Claycord – Talk About Local Politics

October 13, 2017 21:41 pm · 7 comments

voted1

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.

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1 Tim October 15, 2017 at 8:03 PM

Colin who?

2 Hope Johnson October 17, 2017 at 4:01 PM

Concord City Council held a workshop on 10/11/17 to begin choosing a land use plan. Their comments at the end are so odd, I encourage everyone to watch it online. The meeting is continuing today at 6:30pm.

Please consider emailing Council your ideas. I sent the following in response to their comments on 10/11.

Dear Concord City Council:
It was concerning to hear comments made by Council on Lennar’s proposed land plan at the special meeting on Oct. 11. Your comments reveal a poorly formed vision for the CNWS as well as a bizarre disconnect between previous discussions on land use, the reality of the market in Concord, and your own continued promotion for bicycle/pedestrian oriented development.

Car-Based Development
Your insistence on development aimed at driverless cars is inconsistent with public transit use. If everyone uses driverless cars, it may cut down greenhouse gas emissions but will not cut back traffic congestion. A car is still a car, whether it’s electric and robotic or petroleum-based with human drivers. Each type of car takes up the same amount of space and will add to already congested roadways. In addition, cars picking up passengers add extra congestion as they block roadways and bus and bikes lanes while stopping to board passengers on congested streets. Dependency on single vehicle use is hazardous to pedestrians and bicyclists, not the “world class” wave of the future.

Equally limited in vision is your insistence that people in Concord won’t use the bus. The bus system here doesn’t take them where they need to go in a timely manner. If we create a better system as needed, people will take the bus. I’m certain people who can’t find parking at the two Bart stations would be more than willing to take the bus to Bart if our bus system didn’t add hours on to the time it takes to get there. Your failure to acknowledge this demonstrates that you don’t use public transit often, thus are poorly equipped to plan a whole development that sorely needs it. If you plan a car-based development, as Los Angeles did in the 1960’s, you will have skyrocketing traffic and spend years and millions of dollars to correct it later, as Los Angeles is doing now.

You’ve spent years discussing a “walkable” development and are now undermining that at the earliest possible stage.

TODS
High density, tall TODS have proven unsuccessful in the East Bay, even near Bart stations. Your own crony-installed developer is now telling you this. Yet your comments ignore these realities, and you demand it plan tall mixed use office buildings at North Concord Bart. We do need living wage employers, but nothing suggests merely building stereotypical office buildings, which already exist and are not full downtown, will bring them here. It appears from your comments that you want to take what already exists in Concord and plant it down at the “other” Bart station, a poor vision when that same plan isn’t working at the first Bart station.

Lennar is basing its marketability projections for TODS in Concord in part on the poor success of existing similar structures. This Council had ample opportunity to demonstrate it could fill the existing empty office space but failed to do so. I once suggested at public comment that the Council have the economic development committees or consultants make monthly updates at Council meetings so efforts to fill the empty office spaces could be reviewed and adjusted. No actions were taken on this or any other measure so now Lennar is basing Concord’s potential on the poor performance of TODS you allowed to go unchecked.

Concord needs to come up with some unique office space ideas, not keep putting in more of the same.

Cul-de-sacs
The Mayor’s request for cul-de-sacs in the neighborhoods shows she fails to grasp that the CNWS project is changing the way Concord will develop forever. There will be no more quiet dead end streets for children to live on. This Council has insisted on making Concord “urban” and it’s ridiculous for any councilmember to believe it can all be limited to the North Concord Bart station. What’s more, the Mayor’s idea promotes a plan that perpetuates our growing income inequality. Middle class families used to choose to come to Concord for the purpose of having kid-friendly residences but now the middle class is shrinking away and many come here because they are priced out of other areas. The Mayor appears to want to have two types of housing – one for low income kids that consists of unhealthy stack and pack apartments near mind-numbingly loud Bart stops and another for wealthier families who can afford to protect their kids from the unhealthy “affordable housing” plan.

Village Centers
Council continues to support small retail hubs in each neighborhood. There is no evidence that much retail will be supported. We already have small malls in various neighborhoods that can’t fill space, including the Todos Santos area. The “village centers” are no different than these small malls. While I agree we don’t need the strip-mall style retail in the Lennar plan, there is nothing to suggest four retail malls near each other will all do well. Again, it appears the Council’s only idea is going with that which has already proven unsuccessful.

What’s more, the village centers are inconsistent with your desire to have Amazon locate at the CNWS. Amazon is the reason places like the village centers are no longer viable.

Grading
It’s a mistake to grade the hills down so much. Lennar merely wants to save money. The hills make the space unique and add to the overall beauty of the view. Grading does nothing more than allow Lennar and its associated developers to walk away with more money in their pockets while Concord is left without any character to attract people to the area.

Lennar’s Pay-to-Play
During public comment, one of Lennar’s supporters revealed that the company had paid for favors for the Mt. Diablo High School football team. The Council all smiled and nodded approval at this. Lennar should not be donating money anywhere in Concord until after the Development Agreement is negotiated. It’s basically buying off support. It’s called pay-to-play, and the Council is corrupt for failing to put a stop to it. I hope the voters will remember your open support of pay to play politics, even accepting money for events some of you head. The Council already allowed Lennar to be the single “bidder” on the plan and accepted a term sheet with $50 million less to upgrade existing streets. When this type of loser deal for Concord continues, no one need wonder why.

I hope you will take the time to develop a better vision and plan accordingly.

3 Forsythe October 17, 2017 at 6:02 PM

Hope, I think part of the problem is that the traffic is a lot worse than it was, even a couple of years ago, when the CNWS was in the planning stages.

I believe that the Concord City Council is in denial simply because they are overwhelmed. They had to overcome some very complex hurdles with the Navy, and then the awards process was filled with controversy.

No way that the City Council is going to re-think the transit picture. They are ordinary citizens doing work that is far beyond their intellect or “pay grade”. It would take far more sophisticated thinkers, with the right kind of political backing to stem the tide of what will be a commuter’s nightmare.

4 Concord Mike October 17, 2017 at 10:10 PM

@Hope, And here is the letter I sent to City Council regarding the same meeting. Not much overlap between your comments and mine, except when it comes to Village centers, in which case we seem to disagree.

Mayor Hoffmeister and City Council Members,

I was able to attend the 10/11 city council study session regarding Lennar’s proposals for CNWS, and I offered several improvement suggestions to you at that meeting. Unfortunately with a time limit of 3 minutes, I was not able to cover all the issues, so I am following up with a written summary. I truly respect the efforts you and city staff are making to build a “world class” development. I hope you accept the following suggestions as constructive contributions to your effort:

1) Placement of our 4 year college: Lennar’s proposal to locate a college campus at the corner of Willow Pass and Olivera is highly problematic. A campus with 10-15 thousand students MUST be close to BART and close to freeway access. Furthermore, the site Lennar recommended needs remediation by the Feds, so it will not be ready for a campus for many years. Further, their recommendation to describe both sites as an “overlay” makes our plan for a college seem insincere and tentative. Why would Lennar make this recommendation? I really can’t think of a decent explanation.

2) Clustered Villages: The new plan Lennar is proposing diminishes the character of the original “Clustered Villages” plan. Their new plan does not show a distinctive village core for the three villages south of Willow Pass Road. Having a walk-able central core with small grocery, dining, retail, and civic recreation and community activities is an important part of the clustered village plan we approved. Instead of three central retail and community centers, they propose what they call a “village center” at the extreme south end of the development along Concord Blvd. In fact, this village center is nowhere near the center of any village! It is just another strip mall with a large anchor grocery store. We already have a number of struggling strip malls and grocery stores within a mile or two of this proposed new strip mall. Lennar said they can sell a strip mall faster than they can sell smaller retail in the three village centers. That may be true, but that is not what the city wants.

Lennar’s dramatic alteration of the original Clustered Village design, and their recommendation to locate a college on unusable land, gives me great pause. I do want Lennar to succeed, but not at the expense of my city’s long term success. Our relationship with Lennar doesn’t seem to be getting off to a great start. I am hopeful for improvement, but I think it will be necessary for the city council to assert strong leadership in order to change the current dynamics.

3) Too many new schools proposed: I am very concerned when I hear Lennar talking about building 5 new elementary schools, 2 junior high schools, and 1 high school. That is far too many for only 12,000 new units. It is simple math: Concord has about 10 elementary schools for 130,000 residents. For the 30,000 new CNWS residents, that should equate to about 2 new elementary schools, not 5 as proposed. Furthermore, projections show MDUSD is expecting an average of 1% per year enrollment decline far into the future due to demographic changes.

I understand why MDUSD would be excited about the prospect of getting new schools they don’t have to pay for. They have a huge potential for financial benefit in terms of lower maintenance costs if they shift students from older campuses to brand new ones. They will also benefit from a windfall if they are able to close down a couple of older schools and sell or lease the land for other commercial uses. We need Concord city staff to push back hard on these unrealistic school construction demands. Your constituents want to keep their neighborhood schools open.

4) Concord needs a goal to increase owner occupancy rates: Concord has a current owner occupancy rate of only 58%, which is well below the county average of 65%. In order to get closer to 65% over the next 10 years, ALL of our new construction should come in the form of condominiums, townhomes and single family units.

I know apartments are cheaper to build, but over the long run Concord will be better served with units that are built to ownership standards. Our 25% goal for affordable units does NOT mean we have to build thousands of apartments which will never allow for individual ownership. Habitat for Humanity is a great example of low cost housing built for ownership. Home ownership is still the American dream and home ownership is about the only way families of modest incomes can secure a decent retirement.

5 Forsythe October 18, 2017 at 9:45 AM

@Concord Mike. Great point regarding Habitat for Humanity. It is a no brainer that lower density housing is better for families and communities.

And, did it dawn on anyone that more congestion will also impact local transit? If you think riding the bus is slow now, just wait until after the CNWS is built out.

6 Jojo Potato October 20, 2017 at 11:38 AM

Looks like Waze has discovered Sunnyvale ave in WC. Recently the traffic on this street that goes between Putnam/Buena Vista and N Main has really increased. Just now while waiting to cross at the marked crosswalk I watched a lady with her phone in front of her face blow right by. Sometimes I just know. But it gives me a good idea on how to stop this madness. Require Waze to show all crosswalks and warn drivers. Hopefully that will make these shortcuts less appealing to the brain dead drivers that are destroying our neighborhoods.

7 Elwood October 20, 2017 at 3:36 PM

I’m worried!

I haven’t seen an idiotic proclamation from Congressman DeStupid for several days now.

Did Pelosi stop suddenly?

Is he awaiting instructions?

It’s troubling.

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