San Ramon eyes Tassajara Valley | September 18, 2009 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Newsfront - September 18, 2009

San Ramon eyes Tassajara Valley

Danville and San Ramon to discuss spheres of influence

by Geoff Gillette

Officials from Danville, San Ramon and Contra Costa County will be sitting down and examining the eastern boundary between the two towns in an effort to determine just where each municipality's sphere of influence ends.

At a Sept. 9 meeting, members of the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) went over a Municipal Service Review for the towns in the central portion of the county. Part of that review includes determining where each town's sphere of influence ends.

The review recommended that the SOI for Danville be reduced on the western end to bring it into line with the county's urban limit line. No change was suggested for the eastern boundary. A similar recommendation was made for San Ramon.

However, with the recent resurgence of the New Farm Development, a large scale plan located just off Camino Tassajara at Danville's east end, both towns have evinced interest in who will have control of the Tassajara Valley.

Spokesmen for both Danville and San Ramon went before LAFCO at the Sept. 9 meeting, asking for two very different results. Both Danville Mayor Newell Arnerich and Town Manager Joe Calabrigo requested that any decision regarding the SOI be put off until the town can complete an updating of its general plan.

The update has been an ongoing project over the last few months, and town officials say they believe it will be completed sometime in the near future.

"It's only a matter of months before that will happen," assured Arnerich.

San Ramon Planning Director Phil Wong called on LAFCO to approve a request by the city to continue looking at extending its SOI into the Tassajara Valley.

"Our general plan requires us to look at the Tassajara Valley area," he explained. "You can't forecast when development is going to occur, but you know it is starting."

San Ramon City Manager Herb Moniz echoed Wong's comments, saying that they would like to see the commission either approve the extension of the SOI into the Tassajara Valley or an alternative plan that would include two small parcels within San Ramon's SOI.

"San Ramon has already requested and met with folks, and now LAFCO is going to enter another process, driven by LAFCO," Moniz said.

A spokesman for Save Mount Diablo offered testimony during the public hearing as well. Troy Bristol addressed the commission, offering the group's support for deferring the SOI decision. He also said Save Mount Diablo is opposed to San Ramon's request to expand into the Tassajara Valley.

"We feel that an expansion of the sphere of influence would be a breaking of the urban limit line and we ask you not to extend that sphere of influence," Bristol said.

LAFCO chairwoman Gayle Uilkema said that while she understood San Ramon's concerns, she felt that having the two municipalities sit down and talk with Contra Costa County seemed like a reasonable course.

"Normally having a conversation doesn't hurt," she stated. "And Danville has said it won't take too much longer."

District 3 Supervisor Mary N. Piepho, sitting in as an alternate on the commission, agreed.

"This is an opportunity for the county and two cities to look at this with openmindedness," Piepho said.

She recommended that the three entities enter into a collaborative process before bringing the issue back to the commission.

Commissioners voted 7-0 in favor of deferring any decision on the sphere of influence until Danville finishes its general plan update and the three bodies are able to meet.

Afterward, Mayor Arnerich said he was pleased that Danville will have the opportunity to finish its general plan update and he feels that they will be able to meet and discuss with San Ramon the best way to approach the Tassajara Valley.

"There's a willingness on both parts that we may both adjust our spheres," said Arnerich. "But we have to wait and see where the planning and the process leads us."