Of the more than 2,250 signatures collected in 52 petition booklets in a period of three weeks, 1,925 were valid signatures of registered Oakley voters – more than 10 percent (1,400 signatures) of the registered voter population needed for the petition to be legitimate. Now that the petition has been validated by the Contra Costa County Elections Division, the Oakley City Council must either rescind its Oct. 13 decision (to rezone 13.9 acres from a general agriculture district to a planned development district to accommodate the proposed 76-unit Rosewood Estates housing project) or put the decision before the people in a special election.
Committee to Stop Rosewood Chairman Brad Nix said while he’d like the decision to go before the people, he expects the council will withdraw its decision and visit the topic at a later date.
“Personally, I’d love to see an election and let the people of Oakley make the decision,” he said. “That way the people are truly heard, but the council is scared of that because they know what will happen if the people get a chance to vote. The people don’t want high-density homes in Oakley. The public is overwhelmingly in support of what we’re doing. People want a chance to vote on this.”
Nix said the density of growth in Oakley is too high, and many residents believe Oakley will lose its small-town charm as more houses are crammed onto smaller lots. More than 100 residents addressed the council or submitted written comments opposing the housing development during the rezone public hearing in September. No one in the audience spoke in favor of the project.
However, according to Nix, the Committee to Stop Rosewood doesn’t oppose growth in any form – it advocates responsible growth. “We’re not anti-growth,” said Nix, “but we don’t want to become Oakland or San Francisco. The council has this mentality of growth at any cost. If they think Oakley needs to have all this growth so that big-box stores will be more interested in locating here, then we (the people) don’t want it.”
The 13.9 acres in question were designated as “Single Family High” density in the General Plan in 2002. The council voted to rezone the land in October to be consistent with the General Plan, which would allow between 3.8 and 5.5 houses per acre. The Committee to Stop Rosewood members would like the land to be rezoned for medium or low-density single-family houses so that the Rosewood Estates houses are comparable to the existing neighborhoods in the area.
For the committee to achieve this goal, City Manager Bryan Montgomery said an amendment would need to be made to the General Plan to change the land designation.
“The land designation for this area was discussed 10 years ago, and the council voted to rezone the land to comply with the General Plan. The council knows the residents don’t want dense neighborhoods, but it’s the tentative map that is key – not the rezone.”
Prior to the validation of the Committee to Stop Rosewood’s petition, the Rosewood Estates project was already put on hiatus because the council decided not to approve the proposed 76 units on Discovery Builders’ tentative map submitted in September in an effort to address residents’ concerns that a high-density neighborhood could create problems such as increased traffic congestion.
Montgomery said the council would address the new developments in the Rosewood Estates case when it reconvenes on Jan. 12. He expects the council to rescind its decision, as a special election (with a price tag of at least $90,000) would be too costly. If the council rescinds its October decisions, further action would not be taken until a new zoning proposal is presented before the council.
Meanwhile, Montgomery said representatives from Discovery Builders have met with residents in the surrounding area of the proposed project to seek input for adjusting their tentative map to include a lower density of houses that still complies with the high-density designation.
“The tentative map seems to be the issue here,” Montgomery said. “The concern is not whether there should be houses or not; it’s about what this neighborhood will look like. The tentative map will set the density of the homes, and that has yet to be decided. I think that’s what people are more concerned about.”
The City Council will meet on Tuesday, Jan. 12 at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall, 3231 Main St.
For more information about the Committee to Stop Rosewood, e-mail email@example.com.