Save Open Space Danville Group, or SOS Danville Group for short, is a citizen's group that has been formed to:
1. Preserve and protect Danville's precious remaining open space land.
In the 2030 Danville General Plan (Danville's blueprint for development), all such open space land is designated for one of three types of open space land use: Agricultural, Parks and Recreation, and General Open Space.
2. Ensure that Danville voters get a say in any decisions that might affect the use of Agricultural, Parks and Recreation, or General Open Space land.
Measure S, Danville's Open Space Protection Measure passed in 2000 with 75% voter approval, requires a vote before the use of any open space land is changed. Unfortunately, the Town Council has never honored Measure S to provide a public vote on its approvals of residential development of Agricultural Open Space land.
In 2013, we successfully gathered over 3300 County-Election-Department verified Town of Danville voters' signatures on a Preservation Initiative Petition, but the Danville Town Council found a technical flaw in the petition and refused to put it on the ballot, even though they legally could have chosen to do so.
HERE IS A LINK TO THE DREIR:
Website link: http://www.danville.ca.gov/MageeRanch.
THE DREIR OFFERS NO ADDITIONAL MITIGATIONS FOR PROJECT IMPACTS! THIS IS THE SAME UNACCEPTABLE PROJECT THAT THE TOWN APPROVED IN 2013!
THE TOWN STILL PLANS TO DENY A MEASURE S PUBLIC VOTE ON THE PROJECT, EVEN THOUGH THE NEW 2030 GENERAL PLAN GOVERNS!
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP DEFEAT THE PROJECT:
1. PLEASE SEND WRITTEN COMMENTS BEFORE OCTOBER 15TH to
2. PLEASE ATTEND THE PLANNING COMMISSION HEARING ON SEPTEMBER 25TH AT 7:30! Please plan to speak or at least submit a yellow card stating your opposition to the project.
LOCATION: TOWN MEETING HALL, 201 FRONT STREET. The discussion at the hearing will be limited to the EIR.
DETAILS ABOUT THE DREIR:
THE DREIR has the same flawed conclusions as the 2013 EIR.
1. Regarding traffic congestion, the Town found no new significant impacts, despite the great increase in traffic since the Town's previous (2010) traffic study.
The Town concluded, as before, that the project's only significant traffic impact is at the Blackhawk Road/Diablo Road/Mt. Diablo Scenic intersection. On weekday mornings, there is a one-mile car back-up, and the Town admits that the project would make that backup significantly worse.
The Town states, with no analysis, that a traffic signal will solve the backup. As anyone that knows the Diablo corridor will attest, a signal will merely move the traffic to the next congested signalized intersection at Green Valley Road, making that intersection significantly worse.
In any case, the Town states that because the Blackhawk Road//Diablo Road/Mt. Diablo Scenic Blvd. intersection is under the control of Contra Costa County, the Town will merely require Davidon Homes to contribute money toward a traffic light, if the County ever decides to install one.
The Town continues to base its traffic analysis on temporary County Measure J sales tax "Congestion Relief" funding (covering 90% of costs) for Diablo Road corridor school buses, despite new information that such funding is seriously in jeopardy, and can never be guaranteed.
2. Regarding bicyclist safety impacts from the project's anticipated nearly 1000 more cartrips per day, the Town concluded that no safety enhancements are necessary for the bicyclists that make 100,000 trips per year on the obviously extremely dangerous, narrow 1 1/2 mile Diablo Road section between Green Valley Road and Mt. Diablo Scenic Blvd. (the road to Mt. Diablo State Park).
As any bicyclist and motorist regularly travelling Diablo Road will attest, there is little to no bicyclist safety on Diablo Road now, and there should be no additional car traffic unless the road is first significantly improved.
3. Regarding flooding and erosion in the overcapacity, highly- eroded East Branch of Green Valley Creek downstream from the project, the Town offered no new analysis and refused to consider new Contra Costa County Flood Control Department information that the culvert underneath Diablo Road at Alameda Diablo is severely undersized and cannot handle existing large storm flows, let alone the longer flood-level flows the project will create.
4. Regarding evacuation and emergency response times, the Town offered no new analysis or mitigations, despite a Diablo Road closure for 36 hours due to a fallen tree in winter 2017, and yet another 2-alarm fire nearby on Mt. Diablo.
5. Regarding the federally-endangered CA Red-Legged Frogs thriving on Magee Ranch, the Town continued to ignore the warnings of SOS-Danville's biology experts that the project will eradicate the last known breeding CRLF population in Danville.
6. Regarding a Measure S PUBLIC VOTE on the project, the Town plans to again deny a Measure S (Danville's Open Space Protection Measure passed by Danville voters in 2000) public vote. A Measure S public vote is needed to approve the rezoning to P-1 Planned Unit Residential Development zoning necessary for the project.
In 2013, local residents led by SOS-Danville defeated the Town Council's plan to insert in the 2030 General Plan (which currently governs development in Danville) P-1 Planned Unit Development Residential zoning as an allowable zoning for Agricultural use land. Because P-1 is not an allowable zoning on Agricultural use land, a Measure S public vote is required BEFORE THE LAND MAY BE REZONED TO ACCOMMODATE THE PROJECT!
HISTORY OF THE MAGEE RANCHES PROJECT
DAVIDON HOMES SUBSTITUTES IN AS MAGEE RANCHES PROJECT APPLICANT; TOWN BEGINS PREPARATION OF A REVISED DRAFT EIR
Davidon has built other developments in Danville, such as Hidden Valley and Matadera.
The Town has been working with Davidon and a consultant to prepare a revised Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to address the project's negative effect on bicyclist safety in the Diablo Road corridor and to address the worsening traffic impacts since the 2010 traffic survey that was the basis for the legally-flawed 2013 EIR. The developer recently undertook a new traffic survey which the Town is apparently incorporating into the EIR.
DANVILLE TOWN COUNCIL RESCINDS APPROVAL OF MAGEE RANCHES PROJECT; SUMMERHILL HOMES ABANDONS PROJECT
The trial court ordered the rescision because the Town Council lost the lawsuit. SUMMERHILL HOMES THEN WISELY ABANDONED THE PROJECT.
APPELLATE COURT DECIDES IN FAVOR OF SOS IN LAWSUIT REGARDING MAGEE RANCHES PROJECT
We are gratified that the CA Appellate Court has taken a stand for the safety of bicyclists throughout California in ruling that the Town Council had improperly failed to evaluate bicyclist safety impacts from the nearly 1000 more car trips per day from the project.
The Court’s clear message is that governmental decision-makers such as the Danville Town Council members and developers such as Summerhill Homes cannot claim that bicyclist safety is not an environmental impact. Bicyclist safety is, instead, a significant factor that must be considered before approving new developments.
However, this was not a complete victory for the community. Regarding the issue of whether the Town Council had illegally rezoned Agricultural Open Space land to allow residential development in violation of the Danville General Plan, the Town’s blueprint for development, the Appellate Court opted to reject Judge Austin’s well-reasoned decision, which understood that the Town’s approval of the development circumvented the voters and their right under Ballot Measure S to decide by public vote whether a housing project could be dropped onto such Open Space land. Instead, the Appellate court ruled that the Council could disregard the Danville General Plan’s clear and undisputed list of allowable zonings for such Open Space land and that such disregard was not an “abuse of discretion”. It is important to note that the Appellate Court did not rule that the Town Council’s rezoning was the “right” decision, only that it was not so unreasonable as to violate state law.
As Judge Austin stated in the hearing prior to his decision in our case, the Town Council essentially added a “secret zoning” to the General Plan’s specific list of those that could be used for Agricultural Open Space land. The Council’s obvious reason was to avoid a public vote and instead cater to powerful special interests. Shockingly, the Appellate Court did not even bother to address the denial of the public’s right to vote.
The Appellate Court’s decision on the rezoning issue is a blow to democracy and the public’s right to rely on voter-enacted measures that seek to protect the right to public vote and Open Space. It is one more brick in walling off government from the people.
SOS Danville Wins Suit Against Town Council
Thanks to the amazing support of local residents, SOS Danville prevailed in its suit against the Danville Town Council regarding its approval of the SummerHill Homes Magee Ranches project on 200 acres of Agricultural Open Space in the Diablo/Blackhawk Road corridor. The judge ruled that Danville Town Council violated the Danville 2010 General Plan when it rezoned the Magee Ranch Agricultural-designated land to Planned Unit Residential Development (P-1) zoning, without first changing the land use designation to a Residential one that permits P-1 zoning.
SOS Danville also prevailed on the issue of bicycle safety. The judge ruled that the Council violated the California Environmental Quality Act in its failure in the EIR to analyze the impact of the SummerHill project's increased traffic on bicyclist safety along Diablo Road.
Town Council Approves Magee Ranches Project
On Tuesday June 18, the Danville Town Council unanimously approved the SummerHill Homes Magee Ranches project for 69+ homes on Agricultural Open Space land. The Council was so eager to develop this open space that they pushed on (despite protest) until 2:00 a.m. to bring it to vote that very night, when there were few people left to witness their actions. The Council was so pro-SummerHill that they ADDED HOMES to the project that the Planning Commission had wisely removed.