SAN RAMON -- The San Ramon City Council has approved a community facilities district (CFD) for a proposed development site, along with a special tax for landowners there.
The moves pave the way for future development projects to enter the district, despite protests from a California business lobbying group that opposes the CFD's formation.
The San Ramon City Council approved a series of measures Feb. 25 that designated land scheduled for a townhouse development project to be placed into a CFD. That enables the city to impose a special tax on real property owners within the district to pay for the extra demand on municipal services brought about by the new development. Also, the council designated an "area of annexation" for future development projects that enter the CFD, which includes the entire city minus a small area owned by Sunset Development, which is exempt from annexation per an agreement it reached with the city in the 1980s.
San Ramon Mayor Bill Clarkson said the establishment of the district was important because the city's general plan requires future development projects to pay for themselves. But during public comment, Bob Glover, an executive officer with the California Building Industry Association, rebuked the proposal, called the CFD "illegal," and read parts of a letter that industry association attorney Paul Campos had already submitted to the city.
"We do feel that housing does pay its fair share. And, unfortunately, as part of this general, overlying CFD for the entire city, there has been no financial analysis indicating that that is not the case," Glover said.
Glover added that he felt that the district was similar to one that Santa Rosa tried to establish in 2010, until they were successfully sued by Campos and the industry association. But San Ramon City Attorney Robert Saxe said that the two cases were different, because Santa Rosa's proposal required landowners to approve a special tax, whereas San Ramon's requires the city to hold a special election to approve the tax.
"That's a single judge. It's not a court of appeals decision. It's not precedent. It's a judge in Sonoma County who made that decision," Saxe added.
The council kicked around the idea of putting off a decision until they'd had a chance to meet privately with the California Building Industry Association but ultimately decided against such a meeting. Saxe said the city's main focus should be Acre Development, the group that's going to build a 48-unit townhome complex on the CFD site.
"Mr. Glover says housing pays for itself, and I don't see what two weeks does, other than give Mr. Glover two weeks to say, 'housing pays for itself,' " San Ramon Vice Mayor Philip O'Loane said. "Our city manager says it doesn't completely pay for itself, and I haven't seen any evidence that it does."
Christian Truebridge, a vice president with Sunset Development Company, which owns the land in Bishop Ranch, also voiced concerns about the CFD. He said it violated an agreement between his company and the city to include Bishop Ranch in the "area of annexation" for future development sites. The council agreed and modified the map accordingly before passing the measures.
Councilmember Dave Hudson cast the lone "no" vote on three of the four measures, and the fourth passed unanimously. Councilmember Scott Perkins had given the city advance notice that he would be out of town and was not present for the vote.