Featured Image (above): Part of the Sand Creek Focus Area threatened by development, bordered by existing development in south Antioch.
Photo credit: Cooper Ogden
Antioch has grown incredibly fast these past fifteen years or so. In a city that now has more than 110,000 people, about 43 percent of residents have moved there since 2005.
What Is Sand Creek?
The Sand Creek Focus Area stretches across four square miles of the southern part of the city and is the largest continuous stretch of undeveloped land that remains. It has beautiful hills and an important creek, and serves as rare plant and animal habitat.
Save Mount Diablo engaged in the review process for these projects, and together with several partner organizations and Antioch residents, it formed the Antioch Community to Save Sand Creek.
We organized grassroots actions to protect this land and help focus Antioch on improving the parts of the city that are already developed instead of expanding outward.
Since 2015, we’ve organized forums with hundreds of participants, dropped flyers, recruited volunteers, written legal-quality comments, and made presentations to neighborhood residents.
Above: The first map shows the Sand Creek Focus Area, where four thousand houses were proposed to be built.
The second map shows the Richland initiative map, which is similar to the Coalition’s initiative map, except that it allows an improved version of “The Ranch” development project, now reduced in units, protecting the hills and providing a wide, protected creek corridor. MAP LEGEND: Red=area west of Deer Valley Road, Green=Protected Land.
What’s Happened Recently
There have been confusing things taking place in Antioch over the past year, including two recently adopted growth control ballot initiatives in the Sand Creek area between Kaiser Hospital and the Black Diamond Mines hills.
The Community Coalition’s “Let Antioch Voters Decide” Growth Control Initiative
In March 2018, we began signature gathering for our “Let Antioch Voters Decide” growth control measure, which would have restricted development on 1,850 acres west of Deer Valley Road. Our volunteers were outside Safeway, Walmart, and elsewhere collecting signatures.
Developer Richland Communities’ “West Sand Creek” Initiative
In May, the developer, Richland Communities, began signature gathering for its own “West Sand Creek” initiative. It was very clever. It didn’t simply confuse things or try to block the Coalition’s initiative. It copied most of our measure; restricted 1,200 acres instead of 1,850; and also approved a smaller, improved version of Richland’s project; down from 1,700 houses now to 1,177.
Richland’s initiative has been challenged by two other developers, and the same is likely to happen to our initiative in November. We’re prepared for a rigorous defense.
Both initiatives amend the Antioch General Plan, and not always consistently. Both initiatives allow for technical corrections. In the next few months, the two initiative sponsors and the city will have to work out and clarify the inconsistencies, but given the legal challenges that have been filed, timing may be affected.
Richland’s “The Ranch” project is now part of the General Plan. It is likely to move forward because Richland’s initiative included a development agreement guaranteeing Richland’s rights. However, the project must still complete environmental review and receive other city council and agency approvals. Again, it’s uncertain how the recent legal challenges affect this. We’ll keep you posted.
- Contact Juan Pablo Galván, Land Use Manager, for more information.