Alamo wants to keep planning board | July 31, 2009 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Newsfront - July 31, 2009

Alamo wants to keep planning board

Residents lobby Danville to support SRV planning body

by Geoff Gillette

Concerns over the possible loss of the San Ramon Valley Regional Planning Commission prompted four Alamo residents to attend the July 21 meeting of the Danville Town Council to ask for support in keeping the commission.

The commission is one of two such planning bodies in Contra Costa County. Appointed by the Board of Supervisors, the SRVRPC oversees development in the unincorporated areas of the southern portion of the county.

With the current discussions of a Municipal Advisory Council for Alamo, residents are concerned over statements made by county committees that the MAC would render the planning commission superfluous. The Board of Supervisors is set to discuss the SRVRPC at an August meeting and decide whether to allow the commission to disband when an October sunset date is reached. The county planning commission would then make decisions on unincorporated areas of the San Ramon Valley.

Alamo resident Roger Smith addressed the Danville Town Council, asking its members to write a letter to the county in support of the planning commission.

"If we look back over the years, we've had oversight," Smith stated. "They (SRVRPC) played a key role in the development of Dougherty Valley. Having that commission locally gives everyone a chance to voice their concerns and opinions."

MaryAnn Cella asked the council not only to support stopping the commission from being disbanded but asked for Danville to come out in favor of returning the sunset date to every four years instead of every year. That cycle was changed last year by District 3 Supervisor Mary N. Piepho in the event that Alamo voted to incorporate.

"At the heart of the matter is that the San Ramon Valley Regional Planning Commission does a better job of protecting our valley than will the county planning commission," Cella said. "A lot of people have complained over the years that the county has eroded the jurisdiction of the commission."

Cella said the return of the New Farm development plan on Danville's eastern edge is also cause for keeping the SRVRPC.

"If that project goes through, there will be thousands of homes going into that area," she claimed.

Alamo Improvement Association President Brad Waite echoed the sentiments of both Smith and Cella.

"There's no valid reason for disbanding it," he said. "We need your support in keeping this commission alive and looking after the interests of all of us here locally."

Councilwoman Candace Andersen gave her support to the commission.

"I think it's very important that this end of the county have a voice in planning," she stated.

Andersen added her feeling was that residents affected by local projects were more likely to be a part of the process here in their local area than having to drive to Martinez for meetings.

Mayor Newell Arnerich agreed.

"It holds no water for the county to say it costs more to have this commission," he said. "I think it behooves all of use to have a voice, otherwise we'll be spending all of our time in Martinez."

Arnerich also expressed concern about having the New Farm plan be seen only by the county planning commission.

"You could count the votes on it," he said. "You could count the votes right now."

Councilman Mike Doyle said he did not feel any need for an additional planning commission just for the San Ramon Valley and questioned whether the SRVRPC has the weight to affect decisions on projects.

"This letter won't make any difference one way or the other," he said. "It doesn't make a difference."

After wrangling over the details, council members voted 3-2 in favor of sending a letter supporting the work of the SRVRPC and calling on the county to allow continued local input on development matters affecting the area.

Councilmen Mike Doyle and Mike Shimansky voted against it.