DANVILLE -- A sometimes raucous crowd of 300 filled to overflowing Tuesday at a planning commission meeting that rang with complaints over possible low-income and high-density housing in town.
Danville is in the process of updating its general plan, but proposed changes regarding agricultural land-use zoning and increases in land zoned for high density, affordable housing have many residents concerned Danville could lose its small town charm.
Several people in the crowd held signs that said Danville should get out of the Association of Bay Area Governments, which allocates housing requirements to local governments as mandated by the state.
"Why are we allowing unelected bureaucrats of a regional government to boss us around?" longtime resident Anne Blake asked the commission. "The people here in Danville are the top type of people in the nation, the smartest. Why can't we stand up to all of the shenanigans that are going on?"
At least 35 people spoke at the meeting, that stretched late into the night. Many voiced concerns that low-income, high-density housing could increase crime, fire hazards, traffic congestion and overburden Danville schools.
"Build it, and they will come," resident Sheila Truschke said. "But don't build it, and they won't."
The meeting took an occasionally raucous tone similar to a previous meeting on Nov. 27 when the draft environmental impact report for the plan was discussed.
Speakers voiced skepticism about climate change and some suggested the United Nations is behind the One Bay Area Plan, which is a long-range transportation and land-use and housing plan being implemented regionally.
Some speakers urged the town to follow the city of Corte Madera's lead and leave ABAG.
Town Manager Joe Calabrigo assured the crowd that the town government is committed to preserving Danville's small town character. He said membership in ABAG allows the town to represent its best interests by keeping housing numbers lower than what the state might directly mandate if Danville were to pull out of the association. He added that the town does not want to forgo state and federal funding by leaving.
"Whether we appreciate it or not, the state and regional entities in my time here at the town have become increasingly involved at the local level," Calabrigo said. "Danville has been, I believe, very proactive and very persistent in trying to deal with this dynamic."
Save Open Space Danville members Maryann Cella, Todd Gary and the group's attorney, Stuart Flashman, said the new general plan rewrites agricultural zoning rules to do an end-around Measure S, Danville's Open Space Preservation Initiative, which requires a public vote on general plan amendments that change land use. The group is trying to force a vote under Measure S on a proposed SummerHill Housing project for 70 homes on agriculturally zoned land.
Planning Commission Chairwoman Lynn Overcashier said Wednesday that there is a lot of misinformation and fear over the new general plan.
"We (commissioners) passionately care about our community. We will never look like Dublin. We will never look like Fremont. All the affordable housing in Danville has very strict guidelines and height limits. We're talking about senior facilities, housing for teachers, retail workers, restaurant workers. It doesn't mean that we are bringing crime elements or gangs into Danville."
The commission will hold two more public hearings about the general plan on Jan. 8 and 22. The town council will review the plan and take public comments on Feb. 5. The council will hold a second meeting on the plan on March 5. It could vote to adopt the plan at that meeting.
Contact Jason Sweeney at 925-847-2123. Follow him at Twitter.com/Jason_Sweeney.