Saranap Village DEIR
Project Update

We submitted our comments on the DEIR to the County on November 17.  The County is currently reviewing all comments, and will determine whether the DEIR will be amended and recirculated to the public for another review. 

Our comments are based on images that fail to accurately represent the proposed project to the public (we will show you a few below).  Our other comments include the DEIR’s failure to adequately study the traffic and growth inducing impacts of the project.

DEIR Figure 4.1-8

What is wrong with these images?

DEIR Figure 4.1-13

What is wrong with these images?

WE NEED TO KEEP UP THE PRESSURE
WITH YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT

Thank you for your efforts in writing letters, signing our petition, and posting comments on Nextdoor Saranap, as we are now being heard by the County and the developer.   We currently have over 500 signatures on our petition.  If you have not had an opportunity to sign it, please send us an email at: abettervillage@outlook.com.

Here is what we need now.  Please send emails to County planners Will Nelson, Aruna Bhat and Supervisor Candace Andersen urging that the DEIR be corrected and recirculated for public review. 

Here is a form letter you can use (copy and paste then sign with your name):


Mr. William Nelson william.nelson@dcd.cccounty.us
Ms. Aruna Bhat Aruna.Bhat@dcd.cccounty.us
Supervisor Candace Andersen Candace.Andersen@bos.cccounty.us 

RE: County File Numbers, GP13-0003, RZ13-3224, SD13-9359, DP13-3035

Dear Mr. Nelson, Ms. Bhat and Supervisor Andersen,

I have serious concerns with the DEIR submitted for the proposed Saranap Village project.  It underestimates the environmental impacts of this project on our neighborhood, it misrepresents the Project’s visual impacts, and it fails to recognize and analyze the growth-inducing impacts that the Project will have on the rest of Boulevard Way.

Given the inaccuracies in the visual assessment and the superficial manner in which the Project’s growth inducing impacts were studied, I ask that the DEIR be corrected and recirculated. The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires recirculation if the DEIR is “so fundamentally inadequate and conclusory that meaningful public review is precluded.” (CCR §15088.5)

Sincerely,


IF YOU WANT MORE INFORMATION

Please send us an email (abettervillage@outlook.com) if you desire a copy of all our DEIR comments and exhibits.


The City of Lafayette also found the DEIR inadequate. 
Here are Mayor Tatzin’s comments on the DEIR:

April 14, 2014
Department of Conservation and Development                                              VIA EMAIL
Community Development Division
30 Muir Road
Martinez, CA 94553
Attn: William Nelson

RE: Saranap Village Mixed-Use Project

Dear Mr. Nelson,

Thank you for providing the City of Lafayette with an opportunity to respond to the Notice of Preparation for an Environmental Impact Report for the proposed Sara nap Village Mixed-Use Project. The City Council has reviewed the provided documents and has identified the following critical issues to be analyzed and addressed in the Draft Environmental Impact Report:

Aesthetics

  1. Analyze the off-site visibility from the City's Viewing Evaluation Sites.
  2. Analyze the off-site visibility from State Route 24, a designated scenic highway.
  3. Install story poles to demonstrate the height of the proposed buildings. Please provide the City with a minimum of 72-hour notice, prior to erecting the story poles.

Population & Housing

  1. Assess the potential displacement of existing development, including residents and employees.

Transportation I Traffic

  1. Include the following locations as study intersections:
  1. Evaluate the potential for impacts and possible mitigations for project-generated traffic and cut­through traffic associated with the proposed project on local residential and arterial streets.
    The analysis should include projected increased volumes, potential for increase in prevailing speed profile, impacts on driveways and side streets, impacts on pedestrian and bicycle safety due to a lack of existing sidewalks and bikeways in the neighborhood.
  2. Incorporate appropriate considerations for a bike route, based on the traffic lane re­configurations on Boulevard Way. The City of Lafayette's Bikeways Master Plan includes a planned bike route connecting to,Boulevard Way.
  3. Analyze the project for consistency with the recommendations of the Corridor Study of Olympic Boulevard/ Reliez Station Road, between east of Pleasant Hill Road and Glenside Drive North. The primary focus of said study is traffic control operations and the intersection of Pleasant Hill Road and Olympic Boulevard and impacts on side street access and safety.
  4. Consider an evaluation of the on-going Lafayette-Moraga Trail to Ironhorse Trail Connector Study. To the extent feasible, the EIR analysis should be consistent with the recommendations of this study.
  5. Identify location, quantity and type of bicycle parking facility and assess its ability to meet the future demands of residents, employees, and visitors.
  6. Review the existing and proposed on-street parking capacity and assess its ability to meet the demands of the proposed project and existing/proposed development within the vicinity.
  7. Evaluate the actual and affected width of sidewalks and walkways. Determine if there are existing sidewalk deficiencies.
  8. Analyze the upstream and downstream impacts of narrowing Boulevard Way.
  9. Analyze whether alternative forms of transportation may be provided, such as the free bus service to downtown Walnut Creek. Clearly identify whether or not the existing eastbound County Connection bus service will be maintained.
  10. Evaluate project impacts on access and parking capacity at the Lafayette and Walnut Creek BART Stations.
  11. Evaluate project impacts on parking facilities within the vicinity of the project, such as the Meher School (White Pony).
  12. Evaluate project impacts on the existing or planned level of transit service.
  13. Review freight loading and service impacts during construction activities and post-project completion.

Recreation

  1. Assess the potential impacts on parkland in the surrounding communities, due to a lack of existing parks within Yz-mile of the project site.

Public Services

  1. Study the potential impacts on emergency services, such as police, fire, or medical response times, specifically in light of the recent closure of one of the three Lafayette fire stations by the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District.

Cumulative Impacts

  1. Assess all potential impacts in light of existing pending development within the vicinity, including, but not limited to, the following projects:
  1. Review the proposed phasing and consider the consolidation of phases to limit the potential construction impacts.

Alternative Project

  1. Study an alternative project that: (a) complies with the existing height and density requirements that are outlined in the existing General Plan and Zoning Ordinance, (b) maintains or enhances the existing level of service for all potentially impacted public roads, (c) retains or enhances bicycle circulation and parking, (d) provides a minimum of 20-percent open space, and (e) incorporates sustainability elements, such as obtaining a LEED certification for the development.

Please ensure that all future public notifications regarding this application are consistent with the Contra Costa Transportation Authority's Lamorinda Action Plan's Review Process for General Plan Amendments and projects.

Additionally, the City of Lafayette also requests to receive one hard copy and one digital copy of all plans, supplemental reports, and environmental documents that are submitted or prepared as part of this or similar applications, when they become available.

Thank you, once again, for providing the City with an opportunity to offer our comments on the Saranap Village Mixed-use Project….



Controversial "Saranap Village" Project
Proposed for Boulevard Way

Is this a good fit for Saranap?

There’s a proposal before the County to build a mixed-use development with commercial, retail and residential units on four sites near the corner of Boulevard Way and Saranap Avenue.

Take a look at what is being proposed, then make up your mind about this project


Let’s take a look at some of the details:

The developer, Hall Equities Group, applied to the County for a General Plan Amendment that would allow them to get around current development regulations that we all must follow when building in Saranap. The General Plan is the County’s blueprint for development. It is the “constitution” for land-use development in Contra Costa County. Changes to a General Plan are made only in the rarest of circumstances and therefore, amendments require approval by the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors.

The developer is proposing significant changes to our neighborhood — changes that will irrevocably and permanently destroy the character of our Saranap. Here are just a few of our concerns:

HEIGHT

The developer’s plans call for buildings of up to seven stories and heights in some cases from 78 to 90 feet, approaching three to four times the height of the existing buildings along Boulevard Way and Saranap Avenue.

The current zoning and General Plan allow, in the affected area, buildings up to three stories with a maximum height of 30 feet or up to five stories with a maximum height of 50 feet, depending on whether the parcel is zoned for residential or commercial use. That equates to a maximum of four stories if commercial is proposed on the ground level.

The maps below show existing height limits for each section of the proposed “Saranap Village” project and can be compared with the height limits the developer is planning for the project. This will require a General Plan amendment. Staying within the existing height limits in the General Plan will still allow a significant, but not as overwhelmingly massive, project and that will allow the developer to build a project that can be successful and harmonious with the Saranap neighborhood.

DENSITY AND TRAFFIC

In addition to building approximately 43.541 square feet for commercial uses, the developer proposes 235 apartments and condominiums. This is nearly DOUBLE the units allowed by the County General Plan and current zoning. This is exactly how a transit village would be planned… like the transit village on Treat Blvd. at the Pleasant Hill BART station, and the new transit village planned for the parking lots at the Walnut Creek BART station. But Saranap doesn’t have a BART station. Saranap is not a transit village.

The effect is shown in the County's Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR). Table 4.16-6 estimates the net increase for traffic generated by this project to be 4,998 MORE VEHICLE TRIPS PER DAY!

Site A, one of the four sites that make up the developer’s proposal, currently includes an empty lot at the corner of Boulevard Way and Saranap Avenue; a small retail/office complex at 1285 Boulevard Way; 24 rental units at the Sandpiper Apartments at 1180 Saranap Avenue; and a single-family home next door to the Sandpiper Apartments at 1176 Saranap Avenue. The developer is proposing to build a block-long and block-wide seven-story building with a maximum height of 90 feet. It will have commercial space on the first three floors, 391 parking spaces in the basement and first two floors, and 143 apartments on the top five floors, at a density of nearly 100 units to the acre, more than three times what current regulations allow.

And Site A is only one of the four sites included in the proposal. All four sites exceed the height and/or density limits set in the current County General Plan.

It’s important to note that the project area is only about 20% of the length of the four lane section of Boulevard Way, leaving 80% in its current condition. So clearly this project is not a fix-all for Boulevard Way.

This hardly seems like a good fit!

Over the next few weeks and months SHO will share more details and concerns with you about the traffic burden that this project will impose on our neighborhood; about the heritage oak tree that will be relocated just to accommodate the developer’s project; and much more. Please, get involved!

Speak Up! It's important that the County not amend the General Plan:

If you think this project needs to be trimmed down to be built within existing zoning laws and in compliance with the existing General Plan, this is the time to speak up. If the Contra Costa County General Plan is amended, it sets a it sets a precedent for more oversized buildings in Saranap. Certainly at risk are the rest of Boulevard Way to the freeway and all the commercial areas near Olympic Blvd., Tice Valley Blvd., and the south end of Boulevard Way.

We urge you to participate in protecting our Saranap by taking the following simple steps, and checking back to the www.saranap.org website for updates.

Join in and help us support reasonable development in Saranap:

What can you do to help? Check the items below that indicate what you will be able to do, enter your name and email address, then click the Submit button to let us know:


    

Yes No
Yes No
Yes No
Yes No





Why do we need your name and email address?
So we can keep you informed about updates to the status of the proposed Saranap Village project and information from the Saranap Homeowners Organization. Your name and email address will not be shared or used for any other purpose.

     


1. Talk to your neighbors about your concerns:

This is a way for you to have an immediate effect in your neighborhood. Let your neighbors know your concerns about the change to the General Plan and the “Saranap Village” project, and tell them to go to the www.saranap.org website where they can find more information and see accurate renderings of what this massive project is going to look like. We will also need volunteers to circulate petitions to retain the existing zoning in Saranap and oppose the General Plan Amendment.

2. Email Candace Andersen, our County Supervisor:

Here is a sample message to Supervisor Andersen that you can use or modify using your own words:


Dear Supervisor Andersen,
RE: County File Numbers, GP13-0003, RZ13-3224, SD13-9359, DP13-3035

I am opposed to amending the General Plan to allow such an inappropriate development as the proposed Saranap Village. It is oversized and completely out of character for our neighborhood.

Let the developer bring a plan to Saranap that we can support which adheres to the current General Plan and zoning regulations.

I urge you to vote to deny the request to amend the General Plan to exceed current height and density limits for Saranap.

Thank you


Click on the following link to open your email program with a new blank email addressed to Candace Andersen, Supervisor for Contra Costa County District II:
Candace.Andersen@bos.cccounty.us
Copy and paste the sample message into your email program.
Please have each person in your household send an email as well if they have separate email accounts.
THE NUMBER OF EMAIL MESSAGES THE SUPERVISOR RECEIVES COUNTS!

If you prefer, write a letter to Supervisor Andersen:

Supervisor Candace Anderson, District II
309 Diablo Road, Danville, CA 94526
RE: County File Numbers, GP13-0003, RZ13-3224, SD13-9359, DP13-3035
Phone: 925-957-8860 Fax: 925-820-3785

3. Let the planning staff at the County Community Development Division of the Department of Conservation and Development know that you are opposed:

Here is a sample message to Deputy Director Aruna Bhat that you can use or modify using your own words:


Dear Ms. Bhat,
RE: County File Numbers, GP13-0003, RZ13-3224, SD13-9359, DP13-3035

I am opposed to amending the General Plan to allow such an inappropriate development as the proposed Saranap Village. It is oversized and completely out of character for our neighborhood.

Let the developer bring a plan to Saranap that we can support which adheres to the current General Plan and zoning regulations.

I urge you to recommend denial of the request to amend the General Plan to exceed current height and density limits for Saranap.

Thank you


Click on the following link to open your email program with a new blank email addressed to Aruna Bhat, Deputy Director — Community Development Division, Department of Conservation and Development for Contra Costa County:
Aruna.Bhat@dcd.cccounty.us
Copy and paste the sample message into your email program.

If you prefer, write a letter to the Director of Community Development:

Aruna Bhat
Deputy Director — Community Development Division, Department of Conservation and Development
30 Muir Road, Martinez, CA 94553
RE: County File Numbers, GP13-0003, RZ13-3224, SD13-9359, DP13-3035
Phone: 925-674-7205 Fax: 925-674-7258

4. Attend County hearings about the project:

The County Community Development department and the Board of Supervisors will hold a series of hearings about the proposed change to the County Building Code, the Draft Environmental Impact Report, and the final approval of the project. If you can, attending these hearings as someone concerned about the project will be very valuable. Check back here and look for our email messages as hearing times and dates are announced.


Thanks for your interest!
Questions, Comments, or suggestions? Send us an email:



Exactly what is a Draft Environmental Impact Report?

Click here to open a page that has information explaining what a Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) is and what's contained in the DEIR for the Saranap Village project. Not to scare you, but the DEIR for this project has 15 sections (including 7 appendices) totaling 1,887 pages. The DEIR section has 389 pages and a well-constructed easy to use table of contents.

The material in the full 1,887 page DEIR has been and is being reviewed by some of your neighbors who are members of the Saranap Homeowners Organization. The information on this web page is based on what we have reviewed, and additional pertinent information will be include on the saranap.org website to keep our Saranap neighbors up to date about this important project. If you have expertise reviewing EIRs and are willing to help, especially if you are a traffic engineer or a land use attorney, please let us know. Click here to use the questions or comments button above to contact us.

To keep up to date, you can fill out the Join In form with your name and email address. You can also check ‘Yes’ for any of the actions that you are interested and able to do, but this is optional. Then submit your response and we’ll keep you in the loop — but we won’t overwhelm you with email. Click here to fill out our Join In form now. Want to remove your name from our list? Click here to send us an email with that request. Please include your name and email address in the body of the message.




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