Dublin residents spoke loud and clear on election day, rejecting the Measure T, “Let Dublin Decide.” Over 83 percent of voters, 8,469 voted “no” on the measure, with 1,636 in favor of it.
The result protects Doolan and Collier Canyons, removing development pressure from the Tassajara and Las Positas hills stretching north to Mt. Diablo and Los Vaqueros. It also shifts the political landscape of Dublin, the fastest growing city in the state.
Sponsored by the developer Pacific Union, “Let Dublin Decide,” Measure T would have allowed development in Doolan Canyon, the greenbelt between Dublin and Livermore. Pacific Union spent more than $161,000 on its campaign.
Measure T was opposed unanimously by local environmental groups, the entire Dublin city council and planning commission, and all four candidates for mayor. Tri-Valley Conservancy and Save Mount Diablo were the major donors to the ‘No’ campaign along with many Dublin residents.
This past year, the coalition worked with long-time Dublin residents Morgan King and Dave Bewley of Save Dublin Open Space to draft an initiative to protect open space on the east and west borders of Dublin, including Doolan and Collier Canyons. This spring, the group collected 3650 signatures to qualify the “Dublin Open Space Initiative of 2014” for the ballot.
The developer Pacific Union also qualified a measure called “Let Dublin Decide.” Later designated “Measure T,” the developers’ measure would have also created an urban limit line, but a much more expansive one including Doolan Canyon within areas that could be developed. Measure T would have taken control out of the hands of voters, leaving the city council in charge, and would have directed the city to begin a process that would lead to development in the canyon.
In June, the Dublin City Council unanimously adopted the coalition’s “Dublin Open Space Initiative” creating an Urban Limit Line on the eastern boundary of the city, making a western line permanent, and requiring a vote of Dublin residents to change the urban limit line. If Measure T had passed, the Dublin Open Space Initiative would have been trumped by Measure T.
Morgan King, former chair of the Planning Commission and one of the authors of the “Dublin Open Space Initiative of 2014,” stated, “We appreciate the support of the entire city council and planning commission. The leadership of Mayor Tim Sbranti and Councilmember Abe Gupta really stands out. They worked hard to defeat Measure T.”
Laura Mercier, Executive Director of the Tri-Valley Conservancy, added, “Doolan and Collier Canyons are the greenbelt between Dublin and Livermore. They include important agricultural lands and open space. They’re also beautiful. Dublin residents have just told us that there are limits to growth and that they support protecting our hills and ranches. They want our kids to have open spaces in which to play.”
The vote represents a change in philosophy in Dublin. In December 2010, environmentalists noticed an item on a Dublin city council agenda, a General Plan Amendment study for the “Dublin Preserve” project, 2,000 houses proposed by Pacific Union on 1450 acres in Doolan Canyon.
Dick Schneider, a volunteer with the Sierra Club’s Bay Chapter, points out, “In 2010 when Pacific Union proposed their 2,000 unit project in Doolan Canyon, we had very little support in Dublin. Four years later we had hundreds of volunteers, the support of thousands of residents, and a unanimous vote to adopt our measure by the city council of the fastest growing city in the state. Now, by defeating the developer’s Measure T, Dublin residents have reaffirmed their interest in growth control and open space preservation.”
Alameda County, Livermore and Pleasanton all have urban limit lines, as do all of the cities in Contra Costa County. The new initiative brought Dublin in line with the county and neighboring cities helping to protect open space and agricultural lands on both the east and west sides of Dublin.
“We all collectively defended Livermore’s urban limit line in 2005,” said Ron Brown, Save Mount Diablo’s Executive Director, “Then Brentwood’s urban growth boundary in June 2010, San Ramon’s in November 2010, and now Dublin’s in 2014. This is what we do, monitoring and responding to projects, working with residents and partners to protect our quality of life. Some developers rely on residents and neighbors being unprepared. We help the public to get involved.”
Seth Adams, Land Conservation Director for Save Mount Diablo, added, “Defeating Measure T is not just about saving Doolan Canyon. Dublin is the fastest growing city in the state and was the last city in the area without an urban limit line. In June, the coalition created one. Now we’ve defended it. San Ramon did the same thing in 2010. This result will take a lot of development pressure off the Tassajara and Las Positas hills stretching north to Mount Diablo and Los Vaqueros.”
East Bay Regional Park District had just bought the first 640 acres for a new Doolan Canyon Regional Preserve. The future park was located adjacent to the area proposed for development. A hike was held there on April 13, 2011 to highlight the development threat. A coalition began building, including Tri-Valley Conservancy, Save Mount Diablo, the Sierra Club, Friends of the Vineyards, Greenbelt Alliance, the Alameda Creek Alliance, the California Native Plant Society, and Ohlone Audubon.
“The people of Dublin have made it clear that they are tired of urban sprawl and traffic and want to maintain their quality of life. This is a victory for the entire Tri-Valley,” said Tammy Reus, President, Friends of the Vineyards.
This article originally appeared in the November 14, 2014 edition of The Independent.