William Schrader, representing Discovery Bay Partners, LLC, spoke during the CSD’s regular meeting on Jan. 20, outlining his plans for the Newport Pointe development and answering questions from the board and audience.
“I’ve been working with the Department of Conservation and Development (DCD) for several years now on plans for this project, which is designed for movedown buyers – aging baby boomers who want to downsize but don’t want to leave Northern California and their kids and grandkids,” said Schrader. “I really think I’ve designed a really nice project for the last (Discovery Bay) intersection here.”
But most of the CSD board seemed less concerned with the aesthetics of the project than its functionary services. “The first and easiest question is water and sewer availability,” said CSD Vice President Mark Simon. “If there is no available sewer capacity at this time, then as far as I’m concerned there is nothing to talk about.”
Director Ray Tetreault agreed. “Unless this development could pay to expand our treatment plant, at this point, as far as we can tell, it can’t go forward.”
Discovery Bay General Manager Virgil Koehne confirmed that the town currently does not have the necessary water or sewer capabilities to support the new development without some upgrades to the Newport water treatment facility, which would serve the proposed area.
Schrader said that he has engaged in numerous conversations with the Hofmann Company regarding the expansion of the Newport plant and believes the changes could be implemented. He was invited to address the CSD board by Koehne in response to a request by the DCD to the CSD to provide comment on the proposed development. While the CSD does not have the power to accept or reject the project – the final decision is made by the county – the CSD board’s input is taken into consideration by the county Board of Supervisors.
“I spoke to the DCD and asked them for some information on this project because I knew there was a lot of (public) interest in this project,” said CSD President Kevin Graves. “They welcomed our concerns and comments and they said it was very timely because it was still very, very early in the process. I reiterated that we (CSD) wanted to be involved in the process every step of the way so that these concerns can be addressed, whether it is approved by the county or not.”
Likening the Newport Pointe project to the nearby Hofmann-built homes in Discovery Bay West as well as the Ravenswood development, Schrader’s plans include houses ranging in size from 2,220 to 2,800 square feet – roughly 3.35 homes per acre – as well as five acres of dedicated wetlands, solar capacity for the homes and a neighborhood dog park.
This was the second pitch by Schrader, who came before the CSD in February of 2008 with plans for a 77-lot development on the same 20 acres, located between Newport Drive and Bixler Road.
The removal from the project of 10 homes, which were slated as affordable housing apartments, is the result of a recent ruling by a Los Angeles court that threw out the rental portion of its affordable housing ordinance, declaring that it violated state law.
“New case law is putting the inclusionary housing into jeopardy and so I was asked by the county to take out our plans for that component while they look into it,” said Schrader.
Newport Pointe is zoned as high-density, but Schrader said the designation was misleading: “This is far from high density. This is 3.3 houses to the acre; that’s far from high density. I think this is a nomenclature issue with the county.”
Schrader added that concerns over additional infrastructure such as police services would be solved with the implementation of a P-zone, to which residents of the new development would be required to contribute.
“I have had more e-mails concerning your project from people who are against your project in the time I have been on this board than any other issue,” said Simon. “We have people out here who can’t give their homes away. To me, to build another 75 or so just doesn’t make sense. I stood and watched my neighbor’s house burn down because the fire department couldn’t get there in time. I just don’t see how this is a benefit to the community.”
Resident Sandra Rogers thanked the CSD for its efforts. “I think you people have really covered all the issues that I had, and I would just hope that the CSD would in fact do what you are saying, which is not agree to the project in light of the problems with the water and sewers.”
The board will summarize its comments in a written statement and submit it to the DCD for consideration.