This article was published in The Independent.
The East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) staff led members of the Alameda County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) on a tour of its future Doolan Canyon park.
LAFCO members took the tour of the 640-acre site May 13, riding up hills in EBRPD 4×4’s. Since so many LAFCO members attended, there was a quorum. To follow Brown Act requirements, the meeting was officially opened and closed after the hill ride. No business was discussed.
EBRPD’s goal was to show off a gem of a future park, and to familiarize LAFCO members with a key need: access. LAFCO deals with services to new areas of development, including infrastructure
Doolan Canyon is situated between Livermore and Dublin.
So far the only access to the park is by Doolan Canyon Road, which travels north from North Canyons Parkway on the north side of Livermore, and terminates at the park site.
The area south of the park became controversial when Pacific Union proposed a 1900-unit senior community there. The land is outside of the planning sphere of influence of both Livermore and Dublin. Livermore was assigned the sphere of influence before county voters passed Measure D, but lost it afterward. Currently, the county makes decisions regarding the area, which is outside the urban growth boundary of both the county and Livermore. If development were to take place, it would occur as part of Dublin.
Both Livermore and Dublin applied to LAFCO for sphere of influence designation in 2010.
LAFCO told the cities to conduct talks and work out a solution within 90 days. That deadline passed. The cities are still talking. However, Dublin has authorized a study of the area, which would include its growth potential.
Dublin mayor Tim Sbranti, a LAFCO member, told The Independent that no discussion regarding the sphere of influence took place during the tour of the park site. Instead, the focus was on EBRPD’s desire to provide more access to its Doolan Canyon property, as well as connectivity to other EBRPD parks.
Sierra Club representative Dick Schneider said that EBRPD wants to build trails and non-motorized roads so that all district lands are connected.
Sbranti said that ideally trails could bring access from the Moller Ranch’s recently approved development in Dublin and the Contra Costa area north of Moller Ranch. That might even happen before plans could be firmed up for access to the park from Doolan Canyon Road, said Sbranti.
“The Doolan Canyon park site is an island with no access points. LAFCO wanted to impress on Livermore and Dublin the potential opportunities to connect to it. (EBRPD) could do something remarkable. It could initiate a much bigger park,” said Sbranti.
Sbranti was referring to the potential for as much as 1600 acres more north of Doolan Canyon, because developer Braddock and Logan has expressed interest in seeing their land used for park space. However, that option is still in the talking stage.
Dublin councilmember David Haubert, a former representative of the public on LAFCO, and Mayor John Marchand, a LAFCO member, were also on the tour as were Livermore Councilmember Laureen Turner, EBRPD director Ayn Wieskamp of Livermore, and Dublin planning commissioner Morgan King.
Others attending included representatives of Pacific Union, the developer proposing the senior housing, the Greenbelt Alliance, and Friends of Livermore.
Marchand described Doolan Canyon as “absolutely spectacular.” He said that he used a picture of the lake on the property on his mayoral campaign brochure. “The park is only five minutes from Costco (on North Canyons Parkway), and it’s a wilderness area,” said Marchand.
Sbranti said that talks between Dublin and Livermore are going well. “I have a great relationship with Marchand. The staffs are in contact,” he said.