Concord City Council Delays Deal Involving 310 Apartments On Picket Fence Property

January 10, 2019 8:00 am · 45 comments

The Concord City Council on Tuesday delayed a deal involving 310 market-rate apartments downtown, just blocks from the BART station, after asking the developer to come back with a commitment to hiring local, organized labor for construction in the development agreement.

AvalonBay Communities is looking to purchase roughly 3 acres of land at 1765 Galindo St. from the city for $4 million. The property was owned by Concord’s now-dissolved Redevelopment Agency, or RDA, but it is currently
vacant.

Neighbors might recognize it by the presence of a white, $62,000 picket fence.

That land was an orchard in the mid-20th century, but AvalonBay is looking to put a mixed-use development there with housing and 6,500 square feet of commercial space, possibly occupied by a high-end restaurant or similar tenant that might add to the draw of the downtown corridor.

Plans for the property have been subject to significant public pushback, however, and not just over who will do the work.

A group called Concord Residents for Responsible Development has questioned whether the site itself is suitable for residential development due to the possibility of pesticide contamination from the property’s agricultural past.

The law firm representing the group, Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo, submitted letters to the city in December and then again Tuesday arguing the project would violate the California Environmental Quality Act and that a costly environmental impact report must be conducted before it can go forward.

Thomas Enslow, an attorney representing Concord Residents for Responsible Development, argued during public comment that there may be DDT contamination in the soil, and that could continue to pose a hazard for centuries.

“This is a real issue, but the bottom line is this is a CEQA issue,” Enslow said.

They’ve also argued that the deal would violate the city’s general plan policies on hiring local tradesmen and apprentices.

Trent Wilson from Analytical Environmental Services, a consultant hired by the city, argued that DDT contamination in soil has a half-life as low as two years and that risk of exposure was extremely low, but it was
unclear at the time of Tuesday night’s vote whether the legal and environmental questions raised would be sufficient to stop or delay the project.

With regard to labor, AvalonBay Senior Vice President Nathan Hong said that union shops would be welcome to bid on subcontracting opportunities, but stopped short of expressing a preference for hiring them.

During a calm, careful exchange between Hong and Councilman Edi Birsan, the former mayor repeatedly posed a hypothetical question asking Hong which firm AvalonBay would choose if Firm A offered a lower price but the more expensive Firm B had union workers with apprenticeship opportunities and
veterans programs.

“If all things were equal then it would be A,” Hong eventually admitted.

Ten or more Concord residents representing at least five trade unions addressed the City Council during a subsequent public comment, pressuring their elected officials to reject the deal on those grounds.

“I’m asking you to reject the (agreement) with AvalonBay because it lacks what other developers in this community are committed to doing, which is put in writing that they’re going to have local hire and that they’re going to use apprentices,” said Eric Haynes from Sheet Metal Workers Local No. 104.

During that round of public comment, no one spoke out in favor of approving the development agreement as it’s currently written, but Hong was given an opportunity for rebuttal.

“We definitely want to include (unions),” Hong said.

“It’s part of a good process,” he added.

When pressed by Mayor Carlyn Obringer, Hong agreed to come back to the council with language in the development agreement that reflects a commitment to hiring local workers.

Birsan motioned to continue the matter to the next meeting on Jan. 22. It was seconded by Councilmember Laura Hoffmeister and passed.

If approved later this month, the project is expected to break ground sometime between 2020 and 2022, amid uncertain economic conditions.

Rob January 10, 2019 at 8:10 AM

Might as well do something – the fence just keeps getting destroyed anyway…

Concord Mike January 10, 2019 at 8:40 AM

The problem I have with this development is it is more apartments.

Concord has too many apartments already! We need ownership opportunities for our workforce and families. These units should be built to the higher standard required for condominiums.

Negotiate with the builder to offer attractive financing terms for lower income workers in order to help ease the affordable housing problem.

Home ownershiip brings long term stability to a city. Concord is getting perilously close to the point where homeowners are in the minority.

Shayne January 10, 2019 at 5:48 PM

Normally I’d agree, but this specific location is very close in proximity to Bart. Areas closest to public mass transit should more or less be reserved for apartments. It allows a more concentrated amount of people to easily commute for work which brings in a lot more money for the city. Concord has some nice housing opportunities but I don’t think this is one of them.

idiots everywhere January 10, 2019 at 8:49 AM

So we are going to sue for environmental protection unless you hire our the unions that fund our “local group”. City should just sell land to highest bidder and be done with it.

marc January 10, 2019 at 7:09 PM

Agree the city needs to sell the land and get back to work on repairing streets.

kw January 10, 2019 at 9:00 AM

dog park please

Concord Mom January 10, 2019 at 11:28 AM

I wouldn’t want a dog park in the middle of all that traffic!
Too many tragic accidents just waiting to happen if a dog gets loose.

ConcordDog January 10, 2019 at 7:57 PM

@kw, we have a dog park already, Baldwin Park

Anonymous January 10, 2019 at 9:11 AM

Glad to know that the union slugs are getting their payoff

Ricardoh January 10, 2019 at 9:22 AM

Do we have any US workers in the building trades anymore or are they organized new immigrants?

WC Resident January 10, 2019 at 9:25 AM

“That land was an orchard in the mid-20th century”

As was 90% of the land that has been developed in this area.

jon s January 12, 2019 at 11:45 PM

the land was an orchard in the mid 19th century too.

Fred January 10, 2019 at 9:40 AM

What ever goes there, just make sure there is plenty of off street parking and good traffic flow.

Jeffrey January 10, 2019 at 9:53 AM

More California politicians bought and payed for by big unions.

Moses January 10, 2019 at 10:26 AM

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ranchgirl January 10, 2019 at 10:34 AM

There are at least 3 more apartment developments set to be built downtown. I’d like to know where all these people are going to shop. Maybe we should get a new Safeway, with more parking. The existing store is not big enough for what’s coming.

Anonymous January 10, 2019 at 4:59 PM

There really aren’t. The one at the old Safeway was begging the city for money to prop up the project and he one on the vacant lot across the street was killed by a union sponsored CEQA lawsuit. There is an office building conversion that seems to be going forward and a proposed development at Swift Plaza, but I think the one at Swift Plaza is just there to lock in development rights for the next cycle.

ZZ January 10, 2019 at 10:37 AM

Yay, jobs for illegals! Yay, more traffic! Yay, more people crammed in Concord!

Simonpure January 10, 2019 at 11:27 AM

And don’t forget about the arsonist that is saying Jay! Hopefully security and lighting are considered in the cost.

jon s January 12, 2019 at 11:52 PM

anytime you bring in illegals to work on a project that is several months long,they are fixing up the city for themselves because they move in and bring their family and never leave.The proof for Concord is when they tore down and rebuilt the entire shopping center at monument and meadow lane in1992,it took almost 2 years and several thousand illegals came to Concord.took over every apartment,and never left.This is when Concord changed forever and they have 30,000 people living in 1SQUARE MILEthat Concord admits is fact.And its illegal.overcowding is unsafe and unhealthy but who cares?this is how you destroy a town slowly.

Sign from Above January 10, 2019 at 11:21 AM

Perfect location for an Olive Garden………….. Just sayin’

Shayne Webb January 10, 2019 at 5:49 PM

I’m just gonna assume you’re 55+ because nobody eats at OIive Garden anymore.

Cowellian January 10, 2019 at 6:32 PM

I’m just gonna assume the you’re new to Claycord. And there’s always a wait at my local Olive Garden.

FBR January 11, 2019 at 12:00 AM

I agree with Shayne. Olive Garden is for old folks with no taste buds.

Momopco January 11, 2019 at 9:20 AM

Omg…cool yer jets people… that’s an old claycord joke…

RANDOM TASK January 10, 2019 at 11:23 AM

city cant handle what we got now ( bums …traffic…empty store fronts …high crime …corruption …low grade schools ) they want more people for more taxes and easy pickings fpr gov gavin to funnel to illegals

welcome to socialism where you don’t matter and freedom dies

Captain Bebops January 10, 2019 at 12:12 PM

Not everyone wants to be a homeowner so there will always be a market for rentals especially apartments. And builders don’t want to build “affordable housing” but rather build the biggest house they can on a property because it’s more profitable. Go figure.

Get ready for “High Rise Concord”, the wave of the future. 😉

BagsFlyFree January 10, 2019 at 2:24 PM

I’m all for high rises in these denser areas, but the city needs to make sure that the mixed in commercial spaces are well designed, set back, and have ample walking paths to allow patio space, parking, and pedestrians. Sacrifice one story up to gain 10 more feet of setback. The development in PH/WC is barely getting traction the last couple years, and is pretty bland style wise.

BFF Out!

The Mamba January 10, 2019 at 2:49 PM

I think I’d rather look at the white picket fence than more apartment buildings.

Original G January 10, 2019 at 2:54 PM

Given number of vehicles which have missed left turn at Galindo and Concord Blvd. Has happened so many times they actually moved fence back from the street as can be seen in the above photo.

Hmm, will apartment plans have a run out area like on steep freeway grades to slow and stop vehicles? Or perhaps bungee cords or maybe heavy netting, like the crash barriers they use on US NAVY Aircraft Carriers?

Meantime at next board meeting would someone Please bring an empty coffee can so donations might be collected for repair of Concord’s most expensive white picket fence? Fence along Galindo is looking rather shabby, broken pickets and some missing.

Bad Nombre January 10, 2019 at 3:40 PM

Orchard! Great idea. Use it as a public orchard, maybe with some garden space, too.

Original G January 10, 2019 at 3:53 PM

How about community garden . . . but it would need a catchy name . .

Peoples Park ? ? ?

Forsythe January 10, 2019 at 4:40 PM

Plant a walnut grove.
Then, rename Concord “Walnut Country”.

Or, create a new park and a garden.
And then plant an olive grove.

Also Anonymous January 10, 2019 at 9:32 PM

Thank you ranchgirl for mentioning something that has been on my mind. We need options for grocery shopping, not more apartments. Apparently none of the city planners has tried to find a parking space at the Willow Pass Safeway around any holiday nor have they stood in a check-out line 10 people deep on all lanes. We have no real shopping options in North Concord, unlike the intersection of Ygnacio Valley and Oak Grove Roads where there is a new Safeway, a new Whole Foods and a Nob Hill. We definitely do not need more people on this end of town.

Concord4life January 10, 2019 at 10:34 PM

That shopping center is in WC a city which apparently has resources
To improve itself and doesn’t have some of the issues Concord
Does

Chuck January 10, 2019 at 10:03 PM

We need a commitment from the developer to build a new picket fence on the property in the agreement.

Just sayin January 11, 2019 at 4:20 AM

What Concord really needs is to bring back a roller rink. Since Concord is all about “Family First”, a roller rink is perfect for the family. Let’s see, the apartment right across the street are empty, along with the potential stores on the street level are empty; hmm, wonder why…one concern is no street parking. A descent grocery store for this location would be great too.

Doh January 11, 2019 at 7:08 AM

How about a fence repair shop? What ever gets built there is going to get hit by cars. Cars seem to like jumping the curb there. How about a giant catchers mitt as an art project?

D.V. Guy January 11, 2019 at 7:50 AM

No SCAB projects in Concord, bring back the middle class. Most housing tracts in the Diablo Valley ( back when Concord was nice ) were built by union labor rather than trunk slamming speed freaks and illegal aliens.
I’M NOT UNION either, no dog in that fight! building trades are the path to a real middle class for non-collegiate kids in our community. CNWS should be 100% union work. KEEP THE MONEY HERE NOT IN IRVINE.

Anonymous January 11, 2019 at 11:28 AM

Unions mean poor quality work at inflated prices. Unions may have once been OK to work with but today they’re so crappy that the only people who use union labor are ones the government forces to.

The Fearless Spectator January 11, 2019 at 9:28 AM

It will end up being a transit village surrounded by trendy Bistros with no parking. There is public pushback because for the most part it will not serve the needs of current residents.

Igetminefromtheman January 11, 2019 at 6:00 PM

The UA 342 is behind the environmental impact report it’s a common tactic they employ when a builder has not agreed to use local labor. Slows down the approval process.

jon s January 12, 2019 at 11:39 PM

we all know who takes over and overcrowds most of the apts in Concord and its part of their liberal agenda again.

jon s January 12, 2019 at 11:41 PM

a $66,000 picket fence?Now someone will steal it!!!!!

jon s January 12, 2019 at 11:54 PM

all Concord has ever cared about is more and more bodies in their town to spend,they want you to move here or just hang out here and spend spend,no concern for cleanliness or safety.

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