The Brentwood City Council has taken the first step toward denying the proposed Bridle Gate development, a project of up to 315 homes, west of the Sand Creek Road and State Route 4 interchange.
The council’s unanimous decision on March 9 paves the way for city staff to formally return with an appropriate denial resolution at a future meeting.
“This brings a lot to the table, but there is a balancing act that we have to do to make sure our community is benefited by it more than it is impacted by it,” said Brentwood Mayor Joel Bryant.
The proposed 137-acre project site was to feature 252 single-family lots, 28.25 acres of open space, 18.72 acres for future regional commercial development and a 11.35-acre site that could be developed with an elementary school or up to 63 additional single-family homes if the school did not come to fruition.
But after a 6.5-hour discussion and public comment period, the council decided that an onslaught of potential problems would drown out the benefits.
The council’s concerns centered on the project’s high density; a lack of conformance with the general plan; small and fragmented parks; a lack of included affordable housing; traffic; school impacts; future noise mitigation issues; and the development of at least part of the city’s last two remaining hills.
Louis Parsons – a representative of the developer, WCHB Development, LLC/Discovery Builders Inc. – indicated that he was confused about the concerns.
“There is a disbelief you can’t mitigate for noise; there is a disbelief that the analysis to confirm the existing conditions of the property won’t cause adverse health effects,” he said. “There is a disagreement where staff wants these parks, and there is also a disagreement on how staff wants the roadway circulation implemented.”
The Bridle Gate project itself has many iterations that date back to 2001.
In the latest version, project leaders removed plans for 258 apartment units, while keeping an array of perceived benefits, including extending Sand Creek Road from its current termination west of state Route 4 to the Antioch city limits; offering to sell the Brentwood Union School District (BUSD) an 11.35-acre site for a future elementary school; designing and constructing an off-site trail connection along Sand Creek, from the eastern boundary of the project beneath State Route 4 to the Old Sand Creek Road right-of-way; and providing $500,000 for a pedestrian bridge in the area.
But the council and a host of public speakers agreed that the project could ultimately hurt the community.
The proposed plan included a stipulation that if the BUSD opted not to acquire the 11.35-acre site for a future school, then an additional 63 single-family homes (315 total) could be built, with $25,000 given to the city for each of those additional homes to be used for a youth center or youth programming.
If that plan panned out, then the project density would equate to 4.64 units per dwelling acre, well above the general plan mid-range density of three units per dwelling acre.
Councilmember Karen Rarey added that the project's environmental impact report projected that the homes would generate over 100-plus middle and high school students – and possibly that many more cars on the already overcrowded roadway around bell time at Adams Middle School and Heritage High School.
She also expressed widespread concerns about highway noise affecting future residents in and outside their homes, speculating that it would be so loud for visitors of a planned park that children wouldn’t hear their parents calling for them.
“I don’t know about you, but setting a 2.56-acre park next to a freeway is not a way to set the character of a neighborhood,” she said.
Other councilmembers expressed similar concerns.
Councilmember Susannah Meyer said the developer’s plan to pay a fee in lieu of including affordable housing units in the project bothered her. Fellow Councilmember Jovita Mendoza said that although the applicant agreed to pay fire fees, it wouldn’t have a significant effect on the already resource-stretched fire district charged with protecting the community.
“I am so concerned with fire, even with the fire fees,” she said. “Things stay status quo; they don’t get better. And I don’t see anything in here (in the plan) that tries to make the fire situation better.”
The majority of the over 20 public commenters appeared equally unhappy, voicing their own complaints, which included that speculation building would occur on unsafe capped oil wells; the additional student population would overwhelm the area’s already overcrowded schools; the proposed school site was assigned to the noisiest area of the project; and the latest project plans removed a direct route from San Jose Avenue to Hillcrest Avenue, which would encourage residents to cut through Brentwood Hills and Shadow Lakes to reach American Avenue schools.
“The project does not fit our city,” said resident Benjamin Kellogg. “Our schools are at capacity, traffic is horrible, noise is increasing, 80% of our residents commute out of town.”
City officials did not announce when an appropriate denial resolution would be brought back to the council.
To view a complete staff report on the project, visit https://bit.ly/3t7TZmR.