June 12, 2019

Hello friends and fellow Brentwood neighbors,

Today, I spoke at the Contra Costa County Local Area Formation Commission (LAFCO) Meeting in Martinez. This particular meeting was acting on requests for Sphere of Influence (SOI) and Annexation requests as part of LAFCO’s role as our County’s independent, regulatory agency with discretion to approve, wholly, partially or conditionally, or disapprove, changes of organization or reorganization.

LAFCO is required to consider a variety of factors when evaluating a proposal, including but not limited to, a proposal’s potential impacts on agricultural land and open space, provision of municipal services and infrastructure to a project site, timely and available supply of water, fair share of regional housing, consistency with regional plans, and various other factors.

In regards to the ULL-busting proposal of Blackhawk Nunn Partners, the Vineyards @ Deer Creek, I sited numerous LAFCO values and guiding principals that the project would violate. We will need LAFCO to deny the SOI and Annexation request by this particular developer and their specific project as it does not represent the actions and goals set forth in our own General Plan.

Here is my 3-minute LAFCO address:

“Hello LAFCO members,

I’ve lived in Brentwood for 22 years, and address you today representing the Alliance for A Better Brentwood.

Currently we are faced with an Urban Limit Line challenge from developers Blackhawk Nunn Partners – The Vineyards @ Deer Creek. Their goal is to move Brentwood’s ULL west to build 2,400 homes we don’t need. As this challenge would result in a subsequent SOI change and Annexation request that will come before you as the regulatory agency governing such requests in Contra Costa County, I’m asking for your support to deny the request.

Development of this 815-acre parcel would have an adverse impact on agricultural land and open space under your control, and is currently dry-farmed. We have plenty of regional housing, with a total of more than 16,000 housing units in the queue across Antioch, Brentwood, Oakley, Bethel Island and Discovery Bay; we don’t need this Project’s additional housing now and a big concern is we have no fire & emergency services to cover the 249-square miles of planned development as it is. This Project is not consistent with regional plans as it changes Brentwood’s General Plan significantly to build it. The traffic impacts are devastating, as we know Deer Valley Road was never intended nor can it accommodate any additional traffic load, especially with the development of the housing and commercial ventures in the Antioch Sand Creek Focus Area. The current MOU between Antioch & Brentwood so stipulates that neither City will ask for SOI or Annexation through 2022, Brentwood’s ULL is in force until 2026, and Antioch collected over 10,000 signatures last year to establish a permanent ULL at the northern end of this parcel – all powerful arguments to keep this parcel the ag land it is, and to permanently establish this property as the necessary Community Separator between the 2 cities. In LAFCO Executive Director Lou Ann Texeira’s 6-page letter to the City of Brentwood, she sites numerous concerns with the Project, and the 7 subject areas that the EIR must address. She also comments that she doubts a programmatic EIR will be sufficient to evaluate all the necessary concerns LAFCO would have for this Project. In summary, I ask that you comprehensively evaluate any request for a west Brentwood SOI or Annexation action according to your agency’s guiding principals, and based on those, I’m confident that you will deduce this request is contrary to the very values and regulations you uphold as LAFCO, and deny the request.

Thank you,
Kathy Griffin”

Thank you for your continued support!


The Developer’s Initiative

The Developer’s Initiative, if passed by the voters and approved by all parties, will modify Brentwood’s Urban Limit Line (ULL), Sphere of Influence (SOI), General Plan, Municipal Code, and 1992 Memo of Understanding between Antioch and Brentwood. Every detail in the initiative is important to review. Read the full document here.

Here are some highlights:

Commercial Uses

The developer was quoted as saying that around 15-20 acres would be dedicated to commercial elements, which could include a winery, a farm-to-table restaurant or other attractions. What is never mentioned is the senior care facility that may be placed on the corner of Deer Valley and Balfour Road.

Consistent with City policy, senior care facilities are considered to be a commercial use and therefore shall not be included in the 2,400-unit maximum residential unit limitation. However, for purposes of this Specific Plan senior care facilities may be located in the VDC-R or VDC-CC sub-designations. [Emphasis added]

Vineyards at Deer Creek Voter Initiative, Page E36


Brentwood’s General Plan’s Circulation Diagram makes clear the plan to extend American Avenue. We do not need this developer’s plan to do this. In addition, the developer’s plan:

  • Removes public access of the new portion of Hillcrest as it will be private and gated for the new communities
  • Reduces designation from Major to Minor Arterial for the new portion of Hillcrest
  • Removes direct connection of American to Hillcrest

Balfour Road

Within the initiative, the developer has highlighted three phases of modifications to Balfour Road with different timings. However, the figures included combine Phase 1 & 2.

  • Phase 1: Widening from two- to four-lanes (see image) which will occur concurrently with other improvements required for the first small-lot final subdivision map.
  • Phase 2: Widening from two- to four-lanes (see image) which “shall occur as traffic demand necessitates” [Emphasis added]
  • Phase 3: Improvements as a two-lane road (see image) which “shall occur as traffic demand necessitates” [Emphasis added]

Specific Plan Takes Control

There are numerous references in the General Plan edits that allow the Specific Plan to supersede many of the city’s policies and municipal code.

C. Conflict(s) with Vineyards at Deer Creek Specific Plan.

If there are any inconsistencies or conflicts between the requirements of the Vineyards at Deer Creek Specific Plan and the requirements of this Title or other applicable legislative City rule, regulation, or official policy implementing this Title, as they currently exist or may be amended (collectively, and exclusive of the General Plan, the “City Zoning Regulations”), the provisions of the Vineyards at Deer Creek Specific Plan take precedence, control, and govern in the Specific Plan Area.

Any activities regulated by the City Zoning Regulations but not addressed in the Vineyards at Deer Creek Specific Plan shall be subject to the City Zoning Regulations, unless application of those City Zoning Regulations would frustrate the policy, purpose, or objectives of the Vineyards at Deer Creek Specific Plan. [Emphasis added]

Vineyards at Deer Creek Voter Initiative, Page 11

May 23, 2019

NBC Newscast regarding the Alliance for a Better Brentwood’s ULL opposition to Vineyards @ Deer Creek

Good morning Friends and Neighbors,

The NBC Newscast about the ULL challenge by the developers of the Vineyards @ Deer Creek aired at the 5:35 am mark into the 5:00 am newscast. It should re-run at the 11:00 am-11:30 am program.

Unfortunately it’s so short, they did not include the messages from Bryan Scott on fire/emergency services, nor Tony Allegro—sorry gentleman, it could have been so much better. However, I think we had the better part of the report with our messaging and the channel showing our website information.

So the developers latest message is to check the traffic in front of their retirement communities? What about their 20 years of construction in an already overcrowded area, bulldozing 600 acres for more houses we don’t need, tearing up Balfour Road, the eventual houses that John Wong will want on his south-side property once they extend American Avenue, everywhere else they will cause traffic, congestion, and service deficits?

Our fight is genuine, our message is clear—no expanding our City limits until such a time as we solve our circulation and fire/emergency service deficits, and the residents and City management of Brentwood plan that parcel, not a developer.


May 22, 2019

Hello Friends & Neighbors,

NBC News interviewed me on Monday, 5/20 regarding our Brentwood Urban Limit Line challenge and the Alliance for a Better Brentwood’s opposition to Blackhawk Nunn’s development plan to move our western ULL and bulldoze nearly 600 acres of dry-farmed ag land.

Bob Redell, NBC’s reporter, and his cameraman Isaac were extremely friendly and professional. They asked me a series of questions, so as is common with newscasts, I’m not sure which “snippets” will be used.

Also interviewed on behalf of the opposition was Bryan Scott, local resident and fire/emergency services deficit expert, as well as long-time friend Tony Allegro who lives on the County side of this development. If it makes it to the ballot, Tony and his wife Cheryl are not able to vote on this issue and yet this project would have a profoundly negative impact on their home property, traffic on Deer Valley in both directions, as well as all the projects overall devastating environmental consequences.

The City Clerk received the ballot petitions as complete on May 15th. Currently, the petition signatures are being validated by the County. Unfortunately, as with past elections, the City of Brentwood only asked for a random sampling of signatures to be verified. I know from the Antioch initiative last year that if the County finds irregularities, they will do a total verification of all petition signatures, and I hope that this will be the case. We know that most of us were aghast with the methods of trickery and rudeness practiced by the petition personnel hired by Blackhawk Nunn.

The developer is rushing this ballot measure through, and hasn’t even waited until the City’s Environmental Impact Report is complete. Word has it that if they do qualify the measure for the ballot, they will push our Council hard to schedule a special election in November 2019; this could cost the Brentwood taxpayers up to $100,000! We need to send the Council a strong message that we are not happy about this, and also if they are given the decision, to place this ballot measure on the next regularly scheduled election, March 2020. The e-mail address to send them all a message is CityCouncil@brentwoodca.gov. , and I would suggest you copy the City Clerk Margaret Wimberly, MWimberly@brentwoodca.gov. Lastly, we’ll need to fill the Council chambers at the Council meeting in which they will make this decision FOR SURE!

The NBC News story will air tomorrow, Thursday, 5/23 in the 4:30 am – 7 am time slot, and again between 11:00 am – 11:30 am; Bob Redell is not sure about any evening time slot as yet. As part of the story, Bob Nunn, Ron Nunn’s son was interviewed. Obviously, the story will contain the initiative from both sides, and I’m hoping the opposition message is received loud and clear.

Thank you for your continued support and HOLD THE LINE!


May 13, 2019

Hello friends and neighbors,

Writing a quick update to the weekend’s efforts in the opposition to move our Urban Limit Line for housing and construction we don’t need. We manned and womanned a table at the Farmer’s Market which was very successful in affirming our base opposing Blackhawk Nunn’s plans for SPA2, the ag land County controlled parcel in west Brentwood.

People would come by and ask, “Are you for it or against it?” When we said, Against, they asked where do we sign, and two even took the form to rescind their signature on their petition. While we don’t have a petition, we ask that you not sign there’s to get their plan on the ballot.

Remember, they are asking you to move the ULL west AND to build what they want to build – an imbedded development plan, a HUGE red flag.

Their petitioner was shouting, “Why aren’t you letting the people vote? Why are you crushing their ability to vote?” Well, perhaps because we’ve already voted on this urban border like 3 times!!! We need to hold that line until we have to make a decision, and that’s in 2026 when I’m hoping our town will make that line permanent—like Antioch made theirs permanent on the northern border of this 815-acre parcel just last year.

Many thanks to all that came down to help: Rod, Consuelo, Antonio, Sinziana, Jeff and Mia, and forgive me if I’ve missed you, it was quite crazy down there!

We continue to distribute our flyers throughout the City with all the information about this egregious plan, and everyday talk to Brentwoodians that have not heard about this development. We will continue to explain our opposition, and convey new information that we receive daily to stop this thing.

Today, City Management will be supplying me with the revenue the City will take in for services based on our current residential & commercial projects in the works; certainly we don’t have to expand outward anytime soon.

As we pointed out last week, the money the developers claim they’ll get us for fire services, it’s the same fees that ALL developers pay to build here, nothing special. With a figure of $17M to run 3 fire stations for a year (as an estimate say if Brentwood had their own fire department), their contribution of $2M over 20 years will hardly offset the environmental damage their housing plan will cause and the added service territory.

Brentwood has 711 parcels and 1,026 acres inside our City limits available to develop. Although I would really want a building moratorium City-wide due to our alarmingly deficient service levels, traffic, school overcrowding to name a few reasons, I’m sure our City could not afford that.

Have a great week—the weather is glorious! Get out in the fresh air if you can, pick some cherries, gaze at Mt. Diablo and know you are helping to protect our western border and defend Brentwood as the best little City east of, well, our Urban Limit Line!


May 9, 2019

Hello friends and neighbors,

I wanted to let everyone know the progress we’ve made this week in our opposition to the housing proposal, Vineyards @ Deer Creek. We’ve been handing out new flyers with all the information supporting our “Why Not” argument. Public reception has been great, and we continue to be surprised how many residents have not heard about the Urban Limit Line busting housing proposal—please keep paying all the information forward.

On Tuesday, many of us attended the Contra Costa County Envision 2040 – a great open house in Knightsen to provide our input to the County’s General Plan Revision; as we know, the parcel that Blackhawk Nunn wants to develop is on County-controlled ag land, so our request to hold this parcel as the County-controlled, community separator between Brentwood & Antioch has been heard loud and clear!

On Wednesday, the Brentwood Teacher’s Association welcomed us for a presentation in their final meeting of the school year—thank you BTA! The attendees were very receptive and seemed to be in agreement to our opposition argument, and asked that we take the matter to the school district as a whole.

Then the same day, I spoke during public comments at Wednesday’s evenings Brentwood Union School District Meeting, making clear the concerns over school overcrowding to Adams and Krey with 480 new common market homes in the project, Antioch schools sending their kids off Heidorn Ranch to our schools, construction, bulldozing and roads dug-up in the area of 3 schools trying to operate in the area, and the fact that extending American Avenue will not be helpful, dumping all the cars right back on the congested problem—Balfour Road, not to mention future homes and construction all around the schools. In an informal traffic filming I did on Thursday, 5/2 from 2:30 pm to 3:30pm, most ALL cars coming down American Avenue were turning East on Balfour, or going straight North on West Country Club—how on earth is that helpful to deliver them further west down Balfour adding to their travel distance?

We will continue to battle this misguided idea of moving Brentwood’s ULL when we still have 5,878 housing units in our City under construction and planned, and 33 commercial projects in motion. The usual developer fees from the housing development will be funding services as well, to the tune of $429M; we don’t need to add 2,400 more outside our city limits. We need to wait until we are able to evaluate how all this will be absorbed, solve our fire/emergency problems and get some good jobs in this town!

Join me Saturday May 11 at the Farmer’s Market, 8 am – 11 am. I’ll be explaining the Project, disseminating our opposition message and I’ll need help shadowing any developer petitioners. Drop me a message if you are able to help. Thank you!

Lastly, next Tuesday, May 14 @ 7pm, we need as many people as possible to address the City Council during the public comments section, tell them why you’re opposed to this developer project and the negative perception of their messaging and petitioners so far. We have 3-5 minutes to speak. According to the agenda, Diane Burgis, our District III County Supervisor will be in attendance. This would be a perfect time for her to hear from all of us first-hand! Louie has already volunteered, thanks Louie!

Thank you everyone for your support in helping to keep Brentwood the Best! http://www.betterbrentwood.com 925-325-8439


May 4, 2019

Happy Saturday everyone. Today’s post has to do with the Blackhawk Nunn ULL busting proposal, their plan for our General Plan designated SPA2 – what else with the way they are overrunning and strong-arming this City.

I understand we all moved here at different stages in this City’s development and our own lives. I moved here in 1997, and in 2001 got involved in shaping my City by listening to the General Plan revision process; you couldn’t effect it while sitting in the audience and it was very frustrating. Also in that same year, and to recognize my work to keep Brentwood agricultural based, quaint and small, I was featured in San Francisco Magazine along with Meredith Nunn (yes, a Nunn against sprawl) of the Farmer’s Daughter and Al Courchesne of Frog Hollow in an article entitled, “Goodbye Farms, Hello Sprawl”, that’s 18 years ago!

So what I’m getting at is you can only effect change and fight for what you believe in since you got here, and you have to walk the talk if you feel strongly about something. I felt strongly about Measure F in 2010, that development on the west & south side of Balfour was a terrible idea; and I feel even more enraged about this north-side plan taking away our Antioch/Brentwood community separator parcel.

I saw what Brentwood was, and now I don’t like what it’s becoming. It’s all because we are so dependent on developer fees. What happens at buildout of which we are dangerously close? Are we just supposed to move our Urban Limit Lines to accommodate stupid homes because our City didn’t bring any employers, restaurants and more retail INSIDE the City limits? Are we supposed to pave over our agricultural core next to keep this City afloat? Of course not.

If you read their entire Blackhawk Nunn proposal, you’ll see they keep harping on “an overall density of 3 housing units per acre.” That’s because you probably didn’t notice part of their plan has multi-unit dwellings of 30 units to an acre—what? Are those apartments as even duets don’t have that density. I need everyone to try and understand this would be the FIRST time in County history that a voter-approved ULL was moved for an IMBEDDED DEVELOPER PLAN—that’s just not right! Brentwood indeed has this parcel on their General Plan map, but what it will become should be planned by us in concert with our City’s Community Buildout Plan.

I suggest you may want to meet with our City Manager, Gus Vina to find out about that—I did. This developer doesn’t get to trump us, period; we have until 2026 until we have to decide on that ULL again. How do we even know what all the current plans will mean to Brentwood’s service levels, roads & traffic, schools, jobs, retail, water needs—the list goes on. I think we should ALL wait for the Environmental Impact Report before we think we have to “vote” on this proposal. There should be NO RUSH to get it on the ballot—why do you suppose the Developer is doing that? They don’t want us getting too much information about it and it’s repercussions. I’m positive, as was with the EIR for the Golf Course Rezone, the City is going to tear this to shreds. My position remains no houses or commercial OUTSIDE our ULL until all our City’s plans inside are played out—it only makes too much sense, right?

Links to the full Developer’s plan, and the residential & commercial projects in Brentwood at the current time.

Project Application
Brentwood Residential Projects
Brentwood Commercial Projects


LAFCO’s Comment on NOP

On April 30, 2019, LAFCO, the commission responsible for overseeing local government boundary changes in Contra Costa, sent a letter to the City of Brentwood in response to the city’s Notice of Preparation—Vineyards at Deer Creek.

Included, LAFCO asks that the EIR include discussion on the project as it relates to Plan Bay Area.

The Plan assumes that all urban growth boundaries are held fixed through the year 2040 and no sprawl-style development is expected to occur on the regions’ open space or agricultural lands.

The project does not focus growth within the urbanized area of Brentwood, and extends the urban footprint into the an undeveloped area, outside the ULL, and predominately used for grazing.

LAFCO, April 30, 2019

View the pdf or click below to read the text.

Continue reading “LAFCO’s Comment on NOP”