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The developer Blackhawk Nunn Partners is proposing to build 2,400 single-family homes outside Brentwood city limits, just west of the Shadow Lakes Golf Course community. What is now 800 acres of beautiful rolling hills and active farmland is slated to become hundreds of acres of medium-density development, home to thousands of new residents. The developer is considering commercial development along Balfour Road and Deer Valley Road. This proposal will require a vote of the people to expand the city’s urban limit line.
Why It Matters
Quality of Life– A development of this size will have huge quality of life implications. The proposal promises four phases over 20 years of construction traffic, noise, and pollution. Open space views will be destroyed as housing covers the area. As new residents move in, expect huge traffic jams along Balfour Road, especially at the already crowded intersections around Heritage High School and Adams Middle School. Preliminary analysis shows the potential for over 26,000 vehicle trips a day at build out! The developer promises to widen Balfour to accommodate more traffic, turning this rural road into a major thoroughfare.
Brentwood Needs Jobs– The approval of this plan will set a precedent for further outward expansion, building Brentwood’s identity and economy as a bedroom community instead of a vibrant city with a healthy balance of jobs, economic development, and homes. It will only solidify Brentwood’s reliance on property taxes, which will bankrupt the city in the long run. The City’s own general plan calls for the City to “Attract and retain businesses and industries that provide high-quality and high-paying jobs so that residents can live and work in Brentwood” (Brentwood General Plan, pg. 1-2). 88% of employed people in Brentwood leave the city every day for work. The construction of 2,400 new housing units does nothing to bring sorely-needed jobs to the City.
Insufficient Urban Services– Brentwood is not prepared financially or structurally for 2,400 new homes. Fire services are under-funded, schools are full, and the City’s transportation infrastructure is not prepared for even more residents. According to Vice Mayor Joel Bryant, from an October East Bay Times article, “…currently the infrastructure would not sustain a major influx of new housing,” he said. “We have already had difficulties with transportation issues …. and so we are going to have to address the mobility issues, the transportation issues first.”
Protect the Urban Limit Line– In order for this development to move forward, Blackhawk Nunn Partners will have to collect around 3,500 signatures from Brentwood residents to put a measure on the ballot. That measure will have to pass with a majority voting in favor of moving the Urban Limit Line, or the legal boundary around the city that determines where development can happen. The Urban Limit Line is an essential tool for protecting our open space and agriculture land, and limiting sprawl development that hurts quality of life. Every city in Contra Costa County has an Urban Limit Line, and that line has only been moved once since its passage in 2004. (Learn more about that history here.) Allowing the Urban Limit Line to be moved because a private developer wants to implement his plan (that promises to make him millions) without community input and without an environmental review process sets a precedent for similar moves across the region, and for Brentwood into the future.
Agricultural Land At Risk– Brentwood’s history is that of agriculture. We have made a commitment as a City to protect what is left of our agricultural heritage. Yet the proposed development will pave over 800 acres of active agricultural land–land that has been grazed and dry-farmed for over a century.
Community Input Matters– While this private developer is looking to move a voter-approved Urban Limit Line to accommodate his own project, the City of Brentwood is pursuing it’s own Community Build-Out Planning process. The City’s process will ensure that the future of Brentwood is determined by the residents of Brentwood, NOT by the interests of one developer. The Community Build-Out Plan will include stakeholder meetings and community input, and eventually a legally-mandated environmental review–the Blackhawk Nunn ballot measure skips over all of this. This ballot measure should not be considered while the City is pursuing its own democratic process.