The Chamber Wins Again

APPROVED: The Chamber of Commerce and the BART Transit Village developer got everything they wanted from the City Council.

As expected, the Walnut Creek City Council certified the Environmental Impact Report for the BART Transit Village, dismissing objections to the traffic study made by CalTrans, not to mention this blogger.  They then approved raising the General Plan height limit and created a Planned Unit Development zoning ordinance tailored to the developer’s wishes.  Setbacks were reduced.  The City’s requirement for storage space in the apartments was cut by more than half.   They caved on not requiring any additional parking for BART customers.  They caved on not requiring any improvements to the BART station itself.  Residents who drive to BART or commute down Ygnacio Valley Road will get nothing except for years of construction-related traffic snarls.

Much was made of the “view corridor” through which commuters standing at the BART gates will be able to see Mt. Diablo.  It wasn’t mentioned that the increased height will block the view from the platform.  The “exceptional public amenity” cited to justify the height increase is a mid-block crosswalk on California Boulevard that can only snarl traffic more. (The pedestrian crosswalk on Mt. Diablo Boulevard at P.F. Chang’s is apparently considered to be a success worth repeating).

A succession of infill urbanization activists (Greenbelt Alliance, Save Mt. Diablo) and business interests (the Chamber, the Downtown Business Association) took turns praising the project.  No BART patrons or Ygnacio Valley commuters showed up.  Justin Wedel and Loella Haskew were both in the audience, but neither stepped up to ask for a better deal for commuters.  If Barry Grove was there, I didn’t see him.  No matter who wins the upcoming election, it looks like the City’s residents still won’t have any representation.


This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jojo Potato October 17, 2012 at 06:43 PM
View of Mt Diablo? Having stood for many mornings on the SF bound platform, I can assure you that the structure on the other platform prevents any clear view of the mountain. And furthermore, is that the best they can do and then get people to accept it? The way the city council decides things is all based on the back room deals that have been made beforehand. Which is exactly why I don't bother to show up for these charades.
Jim October 17, 2012 at 07:19 PM
There was also no mention of the increased service demand on our already limited police and public services resources. The EIR clearly states adding 1000 people to the city will further increase the strain on the police department and will cost way more than any increased tax revenue the project brings in. Why didn't they make the developer (BIR) pay for that? Hopefully the $15,000 campaign donation during the last election-and maybe this one as well-didn't influence decision making........
michael frederick October 18, 2012 at 08:16 AM
Obiwan, I caught the comment phase. Thank you for standing up for the public amidst the usual sea of special interests. We don't always agree but, I always appreciate the reason you bring and the fact you care enough to. It always strikes me when special interests site proposed benefits to prospective residents -- as if Council's primary obligation rests with those they'd like to represent, instead of those they do. Call me old fashioned, I believe Council's foremost responsibility is to those who are misinformed or just plain stupid enough to vote for them. This is a loser in terms of city budget, demands on public service, traffic, crime, BART usage by those not living at the station, ... Does "moderation" ring a bell? On that last score, I feel I correctly forecast the commentary of BART rep. Gayle Murray. She should get out of the BART business to pursue her real estate passion. BART pocketing a few one-time bucks to produce a crappier BART experience won't increase ridership. That the city approved 1 parking space / unit and restriping parking, in lieu of actually requiring some, is on the city. That desperate commuters, unable to find parking, will generate traffic and leave cars in the surrounding areas shouldn't surprise. A City Hall overlooking such doesn't, either. One resident commenting on the candidate forum? One resident attending transit village? Competing retail isn't this city's biggest threat, City Hall induced apathy is.
djkeeley October 18, 2012 at 04:57 PM
You all said it so well, and it very sad that more Walnut Creek residents are just giving up fighting city hall
WC-Independent October 18, 2012 at 05:58 PM
What percentage of the apartments will be set aside as 'affordable units'? Who wants to live between a train station and 680? If the 'greens' were so set on saving the planet they would make improvements to allow easier access to BART for pedestrians and bikes. But those options don't include revenue from developers.
Ralph Hoffmann October 18, 2012 at 07:50 PM
Horray for the WC Transit Village Project.
michael frederick October 19, 2012 at 04:27 AM
Ralph is a finalist for Council appointment to the Transportation Commission... "Horray" for Ralph. Kind of makes you proud, doesn't it?
Pete Johnson October 19, 2012 at 04:46 AM
Obiwan- thanks for keeping on this. Sometimes it seems the purpose of these major project reviews is to find ways around the General Plan to benefit the developer and often the Chamber of Commerce rather finding ways to retain the vision of the plan. Everything has to be on a grand scale... push height limits, maximum square footage, minimal set backs for plazas and pedestrian access, reduced parking spaces, traffic reports to justify the largest project possible, limit view corridors, get rid of some trees.... on and on. Whether its this BART Transit Village or the multiple apartment monstrosities in the pipeline, its let the developer have the most possible. It does discourage public participation. I guess some of us can use Lafayette BART for the next few years.


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