On May 5, 2016, Contra Costa County (CCC) released its “Saranap Project Re-circulated Draft Environmental Impact Report” (RDEIR) analyzing a Mitigated Plan Alternative (MPA) submitted by developer Hall Equity Group (HEG). While we would support a well-designed mixed-use project that fits in our community, we continue to strongly object to the proposed development’s height, density, and overall impact on our neighborhood. For history and more background information on both the original project and the MPA, see the Project Background.
The public had until July 6, 2016 to review the RDEIR and provide written comments. We encouraged everyone to submit comments. The planners are reviewing the comments they received, and we are waiting for the public hearings to be announced. We’ve been told that we should anticipate that the hearing before the planning commission will occur before the end of the 2016, but the hearing before the Board of Supervisors will not occur until 2017.
You can read and download the RDEIR here (note that there are several large files; most details are in the appendices).
At the end of August Hall Equities produced an 8½x11 full-color glossy mailer that appears to have been sent to most residences in Saranap. It shows an artist’s rendering of the buildings in each site; however, they do not represent actual construction blueprints. The emphasis is on the reduction in size of the project (actually, of Site A).
SHO has the same concerns with the Mitigated Plan Alternative (MPA) as it did with the original project. SHO is not opposed to appropriate development! We understand the need to amend portions of the County’s General Plan to allow for cohesive development. However, HEG is asking too much. HEG asks for an increase in building heights that nearly DOUBLE the height allowed in the General Plan. Saranap is a low-rise neighborhood. Let's work together to preserve our neighborhood. Here are our three primary concerns:
Too Tall. Too Dense.
Both the Project as originally proposed and the new Mitigated Plan Alternative (MPA) are too tall (88 feet and 75 feet respectively), and too dense (235 and 195 units, respectively) for our community. The MPA is still too tall. In addition, SHO is concerned that this Project will set a precedent to allow a long stretch of very tall buildings along both sides of Boulevard Way.
Unneighborly Treatment of Vista Palms Residents.
The MPA’s proposed six-story garage on Site A is unconscionable. The garage would be adjacent (barely twenty feet away) to the living rooms of 15 Saranap families living in the Vista Palms Apartments. These neighbors would be exposed to noise, odor and fumes emanating from the parked and circulating vehicles, their views would be significantly altered, and they would be deprived of natural sunlight.
Proposed Improvements Not Enough.
The proposed improvements are now only adjacent to the project at Boulevard Way and are not enough. This leaves the majority of Boulevard Way dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists.
Shari Walker has created our MoveOn.org petition addressed to Ms. Aruna Bhat, Deputy Director, Contra Costa County Department of Conservation and Development; Mr. William Nelson, Principal Planner, Contra Costa County Department of Conservation and Development; and three other County officials. It says that both versions of the Saranap Village Project, the original and the mitigated alternative, propose buildings up to 76 feet maximum height. Besides requiring General Plan amendments, this project is just too big and is out of harmony with the surrounding neighborhood.
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