All Quiet at Jewish Community Center

Weight Watchers class moved next door to Tice Valley gym; preschool and adult centers closed last week.

The Contra Costa Jewish Community Center is no longer a hub of activity.

from its board to parents decrying the struggle to maintain membership and revenue growth.

The CCJCC website presents a cheery face to the world ("Celebrate Chanukah Dec. 21").

But if you look closely, under "Today's Events" are listed "Millman Center (adult day care) Closed, 0:00 a.m." and "Early Childhood Center Closed, 0:00 a.m."

The Weight Watchers class that used to meet at the JCC now meets next door at the Tice Valley Gymnasium, operated by the city of Walnut Creek. The city has a room for a classroom and exercise that is used for rentals and programming that is mostly filled, but can accommodate Weight Watchers, said Barry Gordon, the city's director of arts, recreation and community services.

By terms of the city's 99-year lease for Tice Valley Gymnasium, 20 percent of its hours are used for JCC purposes, Gordon said, and those exercise sessions and classes continue.

Since last week's abrupt announcement, JCC management has not responded to Walnut Creek Patch's calls and emails seeking comment on the closing.

Chris Nicholson December 23, 2011 at 01:29 AM
@Paula: I can answer your question of "When is enough ENOUGH?" The answer comes from man's natural and insatiable desire for MORE. Unless you can solve the problem of SCARCITY, someone will always want MORE. So, enough will NEVER be enough. Doesn't mean that we can't force those seeking to develop more to reasonable internalize the harm inflicted on neighbors. But a blanket rule giving NIMBYs a veto right would cripple economic growth. Thankfully, we live in America, so the free market give you some options: move to an area with large minimum lot sizes and restrictive covenants and zoning codes that restrict your neighbors from doing/building things you don't like.....
michael frederick December 23, 2011 at 05:10 AM
Joseph, Actually, I do know what that is -- in accordance with a very similar proposal I laid out before the WC Planning Commission in accordance with the acreage I own downtown. If the CEO --who doesn't realize his center is closing -- decides to sell the land as PARK, I won't be needing any coinvestors. Thanks, anyway. Crayons.
michael frederick December 23, 2011 at 06:24 AM
Joseph, I think it's kind of nice to live in a place where people, like Paula, care enough about their community and where they live to resist mercenaries whose only appreciation for the place revolves around the opportunity to indiscriminately build the cr*p out of it for a buck. In no small measure, it's why I don't like what I see happening at City Hall; in short, with downtown's success and money to be made we seem to be drawing too many prostitutes in high places. Neither Paula nor I live in the affected area. We aren't the NIMBYs you desperately seek to confront, simply because your sliver of understanding never extends beyond the industry you promote. People who care about where they live are only your enemy -- I've always felt fortunate to live around such people and enjoy encouraging them. That's probably why I don't appreciate your shallow, idiotic, incessant NIMBY remarks that serve as the backbone of everything you have to contribute. In conclusion, I'm disgusted by the fact you took the opportunity to promote ***YOUR*** agenda by blaming concerned neighbors for rather obvious JCC leadership issues.
Joseph David Dacus December 23, 2011 at 03:49 PM
People just want what they want. And as soon as they think they've got it, they don't want anyone else to get what they want. It's about selfish individualism and over entitlement (rampant in this country). Things change. Usually for the better over time. Otherwise, the east bay would still be an inland sea, or years later, Mr Dewing would still have his fruit orchards surrounding his homestead, Instead...he cut down all the trees and sold all his land to.............wait for it............developers! The very ones who built all the small houses in the area where I live. And every day when I go to the Rossmoor Safeway, or the Dollar Ranch Post Office, or the Dry Cleaners or banks, I would not see any houses, or any schools (two that have closed) or any townhomes, or any condos, or any care facilities, or any fire stations, or any churches, or any idiots.
Joseph David Dacus December 23, 2011 at 04:06 PM
So, Paula and Michael have stated they don't live anywhere around here. Michael has stated he is one of those land owners proposing, by his own description, similar projects in downtown. I work in architecture (btw...not doing development, or development of this type...not now...not ever), and I DO live and work and shop in this neighborhood. I'm a member of my community association, and inform myself about projects and activities in it. I'm also someone who supports property rights of individuals living IN a community. Good luck in YOUR community. There WILL be developers, their will be worthy projects turned down, and awful ones approved. The community I live in has evolved and changed for a hundred years. It will continue to evolve and change. Personally, I'm all in favor of the changes. My neighborhood is a little tired and down at the heels, people don't maintain their homes very well, many are quite old and in poor repair. I'm glad to live where I do where the CC&R's support maintenance and care and people are good neighbors who look out for one another. We pay huge fees for this however. There is always a cost...hidden or otherwise. Chris is correct: we are lucky we live in a place where market forces shape things. But they are not always the only things that shape things. I'm grateful that fear mongering, racism, hatred of "the other," are all dissipating more and more under their own ignorance.
michael frederick December 23, 2011 at 05:53 PM
Joseph, I appreciate your commentary, just find it ironic for someone who does little but demonize "NIMBYs" in our WC community. Incidentally, this project isn't in Rossmoor -- I presume this is the CC&R community you recognize. It is in and governed by Walnut Creek, the community Paula and I live in -- which includes you. Here are a few thoughts on WC you are apparently unaware of: 1. Bob Pickett, the Chairman of the General Plan committee and the Mayor's Blue Ribbon Task Force is a BUILDER. That's not by accident. 2. WALPAC routinely circumvents Council's campaign contribution limits (law) to buy elections for Council, to retain a pro-BUILDING monopoly. Anyone who doesn't mindlessly prioritize this agenda is inelligible for a commission. 3. I own in Saranap and downtown. I'm intimately familiar with both markets. In this case, I owned the acre within 100 yards, across from the kennel, that is now 3 homes. I also owned the 1 1/3 acres across from La Rossa's on Blvd Way that is 10 homes. I'm not anti-growth or any of your other NIMBY garbage -- just someone who believes neighbors have a stake and paying mindless deference to developers' need to "mazimize return", as our city routinely does, is stupid and usually corrupt. Given the putrid political climate in WALNUT CREEK, brought on by those who buy political influence (BUILDERS), I consider ironic concerns over NIMBY "veto" power and undo influence to be grounded in local and civic ignorance.
Paula Miller December 23, 2011 at 05:58 PM
Joseph, May I please refer you to your last sentence in your most recent post: "I'm grateful that fear mongering, racism, hatred of "the other," are all dissipating more and more under their own ignorance." Aren't you the very same person who started this line of the discussion by shouting NIMBY, NIMBY, NIMBY?
Chris F. December 23, 2011 at 09:10 PM
Sad to hear the JCC Closed, The problem for us was that the cost of the programs was very high, We gladly would have signed up to more if they were affordable..
Joseph David Dacus December 24, 2011 at 12:19 AM
Michael: I don't live in Rossmoor, or even in Walnut Creek. I understand the proposed housing project and JCC is outside Rossmoor (I referenced this in my very first post). I live in the unincorporated portion of the county known as The Saranap which begins just down Tice Valley Boulevard across the street from Byron Park and extends north to highway 24). I'm not familiar with the material you posted about Walnut Creek government, it seems unfortunate. It strikes me as the kind of thing that would make someone run for Council to try and stop (steering the council to one particular point of view, and allowing no fair dissent). I like Walnut Creek, and would not wish to go back to the days when Lyons was the only place to get a cup of bad coffee after 6pm, no one had ever heard of an espresso, and they rolled-up the sidewalks at about 7:30! I moved to the area in 1981. I am familiar with the parcel with the ten homes on Molly Way. I have about eight friends who live there. I visited the offices of the developers and reviewed the architectural plans during their construction, and toured the homes. I find that NIMBY's don't typically stop projects, they just increase the costs to those creating them, and those costs are passed along to the buyers. It typically just inflates the values unnecessarily.
Joseph David Dacus December 24, 2011 at 02:17 AM
...and Paula: It's true, I don't like Nimby's! I think every property owner should start on a level playing field on their rights to develop their land. Those that go first should accrue no special rights having gotten there ahead of others. If it fits the planning and building codes, and any reasonable conditions of approval~ build away.BTW...I live next to an almost vacant lot of a business that closed. I may have that opportunity that you speak of. We will see~ :)
obiwan December 24, 2011 at 05:19 PM
The flaw in the free market economy is that any costs which don’t appear on the balance sheet are considered “free”. As I think Chris N is saying (although I guess I'll have to go reread Atlas Shrugged because I don't remember seeing it there), if developers would reasonably internalize the harm inflicted on neighbors, maybe we wouldn’t have NIMBYs. But the “harm inflicted on neighbors” is not a number that appears on the balance sheet, unless NIMBYs acting through their government impose a cost. I disagree with Joseph. Those who got there first should have a right to protect the value of their investment. If you own a small scale house in a small scale neighborhood, and that’s an environment you value, you have every right to protest when a developer says he needs to build a three, or five-story apartment house next door or his project won’t “pencil out”. Unfortunately, our City Council, put in place by developer interests and the Chamber of Commerce overlords, invariably bends to the “pencil out” argument, as we just saw in the 1500 California hearing. We need to find a way to boot those people out.
Chris Nicholson December 24, 2011 at 05:37 PM
Obiwan: The concept of optimizing the economy in a world of externalized costs came from Ronald Coase (he won a Nobel Prize for it), not Ayn Rand-- although I suspect she would agree. If you think about it, human brain are not hard coded with dollars/numbers for anything they do. This is true of "how much you would pay for a diamond ring" and also of "how much would you pay to prevent a new apartment complex from being built." The solution to the problem of externalities is to do the best job we can in clearly assigning property rights and then let people negotiate. The problem with NIMBYs is that they often act irrationally to veto all projects they don't like. It creates an all-or-nothing dynamic with developers. I think a better way would be to allow developers to do their thing as long as they are willing to fairly compensate the neighbors. Fairness would be measured on a reasonable/average/normal basis, not based on a few outliers.
obiwan December 24, 2011 at 07:46 PM
Chris N - Thanks for pointing me to the right source. (I was thrown off by the “Reardon Steel” icon on your profile). My brief review of some YouTube videos on Ronald Coase’s theorem doesn’t make me an expert, but a fundamental assumption underlying it all seems to be the clear assignment of property rights. One of the key points the JCC condo NIMBYs were complaining about was that the land where the condos were proposed had previously been designated for open space/recreational use. The recent proposal for a 70 foot tall mixed use project at 1500 California Blvd would rewrite the General Plan too. Property rights in this town can change abruptly based on whatever the developer community and the City Council’s Chamber of Commerce overlords decide. And there can be “outliers” among the developer and Chamber of Commerce communities too.
Chris Nicholson December 24, 2011 at 08:44 PM
Obiwan: I am just arguing for an economically efficient framework, not for any particular outcome. I want to make the pie BIGGER, not hand out slices to cronies of any persuasion. I agree, however, that leaving things "fuzzy" and allowing the outcome to be decided by political process is a terrible idea. It encourages the wasting of resources on lobbying, spinning up specious arguments, etc. Over time, this behavior will make the pie smaller.
Joseph David Dacus December 25, 2011 at 01:56 AM
I'm in sympathy with your view Chris, I think Ayn Rand had a screw loose! I am saddened that--whatever the reason--the JCC can no longer provide the very needed services to the community (pool, day care, classes, adult day care, meeting space). Whether a lack of approval for the housing project had anything to do with it or not is a moot point now. We are all less for the situation in any event.
michael frederick December 27, 2011 at 10:30 PM
Chris, I appreciate that you and Joseph argue for "economically efficient framework." Unfortunately, this is a community, not just a business. Many of your comments probably apply elsewhere but, denouncing local property owners as NIMBYs lacks local context and is in very poor taste, here. Let's focus on the case at hand. The JCC sought to take open space and transform it into MFVH -- from one end of the zoning spectrum to the other. It sought to take land designated as "GATEWAY" and obliterate mountain views... Contrary to Joseph's NIMBY demonization, the JCC owns 6 acres on its books for $1.2M -- the 1 acre on Blvd Way, down the street, "penciled-out" for SFHs at this amount ... I'm sure there's economic efficiencies in curtailing public input, as with Design Review -- to leave decision-making more to developers and architect employees. The result would be projects stretching to the sky, built to the street, and cheaply constructed. As Obiwan points out with the 1500 CA Blvd development -- that's what we have, already! We have a glut of nonconforming projects built-out to the max precisely because we lack the public review you select for condemnation. Incidentally, I own the SFH across from 1500 CA Blvd that will be used as a dog-poop run and overflow parking for this uber build-out. Contrary to the developer's public misrepresentations, no one has contacted me for input. That's OK, I'm just a NIMBY who should bow to whores maximizing returns, right?
Chris Nicholson December 27, 2011 at 11:02 PM
Michael: Speaking of "whores," would you change your position for $50K? $250K? $500K? $2M? Or is this a matter of principal such that you would not take any price to bend your views? Clearly if the zoning is changed, you and your neighbors will have suffered a harm in order to provide a benefit to the developers. I think you and the rest of the community should be compensated. If the level of reasonable compensation makes the development uneconomical, it won't happen. Simple as that. This is different from a veto-- and it is different from a developer getting a "free" variance if they effectively lobby the council. I understand that the real world is more complicated, but I think these issues should be guided by the above framework. Giving NIMBYs a blanket veto will result on economic paralysis which, in the long run, is bad for everyone.
michael frederick December 28, 2011 at 12:53 AM
Chris, Everyone has their price, so I'm told. All I can say is, I'm obviously a high-priced hooker, since I do look down upon what I see scurrying around -- concocting stupid arguments and personally discrediting themselves for a buck, literally... It's the street-walker aspect to it that I find particularly disturbing. Do you know what the powers that be call someone whose only appreciation for Walnut Creek is shopping and development? "Community leaders" -- as opposed to morons or visitors or investors, for instance. That is because The Chamber of Commerce trains "leaders." It's by design. We are the "city" (as opposed to "redevelopment opportunity") that razed its most historic building for shopping, as yet undetermined. To take a community that is so obviously skewed in favor of nitwits building whatever pops into their head and target its NIMBY population seems slightly misguided. It's like me demonizing leprichans because they're untrustworthy. That might be true, as with your arguments; nonetheless, leprichans have had no more (or less) of an adverse impact on WALNUT CREEK than the Nimbys you address. What does NIMBY veto power have to do with a city where residents are routinely ignored to maximize return for the builders that buy elections and populate commissions? How realistic and big a threat is that? The only utility to your NIMBY dissertation, HERE, is to further empower builders by creating reticence amongst those they ignore and abuse.
Triple Canopy December 28, 2011 at 01:46 AM
Mr. Frederick's only podium from which others will "hear" him is WC Patch. THAT IS LAUGHABLE!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
michael frederick December 28, 2011 at 03:07 AM
That's fine, TC. Unlike The Times or speaking downtown, I prefer Patch because it promotes a DIALOG where others can refute or correct anything I present. I also like the fact that space is available to elaborate or clarify, timely. Conversely, yard signs would probably work best for what you have to present. I think Patch is, going away, the best forum for thoughtful people to exchange information. It's the only podium simply because it is the podium I think serves everyone best and, therefore, the one I choose.
Joseph David Dacus December 28, 2011 at 03:57 PM
"...that razed its most historic building for shopping..." What historical gems were destroyed for shopping? Perhaps it was long before my time. I moved to the area in 1981. I think one issue with NIMBY protests is the hyperbole and the hysteria. It's fine to make your views known, and to express your opinion, you just can't make up your own facts.
CJ December 28, 2011 at 04:10 PM
MF-Nobody really talks to you do they? Wonder why? You rail against development as if you own the properties being dicussed. Get a few million dollars together and buy up what you want and then sit on it if you want. The rest of the world will go about making WC a vibrant retail hub. Something the eastbay would be sorely lacking in had developers not done what they do. Now, if we could just get those in Orinda that think similar to you to quiet down they could do some development here. Develop under utilized and valuable property and revitalize the tax base.
Zoe Claire December 28, 2011 at 04:48 PM
There's the "vibrant" buzzword for downtown development again. Your downtown isn't crowded, impossible to park or drive or filled with noise..... it's VIBRANT!
Chris F. December 28, 2011 at 05:22 PM
CJ- I ask how the closing of the JCC has turned into revitalizing downtown Orinda to increase the tax base by enough to pay for one police officer's salary? All in the name of build it up bigger and the promise of they will come... Orinda is too small to support what little business is here already! Oh I get it, Fill the developer’ pockets and it will all be better right.. Hmm traffic won’t improve, Parking spaces will not increase so we will better put meters in and hire a meter maid that we can pay more than we make off the meters and we can get bond measures to cover the need for the new fire station to house the larger ladder trucks and then Orindian’s can cover the cost of the failed developments because they will be over budget and bankrupt plus they won't be bringing the "promised income" and after the new better businesses fail we can have a bunch of little cheesy nail shops and beauty supply stores, It amazes me that we haven't heard much from the Property owners of the proposed rebuild Orinda but we have heard a lot from outside developers and agents speak against what the majority of the Orinda residents want! The only thing that downtown Orinda needs is a facelift but that's just my opinion and I am only one person that lives in Orinda.. I am sad that the JCC closed as they provided lots of good services, I hope someone else can step in and attempt to succeed at what the JCC Board failed to do.
CJ December 28, 2011 at 05:40 PM
Chris F.- Parking in DTO is abysmal. Facelifts don't happen without additional ROI to the owners. If these owners of the property have no interest then so be it. My guess is it is illogical to think that the present owners are not just waiting in the wings to sell once a plan emerges. We can leave it as it is, but it is sad that Orinda, Moraga and Lafayette to some degree all are clinging to these antiquated run down theatre buildings as if they are the Sistine Chapel. The weight of these relics weighs down any hope of vibrant investment in the future. I admit that I have little romance for old buildings unless they truly have ancient and historic value. An old theatre is just an old theatre once it's useful life has been exhausted. The tie in to the JCC is just a thin reference to the parallel NIMBY attitudes that permeate both subjects.
Jojo Potato December 29, 2011 at 04:03 AM
What the heck are you all talking about? The JCC borrowed more money than they could pay back so they are gone. That's the way our system works, banks are very good at keeping track and shutting down non-payers. Get over it.
michael frederick December 29, 2011 at 07:32 AM
I'm glad you asked, Joseph, and I appreciate your curiousity. The Veterans' Bldg. was erected in 1925. When WC veterans returned home after WWI they lobbied the county to get these buildings erected in every city throughout CCC. Through its life it served as a meeting place for Veterans, of course. It also served as our Town Hall and the courtroom for WC's last Justice of the Peace, Betsy Rahn -- it was our courthouse. I will spare you the blow-by-blow on the SF architect the city hired to do a hatchet job here. Council did this, of course, because they don't anything much about the place, either -- ALL they do know is shopping. So, that's all that gets promoted and that's all you get exposed to. Suffice it to say, my family was 2/5 of the Board of Trustees that incorporated WC and my family is represented on every WC history book with a front cover picture. We're fairly prominent ... If I can ever answer any WC history questions for you, it would be my pleasure to share whatever I know or direct you to someone who knows better. I'm delighted to share an appreciation of the place with anyone curious enough to ask.
michael frederick December 29, 2011 at 09:58 AM
CJ, I don't know why "nobody really talks" to me. My guess would be they aren't from Orinda and don't possess sufficient local ignorance? Many might appreciate that I own a lot of commercial property and have been active downtown for decades? They might know that my great-grandfather dug the Old Tunnel and the family has promoted WC as a "hub" for over 140 years? Maybe they know his son was the supervisor for the Caldecott? Maybe they appreciate my helping Bob and Rob Schroder maintain the DBA, when it ran on a shoestring and few cared? I don't know... Which brings me to my main point: Should people restricted to regurgitating generic economics -- as locally ignorant as yourself -- really be determining the fate of community assets, when you obviously lack appreciation for them or ANYTHING beyond your rudimentary economic idealogy? I don't want to speculate upon Orinda assets -- that's for Orinda. I will say that those who have an appreciation for where they live shouldn't be silenced by NIMBY spewing civil engineers promoting their industry and/or livelihood over everything, including the city's identity. The WC's Vets' Bldg. symbolized a lot of very nice things about our community -- from the obvious down to the (donated) home of our first Black resident. It was razed by economically myopic morons who couldn't take the time to investigate it before pursuing their economic agenda. In a testament to their stupidity, the site remains vacant...
WC-Independent December 29, 2011 at 03:07 PM
MF - I do remember that white stucco building with some historic looking sign above the door. It was not maintained well, if at all, and hosted a jazzercise class etc. What was your recommendation for that building / site?
michael frederick December 30, 2011 at 08:57 AM
WCI, You are correct, the building suffered years of County neglect. It would've required on the order of $1M for asbestos removal, structural bracing, relocation(?). Put into context, this city just spent $13M for commercial parking to nowhere in Civic Park or, another way -- this would've been a one time expense comparable to what is sunk into Bedford annually. I recognized the city wanted the site to expand and tie together shopping -- fine. This building was moved many years ago -- it could've been again. I would've been OK with putting it anywhere around downtown for the Historical Society's use -- so residents could get a better sense of where we've been, how we got here, what's worked and what hasn't, why are some NIMBYs and city limit lines contrived ... Something like that, to honestly communicate, with a sense of gravitas and pride -- as opposed to dumping it in an outlying orchard or razing it. There are so many things that could've been done, if City Hall had an interest in promoting the city and its residents. The disparity between WC's self-defacement and neighboring cities is striking -- whether in terms of Danville's recent renovations, Concord's interpretation of state EIR requirements, San Ramon, Clayton, Martinez... I would've celebrated WHATEVER a City Hall promoting WC and its residents decided. Unfortunately, elections here are bought for them to prioritize shopping and redevelopment ($$$), not constituents. Thanks for asking.


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