Too close for comfort? | August 14, 2009 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Cover Story - August 14, 2009

Too close for comfort?

Proposal to build fire station in residential neighborhood inflames homeowners

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

Call 9-1-1 to report a fire or health emergency in the San Ramon Valley and within five minutes, a crew will arrive prepared for any crisis. Such service is the result of having trained personnel and equipment that is up to date and well maintained, says Fire Chief Richard Price, as well as fire stations that are state-of-the-art and centrally located.

To this end the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District purchased a 1.24-acre lot on Stone Valley Road at Miranda Avenue in Alamo earlier this year to replace the 50-year-old Station 32 located half a mile west.

"Alamo has one fire station, and this new site is bull's-eye center," said Price. "It's at a controlled intersection ... and is an adequate size."

"When that site became available, it was a dream come true," he said.

But some of the new neighbors say it's a bad dream. They cite environmental and traffic concerns as well as financial. And they fear the negative impact on the worth of their homes.

"By necessity you have to be in a residential area, like schools are in residential areas," Price said. "There is nothing unique in this site in relation to the neighborhood."

"We're very concerned about traffic issues, trucks coming roaring out," said Nanci Wolske, who lives on Stone Valley Road next door to the fire station site. "We feel the existing fire station is perfectly adequate."

Nanci and Ed Wolske built their house a few years ago and have had it on the market for more than a year, before the Fire District bought the property next door. Now they fear it will be even harder to attract a buyer.

Nanci Wolske likens her back yard to a national park, with large oak trees and Stone Valley Creek attracting an abundance of wildlife. The former owner of the corner house cut down several old oak trees and she is concerned that those remaining will not survive a new large structure on the lot.

"The new fire station has nothing to do with improving public safety, it has to do with a newer, bigger, nice facility for the firefighters," reads an information sheet put out by the Wolskes. It also raises liability issues for students and foot traffic on Miranda Avenue.

Other stations are located near schools, said Price, and coping with concerns on Miranda are nothing new. "Even if it's 8:30 in the morning, emergency crews still have to go there," he said.

Neighbors also say that financing a large, modern fire station at this economically depressed time is irresponsible, especially since it is also building a Station 36 annex on Lusitano Street in Danville.

The cost of constructing the new Station 32 is estimated at $3.5 million, with plans to fund it through a combination of reserves, capital financing and other sources.

The Fire District has had a 9 percent cut in its budget, reported Chief Price, which is being dealt with across departments. But, he noted, the old Station 32 will be sold as will Fire District property at Hemme Avenue, which should account for half of the money needed for the new station. The district has also applied for $2.5 million in federal stimulus funds.

The original Station 32, built in 1958, had 2,547 square feet of living space and 1,190 square feet for fire engines and equipment. Fifty years ago, when Alamo's population was 1,700, it housed one firefighter, with the volunteer brigade responding to calls.

Station 32 began to provide ambulance services in the 1970s, said Assistant Fire Chief Steve Hart, who is in charge of planning future growth. Now it houses two fire companies, six firefighters, two engines, an ambulance and another engine primarily used for grass and brush fires.

"We've remodeled it twice," Hart said. "In 1991 was the last major remodel." Eight hundred feet have been added.

Station 32 is the smallest and the oldest of the 10 fire stations in the district. While recent growth has been in the southern end of the district, Price noted that Alamo residents also pay property taxes, which provide 96.5 percent of the annual $51.5 million district funding, and they should have a modern facility.

The district considered several options to serve Alamo. One plan called for two stations in different parts of the unincorporated area. Implementing this strategy, the district purchased property on Danville Boulevard at Hemme Avenue in December 2005 for $925,000, and began to look for a site on Livorna Road.

When this did not pan out, the district began to focus on the current Station 32 location, planning to tear down the outdated station and replace it. This was less than ideal, said Price, because the site is hemmed in by a hillside at the rear of the lot and Stone Valley Road in front. Also, the site is too small for a drive-through bay.

"Any time you're backing up or stopping traffic, it is not good," said Price. "You can't see west because the road curves. The crews nose out, and traffic is very fast. This takes 30 seconds longer and is a safety issue."

The plan was to relocate the firefighters and equipment to Stone Valley Middle School while construction was under way. This temporary move would have cost $750,000, said Price. Then fire crews spotted the 4-bedroom, 2-bath home for sale on Miranda and Stone Valley Road in December and alerted fire officials who quickly made an offer of $1.2 million to M. Poustinchian.

"We went to the San Ramon Valley Planning Commission to make sure there were no zoning issues with the General Plan and zoning district, then we purchased it," recalled Price. This "mandatory referral" is needed whenever a public agency acquires a piece of land.

When the neighbors heard about the purchase, they contacted District 3 County Supervisor Mary N. Piepho's office but were told that because it was in the early planning stages, they should take it up with the fire department.

The Fire District submitted its application in June to the county Department of Conservation and Development, said project planner Ruben Hernandez. "We are currently processing it," he said. "That means verifying compliance with zoning, compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act, basically development standards."

After the application is deemed complete and reviewed for compliance, Hernandez said, it will receive an environment review, a staff report will be written, and it will be scheduled to go before a county Zoning Administrator. If the administrator gives the project the go-ahead but someone appeals it, the project will go before the County Planning Commission. If its decision is appealed, the project would go before the County Board of Supervisors.

Tiffany and Dan Haller moved from San Carlos to Alamo a year and a half ago when they found the perfect six-bedroom, four-bath home for their young family on Megan Court. They said they were distraught to learn that the lot behind them was purchased by the Fire District for a new station.

"We would never, ever have bought behind a fire station," said Tiffany Haller. "We asked our real estate agent, 'What do we do?' They all told us, 'You'll lose from 10-15 percent on your home.' If we had to sell, we would lose from $150,000-$200,000."

Alamo Realtor Nancy Combs agreed that the fire station would impact the sale of homes in the area.

"You're going to limit your market in terms of people who would be willing to live next to a fire station," she said. It will affect the price in a down market and in an up market, she noted.

The Hallers' first impulse was to put the house on the market, said Tiffany, but they decided to wait just in case somehow it does not get built. Meanwhile they are working with the fire department to mitigate the impacts of the new station for their sake or for future owners.

They had a study done by Wilson, Ihrig & Associates, acoustical and vibration consultants, which was paid for by the Fire District. Principal Pablo A. Daroux listed noise sources, including fire engines idling for long periods, revving up repeatedly, their sirens, horns and backup alarms; building mechanical support systems; the garage doors opening and closing; and conversations when personnel gathered outdoors.

"The acoustical engineer came up with suggestions but said some of the low vibrations are hard to get rid of," said Tiffany Haller. "He said the best thing we can do is soundproof our house."

Bob Deiss of ATI Architects & Engineers in Danville, who is the architect of record on this project, said vibrations will not be a problem.

"A fire truck doesn't vibrate any more than a small delivery truck," he said. "They are all on rubber tires. And the doors are quiet."

He noted that the location is already noisy, especially during heavy traffic times on Stone Valley Road and with vehicles stopping at the lights at Miranda Avenue.

"We are going to build sound walls along Stone Valley and along Miranda," Deiss said, "with berming up against the sound walls. ... the site development will actually cut the amount of noise."

Chief Price pointed out that the former owner was attempting to sell the property as two parcels.

"Neighbors aren't silent," Price said. "You can have neighbors with teens giving parties, or Harleys. Megan Court has leaf blowers. Two houses would have made much more noise."

"People always compare it to an empty lot," he added. "We're an outstanding neighbor. We're going to put in a first-rate beautiful facility."

The neighbors also worry about environmental impacts to Stone Valley Creek because they said there were plans to sink a retaining wall deep into the ground.

"That was never in the plans," said Architect Deiss. "We were looking at putting in a short retaining wall, one foot high and a foot or two into the ground."

This wall is no longer in the plans.

Neighbors also fear that the Fire District will be able to obtain a variance and not have to honor the setback from the creek observed by the homes along Stone Valley Road.

"The 50-foot setback will definitely be enforced," said civil engineer Monish Sen of the county Public Works Department. "The question is whether additional setback is required."

Deiss said that they moved the building further to the south to accommodate the setback, and that the size has been reduced by a few hundred square feet from the plans for 9,800 square feet.

"A fire station is a building that is functionally driven," explained Deiss, who has designed many such facilities, including Station 36 on Camino Tassajara and Lusitano. "It has a number of dorm rooms and apparatus that are present on the site. It has requirements for staff onsite with adjacent facilities, dining, exercise rooms, to accommodate staff requirements and needs.

"Then there are physical support spaces," he continued. "Janitor closets, offices, areas to greet the public. All of those things together work to develop the overall building size."

The former owner built up the land on the property to place the house on a rise, but this bump will be lowered, said Deiss, and the grade of the floor will be approximately 12 feet below the grade of the current building. The station will be one story, screened with vegetation and an attractive sound wall. Per the back neighbor's request, the driveway will be on the Stone Valley Road side. Vehicles will enter on Stone Valley Road and exit on Miranda.

"We're at the conceptual design of the project," said Deiss. "The whole purpose is to develop the design as you go along, to lay out the floor areas and room relationships, and develop the building from the inside out. Things are fluid until we get further along in the project."

As the design inches toward completion, he said, it becomes more functional and cost efficient, better for both the client and the public.

As for the location, Deiss stated that fire stations need to go in residential neighborhoods. "They need to be where the action is," he said. "We've done urban type stations as well as suburban; fire stations need to fit into the neighborhood they serve to keep the time of response down."

The station will fit in with the design of the adjacent homes on Stone Valley Road, he added, in keeping with the policy of the Fire District that stations blend in with the community to enhance the overall aesthetics.

"We try to go with the lightest footprint possible," said Price. "We're talking to the county every day - Public Works, Planning. A lot of agencies have to sign off on it."

"We've done everything we can to mitigate concerns, to study what could be done. We offered to pay for fencing. We want to have a good relationship," he added. "Let's say it does affect property values - do you sacrifice the well-being of the community?"


Posted by Steve Mick, a resident of Alamo
on Aug 15, 2009 at 10:07 am

The new fire station in Alamo will be a positive addition to our community. Firefighters are the very best kind of neighbors and Alamo should welcome this project.

Their building will always be well maintained, their landscaping will be kept up, and the site will never turn into an eyesore. It will never be abandoned and will always be occupied, and there won't be any wild parties. These neighbors will be very quiet. And no, they won't turn their sirens on at 3:00 in the morning (a siren isn't needed when there isn't any traffic.)

And like all good neighbors, they will welcome guests for tours and familiarization with their people and their capabilities. Go take a look at the SRV Fire District's website under Community Outreach. Their program is extensive.

This nonsense about the fire engines having to travel on Miranda Avenue is silly. They have to travel on Miranda NOW if there's a fire in that vicinity. I guess some people expect the fire department to approach a fire scene by avoiding residential areas and circling around until they get close enough to throw water on the fire. Come on, folks.

They also have 24-7 emergency medical people who are experts in first aid and CPR. If you had a heart condition, would you want to live near a firehouse? You bet your life you would!

Posted by Hal Bailey, a resident of another community
on Aug 15, 2009 at 7:34 pm

Dear Dolores,

I intent to contact Chief Price and support his work in Alamo.

The reality is that this site must amplify the surrounding home's value as proximity to such security and safety services. Steve Mick attempted to state that reality, but missed the reality of a home burning down in his neighborhood. The Cervato neighborhood saw Chief Price and his staff deliver in March and we are very prepared to support rational value to all of Alamo but clearly to the closest neighbors.

That is design value easily sold.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Alamo
on Aug 16, 2009 at 9:13 am

It sounds like the neighbors are just looking for hush money from the fire department (i.e. us, the taxpayers). I hope the Chief is smart enough to realize that this would be an ILLEGAL gift of public funds. We will be watching SRFD.

Posted by Tommy Boy, a resident of Alamo
on Aug 17, 2009 at 1:14 pm

Wow! It's rare to see such a blatant case of NIMBY-ism. Nancie and Ed Wolske can't even get their stories straight. Is it environmental concerns? Is it fiscal concerns? Is it the safety of pedestrians? Is it traffic issues? Wait! It's all of the above.

In reality, it's none of the above. The Wolske's want everyone in Alamo to accept inferior emergency service response times because the Wolske's can't get out from under a house they built and can't sell. Guess what? If their home's been on the market for more than a year, it isn't going to sell anytime soon - whether or not there's a fire station next door.

And don't even get me started on the poor Hallers in their SIX bedroom four bath house that backs on to Stone Valley Creek and has trees, a creek and at least 100' between them and the station site. . .

Posted by A Concerned Resident, a resident of Alamo
on Aug 17, 2009 at 1:45 pm

I believe that the fire department should have a facility that does meet their requirements (not their wants) but they do not need to waste taxpayer monies in building themselves a over-the-top facility to house six firemen(women) at any given time. Let us keep wants and needs separate. Remember they only answer two calls a day and 97% of all calls that respond to are medical emergencies and not fires. For example do they really require three sub-zero refrigerators to maintain their life within the facility? And I am sure that there are other examples of this unnecessary expenditure.

I believe that it is irresponsible of the fire district to be building any new facilities during this economic downturn. They should re-look at remodeling the existing facility. There are many other services within the county that could use this money - do we really need to spend the $3M plus for 18 firefighters? Will the new facility allow them to give the Alamo residents any additional protection that they are not already receiving?

I do not live any where near the new site. I am just a resident who feels we should spend the money more wisely.

Posted by Jose Velo, a resident of Danville
on Aug 17, 2009 at 2:53 pm

We want to be protected but we don't want it too close. While the volume of calls maybe low, would any of you want to be the resident that their response time is farther away and therefore there is not much to save from your house? Or would you rather keep it at one room or small area? Would you rather have the Fire Engine with their paramedics within minutes or wait for the 10 minute mark when the brain and body will not be able to survive in the case of a heart attack? Maybe the construction will be an incovenience but I would rather suffer it for a while and have fire and medical services closer for the rest of my life. The men and women live there 24 hours a shift, sometimes more and deserve a place where they can rest, drill, exercise, and be ready in general to help us. I think our town can afford that, don't you agree??

Posted by Triogenes, a resident of Danville
on Aug 17, 2009 at 11:27 pm

Firefighters need three refrigerators because they eat at the fire station and cook their meals there. Since they work in shifts, the actual number of people who work there is about 18.

How many refrigerators do you think you would need if 18 people lived at your house?

Posted by Pete, a resident of Stone Valley Middle School
on Aug 18, 2009 at 9:06 am

“There goes the neighborhood” according to Dan and Tiffany Haller. Just think of what is moving next door – Firemen! Paramedics! Bike Mechanics! Role Models! A crew of eighteen who like girl scout cookies! Could it get any worse? Well, how about low income housing, a foreclosure (thank you Wolske’s), rude or inconsiderate neighbors that cut down protected trees and don’t maintain their property – like the neighbors you had before the fire department bought the property. And to top it off you are now trying to shake down the FD for money because you are SO impacted. Wake up Danny Boy.

And your partners in crime (extortion) the poor Wolske’s had their house on the market for nine months (and three price reductions) before the fire department purchased the eyesore next door. Do you think the 5500 sq. ft. rodent infested foreclosure next door to them might be impacting their ability to sell? Why didn’t the foreclosure home sell? FD didn’t own the corner site back then. Do you think maybe the location at the one of the fastest, busiest and noisiest intersections in town is factor? No, I’m sure it is the fire station. Nanci and Ed deserve a lot of money from the taxpayers too.

That you both can be so selfish as to put your personal gain ahead of the safety of the community is appalling. At least Wolske’s are moving. We are stuck with Haller’s.

Posted by Cathy Ewing, a resident of Alamo
on Aug 18, 2009 at 2:05 pm

Dear Mr. & Mrs. Wolske,

If you are moving why are you creating such a stir over our new firehouse? Is it just about the sale price of your home as people state here or is there something else?


Posted by LAFCO Website, a resident of another community
on Aug 18, 2009 at 3:17 pm

In the Fire and EMS Municipal Service Review adopted by Contra Costa LAFCO at a Public Hearing on August 12, 2009, the commission found the condition of Station 32 to be the worst in the District (pg. 307) and stated “Fire Station 32 in Alamo is aged and needs replacement.” (pg. 308).

Posted by Sharon, a resident of Monte Vista High School
on Aug 18, 2009 at 6:19 pm

If you really want to learn about this project I recommend you visit the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District website. They have color drawings, conceptual site plans, and extensive FAQ’s regarding the project at Web Link

If you rely on this blog for your cocktail party talking points you will get information like 97% of fire department calls are medical (not even close) and ideas like using property tax money collected in Alamo for “many other county services.” Just plain scary.

Posted by A Citizen Too, a resident of Alamo
on Aug 19, 2009 at 6:23 am

According to Chief Price, in July the Fire District applied for a DHS “Assistance to Firefighters Fire Station Construction Grant” for the new Alamo station. This grant is part of the $787 Billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) package targeting public infrastructure and providing stimulus to the U.S. economy in the wake of the economic downturn. The new fire station is one of many local construction projects poised to benefit from federal stimulus dollars.
Although “A Concerned Citizen” above doesn’t think this is a good time to be building, the opposite is quite true. More federal money is available than ever before. Construction costs are at 1998 levels as construction firms are desperate for any work they can get. The Wolske’s are testament to the fact that property costs are down significantly and the Haller’s only wish they could repurchase their house today. Look at the bid results on the Fire District website for the new Annex Building in Danville – low bid is close to half what the District had budgeted for the project according to Chief Price. “A Concerned Citizen” has proven to be “An Uninformed Citizen” with every point made. She asks “will the new facility give the Alamo residents any additional protection that they are not already receiving?” How about the minor point that the facility will still be there, up and running, providing critical services to the community after a major earthquake. The Wolske/Haller flyer attempts to redefine the facts and our attention. They are fooling no one but themselves.

Posted by Concerned Too, a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 19, 2009 at 7:10 am

Just confirmed no Sub-Z’s at any SRV fire stations (not that there is anything wrong with sub zeros). Also, they state that it will be a while before any appliance decisions are made for the Alamo station since it is still on the drawing board.

Posted by Gladys, a resident of Alamo
on Aug 19, 2009 at 8:31 am

Dear SRV Fire Board and Chief,

I very much appreciate the hard work of you and the firefighters and the community outreach. But I ask that you not make any sweetheart deals with the two disgruntled neighbors and use the public process. I know you intention are sound but it is unfair to everyone else if this is occurring. The neighbors probably have legitimate concerns but those concerns should be heard by all and weighed against the good of all.

Thank you.


Posted by Rick, a resident of Los Cerros Middle School
on Aug 19, 2009 at 1:40 pm

The Wolske’s and Haller’s are looking for volunteers to distribute their Anti-FD flyer on the first day of school (Tuesday). I ask that they at least put the CCCSO sketch of the man who choked the Alamo woman on the back. The spectacle is sure to help traffic flow – a big concern of the Wolske’s you know (wink, wink).

Let them know if you can help out.

And of course this has nothing to do with the sale of their house – they are only interested in what is best for all citizens of Alamo (not just themselves as it may appear).

Posted by Hal Bailey, a resident of Alamo
on Aug 19, 2009 at 5:31 pm

Dear Dolores,

After discussion in this forum, we still have not addressed the reality of value of a fully-equipped fire house. We have not discussed methods to make the fire house a good neighbor, as intended, and of exceptional value to the immediate neighboring homes.

The design, the screening, the overall availability of emergency services should be the value focus of the project to neighbors and to the Realtor and customers that will want those homes' proximity to such services.

All it takes is a fire in a neighborhood to amplify the value of fire house proximity to home values. In March, a home burned in our neighborhood and the fire crews worked for two full days to prove the safety of our neighborhood. I am confident if it had been our current dry season, these crews dedicated to Alamo would have achieved the same safe, contained results.

Yes, if it were a park or other government open-access space, the site would be a negative value to surrounding neighborhoods. But this is the value of immediately available safety that should drive value in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Let's have that discussion,

Hal Bailey
Cervato Circle neighborhood

Posted by Wilson, a resident of Alamo
on Aug 20, 2009 at 6:43 am

I got Nanci’s flyer on my porch this morning. The back doesn’t have the strangler’s sketch as hoped – it’s the real estate slick for her house. No price reduction either – very disappointing.

Posted by Jake, a resident of Stone Valley Middle School
on Aug 20, 2009 at 9:06 am

I got a flyer this morning too. Here is what the front says.

Fire Department Planning New Country Club in Alamo
Don’t we already have enough golf courses!

The Fire Department is planning a new station next door to me! I want the entire community to be aware of these critical points:

- The station has as many bedrooms as the Haller’s house. Outrageous!
- The firehouse is twice the size of the house Ed and I live in!
- They plan to spend $3,000,000 on the station – that’s twice the price of my house!
- I already have hundreds of trucks speeding by my house every day – I don’t need two more!
- I can’t sell my house (please see the reverse side of this important community message)
- Why should we take tax money collected in Alamo and spend it in Alamo when other areas of the county have a far greater need!
- My eyes water everyday from all the car exhaust from Stone Valley Road – now I’ll have to endure BBQ smoke from the firehouse! Help me stop them!
- The firehouse has exercise equipment! Plenty of cities have fat fireman. Why do they have to be treated so special.
- I can’t sell my house (please see the reverse side of this important community message)

The flyer front also has a discount coupon for a dentist in Pleasant Hill? It also asks that people save the flyer and wad it up and throw at Chief Price when he is speaking in public.

Posted by Triogenes, a resident of Danville
on Aug 20, 2009 at 11:14 am

The martians have definitely landed!

Posted by Sandra, a resident of Danville
on Aug 20, 2009 at 3:47 pm

Jake, thanks for sharing. I see many I/me messages in that flyer that don't appear to take into consideration the greater good of my neighbors in Alamo.

What a shame that the author feels comfortable suggesting we throw wadded up paper (trash?) at someone who has dedicated his life to putting his own life on the line for others.

Posted by Rob, a resident of Alamo
on Aug 20, 2009 at 5:17 pm

Are you seriously believing what he posted Sandra? C'mon, someone post a link to the actual flyer. I am certain it doesn't talk about country clubs or fat firemen. I didn't get a flyer on my porch today, let's see the real thing.

Posted by Sandra, a resident of Danville
on Aug 20, 2009 at 6:26 pm

Yup. Given what I have read regarding this couple, it wouldn't surprise me at all.

Posted by Rich, a resident of Blackhawk
on Aug 20, 2009 at 8:57 pm

I have not seen the flyer but this is the e-mail Nanci sent earlier this week.

From: nanci oberg
Sent: Tuesday, August 18, 2009 8:48 PM
Subject: AIA Meeting - Fire Station #32

Good Evening Neighbors,

Many of us were very frustrated with the doubletalk we endured from
Chief Price and his architect at the AIA Meeting last week. It was
obvious at the meeting that no one, except the fire department, is in
favor of this construction. We would like to get a flyer printed and
go door to door through the surrounding neighborhoods to inform everyone
of the fire district's plans to build this country club fire station on
Miranda. If you would be able to help out with this effort, please
respond to this email. Also, if you would be willing to pass out flyers
to drivers at Stone Valley Middle School on the first day of school,
please let me know. School starts in one week. Thanks.

Nanci Wolske

Posted by Mary, a resident of Walnut Creek
on Aug 21, 2009 at 6:55 am

Thank you Station 32 crews for saving our neighbors home on Dapplegray Court last night. You are loved and appreciated every day and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Web Link

Posted by who? me?, a resident of Alamo
on Aug 22, 2009 at 8:09 am

these guys live like kings! what, the highest payed one makes like $280K per year? They cruise around town in a 80 foot ladder truck? For what? The highrises in Alamo? I see them in Safeway buying steaks more often than actually working. How do I get that job?

I remember the fire a couple of years ago on El Cerro where the truck was in downtown Danville making a U-turn. I could have sworn they were actually lost (and the homeowner could too, only he lost half his house because it took so long for the response).

You people are getting the wool pulled over your eyes and you don't even know it. What a joke. DEMAND your tax dollars go to better use.

Posted by Triogenes, a resident of Danville
on Aug 22, 2009 at 8:45 am

In the old days in New York City and other places, neighborhood fire departments were not unified and were in constant conflict with each other. The movie "Gangs of New York" shows this very well.

If you wanted the local fire department to put out a fire at your home or business, you had to buy a metal plaque that you nailed to the front of your building. When there was a fire and you didn't have this plaque, the firemen would watch your building burn to the ground without lifting a finger.

The question for "who? me?" is if you would care to give out your address so that your house will be dealt with appropriately next time you have a small problem?

Posted by Triogenes, a resident of Danville
on Aug 22, 2009 at 8:51 am

Oh, and by the way. There's this thing called mutual aid where one fire department helps another in times of need. It's nice to have a ladder truck if the FD had to assist in Walnut Creek. Or if access to a hillside home in Alamo was only available from the hillside on the back of the property.

But you probably wouldn't know anything about mutual aid, would you?

Posted by Jake, a resident of Stone Valley Middle School
on Aug 22, 2009 at 10:40 am

Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey present
The Greatest Show on Earth

The Wolske’s and Haller’s Appearing Live in San Ramon
at the SRV Board Meeting

Witness their insults and misinformation in person!

Some past memorable public statements include:

* “Miranda Avenue is a one-lane bike path”
* “The Fire Chief makes $787 Billion (Nanci was confused. That was the stimulus bill.)
* “We don’t want no stinking grant money”
* “Just because we built two houses at Stone Valley and Miranda doesn’t mean you have any right to build there!”
* “The fire station will be the largest building West of the Mississippi”
* “I can’t sell my house”
* "It’s not just the Haller’s and us as it might appear. It’s just there is a Big Brother re-run on tonight”
* “There is no proof that there will ever be another earthquake“
* The Haller’s bought their house with the understanding that no other house in the neighborhood would have as many bathrooms as them. They should be compensated!”

Be the first to hear it! Don’t wait for a lame blog post the next day – watch it as it unfolds. Better than Raiders training camp! Zing Zang Zoom.

Posted by who? me?, a resident of Alamo
on Aug 22, 2009 at 10:45 am

Wow - you are inferring here that there is a list somewhere that the FD maintains of "houses to be dealt with appropriately". Are you privy to that list?
To everyone else reading this, you might want to give this some serious thought. Hope they don't mistake your house for one on the "list".

Posted by Jake, a resident of Stone Valley Middle School
on Aug 22, 2009 at 11:47 am

Of course such a list exists. You can find it on the Fire Department website under Emergency Services, “The Secret List”. You’ll find your name under the heading, “Known Idiots”. Fortunately firefighters provide the same exemplary service to everyone, everyday – regardless of hatred, extortion, or disrespect. That’s what makes them firefighters. If I had a big pool like you Dan I wouldn’t be on the Internet on a nice day like this.

Posted by joe, a resident of Diablo
on Aug 22, 2009 at 2:03 pm

Jake - looks like triogenes is the one making the threats here (asking for a home address). The other guy is just exercising his freedom of speech. We still have that, don't we? You firefighters are sure sensitive. Now get to work instead of cruising the internet.

Posted by bob from diablo, a resident of Blackhawk
on Aug 22, 2009 at 4:50 pm

"same exemplary service to everyone, everyday"???? I have one word to that - Katrina.
Also, in reading about this, approx 40% of the cost is to be borne by an app for federal stimulus funds. We're pretty tired of Obama's (and yours now) gigantic spending spree. The people of America have just about had it - look at Obama's ratings and how they've cratered - your $3.5M boondoggle firehouse is in cahoots with his open checkbook.

Posted by Jake, a resident of Stone Valley Middle School
on Aug 22, 2009 at 7:44 pm

Bob from Diablo, a resident of Blackhawk?

Maybe before you post again you should figure out where you live? I don't think Station 32 responded to Katrina. They primarily protect Alamo (in California).

Posted by Cathy Ewing, a resident of Alamo
on Aug 23, 2009 at 7:01 am

Dear Bob,

Your political opinion aside, if the fire department can get federal money to build our firehouse why shouldn'y they? That money would just be spent on a firehouse in some other town so why not here? Your plan saves no money. Dont be so mad and more reasonable. They are only trying to save local monies and are trying to do the right thing. Please stop what you are doing.


Posted by Hal Bailey, a resident of Alamo
on Aug 23, 2009 at 8:12 am

Summary Analysis: New fire station

The issue of VALUE to neighborhoods, both land value and service value, is best defined by the positive and negative features of government facilities in neighborhoods. As neighbors noted from analysis of homes in neighborhoods in proximity to fire houses, police stations, parks, trails and maintenance facilities, only fire houses have positive land value affect. In San Mateo , Marin, Alameda and Sonoma county reports, it is clearly shown that public safety and health services provided by fire houses offer positive value to the immediate neighborhoods.

By contrast, public parks, trail access, and similar public recreational facilities often decrease neighbor’s land value due to open-access and events that add noise and traffic to neighborhoods and avenues for criminal mischief. Uniquely, in specific study of Hap Magee Ranch Park , Livorna Park , and the Iron Horse Trail, little land value impact is offered by the negative aspects of such recreational facilities. Such is not true broadly in the greater bay area counties where parks and recreation facilities can reduce property value from comparable homes away from those facilities. Quite similarly, proximity to schools also acts like parks and recreation facilities due to similar operations and the addition of concentrated traffic.

City Halls and Police Stations are the most negative impact to neighborhoods due to volumes of traffic for government activities throughout the day and evening. In comparison, churches, YMCAs, and retail centers offer similar negatives to the value of neighborhoods for similar reasons of traffic and the addition of NOISE. In Alamo, negative value analysis against comparable homes away from such facilities is greatest for the combination of Rancho Romero School and SRV YMCA due to gridlock traffic patterns expected from YMCA operations during school operational hours and Danville Blvd commute times.

The planned fire station of Stone Valley Road at Miranda, by design, offers primary benefits that establish land values related to proximity of safety and health services with little or no traffic impact. The claims of neighbors that it is impacting their ability to sell their homes is temporary, according to RE analysts, while the fire house plans are still in discussion and not fixed by approval. RE analysts also note that sale of homes in Alamo have been price impacted by the continuing fiscal crisis and it is hard to define what causes impact the immediate sale of neighbors’ homes.

Hal Bailey

Posted by lilly, a resident of Alamo
on Aug 23, 2009 at 8:16 am

So Cathy, by extension, if they wanted a $100 Million dollar firehouse, and they could get the money, you'd back them up, eh?
I believe the questions here are: reasonableness and necessity. To the people against this spending spree, the new firehouse does not qualify for either. Yours is an extremely selfish stance, sort of like a spoiled little child ("she got some candy, so should I"). Even though what "she" got is going to make her into an obese little 8 year old who will die at 34 of a massive heart attack. Get the allegory? Think about it Cathy, you really need to do more of that.

Posted by Cathy Ewing, a resident of Alamo
on Aug 23, 2009 at 10:00 am

Dear llily,

It is three million dollars - not 100 hundred million. You people need to stop the exaggeration and Obama stuff and other misdirection. Our firefighter are going to build us a fire hall just like they built in the other cities they serve. Stop it.


Posted by Jake, a resident of Stone Valley Middle School
on Aug 24, 2009 at 6:59 am

The Wolske’s have been publicly opposed to the FD using a federal grant to fund the new station. You can watch Ed make such a statement right here Web Link. But the Wolske’s apparently aren’t opposed to federal hand outs for themselves. For example, they received a federal tax credit for their hybrid (Prius),they are currently receiving federal grant assistance to pay college tuition and are receiving significant tax breaks for mortgage interest on over $1,000,000 in real estate loans in addition to significant federal business tax deductions. They now want more taxpayer money for the new station “impacts” to their spec house which been on the market for 16 months - all why saying it's wrong to receive federal money for the station. The Wolske’s are selfish and self serving and that is why the FD must reject their request for another taxpayer handout. I bet that's not on their flyer.

Posted by easy solution, a resident of Alamo
on Aug 24, 2009 at 8:33 am

simple. don't build the palace they're calling a firehouse. sell the land (that they bought with NOBODIES approval) and remodel the old firehouse (there are plenty of houses around here that are twice that old and still habitable, or should those be condemned too?).
And set up a gym for the fat firemen with the money left over.

Posted by Jake, a resident of Stone Valley Middle School
on Aug 24, 2009 at 6:37 pm


I don’t think the Fire Department Capital Improvement Plan has goals like “still habitable” for its facilities. This is the firehouse for the entire community - it’s not your grandma’s house.

And how does a fire department purchase a piece of land for $1.2M with “nobodies” approval? Are you saying the Fire Chief, the Board of Directors, and the Finance Director didn’t approve and execute the purchase? So, did the firefighters buy it with petty cash from the station food fund?


Posted by easy solution, a resident of Alamo
on Aug 25, 2009 at 7:00 am

Jake - straight from the article: "The plan was to relocate the firefighters and equipment to Stone Valley Middle School while construction was under way. This temporary move would have cost $750,000, said Price. Then fire crews spotted the 4-bedroom, 2-bath home for sale on Miranda and Stone Valley Road in December and alerted fire officials who quickly made an offer of $1.2 million to M. Poustinchian.

"We went to the San Ramon Valley Planning Commission to make sure there were no zoning issues with the General Plan and zoning district, then we purchased it," recalled Price. This "mandatory referral" is needed whenever a public agency acquires a piece of land."

I don't see any approvals (and making sure there were no zoning issues is not approval). Where are they, Jake? As a taxpayer, did you approve it (since it's your money) - or do you even pay taxes?
The job of the fire department is to fight fires, not in the station, but in the areas they support. Based on FD's supposedly "exemplary" service that all you proponents are touting, it doesn't look as if their current fire station is having any negative effect at all. I only care about their service, not how opulent their station is. Give it a break already.

Posted by Pete, a resident of Stone Valley Middle School
on Sep 13, 2009 at 11:27 am

The poor Haller’s are out begging for taxpayer money again! Read Web Link Disappointingly, no classic quotes from of the infamous Wolke’s in this article - they must be out of town in one of their other homes for the Fall. It appears in the CC Times article that the fire department is planning to build a firehouse with the same amenities, size, and number of calls as every other firehouse in the surrounding counties. So Dan, I guess you’ll need to come up with something else again to use as a reason to steal taxpayer money for your remodel and winter vacation to Aspen.

Posted by Longtime Resident, a resident of San Ramon
on Sep 13, 2009 at 12:23 pm

If it wouldn't impact the other nearby residents, I'd suggest the fire department develop the land as a gas station/convenience store and build their fire station elsewhere. This is one of the more asinine examples of NIMBY I've read about.

Posted by Alamo Resident, a resident of Alamo
on Sep 13, 2009 at 6:24 pm

I support the new fire station as a good investment for our community. I also predict that housing prices will continue to slide in Alamo as 3x income and 20% down becomes the norm for mortgage loans. There aren't enough people in the bay area that make the necessary 400k per year salary to support the average 1.2 million dollar home price that Alamo requires... which is why you see a very large percentage of the homes in Alamo being offered as rentals, live in care facility's, and group homes for troubled youth. It is refreshing to see the faux Nouveau Riche with their "mortgage" wealth and arrogance (borne of low self esteem) being supplanted by common sense and long term investment in our community.