It was a Wednesday night. The Greenbelt Alliance Walnut Creek office was abuzz with chatter. Extra folding chairs were pulled out from the closet. Slices of pizza were being passed around the room as if it were the 2014 Oscars.
Why the excitement? It was the latest gathering of the Coalition for a Vibrant and Inclusive Walnut Creek (or C-VIEW)—a group of residents and nonprofit leaders working to ensure the City’s long-range plan for “West Downtown”, the 150-acre area just south of the BART station, will make Walnut Creek an even better place to live, work, and play.
C-VIEW formed in late 2012 when Walnut Creek kicked off the process to develop the West Downtown Plan. Since then, members of the coalition—including Greenbelt Alliance, East Bay Housing Organizations, TransForm, Bike East Bay, Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley, Bike Walnut Creek, Contra Costa Interfaith Housing, and Walnut Creek residents such as Olivia Armstrong—have been attending community workshops and trainings on the plan, meeting with city councilmembers and staff, and holding information-sharing sessions such as the aforementioned pizza party.
“I’ve seen Contra Costa County go from apparently mindless destruction of agricultural lands and open space to a growing consciousness of the need to preserve its beauty and character and increase the vitality and walkability of its downtowns,” explains Olivia. “I’m happy to be a part of C-VIEW, to join with other Walnut Creek citizens with an interest in creating more vibrant and inclusive, walkable, bikeable, family-friendly neighborhoods.”
Guided by our policy platform [PDF], the coalition has been working to see the following included in the West Downtown Plan:
- A mix of new homes and businesses
- Homes that are affordable at the full range of income levels
- Safe places to walk and bike
- Access to nature such as pocket parks and street trees
- Green buildings that are energy and water efficient
All our effort is having an impact. The Walnut Creek City Council recently gave the thumbs up to a draft land-use map that calls for bustling mixed-use districts and new walkable neighborhoods while enhancing preservation measures for the small Almond-Shuey neighborhood, comprised of duplexes and single-family homes.
There’s still much work left to be done to shape the West Downtown Plan so that it reflects the Walnut Creek that residents like Olivia envision. With the next public workshop slated for May, the City expects to adopt the final West Downtown Plan in early 2015.
To learn more about C-VIEW and how to get involved, contact Matt Vander Sluis at firstname.lastname@example.org.