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UPDATE: San Ramon council continues Faria Preserve hearing

Original post made on Jul 10, 2014

The San Ramon City Council discussed the proposed Faria Preserve residential development for nearly four hours Tuesday night before deciding to continue the public hearing to an undetermined date later this summer.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, July 10, 2014, 3:15 PM

Comments (25)

Posted by Dan
a resident of Danville
on Jul 10, 2014 at 3:34 pm

Has the City of San Ramon ever met a development it didn't like?

Posted by Eddie
a resident of San Ramon
on Jul 10, 2014 at 3:59 pm

Why scar the beautiful hillside visible from almost everywhere in San Ramon? Couldn't the developer find some place hidden to tear up in our city?

Posted by San Ramon Observer
a resident of San Ramon
on Jul 10, 2014 at 5:00 pm

San Ramon Observer is a registered user.

Yes, Dan, Dougherty Valley, which was taken over by Contra Costa County because they allowed 11,000 homes instead of the 8,500 that San Ramon would have allowed.


Posted by Brenda Hill
a resident of San Ramon
on Jul 11, 2014 at 6:49 am

I agree with Dan's comment. We have so much development in San Ramon. After reviewing the plans for the homes, it appears as though they are all two and three story houses packed into small lots with not real value except to add as many residents as possible in a small space. They claim "senior housing" - what a joke. Maybe someone should advise the council and Lafferty that some seniors would prefer their own homes, not condos or apartments and not two and three story. Same would go for handicapped citizens. This whole project is ill conceived the traffic is already a nightmare on Crow Canyon Road and 680 - cannot imagine what we have to look forward to if this thing passes.

Posted by JT
a resident of Danville
on Jul 11, 2014 at 9:09 am

"Norris said positive adjustments to the proposal included ...and implementing a two-thirds reduction in creek impact." How about a "Zero Creek Impact!?" In fact with public easement setbacks.

According to developers creed, a good creek is a bulldozed creek. A great creek is a culverted creek. The only value they see in a creek is the extra revenue they can get by charging more for the properties alongside it.

According to the developers creed, the only value they place on a hillside is the extra revenue they can make from the properties that have a view. Who cares if it mars viewsheds for all the other residents of San Ramon. "We made extra money!" Wow, we are so proud of you, the developers and their geotechnical contractors.

Cities, Counties, the entire state is being ravaged, one open space development at a time. Faria is that in spades.

And don't you love how these developments get done. The houses get sold and the taxes are based on the sales price of the residence. So people buying new houses are paying more into the tax rolls. Well what is wrong with doing the same for water, for electricity, for impacts on roads, intersections and freeway entrances. You better believe that the employed residents in "Faria" will be taking Crow Canyon to Castro Valley. Any compensation for the extra load on that roadway, lights and residents? NO
You better believe that the same residents will be taking Bollinger Cyn to 680. Any compensation for the residents along that stretch for the extra car loads, speeding to get to and from work? And how about the Crow Canyon freeway entrance at 680? Try getting out of the Taco Bell exit and you'll see that the right lane is jammed with cars because that is the lane to get on the freeway. That entire intersection already needs to be reworked... So when residents finally have had enough, do they turn to the new residents of Faria and make them pay? NOPE.

Think about the impacts of water. Do the new residents pay for the cost of new dams or new diversions or new water pacts. NO. It is time we start assessing traffic, water, and electricity impact fees for new housing developments. If we did, guess what, these developments wouldn't happen.

BTW, for all those that think our social "welfare" programs are limited to the lazy, stupid, and destitute. This is a prime example of an indirect government giveaway to the wealthy developers. The true cost of the impact of these developments is born by the residents, while the developers avoid the marginal investments needed to expand utility grids, power stations, water delivery and dams, as well as nearby traffic impacts. The developer gets away with it by offering a joke of "public amenities."

Posted by Derek
a resident of Danville
on Jul 11, 2014 at 9:59 am

I agree with every single point JT, and Brenda is right too regarding so-called "senior housing". What a crock. Seniors don't need a huge yard, but they do need a place to live that is single-story and free from excess noise and crowding. Is Faria going to buy all of them a stairlift?
Open space will always be an anathema to any developer. Open space is dollar signs, period.

Posted by Jim Stewart
a resident of San Ramon
on Jul 11, 2014 at 10:34 am

Here's a copy of my email to Harry Sachs:

To: Harry Sachs

Last night I watched on CCTV the entirety of the 7-8-14 S. R. City Council meeting as I was unable to get inside the meeting chamber on 7-8-14.

I am writing to thank you and to congratulate you for your performance during that meeting. You obviously did your homework, which must have taken many, many hours of research and preparation. Your articulate and cogent arguments were easily understood and above all, persuasive.

Paring back the Faria project as you propose is the best and most feasible outcome to minimize adverse I impacts to San Ramon residents and to the environment. Your well reasoned arguments appear to have caused some of the council to sway in the right direction, toward your point of view.

In the bigger picture, beyond your well reasoned and researched arguments, and most important of all, is that your taking the initiative to champion this issue (and not taking the easy "yes man" way out), has significantly "raised the bar" for the S.R. City Council. No longer can the S.R. City Council get away with merely "rubber stamping" a developer's project regardless of the objections of adversely affected San Ramon residents.

I believe that you, for the first time (to my knowledge), have "broken the mold" and forced the S.R. City Council to be truly accountable and responsive to the residents of San Ramon. No longer can the City Council get away with doing whatever they please after being elected, simply because some on council think they can get away with it.

I live in Twin Creeks, just on the West side of 680. I got involved in local politics because of the significant adverse impacts to the residents west of 680 that the proposed HOV ramps at both Norris Canyon and at Executive Parkway would cause.

I am retired, actually from two different careers; first career was a mechanical project engineer managing projects across the US & CA, and then decided to convert my avocation to my vocation and worked my way up to a corporate pilot captain job at a fortune 500 company. With my background, I especially appreciate your cogent and well reasoned arguments that actually force people (and other councilmembers) to think hard about the real issues.

Posted by senior citizen
a resident of San Ramon
on Jul 13, 2014 at 10:15 am

it is NO LONGER a question of lettingothers in but, with plenty of history to see backwards, one can clearly see that jamming every inch of open land is not the answer to any of these problems.

The greater value and good is to allow land to be open, clear and in itself provides greater harmony and inner peace to more, then to clear it to build, for greater developer's greed, more buildings--no matter to what end!!!

Providence, prudence, and foresight will tell all that history shows repeatedly that wanting more buildings on more open land brings eventual destruction to peacefulness, harmony, restful environments,
balance between whats there and the openness which all seek should now be sought. Little of this balance is left to us in this Valley.

Why not act for the future and protect what we have?

Protect our environmental health with the open lands around us.

Why not protect what we have left for future generations to enjoy?

Protect our mental health with open lands.

Why demolish the earth so MORE persons can cram what's left of open lands?

We are mature enough to understand we need to protect our open space environment? Are we not?

No, leaving a few pieces here and there is not protection but avoidance of a greater good for all who sought this Valley early on.

Those here planned earlier then developers, yes they can clamor for more but those in charge MUST PROTECT the concept of environmental health for those here and not consider bringing more into the paradise because they want in late or for developers who will cram more boxes in tighter spaces for greater self gain.

How many boxes can you one build in one acre?

Just you wait and see for personal gain with tricky words and by passes,

Consider your future environmental health!!! Not just yours but your extended family who may also reside in the Valley!!

Posted by J Pringle
a resident of San Ramon
on Jul 13, 2014 at 1:19 pm

The project has been in the works for years and before the planning committee and council many times. You can't stop it now. San Ramon is getting exactly what it voted for, that is the ones who bothered to vote, the rest gave up their proxy. Sachs voted for Faria while on the planning commission and Hudson has never voted against a development. ROZ and Bunny supported their re-election. Now they have "concerns."

Posted by Bob P
a resident of another community
on Jul 13, 2014 at 2:05 pm

The fact that many seem to forget or overlook is that property owners have a legal right to develop their property, in the most profitable way they can, as long at it is done according to law. There is a concept called "highest and best use". There are possible restriction to this right, some of which are zoning laws, and the basic tenant that one landowner may not legally infringe on the rights of another.

The original Faria Preserve project was approved because it adhered to the General Plan, and all applicable zoning laws, and numerous conditions of approval. The Planning Commission approved the revised Lafferty proposal. It will be interesting to see if the City Council finds major legal or land use policy errors in the PC's decision.

Posted by JT
a resident of Danville
on Jul 14, 2014 at 9:19 am

San Ramon City and Planning also let in the horrific development up in the hills of Norris Canyon. That is a true abomination. So if that is what the "general plan" allows or encourages, then the General Plan is marching orders for developers to leapfrog and bull doze.

Ever hang around developers. They and their paid staff and consultant representatives know the local politicos and staff. They are constantly at City Council and County Supervisor meetings. They are constantly working with staff. They know how they all stand vis-a-vis pro or anti development. It is their JOB to know this.

How about the typical resident-advocate? Outgunned because their 8-5 jobs are something else. Outgunned because of time and money. So when somebody stands up to be counted, stands up to developers egregious proposals, they are to be respected, not derided.

The developers constantly strategize on the most effective way of getting their proposals through the various stages of approval. They sit there and decide to cram as much in initially as possible, because they know it will get whittle down. And the belief is that if you start large, you will get to a higher density and more profit, than by starting reasonable.

San Ramon, your city lowlands are virtually filled to every corner. The major parcels that are left are the ones at the edges of the hills. Your hills are going to be consumed by Faria like developers one "small" parcel at a time. If you don't stand up now your hills will be consumed by houses.

Residents of Walnut Creek said stop!
Residents of Alamo and Danville are saying stop!
Livermore, the same
Pleasanton, the same
Dublin and San Ramon??? Time to say "NOT SO FAST!!!"

Posted by Resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Jul 14, 2014 at 10:23 am

You do realize that the Norris Canyon project you refer to is called Norris Canyon Estates and is outside of the San Ramon city limits. It was approved by the Contra Costa County Planning Commission.

It is a county project and never received any San Ramon approvals. All of their services - police, planning, building permits, etc, come from the County.

Posted by SR Resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Jul 14, 2014 at 10:29 am

JT -
You need to read up on the Urban Limit Line (ULL) in Contra costa County. Faria is inside the ULL that was voted on by the voters of San Ramon in 2002. Nearly all of the hills to the east and west of the built up area of San Ramon are outside the ULL and cannot be built on without a change in the ULL. The Alameda cities you cite do not have the ULL to limit their development.

Get your facts straight. Do a little more research before you write.

Posted by Ms. bunny
a resident of San Ramon
on Jul 15, 2014 at 7:24 am

You are so right Bob. It does seem people are not "getting" the law when it comes to the right of the owner to development their property (sigh) The type of houses people are referring to here are basically what we call "xero lot line" housing. That is, houses so close together, if one person opens their window and their neighbor's is open? They can almost "spit" right into it, due to the absence of sideyard space. Builders go straight up to use every piece of space they can nowadays (look at east Dublin) Most of the time, 3 levels with stairs leading to each. A mess of design in my opinion but more profitable for the builder.

I remain disappointed in the plan for 740 units on the Faria property. It's just too many in this particular area of hillsides, narrow divides and too much impact for San Ramon Valley Blvd. if not Crow Canyon. I believe however, it's a 'done deal' here. It's unfortunate it got THIS FAR WITHOUT the reduction in numbers of housing units. I doubt, at this juncture? The City Council can mitigate what's been approved to date OR lessen the ugly impact it will bring to San Ramon, yet alone? NORTH San Ramon.TV

Posted by JT
a resident of Danville
on Jul 15, 2014 at 11:30 am

Thanks SR Resident for the information. You are right, I do not know where exactly the CC ULL falls through this area. However, even with ULLs, it is possible to build in areas outside of them. So, yes it is important for citizens to remain vigilant on the land uses changes that are going down.
That said, the easily developable large acreage lowlands in San Ramon are pretty much spoken for, so local owner/developers are left with the property along the edges of the hills. Without going to check the exact facts, I believe that Moraga and/or Lafayette have ridgeline and viewshed considerations that are incorporated into hillside developments.
Anyway, SR residents and neighbors who do care about their backyards will need to continue their advocacy even with the ULLs in place.

Posted by Derek
a resident of Danville
on Jul 16, 2014 at 1:36 pm

Many of you above - the ones who seem inordinately pro-land-use-rights - seem to forget that many of these developments came about because, as JT already said, palms were greased, which allowed land use designations to be changed. Some, I believe, illegally. It certainly happened here in the Danville/Diablo area with SummerHill.

Posted by Bob P
a resident of another community
on Jul 16, 2014 at 6:44 pm

Derek, that is rather serious allegation to be making, do you have any proof of this? Do you understand what the process is to change land use designations?

Posted by senior citizen
a resident of San Ramon
on Jul 17, 2014 at 6:36 am

Not all life must revolve around installing new construction which actually in the long run, destroys quality of life.

More housing brings more problems, more crime, more traffic, more congestion, more police actions, more of everything which degrades quality of life.

Though we all seek better quality of life, it doesn't all come with more housing!!!

This is a Valley which is ONLY served by two main arteries, 680 and the side road which was the original highway.

It is a narrow Valley.

So called growth by law for profit serves to bring more congestions to all facets of life!!!

Growth is great BUT at what expense????

Those who want to develop eventual congestion, disappear with money in their pockets; those who seek to legislate citing laws for growth seeking momentary ego and fame leave behind a massive disservice to future generations who will want to flee the narrow Valley congestion created.

Think about the "green" environment needed for mental health, for environmental concerns, for protection of the earth which will be attacked by the potential earthquakes which faults run under the Valley.

To grow just to grow because there is a law allowing rampant development does not serve anyone in the near nor long term future.

Houses are already being built stacked up against each other to do what?


You wish more houses stacked up one upon the other as they are being done NOW.

Current stacked up housing shows this phase allowed by council members, city administrators.

There is no law current or otherwise which should be allowed to created stacked housing for profit to builders and city treasuries!!!.

All who are here already will suffer from the massive built up congestion on the way.

What did we lose?
What did we gain?

Who lost and who gained???

Reflect on it!!!

Posted by Ms. bunny
a resident of San Ramon
on Jul 17, 2014 at 7:42 am

"greased palms" ??? Oh please (-you're right Bob, they'd BE "serious allegations" IF they weren't boldfaced lies...I'm considering the source here) Our forefathers made some real mistakes and the county seized upon them back in the early 70's. A couple of you need to get a grip here. That said?

IT'S HISTORY BOYS. We can only focus on what is; mitigate what can be mitigated, not undo all that has been done, to this or any other community where rampant tract/commercial building took place in the 70's/80's and then some and few constraints on land developers. Geez.

Posted by SR Resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Jul 17, 2014 at 8:02 am

To Senior Citizen - unless you live in a house that was built before 1965 then you are living in a 'development' that impacted the previous residents. All developments impact the previous residents. Thomas Ranch impacted Twin Creeks, Claremont Crest impacted Thomas Ranch and Twin Creeks and so on. The question is can we minimize and/or mitigate the impact.

To Derek - Do you really believe that the only way that planning commissioners and council members approve developments is if they get paid by the developers? There is NO EVIDENCE to suggest that there is any quid pro quo for allowing development. If you have evidence, then let us know and call the district attorney.

You may not believe this but land owners have rights regarding the use of their properties. The State has made laws regarding planning and development but to deny the owner of all uses of the property is called a 'taking' and requires that the government compensate the land owner.

Posted by JT
a resident of Danville
on Jul 17, 2014 at 9:04 am

I don't believe the accusations are literal re greased palms. IOW, someone is not directly handing cash from one hand to another.
However the process that goes on, where those whose careers, jobs from 8 to 5 how get paid to do what they do, are developers and contractors, and geotechnical consultants and politicians and planning staffs and councils and elected officials, are all involved in a process, day by day, and they all know each other. In some cases family to family. On top of that elected officials run for office and those that are affected by local laws, zoning, approvals etc, etc, donate to their political campaigns. Are we all so naive to think that these people don't know each other by FIRST name? These are not anonymous donations. Quite the contrary. So just because you don't donate and just because you don't know your politicians by first name doesn't mean that that is what is going on.
So yes the skids are greased to put it another way.

Now consider the other harried person who is trying to keep on top of their own job and maintain their own house. Those advocates are completely outmanned by this "greased skids" process. OK, sure a notice arrives in the mail announcing a public meeting. So you have to mark it in your calendar and then show up and hope life doesn't get in the way. And when public notice goes out, do you know how many meetings with designers and real estate agents and staff and architects have already gone on. The hurricane of activity is already well underway. In fact public notice meetings happen when the "storm" is already well formed and about to hit shore. Good luck to the advocates that are trying to stop it or alter course. And of course the developers start so that the "storm" is rated "Category 5" so when the public does get wind of it, their hope is that they will get it passed by downgrading it to a Category 3. Their strategy: "You see 'public' we downgraded the development to something smaller, threw in a couple of 'amenities' and now it is not so bad.
The entire process smells...

Posted by Bob P
a resident of another community
on Jul 17, 2014 at 10:38 am

Derek, JT and anyone else who cares to listen.

I take grave offense to any notion that Planning Commissioners, staff or anyone in San Ramon, have taken any compensation from developers, agents, lobbyist or anyone else.

For those who may not know, I spent nearly 15 years in VOLUNTEER service to the citizens of San Ramon, and served almost 10 years as a Planning Commissioner. Yes, I received a small stipend for meeting attendance, but do you realize the work, preparation and study it takes to do the job? Just for a typical Planning Commission meeting I would spend 10 - 15 hours a week just reviewing and studying the meeting materials. That doesn't include the training and other study to keep up to date on planning laws, theories and networking within the planning community. I was also a liaison to other city commissions and committees, sat on numerous task forces and regional planning groups. So add another 10 hours or so a month, unpaid.

Oh, by the way, we are also full time workers in our 'real' jobs. We own homes, mow lawns, take out the garbage. We are residents of the community we serve. We don't make a decision and then head to San Francisco or some other place to live. We are your neighbors, we drive by the developments we approve almost everyday. We too have to live with our choices.

Yet, you feel that we are getting rich off our decisions. You are sadly mistaken, if you truly believe that. Personally, I never have accepted a single penny from an applicant or developer, nor have I even allowed myself to be treated to lunch or a cup of coffee. I did on occasion eat some of Peter Oswald's chocolate candy, I hope that doesn't count as a bribe.

Disagree with our decisions, that is perfectly acceptable and I encourage it. Insinuate we don't care, are unethical or criminals, I will not tolerate that for one second.

Rant off.

Posted by Ms. bunny
a resident of San Ramon
on Jul 17, 2014 at 12:44 pm

I'm with you Bob...This conversation has become utterly insane in regard to what's truly commenced in the past...It just goes to show how LITTLE understanding some have of city and developer "politics" guidelines and rules, as well as the power behind the county AND state mandates.

Yes, they can "rant" away...(sigh)

Posted by Senior Citizen
a resident of San Ramon
on Jul 18, 2014 at 6:36 am

Just yesterday, July 17, one witnessed another major 680 jam up where the free way becomes a parking lot.

These freeway parking lot events become more frequent these days.

More houses and probable 2 or 4 cars per house brings more freeway parking lots which over the years has become a bigger and faster event on 680.

Laws dont solve the freeway parking lot events.

Laws never took into account a narrow valley with one major through road.

Laws never looked ahead to foresee this problem.

Laws were initially passed to "earn" more money and as fast as it could be made by using the "laws".

We are in the early part of the 21st century not the the old wild west where might ruled.

We MUST use our heads to see the narrow valley and the quickly growing freeway parking lots leading to cars getting off 680 and jamming up the only other side road which traverses the narrow valley.


How do you like moving from Dublin to Walnut Creek in ONE HOUR AND THIRTY MINUTES????????

It's happening now few more frequency WITH WHAT TRAFFIC THERE IS NOW!!!!!!!

You want more time on the freeway parking lot????

You want more cars on the Valley to help build faster roadblocks??

You want more congestion???

How will emergency vehicles move on the freeway parking lot and only other major side road when they are jammed tight with cars????

Hey, it;s now happening!!!

We just NOW need that one time when everything comes together for that big catastrophe to hit!!!!

Good luck

I wont be here.

Senior Citizen

Posted by Kate
a resident of Danville
on Jul 18, 2014 at 2:03 pm

One word...WATER!!
I find it hard to believe that during an extreme drought it is perfectly ok to go ahead and hook up another massive development Everyone else keep on conserving while we just keep supplying more and more to new development.... Makes no sense at all!!

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