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West Downtown Visions for Walnut Creek

August schedule has Aug. 14 Citizens Advisory Committee meeting, then a community meeting Aug. 30 to look at planning for residential-commercial mix area.

August contains a couple mileposts on the road to a West Downtown Specific Plan.

One public committee will take a look at the demographics of Walnut Creek's west downtown, followed by a community meeting to hear people's visions for the area between Highway 680 and North California Boulevard, and between Mount Diablo Boulevard and Walnut Creek BART.

The plan's Citizens Advisory Committee meets from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 14, in the third floor conference room of City Hall, 1666 N. Main St.

The community workshop meets from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 30, at St. Paul's Episcopal Church Parish Hall, 1924 Trinity Ave.

Call for design standards

One resident said he'd like to see design standards built into the West Downtown plan.

In an email, Tom O'Brien wrote, “As an Almond/Shuey neighborhood activist (who was passed over for a seat on the Committee), I would like to see the Specific Plan include codification of design standards in the properties surrounding our neighborhood to buffer us from the impact of adjacent high-density development. This was promised in the General Plan, but never delivered. I’d also like to see adjustments to the zoning of certain properties that the City doesn’t recognize as being inside our neighborhood, more emphasis on neighborhood character when considering new development within the neighborhood, and the Stow Steps.

"But , all I expect to see is codification of City Hall’s vision for the area – more high density urbanization and probably more whining about how height limits are stifling development opportunities.”

At stake is "a community-driven plan that defines a vision for the area and develops a regulatory framework for future development and public improvements," in the description on the city website. The defined are is about one-third residential, one-third commercial and one-third civic and community uses (including churches, the BART station).

A 13-member Citizens Advisory Committee met on June 12. Also in June, the consultant team conducted small group interviews with 27 "stakeholders" concerned with the West Downtown area, including business owners, residents and community groups.

The West Downtown Specific Plan process is funded by a $450,000 grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

The city's project planner overseeing the West Downtown process is Andrew Smith, asmith@walnut-creek.org. The consultant team is led by The Planning Center/DC&E.

Triple Canopy August 06, 2012 at 12:18 AM
C'mon MF. Let's hear it from the peanut gallery...
obiwan August 06, 2012 at 04:09 AM
The MTC isn't footing the whole bill for this exercise in "community-driven planning". The City has committed $150,000 in matching funds. That's not an insignificant amount. And if the final plan just ends up being what City Hall has intended all along, one could question whether it's money well spent.
michael frederick August 06, 2012 at 09:17 AM
There is merit in building proximate to transportation. There also is sense in moderating it to protect neighborhoods, not bottleneck traffic,... There is a balance that doesn't undermine city and community. Promoting redevelopment, exclusively, isn't WC's best vision -- it is its WORST! That's why it can't accomodate any other. Simmons and Skrel selected BRE, the Chamber of Commerce, the DBA, and other development dependents to judge, EXCLUSIVELY... I disagree with Obiwan that my property should be his neighborhood's Poland. Zoning should be appropriate, whether standing on CA, Bonanza, Shuey, or Stow. We agree the critical concern lies with transitional areas. I also agree his committee exclusion is telling. As with Obiwan, here are my rejected qualifications: The subject area is "Stow's Addition" to WC. Almond Shuey neighborhood and streets are named after my family. Two great grandfathers founded the Presbyterian Church. Uncle was the Episcopal musical director over 25 yrs. I attended both. I grew up here, as did my mother. We own significant property that is the most contentious. 35 years commercial management experience (S+S+Triple Canopy = 0). **The "BEST" judgment of Simmons and Skrel is to select the LEAST knowledgeable and interested "stakeholders." Local ignorance and indifference aren't the virtues these "WC reps" sell -- because they're building, Art, open space shills and NOT WC reps!!! M Frederick Stow Partners
The Merry One August 06, 2012 at 04:01 PM
MF, Will you please just run for City Council and get it over with? I'm serious.
WC-Independent August 06, 2012 at 04:05 PM
Thought I heard some city leaders, maybe those mentioned above, speaking with some suits at a local eatery the other night. From the conversation, the suits we're possible from a large retail corporation, maybe Wal-Mart or Lowes and another group from a sustainable development company. More than once the words eminent domain were discussed with a west downtown portion of town. They seemed to be discussing some way to develop to generate revenue to cover library and police. Also, some discussion of future jobs and lucrative packages for those that help, 'get this deal done fast'. Strange. Hope they weren't speaking about WC.
obiwan August 06, 2012 at 07:37 PM
It’s true that I view Stow Avenue as a residential street, very much in the character of the Almond/Shuey neighborhood. I’d like to preserve the home Michael grew up in and the home across the street where his great-uncle, an early town constable, lived. I see an opportunity for a stairway down to California Boulevard, creating a pedestrian gateway to our very walkable downtown neighborhood. Perhaps my vision might be characterized as “Andy Griffith’s Mayberry”. I guess that from Michael’s perspective it’s “Poland”. The City and their Chamber of Commerce overlords would prefer to bulldoze the homes, dynamite away the bluff and continue the high-rise “street wall” look of California Boulevard – a continuation of the Mercer look. Some developer could get rich building it and our downtown businesses gain some more captive customers. But we already have so much commercialization/urbanization and few remnants of what was once a small town. Why can’t we preserve just this one little piece?
obiwan August 06, 2012 at 07:42 PM
Pictures of our illustrious City Council members can be found on the City's website. You might also try Google images for Ron Gerber, the City's Economic Development manager, or Charlie Abrams and Jay Hoyer from the Chamber, It would be great if you could name names so we could ask for a followup.
David P August 06, 2012 at 11:49 PM
WC-Independent: There is nothing concrete in your comment above - only speculation about "some city leaders" who you do not even know, talking to "suits" from a large retail corp, which you do not know, with fragments of here-say that is not only unclear, but unknown. I agree that we can all express our own opinions, but you need to have some real facts before you make suppositions. You said "maybe those mentioned above," which some people may take as confirmation. It is just tiring when people make comments with little-to-no facts. Please, everyone, strive for real, confirmable information. Hopefully you have been watching "Newsroom" and see how they do it.
obiwan August 07, 2012 at 12:26 AM
To echo David P's comment, but from a slightly different perspective - WCI, please provide us with something we can use to try to confirm your statements. I've suggested some likely players in such a meeting who you could ID from photos. Can you tell us the restaurant? Maybe we can find someone else who was there. Or, if this was just an attempt at humor, please include a smiley face at the end so we know ...
Julie Jepsen-Grant August 07, 2012 at 01:50 AM
Mr. Obiwan, the smiley face I included at the end of a comment I made about you running for council was not an attempt at humor. I really meant it. I think your cartoons are brilliant! And you really care about WC. The smiley face was added for the person who keeps calling people negative.
obiwan August 07, 2012 at 02:21 AM
Thank you for the kind words Julie. Between you and my 93-year-old mother, that's two votes I could count on. :-) Alas, until I win the lottery, I don't have the financial resources to take on whatever slate of candidates the Chamber puts up.
michael frederick August 07, 2012 at 10:38 AM
Obiwan, I appreciate your perspective, obviously. In particular, the sensitivity up the street to our situation, respecting our property, makes holding-off and working together much easier ... There's alot to be said for Mayberry, also. However, I also see a need for growth in appropriate locations -- despite City Hall's best efforts to discredit itself on such... I see a need for the WC Historical Society downtown and couldn't think of a better location... There are other opportunities beyond developmental, here. This isn't to suggest city precedes family as one recent candidate contended ... They count. The great-uncle you mentioned also was our supervisor and Treasurer for the Caldecott Tunnel in 1938. There's history but, my sense is I live in a city that doesn't care about promoting itself, just its shopping. That's what Regalia had in mind when she offered the Vets' Bldg for $1 -- Mike pays to relocate and rehab it... WC doesn't have an interest in promoting WC, just shopping. Most cities work to preserve some of their history. Danville, with the Podva-Shuey home. San Ramon with the Glass house -- the home of the mother of the great-uncle mentioned... Unfortunately, we live in a city that only promotes 1900 ("farm" and "ranch") -- nothing area specific that elevates people and potentially competes with redeveloping it. That's the reality. Keeping an open mind ... and a stairway is part of neighborhood integration. I'd vote for you (3).
One more time with feeling August 07, 2012 at 04:55 PM
David P, I agree with you - this goes both ways. I've lost count of the times various Contra Costa County Library downtown Walnut Creek branch supporters, Council members, Yes On WC, and the rest of the Arts (and Crafts) folks have tossed out inaccurate sound bites in order to gain support from unknowing voters. A current/recent example: http://www.walnut-creek.org/about/qualitylife/libraries/dlp/funding.asp Specifically (and for those who don't want to click the link): "Private Fundraising: The Walnut Creek Library Foundation has pledged to raise $5 million from the private sector to support the construction and establish an endowment fund for operating costs." We barely got the $5 million contribution to the $40 million project a couple of years ago. Now we have the Library Foundation Director (and Silva) pushing to quickly get more funding from the City. Where's the "endowment fund"?
WC-Independent August 07, 2012 at 05:15 PM
:), I'm tiring of all these comments stating the council is "on the take" from the developers. I don't believe any of it. It comes up every time on these topics. You know who you are that continue to raise this using development company names, family ties etc. So my comment above is sarcastic as I'm tired of all the other comments posted along the same lines as my sarcastic one above...
Terri Shamroukh August 10, 2012 at 01:42 AM
I was disgusted when the VFW hall was demolished. Is there going to be a new one built? It seems to me we have more than enough space devoted to commerce downtown. I have lived here a relatively short time, 15 years. Sadly, it has been long enough to see a big change in the character of our downtown. It used to be a really nice place for my kids to go after school or on weekends. I don't think I'd feel as good about it now.
One more time with feeling August 10, 2012 at 05:42 PM
@ Terri Shamroukh, There was a deal to consolidate the Walnut Creek and Lafayette Veteran's Halls http://www.lafayetteveterans.org/history.html (cynicism) How could you not like the 10 year old dirt lot left by razing the Walnut Creek Veteran's Hall? Apparently *someone* was in a rush to level it... and we citizens get the short end of the "development"...
Ralph Hoffmann August 30, 2012 at 11:31 AM
See y'all tonight.

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