Danville Town Council Meeting

We need to PACK the house again! The next town council meeting on March 19that 7:30pm at 420 Front Street (Danville Community Center). If you can’t show up email or call them and let them know we need to get out of ABAG. We want our Council to put it to a vote. Ask them to put “Getting Out of ABAG” on their Agenda for the next town council meeting.

Largest Crowd Yet Speaks Out Against Danville Zoning Changes

By Jason Sweeney, DANVILLE -- The Town Council took a conciliatory tone Tuesday night in front of a crowd of about 300 people, most staunchly opposed to proposed zoning changes in the Danville 2030 general plan.

Public testimony continued until late into the night before an overflow crowd that lined the walls and flowed into the lobby of the Danville Community Center.

Large, vociferous crowds had shown up at five previous Planning Commission hearings on the subject since November, but the crowd Tuesday was one of the biggest ever to attend a Danville council meeting.

Residents have been opposed to state mandates for more affordable housing that they fear will change their town's character.

Early in the meeting, Councilwomen Renee Morgan and Karen Stepper indicated they would not support including a "priority development area" in the general plan, to cheers from the crowd. Designating such an area, which many speakers criticized at Planning Commission hearings, would have focused new development downtown closer to transportation corridors and would have enabled the town to compete for federal, state and local funds for road maintenance and improvements.

CoCo Times Writer Doubles Down on 'Elite Danville Residents'
Despite Contra Costa Times' columnist Tom Barnidge's having received a courteous, respectful email from the Friends of Danville after his column on Monday, providing him with three extensively-documented and well-researched letters sent to the Town Council over the past several weeks, and despite his having attended the Danville Town Council meeting last night, he appears to have doubled down in his column today. I guess he just can't help himself . . .

According to Mr. Barnidge, the Danville residents are like 8 year old children who don't want anything to change. "Nothing elitist about that" appears to be his sarcastic assessment.

But, Town Manager Calabrigo is "unflappable" and he "calmly explained" that the ABAG/RHNA mandates are "within reason."

But the residents were "in no mood for context" despite Mr. Calabrigo explaining to residents that withdrawal from ABAG won't "alter the mandates" and argued against the sustainable communities strategy "despite being told it was required by state law."

It seems Mr. Barnidge wrote this column today the same way he appears to have done so on Monday, presumably after a phone conversation with Mayor Newell Arnerich, a separate phone conversation with Town Manager Joe Calabrigo--and considerable consultation with ABAG. The same Mayor Arnerich, btw, who dropped his "conciliatory" pose just for a moment last night minutes before the end of the evening when he hectored the remaining residents with the statement, paraphrasing his words, "all of these qualities you claim that you love about this town we [your long time Town staff like Town Manager Calabrigo and long time Council members like himself] were wholly responsible for creating." Stunning stuff . . .

The Local Revolt Continues

ABAG and MTC Receive Major HUD 2011 Sustainable Communities Award

Pelosi announced the grant at a press conference held at Richardson Apartments at 365 Fulton Street at Gough in San Francisco, chosen because it exemplifies the type of sustainable and affordable development to be fostered by the grants. The facility includes 120 permanent, supportive residential studio units for extremely low income, chronically homeless individuals.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco and Democratic leader of the U.S. House of Representatives) brought holiday tidings to the Bay Area today in the form of a nearly $5 million grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) 2011 Sustainable Communities Program. Awarded to MTC and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), the $4.991 million federal grant is one of the largest Regional Planning grants handed out by HUD this year (2011)... [ARTICLE]

ABAG and MTC are releasing Plan Bay Area on March 22, and releasing the draft EIR on March 29

Notice that ABAG/MTC are hosting multiple meetings on the same nights. They are trying to jam this through quickly, and divide the opposition. I plan on attending the Contra Costa Workshop on April 22nd. I will be protesting outside and then going in. If you want to join me let me know. Also, please note in your calendar that the Joint MTC/ABAG meeting to vote this plan through will be on June 20th at MTC Head Quarters in Oakland.

Summary: Points from their Plan
"Locally controlled funding to support PDA development"
What this means is Sustainable Communities Investment Authorities. This is State Senator and SB-375 author Darryl Steinberg's proposed SB-1, the first Senate bill introduced during the current legislative session. SB-1 effectively declares suburban and rural lifestyles a blight (so hard on the environment appears to be the claim) and permits cities and towns to "voluntarily" dedicate a fixed percentage of their tax revenues to a slush fund controlled by a shadowy "Sustainable Communities Investment Authority" that will "invest" in heavily subsidized very low income housing.

ABAG Executive Director Ezra Rapport told a group of San Mateo County elected officials at an evening session in San Carlos on November 8, a couple of days after the general election, that "now that we have super majorities in the state legislature, we can now start to adequately fund our Sustainable Communities Strategy." It looks like he meant what he said back then.

"Modernize the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)"

Republicans and business interests are falling all over themselves to support CEQA "reform" led by Governor Jerry Brown who has declared this to be "the Lord's work" (I kid you not). Presumably because they've seen CEQA used, at times, to stop or delay meritorious projects over the past 40 years, for non-environmental reasons. From what I have heard, at core, CEQA "reform" will be no CEQA review for projects that comply with "stack and pack" general plans at the city or regional level. Those plans will be presumed so wonderfully environmentally beneficial that they need no review. If you are proposing a project that doesn't comply with the "stack and pack" general plan? You've got to be kidding, aren't you--you aren't really going to do that?

"Fiscalization of land use"
Don't pay attention to the rhetoric. What they are asking for is to do away with Proposition 13

The Danville City Council was packed and overflowing Tuesday night. People were lining the walls and sitting on the floor. The pitchforks were at the ready. The issues people were concerned with ranged from….

Local Control – urging the town to get out of ABAG, Challenge/Reduce RHNA (Regional Housing Needs Allocations), remove the PDA (Priority Development Area) from the town, remove the SCS (Sustainable Community Strategy aka One Bay Area) language from the 2030 plan, EIR (Environmental Impact Report) and SAP (Sustainable Action Plan), remove the SAP altogether, uphold a Measure S vote on Agricultural land when it is scheduled to be rezoned and upzoning of HOS (High Opportunity Sites) for high density low income housing.

The tension was palpable at the beginning. The town council tried to stack the deck by bringing out 9 people to speak up for the plan and for the low income housing, but before they spoke Pam F. addressed the council at the public comment period. She cited an email that Mayor Arnerich had sent to a Danville Citizen that had claimed the sponsors of the Citizens Town Halls held on February 21st and 27th were part of a national organization (see quote below);

“ The meeting you attended was organized by a political group with a very specific national organization and agenda which was not disclosed.”

Pam stated that she and others were not paid by anyone and were not part of a national group. She also cited an article written by Tom Barnidge of the Contra Costa Times (Bay Area News Group). It was a front page editorial with a one sided slant quoting ABAG Vice Chair Julie Pierce from Clayton saying how great the One Bay Area Plan is and pointing to conspiracy theories as being the only opposition to the plan. She mentioned that the Bay Area News Group is in fact a supporter of the One Bay Area plan, which hardly makes them neutral, and only interviewing the Vice Chair doesn’t give one a balanced argument. Then the small parade of “Proponents” spoke. It was obvious the town managed stacked the front of the meeting with their best supporters. Candace Andersen was one of the people who showed up to help the council try to sell the towns people on how great low income housing would be in Danville. She gushed about how it would benefit her children. She actually lives in Danville and thinks that we should have high density low income housing to save our planet??? She is either being handled by the ABAG and MTC agencies or she is delusional. She has sold out to our town and needs to be called out for it. I was surprised to hear the Chamber of Commerce come out praising the town on the General Plan especially since many small businesses in the downtown are in areas being rezoned and are being forced to leave Danville to make way for low income housing. In fact later in the evening a doctor with an office in the Podva area south of town explained how the owners of his building were refusing to renew leases for essentially more than 90 days and that he is being forced to spend $200,000 to move his small business to another town. He asked the council if they had thought of this and whether they were going to compensate him for this huge expense. Silence…..

On a good note; The PDA has been removed due to lack of votes. Mayor Arnerich and Councilman Storer had to abstain due to conflicts, which left 3 Council people to vote on this. Karen Stepper and Renee Morgan said they were opposed and Mike Doyle who was absent would have voted yes so there were not enough votes to make a majority. This means the PDA automatically got dropped from the town plan. Also, the SCS (Sustainable Communities Strategy) plan language is potentially going to be dropped from the 2030 plan. And the Measure S language is supposedly being kept from the 2010 plan and being brought forward.

On a down note; The Darby Plaza property that was previously recommended to be removed by the list may be back on the table. I believe an attorney for the property owner was there asking the town to reconsider that site for high density. It’s important to note that every eight years new RHNA allocations will be assigned to the town requiring the council to find and upzone more and more areas to accommodate high density stack and pack low income housing. The 2007 allocation was 583 units. The 2014 allocation is 555. Of those allocations 55+% are scheduled to be very low to low income housing. Here is the HCD (Housing and Community Development chart defining the low income categories. (See HCD info for different counties http://www.hcd.ca.gov/hpd/hrc/rep/state/inc2k12.pdf).

The town failed to challenge the RHNA allocations within the proper time frames so there appears to be no recourse in challenging the 2014 allocations that ABAG is forcing on our town. These allocations are known to be flawed (50% higher than the Dept of Finance values) and ABAG refuses to recalculate them. This is really too bad since the statistics say that Danville only added 88 people (not units) between 2000 to 2012 to the town. (See statistics for Danville here: http://www.areavibes.com/danville-ca/livability/). The RHNA allocations require us to add over 1500 hundred units within the next 20 years. We need the council to demand ABAG use values realistic growth values in the future.

So as you can see this process is never over. We as citizens must get involved. We have made several small steps, but we need to ultimately get out of ABAG and repeal SB375 if we are to solve this problem.