Despite growing traffic, underfunded fire/emergency services, and over-crowded schools, local development company Blackhawk Nunn Partners is proposing to expand the city of Brentwood to build more housing on top of current county agricultural land. The company is initiating a ballot measure for as early as November 2019 that will yet again attempt to move Brentwood’s Urban Limit Line (ULL) west of Shadow Lakes and north of Balfour Road to build approximately 2,400 single-family homes over 800 acres. Our ULL is a boundary beyond which urban development is not allowed; it is meant to discourage urban sprawl and contain development within our City. This western boundary was established in 2005, passed at the ballot box in 2006, and re-affirmed in the 2010 election; it is paramount to our quality of life, stopping unnecessary residential or commercial building, maintaining a buffer with Antioch and East Bay Regional Park land, and preventing sprawl development. Blackhawk Nunn’s massive housing concept planned in four phases over the next 20 years is larger than Shadow Lakes and Deer Ridge combined. This misguided plan should not and cannot make it to the ballot.
Brentwood needs more job creation, not more housing. According to Councilmember Karen Rarey, approximately 88% of employed workers living in and around Brentwood commute out of town each day–this is astonishingly. This results in bumper to bumper traffic in and out of town morning, noon and night and sends valuable sales tax revenue to other cities. Brentwood is very close to the build-out numbers designated in the General Plan, with a little over 2,000 single-family units and about 4,500 multi-family units left to build, while we continue to fall behind in economic development. Therefore, the City has designated Priority Area 1 (PA-1) below Home Depot and on both sides of the Bypass to bring sorely needed professional, household-supporting jobs to Brentwood. This area’s plan is intended to bring Brentwood into the funding future by weaning us off of housing developer-driven fees that have sustained our City’s vital services for decades. PA-1 also contains a fair amount of housing, and plans add Bridle Gate to the south with 500 more homes and apartments. Per our 2014 General Plan (GP), any residential development should be directly linked to job creation, and occur in a balanced and efficient manner that reduces sprawl and preserves open space. Why would we greenlight 2,400 new houses outside City limits before our job creation catches up to housing plans we already have?
A ballot measure to move the ULL would be in direct competition with our City’s own community build-out planning process currently in motion. It would circumvent vital input into the City’s future growth and the environmental review (EIR) that is required with city-initiated processes. The City already plans to meet with major stakeholders-landowners, businesses, residents and local organizations such as Greenbelt Alliance and Save Mount Diablo to shape our build-out.
Brentwood can protect this area as a dry-farmed, oil-rich parcel by upholding the Memo of Understanding (MOU) between Brentwood and Antioch that acknowledges the establishment of an open space buffer to separate and distinguish the two communities. By maintaining our existing ULL and reaffirming the in-force MOU, we can ensure that Antioch and Brentwood remain separate entities. This acreage is and should be upheld as our community separator.
While I respect Ron Nunn for his many contributions to Brentwood, I can’t support this ULL expansion. He seeks to move the voter-approved ULL and develop the Ginochio’s 800-acre property according to their vision, instead of participating in our City’s public process-this bypasses EIR considerations and stifles valuable input. More shockingly, Mr. Nunn states that he already has some City staff and several Councilpersons’ support for the project, further undermining the general public’s input to date. That’s why I am leading the Alliance for a Better Brentwood, a coalition of residents and local organizations to actively and vehemently oppose any ULL ballot measure.
Kathy Griffin, Founder, Alliance for a Better Brentwood