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OPINION: Get Involved In Shadelands Process

Advisory committee offers stakeholders a voice in the Shadelands Gateway Specific Plan.

The Advisory Committee process enables representatives of all of the stakeholder groups to participate in a more active way than the normal planning processes.

With the publishing of Tuesday's letter to the editor in Patch, I wanted to say some things about the Advisory Committee process for the Shadelands Gateway Specific Plan.

Safeway initially proposed following the normal city planning processes that involve public hearings before the Design Review Commission, the Planning Commission and the City Council. City staff suggested, and Safeway agreed, to utilize an Advisory Committee consisting of representatives of various stakeholders to prepare a Specific Plan for this special 25-acre property before commencing the formal public hearing process. Among other things, this provided members of the public, both directly and through the representatives of the stakeholder groups, to participate more actively in the design of possible future uses of the property.

To further increase public awareness, public meetings have been noticed by mail to those residents living within 1,000 feet of the project area, instead of the usual 300 feet. This reflects a desire that as many residents as possible be aware of and have the opportunity to be engaged in the process.

Second, the city staff has placed information about the Shadelands Gateway Specific Plan in a convenient place on the city website. The city has updated the “Quick Links” box on the front of the City’s website by adding the heading “Shadelands Specific Plan.” That should make finding the page easier than before. Lastly, all documents, handouts, PPT presentations, maps, etc., that have been distributed to the Advisory Committee have always been available to the public on the City’s website on a page dedicated solely to the project.

Now, as to the last meeting, it was designed as a charrette process at which the Advisory Committee could look at various ideas for what to consider for the property in question. We decided to provide for public comment at the beginning of the meeting so that people wouldn't have to stay for the entire meeting and so that the members of the Advisory Committee would hear those comments before starting the charrette process. I thought the public comment was quite helpful, and thanked the members of the public both at the conclusion of the public comment and, to those who remained, at the end of the meeting.

The charrette was really the beginning of a two-meeting process. With the ideas generated by the charrette process, the consultant will create three land use alternatives. Those will be presented at the next meeting, and we will provide for public comment after the land use alternatives are presented. Again, before the Advisory Committee starts responding to the three land use alternatives, it will have the opportunity to listen to members of the public who wish to comment on the land use alternatives.

The Advisory Committee/Specific Plan process enables representatives of all of the stakeholder groups to participate, and provides for a far more flexible and open process than the formal hearing process normally does. The Advisory Committee still needs to hear from members of the public, including the author of Tuesday's letter, and, if you are interested, I hope that you come to the March 27 meeting.

Finally, while this is not an Advisory Committee function, and not a public meeting, the March Mayor's walk on March 10 is starting at Shadelands Drive and North Via Monte, going into the Woodlands and coming back to the Shadelands. It will provide, for anyone interested, a good opportunity to walk both the Shadelands and the Woodlands. This will be a walk in two interesting areas and an opportunity to talk with friends and acquaintances while engaged in an enjoyable activity. Mayor Pro Tem Rajan is also participating in this walk, so please consider joining Kish and me on March 10.

Bob Simmons
Mayor of Walnut Creek

Justin Wedel March 03, 2012 at 06:41 AM
As someone who has attended the City Council meeting when this process commenced and every committee meeting, I have experienced first hand that this process is not community driven. Mr. Rajan stated during the second meeting that the goal of the committee, and its deliverable, is to develop something that is "in the economic interest of Safeway" not what is best for our community. His statements were not challenged by Mr. Simmons and were confirmed at the City Council meeting when I addressed the Council on his statements. We must move forward in an open and honest direction without the ruse of a "community driven process," when this obviously is not. Saying otherwise is insulting to the people the City Council represents. Additionally, I find it ironic that a public comment period was "provided" was chosen to prove that this is a "community driven" process, given the City is required provide for this activity by law. One fact that was not promoted: during the last meeting approx. 10 different community members discussed the fact (for various reasons) they would not want to see a Safeway at this site at which point the “community driven” process directed the committee to decide how to place a Safeway on the site. In full disclosure, I support moving forward with development on this property that meets current zoning regulations or is in the best interest of the community.

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