Once again the Danville Planning Commission was a must see event. It was a standing room only crowd. Protests outside started at 6:30pm prior to the meeting. City staffers, Planning Commission and the people of Danville squared off over the Draft Danville 2030 General Plan and SAP (Sustainable Action Plan).
Both brought their A game. The town consultant started the meeting by delivering a wonderful (cough cough), soothing presentation, that addressed the Open Space people’s concerns (don’t worry there is nothing to fear) and the other citizens’ concerns about stack and pack high density housing in the downtown area.
The Planning Commission kept reassuring residents that the plan would have no impact on our quality of life and that even though they were compelled to rezone almost 10 acres in the PDA (Priority Development Area) that nothing would change. They also kept talking about how great being a member of ABAG (Association of Bay Area Governments) is and how we they considered it to be a benign regional agency necessary to protect our interests.
The whole presentation was a disingenuous sales job, but very sophisticated and slick. They obviously had to try to cut their losses and try to stem the bleeding after the last meeting where they were verbally lashed down by the town’s people. Then the City Manager took a turn trying to convince the crowd how staying in ABAG was the right thing to do to keep a seat at the table. People weren’t buying it, but the crowd listened and waited for their turn to comment. Many in the crowd held yellow signs with slogans like…. “Danville Out of ABAG”, “No Stack and Pack”, “No Plan Bay Area”, “Recall” and more.
Then the comment period started and off we went….. They didn’t cut off ANYONE who was speaking this time, and they listened as person after person after person got up in opposition to the plan. Less than 5 of the almost 300 people there were in favor of the plan in any fashion. Once again an overwhelmingly show of opposition to the ill conceived general plan update and SAP plan.
The Save Open Space Danville folks showed up to oppose the plan and were very effective in articulating their arguments. Maryann Cella, their spokeswoman reviewed the history of how the voters passed a ballot initiative in 2000 by 3 to 1 to require agricultural land rezoned for residential to be voted upon by the voters. Whatever you think about that law, it’s a law, but more importantly she detailed how the city, including multiple current city council members, and the city staff, repeatedly ignore that measure, and violated the law.
Most other people objected to the ABAG regional One Bay Area Plan, the PDA designation for downtown, the town’s proposed rezoning to higher densities and overinflated regional housing allocation values. Residents overwhelming opposed the 20 year plan which would convert the small town of Danville from a peaceful suburban oasis into an urban stack and pack, congested nightmare.
Most pleaded with the town staff, planning commission and council to push back and represent the interests of their constituents over the interests of ABAG an unelected regional agency which is holding transportation funds hostage in order to force compliance. A number of people also mentioned that Corte Madera has dropped out of ABAG and the One Bay Area plan and urged the town of Danville to do the same. ABAG is after all a voluntary organization and these plans are not supposed to be forced on local communities who do not want to adopt the plan.
Another important point made is that Danville is not a major transit hub or transit corridor and therefore the PDA designation does not apply. Per the SB375 bill a Transit Hub is defined as being “within one-half mile of a major transit stop or high quality transit corridor”. The idea is that high density housing around these areas will decrease driving and green house gases because people will either walk, bike or take the bus to work.
But in reality ignored by these planners, Danville could be the poster child for a non-transit oriented community. The nearest transit hub, Walnut Creek is approx. seven miles from downtown. The idea that building high density housing will somehow reduce driving time and GHGs in Danville is laughable. Without a transit hub to support the densities you are actually seriously impacting traffic, congestion and GHGs.
You would think that the staffers, consultants, planning commissioners, and the city council members who were scattered in the crowd would after the last two meetings come to their senses and realize…. “wow, the citizens we work for and whose interests we represent don’t like this, they hate this plan and then think, how can we change the plan to accommodate the wishes and interests of the people we work for?” But no,….. It was “we’re going to pass this anyway and nothing they are telling us will make any difference–how can we mollify enough of these people so that we can pass this plan as is without too much fuss.”
I guess the recall signs need to be recycled. It looks like we may to use them soon.
The people of Danville are not giving in and not giving up. If you want to learn more about what’s happening in Danville or your neighborhood relating to ABAG and The One Bay Area Plan visit www.CitizensTownHall.org. We are a non-partisan group. We are dedicated to educating the Citizens of the Bay Area about the dangers of ABAG and the One Bay Area Plan. We also help other communities host town halls. We will be hosting a town hall in Danville on January 15, at 7pm at the Sycamore Club House at 635 Old Orchard Drive. If you want to choose how your community with grow over the next 30 years then join us in the fight. Get your city to opt out ABAG and the One Bay Area Plan. When multiple cities opt out we all win! It’s your town. You should choose how it grows! ABAG is not OUR BAG!
Video of last nights meeting will be released shortly! Stay Tuned.