Thursday, March 30, 2006

Proposed Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance Update

San Ramon Golf Courses Proposed to be Rezoned

First Meeting With City Council To Be Held

Tuesday, April 25, 2006
(Time and Location to be Announced

(Review of (3) Planning Commission Meetings):

The City of San Ramon has proposed for the 250 acres of the only remaining Open Space; (Royal Vista Golf Course and Canyon Lakes Golf Course) to be rezoned from Parks (.10 FAR which allows for little, or no expansive land development) to COMMERCIAL RECREATION (.35 FAR which allows for extensive commercial development on golf course land with an increase of 250% building intensity). It is zoned as Parks in the current Zoning Ordinance, and there is a provision in the Proposed Zoning Ordinance under Special Purpose Zones, to allow it to remain as Parks!

The City claims that the "Zoning Code" has to be, "put in line with the voter approved General Plan 2020." The City Staff and the City Council claims the citizens on the General Plan Review Committee changed the golf courses from Parks to Commercial Recreation. This is not true! Nowhere in any of the minutes is there any discussion of either of the golf courses! This was confirmed at the Planning Public Hearing on Feb. 21, 2006 in which the Planning Commissioners themselves found no evidence of the Golf Courses rezoned in any of the meetings' minutes.

Now, the City claims that the golf courses were changed to Commercial Recreation in 1995 with Resolution # 95-114, with a General Plan Amendment No. 95-003 to update the General Plan. The citizens have requested the minutes of these meetings. These minutes show absolutely NO discussion of the golf courses being changed to Commercial Recreation! If it really was changed, why is it so invisible? Why is it so difficult to get a straight answer from our San Ramon City Officials?

A source informed us that, on March 14, 2006 another record request was made to the City Clerk for all documentation, maps etc.. relating to the golf courses being changed to Commercial Recreation in 1995 as mentioned by City Planning Staff. Rene of the City Clerks Office, called our source on March 23rd, and stated, "the request has now gone to the planning department and they will not be able to get these documents to the citizens until April 7, 2006." The April 7 date is well beyond the 10 days allowable as required by law for providing a request for public records. In fact, it is a full 25 days after the REQUEST was made. And, it falls on April 7, 2006, the same date the Planning Commission is scheduled for taking the final vote on this topic! By then, it will be too late! Is the City delaying this information on purpose? Are they to be trusted? Why are we, the San Ramon citizens, being denied our rights to this information in a timely manner? Are they trying to ramrod this proposal through?

Public Legal Notification

The Planning Commission (PC) is required to hold three legally noticed (proper public notification) Public Hearings before going to Council. Two (PC) Public Hearings were "legally noticed" in the paper with an 1/8 page ad; although, the third Public Hearing on March 7th was not placed in the paper. The City claims, "it was a continued meeting" and did not have to place an ad in the paper to notify the public. How can it be the third Public Hearing, if it is just a continuance of another meeting and the public is NOT NOTIFIED? Additionally, two earlier "Public Meetings" with the Planning Commissioners held in January 2006 pertaining to the Golf Course Rezoning, were not given any notification to the public. This was also confirmed by city staff that no notification had gone out for these two meetings. Again, the City refuses to follow Government Code to notify it's own citizens that are being affected by these proposed changes!

The City of San Ramon Mayor and City Council have refused multiple requests to use the newspaper as a tool to notify the citizens of their proposed Citywide zoning changes! In addition, the Mayor and City Council refuse to mail out notification cards to the hundreds of property owners who live on, and around the golf course properties, notifying them of these proposed zoning (land use) changes for the golf courses. The City has stated, "we mailed notification to the actual owners of the golf courses." However, no notification went out to any San Ramon Citzens that would be affected. How is this action or lack of action serving the San Ramon Citizens? Why do our City officials continue to refuse to notify us? Why are they proposing further restrictions in the Notification process to the Citizens? (See: Proposed Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance Update (on the City's website) – go to the end of the document to see more details).

On February 21, 2006, a group of over 230 citizens held the City accountable by having their own attorney stand before the Planning Commission and claim, "these proceedings are Illegal due to non-notification to the public." In addition, the first two Public Hearings in January were also held Illegally due to Non-Notification to the Public! As a result, "The Negative Declaration Period" ended before anyone even knew it existed! How is this legal? How can we trust our City Officials if they are not being honest in their actions? They say one thing, and do the complete opposite! They are very contradictory in their words and actions!

The Planning Department City staff recommended a "Golf Course Overlay at a .10 FAR" to the Planning Commission against the strong urging of hundreds of citizens to make a General Plan Amendment (which is the strictest possible protection.)

The Golf Course Overlay can be easily removed, especially with the NEW "proposed Zoning Administrator's Authority" and, the proposed, "newly reduced City Notification Requirements" to the public! (Again, see the back of the Proposed Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance Update – on the City’s website!)

The Mayor and City Council continue to urge the Citizens of San Ramon to trust them to make the right decisions! How can we do this when there is SO MUCH dishonesty! Maybe it's time to talk about... RECALL!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

What About The Golf Courses?

San Ramon Golf Courses Rezoning
Why aren't you writing more about the golf course rezoning?

Last night I saw the Mayor of San Ramon on Channel 30. He said the zoning change was just a name change from "Park" to "Recreation". He forgot to say the "Commercial" word, as in "Commercial Recreation" - (you know - with all the multiple land uses and the increase of 250% building intensity from when it was zoned as "Park").

Mr. Wilson, if this is just a name change, why is the building intensity increasing from .10 FAR to .35 FAR? That's an increase of a minimum of 35 buildable acres on one golf course alone.

The mayor said they weren't building homes on the golf course -but what concerns me even more is all the other commercial land uses that can be built on the golf course under this Commercial Recreation zoning code.

I've done a lot of research on golf course land use and zoning and found that golf courses are zoned in a .10 FAR zone to protect the open space.

On the other hand, I've read stories where City Councils have changed their golf course zoning code similar to our situation here, only to have it result in REDEVELOPMENT of the golf course property!

I don't like our Planning Commission's "overlay-bandaid" solution. Why put the golf course in a .35 FAR Commercial zoning code only to put a patch on it and say its a .10 FAR golf course.

What is our City up to and why are they making this zoning change seem like nothing. Zoning codes are serious business!!! They obviously want to make our golf course land available for other "commercial" uses if need be, or else they would not be so adamant about changing our Park .10 designation to a .35 FAR Commercial Recreation designation.

Remember - for 40 years our golf course has been zoned "Park" with a .10 FAR - like the majority of all other golf courses in the United States. This is proper Zoning for a Golf Course in order to protect the open space.

They can call it Open Recreation or Park or Specialized Recreation or Golf Course or Open Space - just leave the .10 overall designation(NOT a .10FAR bandaid)-within a .35FAR Commercial zone!!!! That is not a solution.

If 1/3 of Canyon Lake's golf course is being changed from Park to Open Space, than why not zone 9/10 of the San Ramon golf course Open Space and the other 1/10 Commercial Recreation?

Who in this City ever came up with this Commercial Recreation .35 FAR zoning - that only applies to three city locations: Club Sport and San Ramon's two golf courses? WHY did they come up with it?????? AND show us documentation of HOW, WHEN, WHERE, WHO and WHY this came to be.

To date, the City has not provided the people with this information. We've heard all their words - but no written documentation that proves that the golf course zoning was ever authorized to be changed to Commercial Recreation.

If anyone out there has this information - can you please post it to this website. Thank you.

Excellent comments from a San Ramon Reader

The two are linked together by the use of the Redevelopment Agency. In todays public redevelopment plans the golf course is not included for Redevelopment. It is tomorrows use of the Redevelopment Agency that should be of major concern to all the citizens of San Ramon. Once the rezoning of the golf courses takes place, then the City Council, who is the Redevelopment Agency, can take the next step from rezoning it, to include it in redevelopment, to approve it, finance it, and develop it, all with out public approval or input.

Bear in mind, that most of the homes on the south end of San Ramon are over 50 years old and the businesses on the north end of town are also old established businesses and hence the City is targeting the older sections of our communities for potential redevelopment and Eminent Domain.

Feel Free to send in your letters to

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Eminent Domain Will Wipe Out San Ramon Businesses


Recap - Proposed 4th Amendment to Redevelopment Plan/Eminent Domain Hearing March 14, 2006

San Ramon, CA - The City Council Chambers was standing room only with people flowing out the doorway into the hall. All of the speakers represented citizens, business owners and the property owner of Beta Court who stated, "I do not want to sell my property." He continued, "I was approached by a developer who offered me only one-half of the value of my property." "I do not want to be forced to sell my property."

The City Council (who is the Redevelopment Agency) has proposed to expand the uses of Eminent Domain from public uses to private uses as well. Specifically, for implementing Redevelopment Plan Areas and Affordable Housing projects citywide over the next twelve years. That means a private citizen may loose their property to a developer who will make a big profit on a Redevelopment Plan. Not a single speaker was in support of the City's proposal to expand its uses of Eminent Domain for Private Gain, and questioned the City's definition of a "blighted" area.

The City Council defended their intent to use Eminent Domain in Redevelopment areas in very rare situations and, sited the Ralphs Grocery store going out of business as, an example to ensure another grocery store goes into that space.

In addition, the Beta Court Business Owners (41 in total) prepared a survey and presented it to the City Council showing their businesses are thriving and growing larger each year in total sales volume. Many citizens urged the Council not to use Eminent Domain to take these businesses away that are providing necessary services to thousands of San Ramon residents each year. And, it was mentioned many times, that there is nowhere for these businesses to move to without going outside of their customer base. The closest location for the San Ramon Valley Tow Truck Company would be Livermore, which would not allow for adequate response time.

It was suggested to the City Council (they refer to other cities with redevelopment agencies) and, their loss of public funds to support their police, fire, and schools as documented online at:

The San Ramon Valley Fire District's attorney sent in a twelve page letter to the City Council requesting that there be no loss of continued funding in order for the Fire Department to continue to implement their Emergency Response Time for 911 calls.

Other letters and emails were sent in and read. Some with strong opposition to the increase in tax increment from 94 million to 623 million; bonded indebtedness from 35 million to 100 million; and their concern that the taxpayer will be the victim of these huge and burdensome increases.

The Mayor closed the meeting without taking a final vote by Council. He continued the meeting, and reassured the public that the Council will do the right thing for the citizens of San Ramon. Quote, "We are your elected officials and we will be accountable."

Monday, March 13, 2006

Eminent Domain Hearing

Who Really Wants 12 Years of Eminent Domain in San Ramon?

City Council of the City of San Ramon (the "City Council") and the Redevelopment Agency of the City of San Ramon (the "Agency") will hold a joint public hearing on March 14, 2006, at 6:00 p.m., in the City Council Chambers, located at City Hall, 2222 Camino Ramon, San Ramon, California, to consider and act upon the proposed Fourth Amendment to the Redevelopment Plan (the "Amendment") for the City of San Ramon Redevelopment Project (the "Project") and to consider all evidence and testimony for or against the approval and adoption of the proposed Amendment.

At any time not later than the hour set forth above for the hearing of objections to the proposed Amendment, any person may file in writing with the City Clerk of the City of San Ramon a statement of objections to the proposed Amendment. At the day, hour and place of the hearing, any and all persons having any objections to the proposed Amendment, or the regularity of any of the prior proceedings, may appear before the City Council and the Agency and show cause why the proposed Amendment should not be adopted. At the hour set forth above for the hearing of objections, the City Council and the Agency shall proceed to hear all written and oral objections to the proposed Amendment.

The purpose of the proposed Amendment is to:

  • 1) increase the limit on the amount of tax increment the Agency can receive from $94 million to $623 million;
  • 2) increase the bonded indebtedness limit from $35 million to $100 million;
  • 3) re-establish Agency authority to use eminent domain within the Project Area for an additional 12 years, except that eminent domain may not be used to acquire real property outside of the Focus Area that is occupied as a residence; and
  • 4) update the land use provisions within the Redevelopment Plan to conform to the City's General Plan as it may be amended from time to time.

In addition, the City Council and the Agency will, at the same time and place, hold a joint public hearing to consider the Negative Declaration on the proposed Amendment and consider all evidence and testimony for or against the adoption of the Negative Declaration. At the day, hour and place of the hearing, all interested persons desiring to comment on, or having objections to, the adequacy of the Negative Declaration may appear before the City Council and the Agency and be heard.

Above From San Ramon: City Agenda See Project and Focus Area.

1. What is this planned $623 million tax increment?
2. Are we going to put ourselves more in debt?
3. The city can expand the project area or the Focus area at any time.
4. They can change the zoning code in the Redevelopment Plan any time they want.

Do we really want to loose our auto repair, body shops, shower door company, sign business, woodworking shop, and other privately owned small businesses in San Ramon that provide vital services to the community? These businesses have thousands of customers every year and are thriving. Why on earth would we want to remove a tax base for the city of San Ramon? Furthermore, why the need to implement and provide a 12 year extension to eminent domain? Once we go down this slippery slope, eminent domain could be used for anything. This is exactly what has happened in other cities.

Say No To Eminent Domain.

Speak out at the meeting.

Public hearing on March 14, 2006, at 6:00 p.m., in the City Council Chambers, located at City Hall, 2222 Camino Ramon, San Ramon, California.

Note: The City Website has been down at various times. Here is a list of the council members.

Judge Jury Executioner

Meeting Times:
2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month
in the Council Chamber

Mayor H. Abram Wilson
246 Canyon Lakes Place, San Ramon, CA 94583
City Voice Mail: (925) 973-2548
Term Expires: 2009

Vice Mayor Carol J. Rowley
San Ramon, CA 94583
City Voice Mail: (925) 973-2545
Term Expires: 2011

Councilmember David E. Hudson
162 Pebble Place, San Ramon, CA 94583
City Voice Mail: (925) 973-2546
Home Telephone: (925) 828-5578
Term Expires: 2009

Councilmember Jim Livingstone
44 Dos Rios Court, San Ramon, CA 94583
City Voice Mail: (925) 973-2547
Home Telephone: (925) 820-5801
Term Expires: 2009

Councilmember Scott Perkins
2764 Ellingson Way, San Ramon, CA 94583
City Voice Mail: (925) 973-2544
Home Telephone: (925) 833-7743
Term Expires: 2011
2222 Camino Ramon, San Ramon, CA 94583
Phone: (925) 973-2530
Fax: (925)

Friday, March 10, 2006

Planning Commission Recap 3/07

San Ramon Planning Commission - Recap 3/07

Of the two Rezoning options considered at the previous 2/21 hearing for the Golf Courses, the Planners chose the easy one for them.

It became apparent that the Zone-Overlay option is the only one the Planning Staff has been promoting. This option would rezone to CR/GC, Commercial Recreation / Golf Course Zone. They have allowed for Golf Course/Country Club, Park and Recreational Facility (two acres or less), Accessory Retail and Services, and Office (accessory.)

Over 450 San Ramon Residents have signed petitions, preferring the option that stopped the rezoning, thus, keeping it Parkland. This would slow down the Ordinance approval process, as it would legally require an amendment to the General Plan. The City representatives en masse don’t want to be slowed down. Why are they in such a hurry? There is no reason to change it from zoned Parkland immediately.

Golf course rezoning now goes to the City Council for approval, embedded in four years worth of Planners work on other Ordinances.

Note: According to the city planning staff, it does not have to follow state laws regarding public hearing notification to San Ramon citizens. Therefore, what is to prevent them from doing anything they want, whenever they want in the future? See the San Jose Mercury News article for additional insights.

Email the San Ramon Mayor and City Council today, and tell them no to Golf Course Rezoning.