A Contra Costa County judge has blocked a planned 4,500-home development on Oakley farmland next to aging levees on the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
Superior Court Judge Barry Baskin ruled in favor of the San Francisco environmental group Greenbelt Alliance, which had filed a lawsuit against the city’s East Cypress Corridor Specific Plan. That plan envisioned homes on agricultural land 6 feet below sea level.
The alliance claimed more than 1,600 acres of agricultural land would be lost, drinking water could be exposed to pollutants and residents would be in danger if the levees failed. The judge ruled that the city of Oakley failed to consider alternatives and did not include ways to make up for the loss of farmland.
The original lawsuit filed in 2006 accused Oakley city officials of failing to adequately consider the potential for levee failure or the possible contamination of drinking water from homes on the 2,546-acre Hotchkiss Tract site.
The city prepared an environmental report after a judge first ruled in favor of theGreenbelt Alliance. Oakley then petitioned the court to reinstate the development.
Rampant development on former agricultural land has been a sore spot in eastern Contra Costa County, especially following the mortgage meltdown, which left the county with the highest number of foreclosures in the Bay Area.