First, we have Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature passing the most idiotic project in the world, high-speed rail. Hard on its heels we have the second most idiotic, a so-called "transit village" at the Walnut Creek BART station.
What is proposed is 596 apartments and a bunch of commercial space. But only 775 parking spaces are provided for those apartments for a grand total of 1.3 spaces per apartment.
Unless all 596 are studios and one-bedroom units, any thinking person knows that is totally inadequate. These apartments are one, two and three bedrooms.
But that's not the worst thing about this project. It's located right on Ygnacio Valley Road, the busiest and most congested street in town.
The cross street is California Boulevard, not exactly a country lane. And this project, according to city planners, will add some 4,055 vehicle trips a day to the village (remember it's at California and Ygnacio Valley).
It's hard to understand why the council even considers a project that exacerbates congestion like this. Many surveys show traffic is the number-one problem for the city's residents (well maybe parking too). The last time I spoke with Transportation Planning they told me there is no traffic congestion plan since there is no solution to it.
"The project will require a general plan amendment for zoning changes and an increase in the building height limit," according to the newspaper article about it
No problem -- we can just ignore those old zoning and height restrictions as useless and make up new ones anytime we want.
On top of this we are creating a toxic waste site. Again, according to the newspaper article, "One concern noted is that because the project is adjacent to Interstate 680, renters could be exposed to higher levels of diesel exhaust. To reduce the risk of cancer, some units should be outfitted with special air filters, and tenants must be told of the potential health risks, according to the report."
Why don't we just throw in a couple of gas masks for each rental?
Projects like this don't cut down on auto trips. People rent apartments in "transit villages" because they need housing, not because they are at BART. The housing crash has caused a great demand for apartments. Experience shows that less than 20 percent of the residents at the Pleasant Hill BART "transit village" actually ride public transportation.
But don't worry, folks -- you have a chance to comment on the environmental plan until Aug. 31. The city has a great record of asking for public input and then turning off its hearing aids and doing whatever it wants.
I'm afraid this is another case of "we really do need the public to weigh in" (Mayor Bob Simmons) and then the city doing whatever it planned to do in the first place. So what else is new?
Ken Hambrick is a resident of Walnut Creek.