Claycord – Talk About Local Politics

September 22, 2017 19:00 pm · 72 comments


This special post is “Talk About LOCAL Politics”.

Please use this post to talk about LOCAL politics, and keep state and national politics out of this thread.

Thank you, and be kind to each other.

Please Note: Users who use multiple names will be deleted. Please choose a name so others can easily chat with you. Users must provide a name in the ‘name field’, please do not use the ‘@’ symbol in the name field.

Clayton Squirrel September 23, 2017 at 11:54 AM

I’m happy to see the above story about new playgrounds opening up for kids.

I just came on here to post about how grateful I am for our local parks and recreational activities. My son just got back from playing tennis at the free courts in Concord and I think that it’s wonderful that they are open and maintained.

Thank you!

I also noticed that Clayton has taken a few steps (like oleander removal by the tie rail) to make the downtown more horse friendly. Thank you! My neighbor says that the big wooden trail bridge that’s sort of behind La Veranda is still slippery for her horse to cross though.


Hope Johnson September 23, 2017 at 1:36 PM

Lennar plans to heavily grade down the hills near the North Concord BART station despite stating in it’s initial proposal that it would be working to keep existing topography. There is only one large hill more in the middle that currently isn’t planned to be graded. I think this is a mistake because it diminishes the character of the area. Lennar says it will maximize transit use, make the area accessible to everyone, and keep affordability in housing costs.

There seems to be plenty of flat land for them to work with instead of grading. Once the hills are gone, we can’t ever get them back. It seems Concord needs something to separate it from just another dull suburban flat land. I am curious to learn what others think about this.

Nature Lover September 23, 2017 at 3:17 PM

I agree with you Hope. Doesn’t the planning commission have to approve Lennar’s plans?

THE BLACK KNIGHT September 23, 2017 at 5:20 PM

At the CAC meeting this last week, discussions included the amount of grading to be done. In discussions the estimated time frame for Lennar to do the amount of grading they now want to do was estimated at 2 years, while the time frame for the amount of grading Lennar initially reported was estimated to take 8 months. Lennar is going back on their word again, they had initially stated they were going to work with existing topography of the land, but now want to flatten as much as possible. The should look at the neighborhood across from the North Concord BART Station which was built on a hill!!!

The speaker from Lennar at this weeks CAC meeting also mentioned a shopping center at Bailey Road at the bypass road exit/entrance. The bypass road which was initially suppose to be a 4 lane roadway, has now become a 2 lane roadway in Lennar’s plans.

Lennar’s plans also removed the “village centers” from several of the villages.

Lennar’s plans also put a majority of the “affordable housing” in the area of the North Concord BART Station. Before we go down this path of dumping so many of the “affordable housing” units in the area of the North Concord BART Station, what evidence do we have that these new “affordable housing” residents will be taking BART as a means of transportation? This area will already have reduced parking, but if we look at other areas of Concord where low rent housing is available we see an excess of cars without sufficient parking, so parking has spilled into neighboring neighborhoods several blocks away. “Affordable housing” should be spread more evenly throughout the entire development.

The speaker from Lennar also said that their mission recently changed, and their mission in developing a plan for the entire site now includes redevelopment of the North Concord BART Station property and development plans of the U.S. Coast Guard property. This was apparently Lennar’s choice to develop a plan for the entire CNWS property, BART property, and CG property, rather than just phase one, which is all they’ve been contracted to do.

While Dana Estates and Bishop Estates have a buffer in the plans, that buffer is missing for residents of East Sun Terrace and Sun Terrace.

The speaker from Lennar also stated their plans included the reopening of the three now closed access points along East Olivera Road, and the reopening of the now closed access point on the north side of the East Sun Terrace neighborhood. The one lane sections of East Olivera Road/Olivera Road and Port Chicago Highway can’t handle any more traffic.

THE BLACK KNIGHT September 23, 2017 at 5:49 PM

The Concord Planning Commission had a speaker at this weeks meeting, she was Gloria Bruce, Executive Director of East Bay Housing Organizations (EBHO), which is a membership organization for affordable housing advocates. In her presentation, Gloria Bruce has finally given us clarity by admitting “Affordable Housing” is “Low Income Housing,” but the term “Low Income Housing” is no longer used, because it is now deemed “disparaging.” She went on to show income levels that would qualify for affordable housing using federal standards and guidelines.

While going over the list of items the Concord Planning Commission has dealt with over the last fiscal year, Concord Planning Commissioner John Mercurio stated the work they’ve done was “to benefit the community and build up Concord.” Concord Planning Commissioner Dominic Aliano stated the work they’ve done was “to make Concord better.” Commissioner Mercurio and Commissioner Aliano, much of the work that you’ve done has not made Concord better, has not benefitted the community, but you have worked to build up Concord and make it more overcrowded than it already is without fixing the traffic and parking issues that already plague the City of Concord. You have succeeded in serving the members of the Concord City Council, but you have failed in serving the Citizens of Concord.

RANDOM TASK September 23, 2017 at 9:17 PM

People you gave up your rights when you voted to have a city council with absolute power they don’t work for the people they work for their own profit and political power … got duped and still are ….the fact you think you have any power just shows how for the Dems and their goal of producing lemmings has gotten you wanted this and got it ….lol live with it …it is all your fault …nice voting …hope you are proud let us all know how proud you are …or deflect like Dems always do

ON DA September 24, 2017 at 1:20 AM

Random Task and the Black Knight there is no buffer zone. The foul stench odor and noise pollution continues to permeate our suburban and rural communities. Most of the monies used to gear up this Broadject originates from foreign entities that will never ever even set foot on our sovereign soils.
Interesting that persons that will never live here dictate how we should live our lives.
The traffic flow and vehicle congestion is already at a mega clip. Otherwise, HEY nobody would be complaining so much would they?

Hope Johnson September 24, 2017 at 9:47 AM

@ Nature Lover #3

The CAC and Planning Commission will make recommendations on the Specific Plan to the City Council. The Specific Plan will include the amount of grading. Then the City Council will have the final vote to approve or not.

City staff’s response to Lennar’s current proposal expresses “concern” over the increased grading but also “understanding” of why Lennar wants to do it. At the Community Workshop 3 yesterday, Lennar was adamant about the gradin when I talked to them about it.

Hope Johnson September 24, 2017 at 10:21 AM

@ The Black Knight

Along the same lines as your posts, it was clear from the CNWS Community Workshop yesterday that Concord decision makers are amazingly unprepared to react and adjust to the challenges they will face to reach the plans they have for this area. One example is that the Rec & Park staff are rolling out a community outreach group to get people to walk and bike. This is their plan to keep traffic down. They insist that people who move to North Concord will live, work, and shop there – as if North Concord is going to be suddenly transformed into the equivalent of the island of Manhattan.

When I asked how they would handle the fact that biking hasn’t increased to more than 4% of the commute even in areas across the country that have been working on it for years and years, Rec & Park said they would work harder to change people’s minds. When I asked how they expected say a mom of two to go to the store on a bike in the summer, they suggested one plan might be to provide shady areas to stop and rest. These are not reasonable solutions to known challenges. Do they really think the reason people aren’t adopting biking as a commute alternative is that the other cities aren’t trying hard enough to make them want to do it? And, a mom of two barely has time to get to the store let alone stop and rest on a bike on a regular basis, especially if that family has to waste one to two hours each way every day commuting on Bart. The result of their being so woefully under-prepared is that Concord and the cities out on Hwy 4 will become unlivable due to the amount of traffic.

When I suggested that planners in SF were unprepared for residents to choose Uber & Lyft over biking, Rec & Park and Lennar said no one can anticipate everything. But, the issue is that the Uber & Lyft situation reveals it is a known challenge that people tend to choose other forms of transportation over biking. What is the city’s plan to deal with this relative to traffic during the delay between their changing people to walking and biking and people actually driving (not to mention the Council’s increasing promotion of yet another non-biking form of transport, the electric vehicle). It appears their plan is to just keep pushing biking and let the chips fall where they may.

The Lennar representative and a couple attending told me people will ride their bikes more if the grading gets done. So now we are going to tear down the hills so a handful of people can bike on them instead of using existing less sloped areas? It’s a mess.

This is not unexpected. Concord continues to ignore some pressing issues. Round Table Pizza has been sold to a company in Georgia. Does this mean we are losing yet another business? Meanwhile, Concord’s council will be discussing renewing its tourism advocacy group on Tuesday. How much revenue do tourists spend in Concord each year? How likely is it Concord will become a hot tourist destination? Instead, they should be receiving regular reports on economic development that includes lists of empty office and retail spaces.

FCA September 24, 2017 at 11:45 AM

Concord is doomed and so is California.

Jojo Potato September 24, 2017 at 12:26 PM

It’s one thing to worry about traffic in Concord and beyond but those of us in the middle that are getting swamped with cut through traffic will be doing everything we can to to stop it. A recent traffic study by the WC city showed that 75% of the cars travelling on Walnut Blvd in the afternoon were registered in Concord or further out. Residents in this neighborhood are no longer willing to put up with this destruction of our area for outlander’s convenience.

Concord Mike September 24, 2017 at 12:55 PM

I attended the CNWS Community Workshop yesterday and was very much underwhelmed. The plan Lennar put forward seemed haphazard. It lacked a sense of coherence and had zero “wow” factor. Some housing and retail go in phase one, and the things current Concord residents really want ( a 4 year college with library, parks, high paying jobs) is pushed out into the distant future.

i spoke one of the CAC members who said he was disappointed with what Lennar has put forward so far, most notably their recommendation to take two years just to grade phase one.

The only group that seems happy about all this is the bike lobby, who is getting class four dedicated bike lanes on many roads. That seems to have come at the expense of sidewalk space, which is narrowed to only six feet.

Mary Fouts September 24, 2017 at 12:58 PM

RE: hillside grading. It comes down to (1) $$$ and (2) Lennar doesn’t care abut the community. Seismically and slip/slide safe hillside construction can be done, but at greater expense than “flat land” construction.

My assumption is that: (1) Lennar will continue to cut corners and costs to fatten profits, and (2) the City of Concord will generally continue to cave and allow Lennar to proceed as Lennar wants.

THE BLACK KNIGHT September 24, 2017 at 2:00 PM

Hope Johnson #9,

The Concord City Council and Planning Commission are still living in a DREAM WORLD when it comes to all of the development they have planned for Concord, and they continue to ignore the reality of the traffic and parking problems that currently plague the City of Concord. Concord was not properly planned as a city for the population it has today, let alone the future planned increases in population. You’d think that those that sit on the Concord City Council and Planning Commission would take a look at Concord as it is today, and plan accordingly so that we don’t repeat past mistakes.

The Concord City Council, Planning Commission, and City Staff are all DELUSIONAL, as long as they continue to believe in and perpetuate the myth that the new residents of Concord will choose walking, biking, busing, and BARTing as their modes of transportation. The fact that Concord City Staff believes that they can convince new residents to walk and bike as modes of transportation, more than other cities across the country that have been working on this for years is just plain false, it’s just another lie the Citizens of Concord are being sold. The City of Concord is not prepared or equipped to deal with the likes of Lennar, and that becomes more and more obvious after every meeting.

So, Concord’s Department of Parks and Recreation thinks that a community outreach group for biking and walking will significantly increase the number of residents that bike and/or walk as a means of transportation in large enough numbers to actually reduce traffic is more DELUSIONAL THINKING. I suppose this would go hand in hand with the “Public Transportation Training Classes” that were suggested by Concord City Councilmember Carlyn Obringer, who suggested the training classes for new residents of Concord, so that they could learn how to use public transportation.

THE BLACK KNIGHT September 24, 2017 at 2:17 PM

The speaker from Lennar that was at the CAC meeting this week also stated that the jobs may not come to Concord, so we may want to be able to dedicate some of the land that is set aside for commercial projects for future housing.

Keep in mind, that for more than 30 years the City of Concord has been unable to attract jobs to fill the existing office buildings and complete construction of the high-rise office buildings that surround the Downtown Concord BART Station, the Willow Pass Road high-rise office buildings, as well as continued vacancies and land available for construction in all of our business parks.

Why does the Concord City Council continue to believe the CNWS project will attract and produce the 27,000+ permanent jobs it is supposed too?

THE BLACK KNIGHT September 24, 2017 at 2:24 PM


If we are responsible for the election of the current members of the Concord City Council, then you must also be responsible. Many, if not most of us that are posting here did not vote to put these people on the Concord City Council, yet you are assigning blame to us.

THE BLACK KNIGHT September 24, 2017 at 2:31 PM

Mary Fouts #13,

You are absolutely right. The Concord City Council did everything they could to bring in Lennar-Urban, despite all of the games, trickery, corruption, and Lennar’s past history and legal troubles. I’d like to know when Willie Brown started running the Concord City Council? Once Willie Brown became involved, he got what he wanted.

Silva September 24, 2017 at 3:53 PM

By hook or by crook(s) Concord City council will get us out of our cars. When it becomes impossible to drive, we won’t have options besides walking or bicycling. It doesn’t take much imagination to see where this is headed.

Anon September 24, 2017 at 4:04 PM

They’ve painted up Salvio Street to create a bike lane that nobody uses. Way too much paint. Very out of character with the neighborhood. It’s ugly. The reason the hills will be flattened at North Concord Bart is because there is a maniacal push by City Staff for low income transit housing. Sure they are all for the environment until they decide they need subsidized housing more. Hillside Ordinance? What Hillside Ordinance? They realize people aren’t gonna walk a mile up a steep hill from their subsidized units in the flat lands to get to Bart. So they tear down the hills and put stack and pack housing at the top. Also, Bart is too expensive for low income people anyway. Let’s face it, they drive their beaten up cars to low wage jobs at Walmart and Starbucks, or to their gardening and housekeeping clients in Contra Costa County. So they’ll be living near Bart where the parking is deliberately inadequate and their clunkers and will be lining the streets. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate barristas, gardeners and housekeepers and I live among them. I just don’t see the point in enticing them into transit housing when they won’t be using transit.

Concord Mike September 24, 2017 at 4:11 PM

@TBK, I hope we can get better response from businesses for larger build-to-suit parcels that will be available on CNWS than we have been getting on the middling office space currently available around downtown.

One problem we have attracting high paying jobs, though, is the fact we have no plans to build any higher end housing for the higher paid workers we hope to attract. All we seem to be planning for is more low income and “workforce” housing. We are committed to building 25% affordable housing. Fine. Why aren’t we also committed to building 25% high end housing?

Couldn’t we dedicate at least one of the “Clustered Villages” to high end housing, and/or incorporate some penthouses or higher end view suites in the plans for the higher density BART corridor?

CNWS development could be our opportunity to attract higher paying jobs, but it is a harder sell when the business decision makers find out you have no good housing for them.

Kentucky Derby September 24, 2017 at 6:22 PM

Higher paying jobs and high end housing are a thing in the past for Concord, and the main reason is the lower to average performing schools. Concord has changed, and not for the better.

If you had a higher paying job, would you want to send your kids to schools with a low to average rating, or would you move to a different area with higher performing schools?

Some of the schools are still rated higher in Concord, but it’s hardly the norm.

There are still a lot of very nice homes in Concord, and people with high paying jobs. But most of these people probably moved to Concord before it changed, with the exception of people who are looking for “more bang for their buck” or people who don’t have children. Or their kids are grown.

Until all Concord schools are all rated 8-10, you won’t get what you want for Concord.

The truth hurts.

Forsythe September 24, 2017 at 6:53 PM

If anyone wants to compare the time involved in taking public transit, or walking, cycling, or driving, just try google maps. For example, if you wanted to shop at Costco and you lived in Clayton, near the library here are the times:

Drive: 18 minutes.
Bicycle: 37 minutes (but where would you put your giant package of paper towels)?
Public Transit: 1 hour, six minutes.
Walking: 2 hours 11 minutes.

Concord Mike September 24, 2017 at 7:16 PM

It is true most Concord public school scores are relatively low, and that is another problem when it comes to attracting high tech businesses and highly compensated workers.

However many high earners don’t have kids these days, and those that do have the means to afford private or religious schools – and we do have some good ones in our area.

Kentucky Derby September 24, 2017 at 8:26 PM

Why should someone send their kids to a private school when they can move to a nicer city with better schools – for free? Most people who send their kids to private school are wealthy, and most wealthy people aren’t interested in Concord. Religious schools – attract all incomes, and you can find those schools in all areas.

I understand your frustration with Concord. But what you want for Concord and reality are two different things.

The wisest thing to do when a town changes is to move out, or accept the changes, and try to make positive changes. But positive changes would be volunteering, etc. – not trying to get jobs, housing, etc. for a town that isn’t the least bit interested in coming to town – just so your town is “nicer.”

Martinez is a middle class town with schools rated 8-10. Pleasant Hill – another middle class town – has higher rated schools too. Two affordable towns, but better schools. Concord is a middle class town too, but the population has increased, and the demographics have changed.

Once a town has a gang problem (in certain areas) and lower and average performing schools – you can forget what you want for Concord.

The performance of schools is the FIRST thing a lot of home buyers look for – whether they have children or not. It affects property values, and property values are important to ALL homeowners – not just those raising children.

There’s Crystal Ranch, million dollar homes near Myrtle Dr. etc., and other nice areas – and then there’s the Monument and Solano areas.

Would you want to deal with Monument and Solano, the rising crime in Concord and the homeless problem if you were one of “these people” you want for Concord – when you could afford to live elsewhere?

THE BLACK KNIGHT September 24, 2017 at 8:40 PM

The Lennar representative also stated that they’ve had meetings with the MDUSD, and he showed plans for 6 schools, 4 elementary, 1 middle, and 1 high school. He called the 4 elementary schools “neighborhood schools.” The map he showed had both the middle school and high school on the corner of Willow Pass Road and East Olivera Road, while other maps showed this property as an alternative location for the college or university. Lennar should plot out the locations of existing schools in Concord, because the corner of Willow Pass Road and Olivera Road is not the proper place for a new middle school and new high school. We don’t need a new middle school placed between Glenbrook Middle School and El Dorado Middle School, and we don’t need a new high school placed between Mt. Diablo High School and Concord High School. It seems that Lennar doesn’t know what to do with the parcel of land that sits along Willow Pass Road and East Olivera Road, which he pointed out to be the most centrally located parcel of the CNWS property to the existing City of Concord.

KAD September 24, 2017 at 9:56 PM

Concord Mike – No one making high end salaries are going to buy a house in Concord. Sorry, but it is true.

Hope – The grading should not be allowed. This can’t all be about biking. Our Mayor said that she wanted a buffer for Sun Terrace.

Kenji September 25, 2017 at 12:17 PM

There seems to be an implication in comments above that those of us residents who want streets in the Reuse Project to allow people to bicycle safely instead of physically enforcing driving for all trips are in favor of flattening the hills. That is a false implication. We are not.

There was also an implication that advocating safe bicycle infrastructure means advocating narrow sidewalks. This is also wrong. Complete streets does not mean “Encourage bicycling, and forget everything else.” It means streets are to be safe and comfortable for everyone whether they drive, bicycle, walk, ride transit, or use a wheelchair. Concord Mike, I personally commented at the CAC meeting urging the committee members to resist Lennar’s attempt to narrow sidewalks in some street types compared to Area Plan recommendations. Good bicycle infrastructure and good pedestrian infrastructure are not opposed to each other. They go together.

Vandy September 25, 2017 at 12:30 PM

There are workers in the CNWS near Willow Pass and Olivera. They showed up a few weeks ago, along with equipment, in numbers I haven’t seen before.

Public input into the project is a deception. Its a public relations effort to reduce criticism by presenting the false image of accepting input and consideration. Lennar doesn’t care about what the locals want. Lennar already won against the locals. And they now can cash in on this amazing fantastic unique money-making opportunity for them!

We have no control over what they do in there. We gave them the keys and now they’ll lay waste as they see fit. They are the ones with the money to pay workers to do as they see fit. They’ll quietly hide any toxic stuff they find. They’ll dig up the animal dens and cut down the trees. We’ll know its happening when animals show up in the adjacent neighborhoods. And then seemingly overnight, there will be a sudden explosion of ugly, affordable ticky-tack housing packed and stacked with no yards, artificial nature, and plenty of concrete. Oh but there will be a poorly-designed community garden that nobody uses, validating someones idea that nobody wants a yard or a garden. Nobody would actaully want to live in this ticky tacky junk community, except the prices will dictate that many will be forced to live there because its part of the master plan for Bay Area Housing. This will be the first stop for many people moving to the Bay Area from elsewhere, first time home buyers, and those who just can’t figure out how to make more money.

We should pray for bike lanes. Because traffic is going to get bad, really bad in Concord. Its going to be so bad that many of us will start riding bikes because bikes will beat cars to just about any local destination. During commute time cars will be unmoving, a giant parking lot all around the area. And the bikes will zoom on by. We should pray for bike lanes.

Divided and Concord September 25, 2017 at 1:45 PM

We provide comments at the CNWS Workshops but we don’t see them. For all we know, they choose which ones they want and toss the rest. It’s a facade.

Lennar did say that they’d work with the existing topography. Now they’re saying that they need to grade it further to flatten it. Didn’t they say it was for ADA requirements because it has to be less than a 5% incline? So they’ll remove the natural buffer and sound barrier and then put up a sound barrier wall? Tacky. BK is right. The neighborhood across the street was developed on a hill. Keeping the natural topography makes it far more interesting.

Also none of the proposed streets include roundabouts/rotaries. Those too make it more interesting and keep traffic flowing. More entrance/exit points are needed toward Bailey.

More of a greenbelt is needed near the existing East Sun Terrace and Holbrook Heights neighborhoods. I don’t want to just see just concrete near the TOD Core. We’re suburban not urban.

Kenji September 25, 2017 at 4:16 PM

@Divided and Concord #29 – I agree that public comments should all be reproduced in a public report, so we can all see the unmediated range of opinions among our neighbors. City staff did something like that for workshops on the Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Safe Routes to Transit Plan. It should be routine practice. I asked Joan Ryan (City’s Planning Division) at the 2nd CNWS workshop for more time to be allowed at this 3rd one for comments and questions by the public in front of everyone after the presentation – not just in siloed conversations at topic stations – on the grounds that obliging the developer and staff to answer public concerns publicly is an important part of the process. Didn’t happen. I think it was about 5 questions that were taken by Guy Bjerke after the presentation, after which we were all dispersed to carry on separate conversations at the stations.

Hope Johnson September 25, 2017 at 7:27 PM

@ Divided and Concord & Kenji

I’m pretty sure the comment cards from the CNWS workshop are public record. The city would be obligated to disclose them pursuant to a public records request from any member of the public. Of course, there would be no way to guarantee you’d get them all. On the other hand, if they failed to produce some and a commenter noticed, it could be a problem for city staff.

Hope Johnson September 25, 2017 at 8:08 PM

@ Divided and Concord #29

ADA doesn’t require a 5% grade – just different accommodations such as handrails for higher grades. It would be worth the extra expense to preserve the hills plus there is plenty of lower hills and flatter land.

Kenji September 25, 2017 at 8:16 PM

Good point, Hope. Do you want to file that request or shall I?

Concord Mike September 25, 2017 at 8:50 PM

@Kenji, I believe it was the Lennar rep who spoke on Saturday who indicated a reason for the grading was to make it possible for people to ride bikes. Seriously.

I am glad you support wide sidewalks. I think wide sidewalks and wide streets are critical if we are talking an urban feel with 5 story buildings. Sidewalks should be able to accommodate couples walking both ways, landscape trees, people with pets and strollers, and a few bistro tables out front as well. 10-15 feet wide minimum.

Personally I think dedicated bike-only (class 4) lanes in high density residential areas are a huge waste of space and actually are more dangerous in that they will encourage bikers to ride faster than they should in what we hope will be an area with lots of pedestrians crossing streets. An exception would be parkways where vehicular traffic is moving over 40 mph and pedestrian cross traffic is minimal. It makes sense to have bike-only class 4 there…

Concord Mike September 25, 2017 at 8:58 PM

@Vandy, great rant in post 28! I hope your dystopian vision proves wrong, but I am worried enough about that possibility to get off my sofa and even go to some of these meetings.

ClaireB September 25, 2017 at 10:04 PM

@Hope Johnson

I am a mom in Walnut Creek and every week I bike with my two little kids, averaging over 25 miles per week. My 4 year old bikes more miles than most adults I know. We can do this because we live near the trail system. We also enjoy walking to the playground and grocery store. We pick figs and pomegranates, admire flowers, say hi to neighbors, talk about traffic safety, save money, and improve our physical health. Many moms I know don’t have time to workout, are frustrated with school pickoffs and dropffs, and don’t enjoy errands. Not me. Life is good I’m healthy and happy. I wish more cities would understand the benefits of getting people out of their car, and make it easy for them. I never complain about traffic because I’m not in it. I’ve chosen not to watch my life tick away while stopped at a stop light. Concord wants to give more people that opportunity. Please encourage them to.

Hope Johnson September 26, 2017 at 2:49 AM

@ Vandy and ClaireB

I support all of the bike infrastructure at the CNWS but there is no denying that the push for “getting people out of their cars” has not caused people to start bicycling in large numbers. Traffic increases have not created a market for bicycling replacing vehicle use.

Bicyclists generally make up less than 4% of the commute in US cities, even in those that have been emphasizing biking for many years. They make up about 4% of the commute in San Francisco, 1% in Los Angeles County and New York City, and just under 3% in Portland. The average across the country is less than 1%. The percentage is rising at a very slow creep – less than 1-2% over ten plus year periods. In San Francisco, planners were caught off guard by the increase in Uber and Lyft use instead of the switch to bikes. They are now realizing their traffic impact studies for new development are off, having failed to incorporate the popularity of the driver app services.

It’s poor planning to ignore the reality of these numbers. My question is, how is Concord and the whole Bay Area Plan going to manage the increased traffic as they try to get people to bike. Based on the reality of what is happening around us – that if we are at the highest end of the commuters by bike, we will have 4% of the commute by bike – we need to mitigate the known traffic now, not base our actions on the wish that everyone will quickly take up biking. The real numbers show that commuting by bike is not being adopted fast enough to mitigate traffic needs, even where traffic grid lock time is skyrocketing. It is not playing out the way it has been planned by cities, and people are starting to lose quality of life sitting in the inevitable traffic. Ignoring this is foolish, and won’t change the reality of the numbers.

I do not commute by car – I walk and Bart. I walked to the last two CNWS workshops down Port Chicago Hwy on relatively empty bike/walk paths, and most of the people there telling me the people who move to the CNWS area will bike were people who had driven a car to the event. So I am not one of the anti-bike people but I am also not one of the people who think biking will mitigate traffic because everyone else will bike while I drive. I am just tired of the poor planning and lack of basing decisions on known outcomes in similar areas and situations.

Kenji September 26, 2017 at 7:17 AM

@Concord Mike #34 – Yes, we agree about sidewalks. People naturally want to walk side by side, and typical sidewalk widths currently don’t allow them to. The Reuse Project needs to break from that bad norm. Furthermore, people should be able to walk without having to share the space with bicycles. To me, this is a compelling reason why bicycle traffic should be in a separate space on the street. It should not be combined with pedestrian traffic or motor traffic.

Regarding the idea that Class IV bikeways encourage bicycle traffic to move at a speed that’s unsafe for pedestrians who need to cross: Do you mean bicycle traffic at an extreme maximum speed of 22-23 mph might be more dangerous to pedestrians than motor traffic on the same street at 30-35 mph?

Concord Mike September 26, 2017 at 7:17 AM


To your point. The last US census which asked a question about commute modes indicated in Concord 1% biked to work and a little over 2% walked to work.

No matter how much we spend on bike lanes, 90% of the poulation will never use them to commute due to age, health, weather, concern for personal safety, distance traveled and the hassle factor. We are not Denmark.

CNWS needs streets with designated cut outs for driverless shuttles, uber and Lyft pick ups. How do you manage to accommodate that emerging technology with class 4 bike-only lanes?

I am fine with class 4 bike-only lanes on major parkways where traffic is fast and pedestrian crossings are infrequent, but the Lennar plan has them in high density areas residential areas.

Kenji September 26, 2017 at 7:23 AM

@Hope #37 – Portland’s bicycle infrastructure is mediocre. (I have walked around there and taken a close look at it.) They do not have anything approaching a continuous, comprehensive network of protected bikeways and intersections with protected movements. No city in the US does. Our ostensibly “bike-friendly” municipalities have tried to take the cheap way out, and their low bicycle mode shares are the result.

I saw a photo on Facebook today of a street in Amsterdam in the 1970s. Five lanes of cars, solid congestion from one end of the photo to the other. A handful of bikes straggling through. They were where we are now. They did not get to the 30%+ bicycle mode share they have today via some magical shift in Dutch culture, topography, commute patterns, or weather. They got there by building continuous, high-quality, safe bicycle infrastructure, to a standard which Portland and San Francisco have never even attempted. We can do that in the Reuse Project. If you want to examine known outcomes, the Netherlands from their car-congested 1970s condition to the present 30%+ bicycle mode share (not just Amsterdam, but every Dutch city from the large to the small) is the relevant comparison.

Kenji September 26, 2017 at 8:17 AM

For a more local comparison: Every weekday during commute time at Pleasant Hill BART, there are routinely several hundred bicycles parked in the BikeLink lockers and the open racks. This is with mediocre bicycle infrastructure (although considerably better than the terrible or nonexistent infrastructure we have in most of Central CoCo). Can you imagine if CC County and BART and East Bay Regional Park District had decided not to install that bike parking or build the Iron Horse Trail or the bridge over Treat? Those hundreds of bikes could instead have been hundreds more cars on Treat and in the BART garage. How many of us who drive to PH BART for a commute would have preferred that?

Kenji September 26, 2017 at 8:35 AM

The comparison of Portland and SF to the Netherlands is instructive: Treating bicycle infrastructure as an optional amenity yields mediocre results. Making it as common, safe, and convenient as car infrastructure, or more so, solves traffic problems. Mike, you are proposing the “optional amenity” route and predicting mediocre results. I agree with you about the results. I do not agree that excellence is impossible. It has been proven possible by having actually been achieved. We should not squander that lesson and lock ourselves into decades more of congestion, miserable commutes, and dangerous, unoleasant streets.

Concord Mike September 26, 2017 at 12:02 PM


Developing a ‘bike culture” like Netherlands requires a national commitment which prioritizes bikes over cars, buses, etc. That prioritization is expressed in very high gas taxes, surcharges on automobiles, heavy social promotion, and parking-free (as opposed to free parking) infrastructure. And all that just to get to 30% use?

I see infrastructure to support self-driving shuttles, ride sharing, and automated fixed rail (where feasible) as the best way to help us eventually transition from the 2+ car family to the 1 car family without coercion, inconvenience, or high cost.

Bikes are great for recreation. For daily commuting or picking up groceries they will always be a last resort for most people. .

Vandy September 26, 2017 at 1:08 PM

Its funny how some people see bike infrastructure unused while others see tremendous growth in its use. People will use bikes way more if they have the option and the ability. The bike-to-BART connection is a huge one. I do it myself and I see many others doing it. There are a lot of people who live a few miles from a BART station who also work a few miles from another BART station. As BART parking fills up by mid-morning, I find that biking to BART is really my only option to getting to work on my own. I ride to the Diablo Family farmers market every Saturday morning to fill my basket with groceries. Also with the inclusion and acceptance of electric powered bicycles on trails and bike lanes we may see even more people using them for commuting and buying groceries.

(sorry about my negative rant earlier, I get just super-bummed by the CNWS development. I wish we could just have more nearby open space like so many of our neighboring cities have, rather then becoming the martyr for cheap, undesirable Bay Area Housing)

Kenji September 26, 2017 at 4:37 PM

Mike, I would still like to know your answer to this question about something you said earlier:

Regarding the idea that Class IV bikeways encourage bicycle traffic to move at a speed that’s unsafe for pedestrians who need to cross: Do you mean bicycle traffic at an extreme maximum speed of 22-23 mph might be more dangerous to pedestrians than motor traffic on the same street at 30-35 mph?

Concord Mike September 26, 2017 at 6:47 PM


Bicyclists can be very dangerous to pedestrians when they zip along a busy pedestrian area at 15 mph, especially if they feel they have “right of way” in a designated lane.

The urban zone planned for Concord near the BART station should be bicycle AND pedestrian AND car AND shuttle friendly, which means wide and flexible streets and wide sidewalks AND adequate off-street parking.

And yes I know car drivers often drive too fast on busy streets as well, but in 10 years most cars will have safety features like auto braking which will make streets safer for pedestrians and bikes too. In 20 years I will probably be too old to drive…hopefully by then I will be able to summon a self driving shuttle to take me to these new amenities.

Hope Johnson September 26, 2017 at 7:12 PM

Kenji – I support the bike infrastructure at CNWS including the separate protected lanes. But your numbers will not mitigate traffic enough to make a substantial impact in the coming time frame. Several hundred bikes is great but very small when compared to the amount of traffic thàt needs to get off the road ASAP. Concord cannot reasonably rely on bikes to mitigate traffic at the project for many years. Imagine only 200 people out of 30,000 biking at CNWS. Add to that the rideshare cars that quickly escalated in 15% of traffic plus the Council’s pet electric cars, and traffic will erode quality of life. This also recognized in the Navy’s report.

Winston September 26, 2017 at 7:31 PM

Concord is a fairly poor city and traffic will be getting worse here as more and more people cut through here from East County. This will happen no matter how we build out the Naval Weapons Station. We can’t afford to bulldoze enough of the city to provide the happy motoring that residents here experienced in the 80s. Self driving cars don’t take up any less road space than human driven cars and won’t increase the capacity of urban/suburban streets. The only chance we have to keep Concord livable is to redesign our city to prioritize space (and energy) efficient modes of transportation. This means walking, biking and (in some cases) transit.

Kenji September 26, 2017 at 7:46 PM

Hope – I appreciate your making it clear that you do support the Class IV lanes. Putting aside for the moment our current disagreement about the potential of bicycling, would you talk about the alternatives you favor? If you were on City Council, what would be your plan to handle the transportation needs of the Reuse Project?

Kenji September 27, 2017 at 11:19 AM

Mike, thank you for answering my question. I think you have inadvertently made a case for protected Class IV bikeways: that we need to keep bicyclists off the sidewalks. If you watch the current patterns of bicycle traffic in Concord (as I do constantly), you will see that the vast majority of current bicyclists choose – for reasons which I bet you can easily sympathize with – to ride in the nearest facility that gives them physical protection from motor traffic. Currently, that’s the sidewalk. A paint-only bike lane does not provide that protection. A Class IV lane does.

Concord Mike September 27, 2017 at 12:43 PM

Kenji, The problem with Class IV on an urban street with lots of pedestrian traffic is it creates a physical barrier between pedestrians and their shuttles and ride shares. Putting a class IV bike lane down the center median would be the only viable alternative.

I am not saying bikes don’t have a place on the busy urban street, but they should not be prioritized ahead of rideshares and shuttles.

Anonymous. September 27, 2017 at 1:56 PM

@Concord Mike. In the less backward parts of the world, they seem to have this problem solved. For example, the first photo here:
Or the one in England described here:
Or this much more modest installation

This stuff isn’t hard. Pedestrians can easily cross a busy bike path in the way they can’t cross a busy road.

Jojo Potato September 27, 2017 at 5:56 PM

Just suppose the CNWS gets all bike laned up. What does that do for them when they need to go out of there? What does it do for me as a regular bike rider living in WC? Suppose I want to go to the Concord plaza? In this case I can get to Detroit or Market street and then be thrown into the malestrom. Is the strategy to just get the lanes you can and then hope for the best? I know it’s very unpopular but Berkeley has got it right. Take the existing neighborhood streets and put in barricades to stop through car traffic and watch the bikers take over. That’s what I want for my area.

Kenji September 27, 2017 at 7:32 PM

Jojo, the strategy for the existing city should be to implement the Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Safe Routes to Transit Plan seriously and not with mediocre or downright bad bicycle infrastructure as has been the practice so far. Unfortunately, mediocre or downright bad bicycle infrastructure is what a majority of the current Council favors, because it’s cheap and easy.

Kentucky Derby September 27, 2017 at 8:22 PM

With all due respect to anyone who’s riding a bike, driving or walking – just do it safely.

We learn to ride a bike and walk at a very young age. We learn to drive as teenagers (most of us).

If you haven’t figured out how to do it safely as an adult – it’s on you. Not the city (any city).

If you can’t do it safely – switch to a different method of transportation. People do it all the time.

To try and “prioritize” bikes over cars (or walking) is ridiculous. It’s not going to happen in any city because it doesn’t make any sense.

Jojo Potato September 27, 2017 at 9:06 PM

Kenji, I appreciate your efforts. It’s an uphill battle as you know. Rode to Kaiser Walnut Creek. Riding along Newell with useless sharrows but fortunately right lane blocked by construction. Made it and found the bike rack a total mess. Overgrown with bushes. Locked up my bike blocking the whole rack and very insecurely. Rode to C and L music on Monument and they didn’t know what to do with a cyclist. Brought my bike inside and got the spiral bound manuscript book I needed. I look forward to the day when parking my bike is not regarded as strange. Did you know that riding before your blood test can skew the PSA results? Well I do but all the medical staff including those smoking out front probably have no idea. But they know how many carburetors their belchfire 88 has. Sigh.

KAD September 27, 2017 at 11:38 PM

I could easily have driven into a bicycle rider last year in Pleasant Hill near Pleasant Hill Park. I was driving up Gregory Lane and was going to turn right onto Cleaveland Road. I saw a young man in his twenties riding his bicycle really fast on the sidewalk toward the intersection. I had the green light and he had a no walk light. That was not going to stop him. He was lucky I pay attention to my surroundings and noticed him or he would have been hurt or dead.
Then last month, again in Pleasant Hill. Two out of two lanes had 5 bicycle riders in them in front of me. Finally they all got into one lane in front of me. They were not going the posted speed limit and talking among themselves. I did not try to pass them because my turn off was coming up soon. I guess I just see the bad bicycle riders.

Hope Johnson September 28, 2017 at 2:13 AM

@Kenji #49

Again, my concern is traffic during commute hours and I do support efforts to increase biking and walking as a part of that commute.

You ask: “ . . would you talk about the alternatives you favor? If you were on City Council, what would be your plan to handle the transportation needs of the Reuse Project?”

Some issues with your question show my frustration at the planning on this project. First, I’m not talking about commute alternatives I personally favor – you are. You want people to commute by bike while I have provided specific numbers on the way people actually end up commuting in our country, not the way I wish people would commute. Bicycles make up 1-4% of the commute, with 4% only in very few places. 20-36% take public transit. The traffic is coming faster than bicycling has increased since 2000 (from 2% to 4% in San Francisco), so its most reasonable to work with the real numbers when planning.

Second, this isn’t about the transportation needs of the project. This is about the transportation needs of all Concord (including the project) once that project starts impacting the city. I do not agree that the project will be self-contained with everyone who lives there commuting only within that specific area. None of the other cities like Antioch or Pittsburg are self-contained, there is no reason to assume suddenly this particular site will be different as it gets started. Plus, residents of many other areas and cities use North Concord BART and will still have to get there.

I understand that you want biking in California to be similar to the Netherlands. Concord is nothing like the Netherlands, which rarely reaches 70 degrees and is known for its very flat topography. European culture has been based on social integration for many years whereas Americans instill independence (pull yourself up by your own boot straps or do your own thing). It will take many years to change this but traffic is happening now.

Concord needs to get realistic now about where people are going and why to prepare for this project. Why wait when we already know cars will increase wasted time in traffic? We need a reasonable bus or shuttle system now to start the process of fewer cars on the road. The Council needs to start working with the County and developers to make the bus system reliable and useful. It needs to go where people need to get to with reasonable frequency. An example: when I say this to the Council, the Mayor says we have the Monument Free Shuttle. This shuttle has two routes, one that runs from 9am to 1pm and another that runs from 9am to 5pm. So if you need to use this to commute during regular business hours, you are SOL. It starts too late to help you get to work on time and stops just when you get off work. Let’s start by improving its usefulness for the commute with more appropriate hours. And do the same for the 900 new units planned around Todos Santos area. Maybe these developers can help pay for the increased infrastructure needed for the increase in population.

We need to study which roads are heavily impacted during the commute in Concord and start working on getting reliable and frequent bus or shuttle service to where they are going now. The Council needs to set an example themselves and walk, bike, or use the public transit they expect everyone to use. If they won’t do it, what makes them think anyone else will?

I would advocate for less density at North Concord Bart for phase one. High density mixed use housing has its own special traffic issues. Delivery trucks, taxis, and rideshares block traffic on a regular basis. It slows down busses and bikes. Since Concord’s mixed use projects near Concord Bart have not been successful (retail turned into apartments, etc.), a different approach is advised at North Concord.

Some type of parking structure needs to be planned for the North Concord Bart station. People will still be coming from throughout Concord and other eastern cities. It needs to be on the interior, away from existing housing. I am not advocating to try to have parking for everyone, just similar parking. This can be reduced or even eliminated as we become better transit and bike users. The Council needs to get a campaign going now to let people know they will lose parking and need to find alternatives to driving. Again, why wait until it becomes even more of a problem?

There are other issues but this post is already too long.

Silva September 28, 2017 at 5:08 AM

I once had to use public transit and a bicycle for a few years, and found there were many stores with nowhere to lock up a bicycle. I think there still are. Several I tried shopping in told me I couldn’t bring in my bicycle, so even though I had planned to spend money there, I was not allowed to do so.

Old Mr. Rodgers September 28, 2017 at 5:19 AM

” They were not going the posted speed limit” Do you have to ride or drive the limit by law?

Kenji September 28, 2017 at 9:17 AM

Hope – By alternatives I mean options. One alternative is to not develop the CNWS. Another is to develop it and build huge, freeway-like roads to maximize motor traffic capacity. These are not alternatives I favor, but they are alternatives.

Concord Mike September 28, 2017 at 9:22 AM

@Hope # 58, I agree. The best way to reduce local street traffic is through a design which considers the needs of ride shares, shuttles, and pedestrian traffic first.

A design which specifically integrates small (6-10 passenger) driverless electric shuttles into the street plan would add the “wow” factor this project desperately needs. The old model of big 70 passenger buses driving by every 30 minutes at inconvenient pick up points is last century stuff.

Concord Mike September 28, 2017 at 9:29 AM

Adding on to my previous comment. This on demand small shuttle option is not only cheaper because it is driverless, It is cheaper because most of the shuttles do not have to be wheelchair accessible. Just a few of the shuttles in the fleet could be wheel chair accessible and available on standby for the small number of requests from those in need.

Anonymous. September 28, 2017 at 9:56 AM

@Concord Mike
Perhaps it’s best to not design a city to rely on a technology that doesn’t exist and ride-shares are just expensive to use cars.

Hope Johnson September 28, 2017 at 11:58 AM

@Kenji #61

Since the project is going to take over 30 years to complete, there is ample opportunity to adjust to how transpiration is rolled out. They are starting by widening Willow Pass Rd because, despite the pro-transit rhetoric, the Council and Lennar are well aware it will be a complex task to get people out of cars. I hope this will include a bus that runs frequently and the protected bike lanes (although people will lose their homes to imminent domain) My point above is that we can’t keep it two lanes for cars and add all those people because, as the numbers I cited demonstrate, biking has not successfully mitigated traffic by enough percentage to build only for bikes. The outcome is a massive traffic jam in the neighborhoods just like along Octavia Blvd in SF. The freeway entrance was planned so people on Market cannot turn right onto the freeway because the bikes didn’want the cars crossing the bike path. The result was not that all those people stopped driving and got on bikes. They drive through the neighborhood and speed down longer streets (much like what happens now on Hillsborough in Concord).

The next issue is if we want a two lane street with bike lanes from Bailey up to North Concord, then there needs to be at least one pass through street at Dana Estates, which that area doesn’t want. If the only access is one road from Bailey, it’s a traffic nightmare waiting to happen. It would be great if the two lane rode was built and then more people biked so it would never be four lanes.

We can incorporate more and more public transit as it is built. The neighborhoods can have solid bike infrastructure. We will have an opportunity to see what happens on Salvio when those apartments get started near the bike lane.

The idea we can plan for bikes to “take over” as jojo potato wants is not supported by the numbers. We need to work our way into it, and that includes the real purpose bike lanes you want such as safe ones to and from schools, stores, etc.

Kenji September 28, 2017 at 4:27 PM

Thanks for the detailed response, Hope. Looks to me like we have substantial areas of agreement.

Kenji September 28, 2017 at 4:32 PM

Regarding the point that temperatures in the Netherlands rarely exceed 70 F: That is true. It’s also true that they have an average of 25 snowy days a year, with average temperatures in the 30-40 range during the winter months. I have a hard time seeing this as more favorable to bicycling than our entirely snow-free weather here in Concord.

Kenji September 28, 2017 at 8:36 PM

By the way Hope, I vehemently agree with this: “The Council needs to set an example themselves and walk, bike, or use the public transit they expect everyone to use. If they won’t do it, what makes them think anyone else will?”

I raised a similar point to the CCTA Board at a meeting of theirs a couple months ago. They were hearing reports from the various bus agencies in CCC, and talking about how to get more people riding the bus. I got up for public comment and asked for a show of hands among both Board and staff for who rides the bus. I think there were two or three hands among the staff, and out of the fourteen people on the Board, only one: Janet Abelson of El Cerrito. I noted the count verbally to get it into the audio record.

Karen Mitchoff, our CCC Supervisor, said “Ask how many of us ride BART?” which I did, and a good number of the Board raised their hands. Which is good, but missing the point that if they are serious about increasing bus ridership, they ought to be asking why they themselves are not bus riders.

Antler September 29, 2017 at 9:50 AM

Jojo Potato at #56 ~~~
Please, would you tell the rest of us what musical instruments you play? And whether the manuscript notebooks are for a course you are taking, and/or are you a composer?
(This retired piano instructor is just interested and curious.)

Antler September 29, 2017 at 9:53 AM

Sorry to change the subject up there. My question really “belongs” over on Talk About Whatever, I guess.

Silva September 29, 2017 at 10:12 AM

Antler, feel free to post your question to Jojo Potato over there too! That’s what I do. Nope, you’re not the only one. 😉

Jojo Potato September 29, 2017 at 1:25 PM

@Antler – What a refreshing question! Didn’t realize I had a following. I grew up playing piano and sax. My mom was backup organist at St. Pauls in Walnut Creek. I was the one who rebuilt their chapel reed organ back in the 70’s. All four of us brothers did piano and trombone, drums, clarinet as they prefered. Trombone player (and daughter) playing currently in the Woodenville Washington concert and jazz band.

My three daughters played piano, sax, and flute, Grand son sax player needed the manuscript book for his lessons. He’s in the WCI band and jazz band. Can you imagine in this world where so called “experts” are calling for later start times for teenagers that he’s been getting up at 06:40 for 3 years to get to WCI “A” period.

Music is so great for little brains and all our lives. I love to go to C & L since those guys were in the Las Lomas band just a couple years after me.

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