Turn Out on April 25 to Hold the Line!

Last week, the Blackhawk Nunn Partners project took one step forward with the release of the Notice of Preparation for the Environmental Impact Report. This means the City of Brentwood is getting ready to do an environmental review of the project–and that we have another opportunity to show our support for the urban limit line and our opposition against this ill-conceived project.

On April 25, the City of Brentwood is holding a Scoping Meeting, the legally mandated public meeting where we have the opportunity to tell them what they need to look at during the environmental review process. We need to show up en masse to show City Council exactly what we think of this project. Can you join us on April 25 at 7pm at the Brentwood Community Center to make a public comment, hold a sign, and generally make a splash? Tell us you’re coming and stay updated on Facebook. If you can’t come in person, you have until May 1 to send written comments. Written comments can be sent to:

Erik Nolthenius, Planning Manager, City of Brentwood
Community Development Department
150 City Park Way, Brentwood, CA 94513
(925) 516-5137
enolthenius@brentwood.ca.gov

You’ll have just three minutes to speak. Here are some suggested talking points:

  1. This development will lead to the permanent destruction of hundreds of acres of agriculture of local importance, and undermine the commitment we’ve made as a County under measure L to maintaining urban development within the existing urban footprint.
  2. The City of Brentwood has almost 6000 housing units approved or under construction, and over 1000 acres of developable land within the existing urban limit line. There is no need that justifies the detrimental environmental impacts of this project and moving the urban limit line. Building automobile dependent single family homes in a hotter climate will further increase C02 into the atmosphere, exacerbating climate change. Focusing growth inside cities where there is closer access to existing amenities is the climate smart approach.
  3. This proposal will have enormous impacts on greenhouse gas emissions. Models show that we can expect up to 27,000 vehicle trips a day at build out, causing 30,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year. With 88% of Brentwood residents already leaving town every day for work, this project promises to force more people to drive hours to work each day.
  4. According to the Conservation Lands Network, 64% of the land area are “Essential” or “Important” priority lands. These 800 acres make up the last buffer area between Brentwood, Antioch, and the newly acquired East Bay Regional Park District land west of Deer Valley Rd, which could compromise the integrity of the habitat provided by the park.
  5. This project is out of step with Contra Costa County’s LAFCo’s Open Space and Agricultural Land Preservation Policy, and should not be approved under that policy.
  6. This grassland habitat provides a free-of-charge service sequestering carbon from the air into the soil through natural processes. SPA-2 holds the equivalent of 42,000 metric tons of CO2 below ground. Developing on this land will permanently lose its ability to sequester carbon.

Urban Limit Lines in Contra Costa County

Lines on the Land: The Urban Limit Line in Contra Costa County

One of the most important and powerful tools communities have for managing growth stopping sprawl development is the Urban Limit Line, or ULL (also known as an Urban Growth Boundary in some parts of the region). A ULL is the legally-protected line in the sand beyond which sprawl development is stopped in its tracks. Inside the ULL, urban services can be connected and all sorts of residential and commercial zoning is allowed, but just beyond it, development is severely restricted. This land beyond the ULL helps form the Bay Area’s greenbelt.

In Contra Costa County, priceless ecological gifts like the County’s acres of prime agricultural land and the critical wildlife habitat on the slopes of Mt. Diablo have inspired County residents to fight for its protection.

In 1990, voters approved Measure C-1990, which created a guarantee that at least 65% of land in the County would be preserved for agriculture, open space, wetlands, parks and other non-urban uses, and that no more than 35% of land would be used for urban development. In order to implement this “65/35” standard, the County established a ULL, which clearly defined where urban development was welcome, and where it was not.

Voters gave some extra teeth to the ULL in 2004 by voting for Measure J. In order to receive money from a transportation tax in the County, each city either had to adopt the County’s ULL or obtain voter-approval for their own ULL. The incentive worked, and all cities approved a ULL–only Pittsburg, Antioch, and San Ramon approved a ULL different from the County’s. Voter-approval is clutch and not all ULLs in the Bay Area require it–but a voter-approved ULL is a much safer protection than a city council-controlled one.

Contra Costa once again doubled down on the ULL in 2006 by voting for Measure L, extending the 65/35 designation and the Urban Limit Line until 2026. In 2016, the County did an extensive study to determine whether it could meet its housing and jobs needs within that boundary through 2036. The conclusion was a resounding yes.

These tremendous victories for quality of life and open space were not a foregone conclusion. It was the tireless, patient effort of our community of open space advocates that ensured good decision-making. This is not the first time Brentwood has faced challenges to its ULL, and every time a developer threatens to undermine our City’s value, voters come back with a hard no. We worked in 2006 and again in 2010 to stop ballot measures seeking to expand the City–and we’ll do it again.