After four joint public hearings of the City Council and the Planning Commission, and the Planning Commission’s approval of the General Plan 2030 on June 29, the City Council voted Monday night to place the final version of the plan on the Nov. 7 ballot.
Newly-hired City Attorney Sheryl Shaffner took notes on the sidelines while Interim City Attorney Roger Peters wrapped up his tenure as by presenting the staff report on the ballot measure.
The ballot statement voters will see says:
“General Plan 2030 To plan for the future, shall an ordinance be adopted to: approve General Plan 2030; extend Ordinance 197 policies and procedures to 2015 to protect ridgelines, creeks, and open space; expand the Ridgeline Creek Protection Zone map; and extend the Urban Growth Boundary to enhance local control while preserving our quality of life?”
The Council also voted to limit the for-and-against statements in the voter pamphlet to 300 words each with no rebuttals.
After Tassajara Valley resident Dorothy Burt asked why rebuttals were not allowed, Peters said that rebuttals just repetitive and unnecessary.
Matt Vander Sluis from the Greenbelt Alliance questioned the 300-word ballot statements, with Councilmember Scott Perkins replying that a well-written 300 word statement would be enough for either side to make its point.
City Clerk Pat Edwards said that a 500-word impartial analysis of the measure is also provided in the voter pamphlet with a statement that the text of the complete measure is available in the City Clerk’s office and would be mailed to voters by request. It will also be posted on the City’s website.
When asked why the ballot statement doesn’t describe where the Urban Growth Boundaries are being moved, Peters said that the ballot statement is limited to only 75 words. The statement in the staff report, and reprinted above, is 56 words. The measure would extend the UGB West to Norris Canyon Estates and East to Camino Tassajara.
The controversy over extending the UGB to Camino Tassajara once again brought out environmentalists and residents of Tassajara Valley to protest it. The exchange grew heated at times.
When Vander Sluis tried to make a point about Dourghery Valley, Mayor Abram Wilson told Vander Sluis he couldn’t know about what the City went through with Dougherty Valley because he isn’t from San Ramon. Wilson has said in the past that outside environmental groups don’t have San Ramon’s best interests at heart.
Seth Adams of Save Mount Diablo questioned, “What outside? Tassajara Valley is outside of San Ramon. My organization has more than 600 members in San Ramon and I am representing them.”
“It defies logic,” Adams continued about the Council’s claim that moving the UGB would control development in Tassajara Valley. “The purpose of the Urban Growth Boundary is to keep growth inside.”
He claimed that Tom Koch’s development company is waiting for the growth boundary to be broken to build 2,900 to 4,200 homes, while 4,600 new homes are still planned for Dougherty Valley.
“San Ramon has no plans it will reveal,” Adams said, accusing the Council of talking out of both sides of its mouth.
Wilson took personal offense at Adam’s accusations.
“I’ve lived here 32 years and residents see me every day,” Wilson shot back. “I have and will continue to do what’s best for San Ramon.”
Jim Eaneman, chairman of the Parks and Community Services Committee, stepped in to defend the Council’s integrity.
“I have never worked with a city staff or council with the quality of this City,” he said.
Eaneman recalled how his home in Old Ranch Estates was originally surrounded by open space with views of the hills, which were plowed down by developers in Contra Costa County. But he also described how Berkeley went downhill after new development was prevented.
“Neither extreme is beneficial for the City. I urge you to vote for what is before you,” Eaneman told the Council.
The Council voted unanimously to put the measure on the ballot in November.