James T. Ott
The city at a special meeting will take final comments from the public before a vote to put the plan on the November ballot.
The final public hearing on the General Plan 2030 will take place on Monday, when the City Council is set to vote on whether to approve changes to the planning document.
In November, San Ramon voters will have to decide whether they want to expand the urban growth boundary. The Monday meeting is the council’s turn to vote on the 500-plus-page document, a sort of constitution for city planning. A supermajority vote of four out of five coucil members is needed to pass the plan.
One of the most controversial of those changes is whether to expand San Ramon’s urban growth boundary to include 2,200 more acres of the Tassajara Valley.
The valley, which is currently designated as agricultural land and has remained off-limits to development until now, is in the midst of a struggle between the City of San Ramon, environmentalist groups like Greenbelt Alliance and Save Mount Diablo, Contra Costa County and developer FT Land, over what development, if any, will take place.
The current controversy began when in 2007 FT Land, LLC, approached the county with a plan to develop 771 acres of the valley. Labeled “New Farm,” the development included 185 houses each on one to five acre lots and 8 low income appartments, with remaining space designated for olive orchards with an olive oil plant, a community center, a cemetery, a agricultural learning center, and a fire training facility.
FT Land says that New Farm would leave 90 percent of New Farm undeveloped as a buffer between the city and country.
Since that time Greenbelt Alliance and Save Mt. Diablo have said that New Farm cannot be legally approved by the county because Contra Costa voters in 2006 decided that they wanted to leave it an open space.
Greenbelt calls the proposed New Farm project a scare tactic to get San Ramon voters to extend the city’s urban growth boundary to include Tassajara and thus open the valley up to urban sprawl.
Greenbelt along with Save Mt. Diablo hired attorneys Shute, Mihaly and Weinberger, LLP, to take a look at the proposed development. The attorneys summarily said that New Farm should not be allowed by the county because the project violates many voter-approved laws and regulations that designate the land for rural or farm use only.
Some of what the attorneys called violations include building one home per one to five acres instead of the required 80 acres per home and connecting those homes to city water and sewage lines when it’s current “rural” designation requires septic tanks and well water.
Greenbelt says that FT Land has no real intention of building new farm. They say that FT Land’s real intention is to scare voters into voting to increase the city’s urban growth boudary by voting to approve the 2010 general plan in November.
The City Council has been adamant that they only want the urban growth boundary extended so that San Ramon has control over what development takes place in Tassajara Valley.
Council members are set to approve that general plan, including the urban growth boundary expansion, at the Monday night meeting.
If approved the general plan will be then be placed on the ballot in November. It will then be up to San Ramon voters.
At a glance
WHAT: Special City Council meeting to vote on General Plan 2030
WHEN: 5 p.m. Monday
WHERE: City Council Chambers, 2222 Camino Ramon