A group of local developers has cleared the first major hurdle in expanding Brentwood’s urban limit line (ULL) to accommodate a large residential development project that includes various other elements.
Longtime Brentwood farmer and developer Ron Nunn, a development team member behind the proposed changes, confirmed this week that hired signature-gatherers have collected more than the required 3,500 verified autographs needed for the Brentwood City Council to put the question before voters.
“We feel good about it,” said Bob Nunn, son of Ron Nunn and a fellow development team member. “We think it’s a good opportunity for the city.”
Qualifying the ballot measure aimed at moving Brentwood’s ULL — the mark at which urban development must stop — is a first step in a proposed 815-acre, 2,400 residential-unit project situated north of Balfour Road, east of Deer Valley Road, and west of the Shadow Lakes and Brentwood Hills neighborhoods. The area in question is currently Ginochio family land used for cattle grazing and dryland farming for the last 150 years. Ron Nunn has a contract with the Ginochio family to develop the property.
The Brentwood City Council will convene on June 25 to decide whether to put the ULL expansion question before voters this November, or in November 2020, or to slightly delay the decision by requesting a special report be compiled to further explore the proposal, including its fiscal impact, consistency with the city’s general and specific plans, and how it would affect infrastructure funding, ag lands, open space and traffic congestion.
If the report is requested, the council’s decision on when to pose the question to voters would be delayed, with the report created within 30 days. The developers would be required to pay for the election and report costs if the council decides more information is needed, City Manager Gus Vina said.
“The thing people have to understand is the council does not have a choice of not taking it to the voters,” Vina said. “Some people are saying ‘don’t let this happen.’ Well, they don’t have a choice. The signatures have been verified, the voters have a right to speak.”
Early plans call for the proposed project to roll out in five phases over 20 to 25 years, featuring up to 1,920 age-restricted, active-adult homes, about 480 market-rate units, multiple recreation centers, and possibly an outdoor amphitheater, winery, farm-to-table restaurant and bar, and an estimated 225 acres of permanent agricultural and open-space lands, including vineyards and olive groves.
The proposed changes, however, have met with intense opposition from residents, concerned that the development could adversely affect area police, fire and medical services, traffic, schools, hospitals, air pollution, noise and a host of other quality-of-life factors.
Brentwood resident Kathy Griffin has launched a citizen-action group, the Alliance for a Better Brentwood, to protect the city’s community feel and farmlands. The group has distributed 12,000 flyers, thus far, that “tell the truth about the project,” Griffin said.
“Everyone is sitting in ridiculous traffic now, and we have no fire and EMS service, jobs, nor any of the retail and economic development promised,” Griffin said. “If we continue to allow overwhelming housing growth to occur before our services, economic development and jobs catch up, our city will run out of money.”
The Nunns contend that the project will address concerns and benefit the community. Bob Nunn reported this week that the group is already in discussions with the fire district to address the agency’s obvious resource shortage that could be further strained with new development. The district’s three current stations cover 249 square miles and an estimated 119,000 residents.
The proposed project incorporates several roadway improvements, including extending American Avenue, which currently terminates in front of Adams Middle School, to form an additional intersection with Balfour Road.
Widening of Balfour Road is also listed in the plans, from near its intersection with American Avenue to the southwestern corner of the project site, and Deer Valley Road safety improvements would also be included, according to project documents.
“We want to solve problems to make it a better situation with our project than it is without our project,” Bob said.
Ron noted that the required construction would generate local jobs, and that senior communities generate less traffic than conventional housing projects, garner money for schools without adding children, add disposable income to the community and could attract improved medical services.
Opponents say many of the project’s promises are already included in the city’s long-range general plan — including the American Avenue extension — and that the developer’s 193-page proposal actually cancels and supersedes many of the city’s general plan goals and actions.
For example, the city’s plan to eventually extend Hillcrest Avenue to Balfour Road would be changed by the project, with access from Antioch to Brentwood restricted by Hillcrest becoming a gated road.
“The reality is, why should any developer be rewarded monetarily at the expense of the citizens’ quality of life,” said Griffin. “It’s not about the people they want to attract to live here — it’s about those who live here now and who will buy the already-planned housing, what we need and want, and those of us who will pay the price for unplanned sprawl.”
Going forward, the Nunns said the development group aims to soon ramp up their public relations efforts to inform residents about the project and address any concerns.
“It still a community project,” Bob Nunn said. “We want to reach out to the community to make sure they like the direction we are going.”
Meanwhile, Griffin said her group will vehemently urge the council to wait until 2020 to put the measure on the ballot, allowing time to further study the effects of the potential changes.
“We are well organized and we have a great leadership committee in charge,” Griffin said. “And we are all brainstorming right now to craft and manage our strategy. We will continue to fight what we consider an egregious project by connecting and educating our fellow residents on what this initiative actually entails and its negative repercussions.”