Dublin Council approves studying Doolan Canyon for possible future seniors development of up to 1,990 homes

Sophia Kazmi

DUBLIN — Dublin will do a study to consider whether it should add to its planning area 1,450 acres of unincorporated land, the proposed site for a large active senior development similar to Rossmoor in Walnut Creek.

Danville-based developer Pacific Union asked the city to consider the study for the agricultural land in Doolan Canyon between Dublin and Livermore north of Interstate 680.

The study was approved Tuesday night with a 4-1 vote. Councilman Eric Swalwell was the lone dissenting vote. Swalwell said Wednesday that he is not opposed to exploring the idea, but wants to begin discussions with Livermore before launching the study.

Instead, the study and discussion with Livermore will take place at the same time. The study could be completed by early 2012.

Bruce Myers, Pacific Union’s vice president of land development, said the concept is for the development of an upscale, active senior lifestyle community with as many as 1,990 residential units. Sixty percent of the 1,450 acres would be preserved as open space.

The developer has not submitted a formal application.

“We think it is a good project, something that makes sense for the area, not just Dublin,” Myers said.

Pacific Union brought its plans to Dublin because it makes sense from a city services standpoint, and the area was once considered part of Dublin’s planning area, Myers said. Doolan Canyon was removed from Dublin’s planning area as part of a memorandum of understanding Dublin officials signed with Livermore in 2002. The memorandum, said Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti?, removed Doolan Canyon as a planning area because at the time there were no plans for development there.

Sbranti said the memorandum did not mean that development of Doolan Canyon would never be discussed again. He said Livermore officials were given a heads-up that a study of the area by Dublin was forthcoming.

Calls to the Livermore city attorney and two Livermore council members asking for comment were not returned Wednesday.

The study authorized by the Dublin City Council will consider the contents of the memorandum of understanding, what area is Dublin’s, what is Livermore’s, and what should be left open space, Sbranti said. Ideally, Dublin and Livermore could figure out the Doolan Canyon question together, he said.

There is already opposition building against any development in the area.
Matt Vander Sluis, field representative for the environmental group Greenbelt Alliance, said the move by the Dublin City Council is undoing existing open space protections by moving forward with the study.

“The city essentially made the decision to begin planning for sprawl in Doolan Canyon,” Vander Sluis said, adding that his organization will be actively involved in this process to make sure the area remains protected.

Sbranti said labeling the project as sprawl or anything else so early in the process is premature. That is why he favors the study.

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