SAN RAMON -- A petition signed by more than 300 residents opposing the Faria Preserve housing development was presented to the city Tuesday night, during a Planning Commission public hearing on the controversial project.
Several residents voiced their concerns about the 740-unit housing development that is planned in the northwest part of the city, near Interstate 680, north of Crow Canyon Road and east of Bollinger Canyon Road. They urged the commission to consider the environmental and aesthetic impacts of the hillside development, as well as what they claim will be a lack of schools and excessive traffic.
"People understand that this project, if it were to go forward, would impact their neighborhoods adversely," said Robert Klingner, a spokesman for the Coalition of Northwest Neighborhoods, who helped to organize the petition drive.
"And we want all of those 10 items (on the petition) addressed, whether it be traffic, the density, parking overflow."
Klingner said petitioners are concerned about the project's "enormous size" and its planned "high density and very high-density neighborhoods," which, they say, lack sufficient parking. They also say it will bring severe traffic congestion to neighborhood streets, slowing down access times to and from I-680 on Crow Canyon Road, and destroy the natural beauty of the hills by putting at least 6 million cubic yards of fill between two hills adn the grading of 248 acresto make room for the homes.
The project would include a mix of single-family houses, townhouses, apartments, senior housing and parcels for a church and sports fields. About 28 percent of the homes will be offered as affordable housing, including 185 apartments -- 86 of which would be senior-restricted -- and a total of 28 townhomes and condos.
Lafferty Communities is trying to build the development on 450 acres once owned by Claremont Homes. The Planning Commission and City Council originally approved Claremont plans to build 786 units there in 2006, but it had to alter plans after lawsuits were filed in 2008 by the East Bay Regional Park District and Sierra Club.
Thus, Planning Commission Chairperson Eric Wallis stressed the decision to build had already been approved, and the recent application was merely asking for modifications to allow fewer homes. Also the development is necessary to meet the state's requirements for additional and affordable housing in the area, he said.
"If we wanted to pull up the bridges and say we were not going to build any more housing, we couldn't," he said.
Despite petitioners' concerns, all commissioners said they are satisfied with the overall plan, the affordable housing it would offer, and compromises made so far by the developer. Although, a couple commissioners, such as Rick Marks, made suggestions for improvement, including more parking in some areas.
The commission will continue public discussion and plans to vote on the project, with its outlined conditions for approval, on May 6.
Contact Joyce Tsai at 925-847-2123. Follow her at Twitter.com/JoyceTsaiNews.