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Sara Barz

Tassajara Valley threatened by developers’ plans

You can’t get a break in the open space protection business.  You defeat one measure and soon enough another, ahem, develops.

Amongst other campaigns, our attention is now turned to the Tassajara Valley, a natural gem in Contra Costa County, that provides important habitat for rare and endangered wildlife as well as recreational and aesthetic open space.

Powerful developers are pushing Contra Costa County officials to approve a 193- unit housing development in the Tassajara Valley called “New Farm,” a cleverly marketed subdivision plan that is not a farm. They’re also mobilizing a campaign in November to convince voters in San Ramon to expand its urban growth boundary to include the northern part of the Tassajara Valley in the city limit—making it vulnerable to substantial urban development.

The area targeted for the “New Farm” development lies between Danville and San Ramon, and the proposal attempts to skirt the County’s requirement to protect areas outside the urban limit line from urban uses. The County has begun processing the application for “New Farm,” and the environmental review process is expected to begin this summer. If the project is approved, it would break the line, opening the door to further development in the Tassajara Valley and setting a dangerous precedent.

The second tactic is even worse. If San Ramon voters approve the expansion of the city’s boundaries to encompass the same area, the amount of inappropriate development that could occur within this recklessly expanded city limit would dwarf the size of “New Farm.” Both of these efforts reflect a significant gambit to test the strength of Contra Costa’s urban limit line and residents’ commitment to directing growth into cities by maintaining the lines they’ve drawn.

If the developers are successful, Tassajara Valley’s natural beauty will be lost forever—as well as the other values the land provides, including clean drinking water and a home for wildlife. Nearby communities would be snarled in traffic, creating longer commutes and more global warming pollution. And it would put many other currently protected lands at risk, as developers feel emboldened to undermine more voter-approved lines and push for more poorly planned development on our farms and natural areas.

If you are interested in getting involved with the campaign to stop this land grab in the Tassajara Valley, contact Senior Field Representative Matt Vander Sluis.

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