Land Use Planning Projects
Save Mount Diablo is active in the land use planning arena, monitoring development proposals that affect open space around Mount Diablo and working with neighborhood groups and other organizations. We respond to everything from cell tower applications to large subdivision projects. We take a pragmatic approach; some projects we strive to stop, some we strive to improve, always seeking public benefit and open space preservation. We monitor dozens of agency agendas each week and respond to 50-60 development applications every year.
Save Mount Diablo has been a key player in striking the balance between economic growth, affordable housing, and open space preservation. In the Concord Naval Weapons Station Reuse Plan, for example, which Save Mount Diablo worked on as part of the Community Coalition, ultimately resulted in 67% of the 5,000 acre area being preserved as parks and open space.
Some of our major current and recent Land Use Planning projects include defending CEQA, working on imrpoving the Magee Ranch project, Communication Towers, Concord Naval Weapons Station, Measure F in Brentwood, Annexation and Grading in Pittsburg's Los Medanos Hills and defending the Tassajara Valley from threats such as Measure W in San Ramon. Summaries of these and additional projects are below.
California's Environmental Equality Act
The most important environmental law in California is CEQA: the California Environmental Quality Act, designed to ensure that people in every California community can understand how land use decisions will impact their communities and health, and can hold public agencies accountable. CEQA is currently under attack. Proposed reforms would prevent public input for some development projects. Save Mount Diablo is a member of the "CEQA Works" coalition. While CEQA Works acknowledges there is room to improve the law, the proposals being discussed in the legislature go too far - adding loopholes to exempt development projects and major polluting industries from real environmental review.
Help Defend CEQA:
Check out the CEQA Works website
Like the CEQA Works Facebook page
A proposal in the Northgate Area of Walnut Creek, to subdivide a steep hillside property covered by a beautiful grove of blue oaks jutting into Shell Ridge Open Space, was withdrawn. The addition of four new houses on this property would have destroyed the scenic value and altered the rural character of the area while also impacting preserved habitat in Shell Ridge.
Alamo, Antioch & Blackhawk
Even when open space is protected it must be defended. In four different projects recently, SMD defended against attempts to develop or encroach upon homeowner open space.
Tassajara Valley and San Ramon's Measure W
Developers have submitted a project to Contra Costa County to pressure San Ramon to break the voter approved Urban Growth Boundary and develop the Tassajara Valley. The City Council has buried the Urban Growth Boundary and Tassajara Valley in their General Plan update and placed it on the November ballot despite San Ramon residents opposition. To learn more visit our Tassajara Valley page.
Measure F in Brentwood
Developers placed Measure F on the ballot in the City of Brentwood in Spring of 2010.
The measure would have broken Brentwood's voter approved Urban Limit Line to incorporate 740 acres of sensitive land to be developed with 1,300 unneeded houses . Save Mount Diablo formed a coalition with Brentwood residents and concerned organizations to inform voters and defeat Measure F. Visit our Measure F page to learn more.
Concord Naval Weapons Station
As a member of the Community Coalition for a Sustainable Concord, Save Mount Diablo has been a leader in advocating for the preservation of open space and a new regional park as part of the Concord Naval Weapons Station Re-use Plan. SMD also helped to create a Regional Stakeholders Group that additionally advocated for project components that ensured economic vitality through an equitable balance of jobs, housing, education and quality of life facilities and services. In January 2010, the Concord City Council approved a land use alternative which includes more than 3,000 acres of parks and open space – 67% of the property – including protection of the ridge line between Central and Eastern Contra Costa County, and of Mount Diablo Creek. This is the first step in this project which will continue to be planned for and developed over the next 30 years. Visit our Concord Naval Weapons Station page to learn more.
Pittsburg’s Los Medanos Hills
For nearly two years, Save Mount Diablo worked with our allies to help the City of Pittsburg craft a hillside protection ordinance to preserve the most sensitive and visible areas of the Los Medanos Hills south of the city and adjacent to the Concord Naval Weapons Station. Then the City tabled the effort. In the mean time, SMD has exposed massive grading and has been working to protect the hills from development projects which would have major impacts if approved before stronger protections are put in place. See our Threats to the Mountain page to learn more.
Incredible Cliffs and Canyons at Keller Landfill
When Keller Canyon Landfill was approved above Pittsburgh in the late 1980s, an environmental coalition including Save Mount Diablo helped protect 1,036 acres of open space surrounding the landfill and on the ridge line above with conservation easements. Now Keller is applying for an amendment to accept garbage faster. SMD is working with Keller and Contra Costa County to achieve stronger protections for these open spaces which are critical in connecting the Concord Naval Weapons Station open space with Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve.
Saving Lime Ridge’s Peak
Lime Ridge is the beautiful greenbelt between Walnut Creek and Concord and is a hot spot for biodiversity with more than 30 rare species. Unfortunately, the very peak of Lime Ridge is inaccessible and marred by a communications facility. The City of Walnut Creek reached agreement on the lease to allow continued commercial use of Lime Ridge’s peak. Save Mount Diablo is advocating restoration of the site and its return to the public which bought and paid for its protection. See our Communication Towers page to learn more.
Protecting Wildlife Corridors South of Antioch - Future Urban Area 1 & Roddy Ranch
The City of Antioch is planning a massive amount of development including 4,100 new residential units and nearly 4 million square feet of offices and business parks in a four square mile area at the city’s southern edge. Save Mount Diablo is working for a balance of development and open space in the area encouraging developers to preserve the more sensitive parts of their land to offset the impacts of development. The Roddy Ranch project, where SMD previously protected over a thousand acres as a condition of golf course development there, threatens an important wildlife corridor and wetlands.
Defending Tassajara – “New Farm” Threatens Agriculture
Save Mount Diablo has been defending the Tassajara Valley from development for three decades. This year a number of projects opposed by Save Mount Diablo have been withdrawn, preventing the subdivision and development of over 1,000 acres of open space. However, an application has been submitted for the “New Farm” project—186 units which would break the Urban Limit Line. SMD is working with a variety of allies to stop the project—and to help create a brand new regional preserve to serve the Tri-Valley.
An Expanded Los Vaqueros Reservoir Would Drown “Permanently” Protected Lands
When the Los Vaqueros Reservoir was completed, Contra Costa Water District was required to permanently protect over 4,000 acres of land as conservation easements to mitigate the Reservoir’s impacts on endangered species and other resources. A current proposal to expand the reservoir would flood recreational trails, hundreds of acres of this protected land, and destroy the wildlife corridor west of the reservoir. Save Mount Diablo is advocating for thousands of acres of additional protected land if the project moves forward.
Is Blackhawk Open Space Protected?
After an intense debate in the early 1970s between Blackhawk developers, the county and the community—Save Mount Diablo’s first big land use effort—the original Blackhawk project balanced development of homes with protection of over 2,000 acres added to Mount Diablo State Park along with more private open space and recreation lands within the development. Blackhawk Country Club has proposed rezoning part of this private open space to sell a number of big lots on top of highly visible knolls. SMD is concerned about the project’s precedents. Blackhawk Homeowners rejected the initial proposal but it may resurface.
More Protected Land through the East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservation Plan
The East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservation Plan was adopted in 2007 after ten years of collaboration between developers, landowners, government agencies and elected officials, and conservationist groups like Save Mount Diablo. Over the next 30 years the plan will direct more than $300 million in development fees and other funding to protect 25,000 to 30,000 acres of wildlife habitat east of Diablo’s summit. Working with the Regional Park District, SMD and others, in just two years the new Habitat Conservancy has begun the protection of 4,400 acres of endangered species habitat—almost nine square miles of new preserves.