Updated on Tuesday, August 24, to reflect City Council meeting results
After a special meeting that lasted more than 10 hours, Concord’s City Council voted 3-2 in favor of selecting Seeno’s Discovery Builders team as the Master Developers of the former Concord Naval Weapons Station, known as Reuse Project, on August 21. This means that Discovery’s team, consisting of Albert Seeno III, Phil Tagami, and a group of associated partners, were selected to be the exclusive developers of the largest planned development in recent East Bay history, determining the pattern of growth of the region for years to come.
The decision was made even after other two proposals featuring clearer climate-SMART vision and goals for this regionally important development— from Brookfield Properties and City Ventures—were presented to Councilmembers, and after dozens of advocates sent letters to the City Council and spoke against the unsustainable record of the Seeno family and its company at the meeting.
“They have only ever built a sprawling, climate-harmful venture in Contra Costa County. Their track record and lackluster presentation made it clear they would not create a climate-smart and transit-oriented development,” said our Director of Climate Resilience, Zoe Siegel, who provided public comment on behalf of Greenbelt Alliance, opposing the selection of Discovery/Seeno Companies at the meeting. “We thank Carlyn Obringer and Laura Hoffmeister for voting against the Discovery Builders team,” added Zoe Siegel.
Years of Stalled Progress
For over a decade, Greenbelt Alliance has worked to protect 2,200 acres of the East Bay’s former Concord Naval Weapons Station—an area double the size of Golden Gate Park—while encouraging a long-planned 13,000-unit housing development called the Concord Reuse Project. This is a crucial project to not only help alleviate the crippling housing crisis but also to boost the region’s overall climate resilience, by adopting climate-resilient strategies to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change.
Seeno Companies and the family that runs it has a track record of internal scandals, conflicts, and litigation in the region, according to reports from Mercury News. Among a few of the controversial actions taken by the company, Seeno sued the East Bay Regional Park District, an important partner for the naval weapons station project, which is delaying the opening of the new Thurgood Marshall Regional Park, they’re threatening the Concord Naval Weapons Station’s new regional park and development with the sprawling Faria project, on the ridgeline between Concord and Pittsburg, and they plead guilty to wiping out the endangered California red-legged frog’s habitat
At a time when the Bay Area is facing the effect of the overlapping climate and housing crises, while facing severe wildfire and drought challenges, the need to build climate-SMART developments—that reduce GHG emissions and Vehicle Miles Travelled, increase density within urban limits, and provide equitable access to open space and affordable housing—has never been more critical.
What was promised to the people of Concord is that the development in this area would include climate-SMART, transit-oriented development with 25% affordable housing, making a dramatic impact on the regional housing crisis. Even though the results of the meeting were not what Greenbelt Alliance was advocating for, we plan to work closely with both our housing and environmental partners to hold Discovery Builders accountable and encourage them to build climate communities that are safer, environmentally balanced, equitable, affordable, and more resilient.
This blog was updated with additional information from Save Mount Diablo and Mercury News.