Downtown Concord plan is a mixed bag

On June 24, the City of Concord adopted the Downtown Specific Plan, which will direct short- and long-term development in downtown Concord. In an effort to act quickly as the Bay Area development market is hot, the City put the plan on the fast track to approval. And while the plan contains many features that could generate exciting new opportunities downtown and for the city as a whole, it also has some glaring omissions.

First, the good news. Due to the year and a half of advocacy efforts by the Community Coalition for a Sustainable Concord1—led here by Greenbelt Alliance and East Bay Housing Organizations—as well as Bike East Bay and Monument Impact, Concord’s Downtown Specific Plan includes the following policies that we like:

  • 3,500 new homes near downtown amenities and public transit
  • Positive steps toward creating vibrant neighborhoods such as a focus on repurposing vacant lots
  • Improvements for safer walking and biking on several streets, with stronger connections between the BART station and downtown

Unfortunately, the plan falls well short in other areas. The City needs to do more to ensure that living in Concord is affordable to more people by providing a diversity of new housing options. The City also needs to do more to protect current Concord residents from displacement as development picks up. While the Downtown Specific Plan doesn’t sufficiently address these issues, the upcoming Housing Element update is another opportunity for the City to do so.

The plan also failed to solve one of Concord’s biggest challenges: the freeway-sized roads that rip through the heart of downtown. Fortunately, Concord is about to develop its Bicycle Master Plan, which could help improve these conditions and connect neighborhoods throughout the city to Contra Costa County’s fantastic open space trails. Greenbelt Alliance and our partners will continue working to ensure that downtown Concord fulfills its potential as a thriving neighborhood for everyone to enjoy.

Interested in our work in Concord? Contact Joel Devalcourt at jdevalcourt@greenbelt.org to get involved.

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Members of the Community Coalition for a Sustainable Concord: Carpenters Local Union 152, Concord Naval Weapons Station Neighborhood Alliance, Contra Costa Building and Construction Trades Council, Contra Costa Central Labor Council, Contra Costa Interfaith Housing, East Bay Housing Organizations, Eden Housing, Greenbelt Alliance, Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley, Lutheran Social Services, Public Advocates Inc., Resources for Community Development, Save Mount Diablo, Sierra Club, TransForm [return]

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