulder all the way to Diablo Scenic. And you expect someone to give up their backyards? Get real.


10 people like this
Posted by Ringo
a resident of Danville
on Sep 25, 2017 at 9:51 pm

Paul- everyone becomes a planner when anything new is proposed near their home. Thanks for the reality check- widening Diablo Road isn't even logical.


2 people like this
Posted by Arm Stronglance
a resident of Blackhawk
on Sep 25, 2017 at 11:36 pm

It's only impossible if you don't want it to happen. Most of the land needed could come out of the Magee/developer side of the road, and it could be paid for by the developer and melded into the cost of those houses. Or maybe make it three lanes reversible, since there's a commute direction. It could be done, for reals.


5 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Danville
on Sep 26, 2017 at 8:36 am

Arm- The developer doesn't own Diablo Road. Keep working on that plan.


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Danville

on Sep 26, 2017 at 10:06 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


10 people like this
Posted by Long term resident
a resident of Danville
on Sep 27, 2017 at 6:55 am

I understand all the concerns regarding congestion, not to mention adding more customers to consume the water we have all saved through conservation. However, SOS Danville are simply costing all of us tax payers money by making the Town and others jump through various hoops. Why not put a fund together and buy the land to preserve it as grazing and open space?? Based on the feedback and strong feelings voiced in the comments, would people be willing to contribute to such an effort? It would have much more of a positive outcome rather than continuing to line the pockets of the attorneys!


2 people like this
Posted by Long term resident
a resident of Danville
on Sep 27, 2017 at 6:57 am

I understand all the concerns regarding congestion, not to mention adding more customers to consume the water we have all saved through conservation. However, SOS Danville are simply costing all of us tax payers money by making the Town and others jump through various hoops. Why not put a fund together and buy the land to preserve it as grazing and open space?? Based on the feedback and strong feelings voiced in the comments, would people be willing to contribute to such an effort? It would have much more of a positive outcome rather than continuing to line the pockets of the attorneys on both sides of the table.


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

Swalwell reaches way too far
By pleasantonweekly.com | 42 comments | 1,187 views

Couples: The ABCs of Love
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 673 views