The passion over whether to amend Brentwood’s Urban Limit Line or not has brought out many emotions over the past few months that has divided a community in half. But residents should really consider the consequences a “no” vote will have.
Regardless of all the rhetoric and comments online, Measure L comes down to who is going to develop the land, will it be Brentwood, or the city of Antioch. A “no vote” gives the city of Antioch the chance to annex the land.
To be blunt, Measure L has brought out the worst in the Brentwood community and everyone needs to take a deep breath, work to rebuild bridges with one another, and agree to disagree on the issue, and maybe taking a break from social media.
If approved, Measure L would annex 815 acres and with 555 acres for 2,400 homes which 80% is for senior housing, 225 acres would be permanently designated open space and could include agriculture and associated facilities.
The beauty of Measure L is that there are arguments for and against with neither side being completely right or wrong—but what is inexcusable in this process is the dishonesty going on and misrepresentation of facts. As a result, a judge had to step in and issue a judgement against statements made by Anti-Measure L supporters, who by the way, if they had formed a competing measure would not getting away with many of their statements under the law.
I urge the community to have an opinion and be passionate, but at least be accurate and truthful when arming others with facts and opinions.
Do I think Measure L will pass? It is unlikely, but I do encourage Brentwood voters to consider repercussions a “no” vote and its future impact
Consequences of a “no” vote includes:
- Antioch could control what is built on the 815-acres, meaning its likely higher-density housing.
- The border between Brentwood and Antioch now gets closer
- Taking away $200 million in one-time building permit revenue
- Losing out property tax and sales tax in perpetuity
- The Fire District no longer would receive an additional $11 million
- Road improvements on Balfour and American Avenue will not be built.
Like many Brentwood residents, I do not want more homes. But as a society we cannot have a NIMBY-like mentality. Just because you “got yours”, doesn’t mean the world stops. Just because you have property rights, doesn’t mean another landowner loses his.
Truth be told, the land is going to be sold. It will be developed. It is just a matter of when, how big, and how fast. Believing this 815-acres will stay open space forever, when it is already zoned residential, is both wishful thinking and ignorant.
It is time for Brentwood to step up and stop playing checkers and begin playing chess with that land realizing the real play is planning for the future because it is just a matter of time before shovels hit the dirt; houses will be built in either Brentwood or Antioch, you can’t stop the growth but you can control it.
It comes down to Brentwood maintaining control or allowing Antioch to reap the rewards. This is an important decision, which is why I believe residents of Brentwood should take a devil’s advocate approach to Measure L before casting any vote.
This is much more complex than not wanting more houses built or more cars on the roadways. Here is a look at some of the talking points I’ve seen on social media that need to be clarified or addressed:
Blackhawk Nunn Is Not Going Away
The day after the election, should this measure fail in Brentwood, Blackhawk Nunn will be meeting with the City of Antioch. This property is zoned residential and is “development dirt” which makes it premium land and 10x to 20x more costly than if zoned “open space”. The land is too valuable to stay open space—development is coming which is why Brentwood should protect itself and forever control what is developed.
Antioch Doesn’t Want the Project – False!!!
Those that claim Antioch doesn’t want the land either are trying to intentionally mislead voters or have no clue what they are talking about because it is rather foolish to think Antioch does not want this project.
To be blunt. Antioch is broke and this would represent a windfall of likely more than $200 million in building permit revenue, plus the property tax, sales tax, and job creation it creates—a very important project after losing Roddy Ranch and the shrinkage of the Ranch Project.
It’s absolutely moronic to think Antioch would reject taking advantage of the single largest economic project in our lifetime in East Contra Costa County.
In fact, the publisher of the Antioch Herald openly advocating Antioch should annex the land which would reverse what the Board of Supervisors did to Antioch in 2005—this came after years of planning in the 1990’s of future development in Antioch and Brentwood.
While I do not always agree with Mr. Payton, he is right:
“If Brentwood doesn’t want them, those are the kind of homes Antioch wants and needs for our housing mix, especially now that Roddy Ranch is permanent open space and the homes planned for the western Sand Creek area might never be built.”
Many of the claims on social media are inaccurate regarding Antioch voters stopping growth and protecting their Urban Limit Line – that is not true. The Ranch Project was always within Antioch City Limits. What happened in a complex scenario was the project size was reduced. This claim Antioch voted on their urban limit line is false because residents don’t vote until the 2020 election on competing ballot measures which was basically a deal with Save Mount Diablo creating a win for all parties.
Furthermore, I hate to be the carrier of bad news for Brentwood residents, but Antioch will continue to build south along Hillcrest and Deer Valley until they hit the Antioch/Brentwood border. So really, Brentwood needs this project as a buffer between the two cities.
The question really becomes, does Brentwood want to preserve another 815 acres or do they want the Antioch border a stones throw away? Should Antioch take on the 815 acres, the reap all the benefits while Brentwood gets all the impacts—a very bad deal for Brentwood.
Bottom line, Brentwood passing on this project and relying on Antioch to say “no” is foolish.
What Brentwood residents should be doing is stop thinking short-term (Checkers), and think three to four moves down the road (Chess) and plan for smart growth, ensure you have a strong city council, a stickler for details planning commission and a solid city staff to ensure this project is built as promised where no funny business occurs.
More Open Space Than Anticipated
Something happened over the past few years. Wheeling and dealing by the East Bay Regional Park District, Save Mount Diablo and others have resulted in more than 1,500 acres of open space between Antioch and Brentwood.
With Measure L, this trend continues as they are providing another 225 acres of open space that would otherwise be developed—Save Mount Diablo knows this which is why they made a deal it did because it actually landlocked future development forever to the west and north. In total, this is more than 1700 acres both in Brentwood and Clayton.
As I stated above, the land will be sold at some point and development, Save Mount Diablo simply took the best deal it could get to preserve the most land. Ultimately, with the north, west and east taken care of, Save Mount Diablo can now focus its time on limiting growth to the south of American Avenue behind Heritage High School—Save Mount Diablo decided to stop playing checkers and switch to chess and in the process made a check mate move in terms of preserving land.
Residents need to realize there is no more ability to move the Urban Limit Line to the West ever again. People may be mad at Save Mount Diablo for supporting Measure L, but some are not seeing the big picture which is they basically created the new demarcation line south of Heritage High School—for that, just say thank you!
What elected officials learn quickly is that road improvements are tied to development. The only way Balfour Road widening and extending American Avenue happens is with this project—or a similar one. A portion of Deer Valley Road will also be improved. For folks in Shadow Lakes, this actually will solve a lot of their cut through traffic by the community based on gates and entry points of Measure L.
By expanding these roads, it will cut down on the head-on crashes on Balfour, reduce fatalities and make it safer for everyone. By making American Avenue a full loop, it will make the flow of traffic much improved instead of the nightmare it is now—which by the way, the loop gets completed before any houses are even built.
Remember, this property is zoned residential at 3 houses per acre for a reason because that is the only way improvements will occur on Balfour Road, Deer Valley Road and American Avenue.
The ECCFPD got a heck of a deal here. This was a no-brainer for them to sign on due to the revenue it creates.
Yes, the focus is clearly on what the MOU will provide the ECCFPD with $11 million in new revenue, including fulling staffing a station in new operating revenue each year, but this project has intangibles that are going overlooked.
For starters, the infrastructure improvements will allow first responders to transport patients in and out of Brentwood on Balfour and Deer Valley—this will cut down on patient transport times, create smoother rides for patients in AMR units and free up AMR units faster making for a more streamlined EMS system.
This will reduce the amount of head on collisions with a wider road and a median installed. But what is not being shared is revenue from this project will also provide Brentwood Police with revenue it can use to plan for future growth—no one is talking about how this project could fund additional officers through its economic boon.
Again, should Antioch take this project, they would get $11 million towards public safety—Antioch won’t be foolish to turn that down as it gets Antioch Police Chief Tammany Brooks to his 124 officers while adding a 5th fire station through Contra Costa Fire.
Highway 4 & Road Impact
Yes, CHP offered a concern in the EIR, however, that was part of the process. Sadly, people have taken a concern and made it out as if the CHP has taken an opinion against Measure L—that is false and the sky is not falling. The CHP has not taken a position, nor will they.
What CHP did do, and for good reason, was protect the community because now Blackhawk Nunn will now have to mitigate the risk in their final design and implementation—which creates a safer community. A safety precaution is far from a position.
Furthermore, the idea that Measure L will add 14,000 cars to the roadway is creative math. We are talking 2,400 homes of which 80% are seniors. Are you telling me these homes will have 6 cars for each house? Highly unlikely. With the housing being for seniors, it is safe to say these are not the commuters that hit Highway 4 each day for San Ramon, Walnut Creek, Oakland or San Francisco—this project has little impact on Highway 4.
Impact on Schools
With this being 80% senior housing, that is hardy going to impact schools. Meanwhile, the schools will receive tax revenue from the homes—essentially free money because if anyone actually studies their property tax bill, you would see K-12 schools and colleges get between 55% to 60% of your property taxes when you include all the bonds.
The impact on schools is minimal, maybe 300 students. Meanwhile, if this was an Antioch project with no restrictions and higher density because they could care less on the impact to Brentwood schools, you could be looking at more than 1,200 students entering Brentwood schools—a real impact and a huge problem.
That is not a scare tactic, just a reality.
Claiming this project will not create new local jobs is both false and a lie. This will create many jobs for the construction trades, many who currently travel out of the area each day. With a 20-year build out, it ensures they can work local and be close to their family. In a study by John Muir, they have said that Measure L would create 200 new healthcare jobs in the area. From a job creation standpoint, this is phenomenal.
These jobs then create a trickle-down effect to local shops and restaurants and becomes a form of a local economic stimulus plan. People complaining that we need jobs locally, here you go!
More Senior Housing is Needed
East County has the fastest growing senior population. We need more senior living opportunities and this project accomplishes that. The state has 1,000 per day turning 65 and this will be a huge issue in the coming years to ensure seniors can age with dignity as people are living longer while on a fixed income. Suggesting Brentwood already has enough senior living is both wrong and ignorant.
The community should want senior living because they shop local and service local business. By the way, Trilogy and Summerset are the highest priced per square foot on resale value in East County, this only adds to that.
I urge Brentwood voters to see the big picture, think about its future and protect itself with their vote. Measure L is about defense and protecting its Sphere of Influence as opposed to letting Antioch reap the benefits while pushing the impacts into Brentwood.
Rejecting $200 million in building permit revenues alone which doesn’t include property tax and sales tax revenue, improved fire service, improved roadways, and protecting more open space is exactly what Brentwood needs and should support—it’s a win for everyone.
Playing poker with Antioch voters and putting control in their hands is an option no one in Brentwood should ever want to see nor risk when you are already holding a winning hand.
Publisher of ECT