SAN RAMON -- Opponents of a controversial cemetery proposed for the Tassajara Valley are appealing to the City Council to reverse a 2005 local resolution of support for the project, which they say is now too outdated to reflect the will of the city's residents.
"The community we have built now -- and that is in existence now -- the City Council would not have imagined in 2005. So the resolution we have now is a mistake -- and now it is time to correct the mistake by passing a new resolution," said Angappa Murali, a Windemere resident who opposes the graveyard, to city councilors at an Aug. 12 meeting.
Back in 2005, "our house hadn't even been built yet," said Murali. "Our schools and parks were still in the planning stages. You could not have realized the kind of community we would build in Windemere. If you had, you would have never agreed to put a cemetery so close to our homes and our schools."
Developed by Sid Corrie, Creekside Memorial Park -- which would be a $35 million cemetery with some 100,000 to 150,000 plots and a 50-year capacity -- would house a chapel and indoor and outdoor mausoleums with extensive landscaping on 221 acres at 7000 Camino Tassajara. And when the resolution was passed nine years ago, the cemetery's proponents, including former Mayor Abram Wilson, envisioned it as a place where families throughout the Tri-Valley could bury their loved ones nearby.
But times have changed dramatically since that time. The development of thousands of homes not only in the Dougherty Valley, but also East Dublin and the Alamo Creek neighborhood of East Danville not far from the site mean that many families will be negatively impacted, said Jay Yao, another Windemere resident who opposes the plan. He and nearly 3,000 residents so far in the surrounding communities have signed a petition against the cemetery being built, saying it will increase traffic, decrease home values and negatively affect the environment.
Located near the Tassajara Creek Regional Trail, the cemetery would be located about 2,300 feet away from existing homes on Windemere Parkway, next to the Hidden Valley open space area. Also, the demographics of the area have shifted, since many nearby residents are immigrants from Asian countries and with young children, he said, pleading for cultural sensitivity.
"As Chinese Americans, many of us take very seriously the separation between the world of the dead and the world of the living," Yao told the council at an Aug. 12 meeting. They would not want their children seeing funerals every day, he said: "So when we buy a home for our family, we would never consider one that is close to this proposed cemetery."
Whether the proposal will be built is a decision that will be made by Contra Costa County -- not the city. And the county planning commission is expected to hold a public hearing on the issue in the coming months, though not date has yet been set.
Yet City Manager Greg Rogers said the 2005 resolution is "ineffective and inactive," anyway, since it reflects a goal from many years ago, passed by an entirely different City Council.
It goes back to a time when the Tri-Valley cities were talking about the need to have a local cemetery built, after former Councilmember Curt Kinney was looking for a place to bury his daughter who died suddenly on her wedding day. After setting up a Tri-Valley task force on the issue, Danville, Dublin and Pleasanton passed resolutions similar to San Ramon's, though Livermore rejected the idea.
"It would be, at best, more of a symbolic gesture, if the city decided to take a position recommending the county not approve the project," Rogers said. "And we're pretty careful not interfering with city or county projects."
Yet, Councilmember Phil O'Loane said that he "wouldn't be surprised" if the item came up at a future council meeting, though none has been set yet.
"I can't speak for all councilmembers, but I think it's an item that's definitely worth a decision," he said. "I personally think that we should reverse the previous position, because clearly things have changed quite a bit in that time. And I would welcome the opportunity to consider such a resolution."
Contact Joyce Tsai at 925-847-2123. Follow her at Twitter.com/joycetsainews.