Draft EIR Released

The Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) was made available for public review starting on Wednesday, February 7, 2018 on the City of Brentwood’s website.

Hard copies of the DEIR are also available for review during normal business hours at the following locations:

City of Brentwood Permit Center
City Hall, 1st floor
150 City Park Way

Brentwood Library
35 Oak Street

Brentwood Senior Center
193 Griffith Lane

On February 15th, the public comment period for the DEIR was extended from 45 to 60 days in response to requests for additional review time.  The 60 day public review period will conclude at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, April 9th.

All comments should be submitted in writing and addressed to Erik Nolthenius, Planning Manager, at either:

enolthenius@brentwoodca.gov

or

Erik Nolthenius, Planning Manager
City of Brentwood
150 City Park Way
Brentwood, CA 94513

Responses will be prepared for all comments on environmental issues submitted to the City by the end of the public review period. They will be included in the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR).

Web Page for the Deer Ridge & Shadow Lakes Development Project

We received the following link from Casey McCann, Director of Community Development:

http://www.brentwoodca.gov/gov/cd/planning/drsl_devprj.asp

From Casey: “The purpose of this email is to let you know that a special webpage has been created on the City’s website: Deer Ridge & Shadow Lakes Development Project. This webpage includes a broad array of important information about this proposal. It will be updated periodically throughout the processing of the application.”

There are a lot of very interesting documents on this web page that we are finding useful and informative.  We recommend that you book mark the page and visit often.  You an also receive emails from the city about important updates as the process moves forward.  To be added to the contact list for the project, please click on the following link:  Planning@brentwoodca.gov   If your email won’t open automatically when you lick the link, please send an email to Planning@bretwoodca.gov and place this in the subject line: Deer Ridge and Shadow Lakes Development Project Contact List.

Plan details posted online

On Monday, July 7, Casey McCann, Director of Community Development, sent this email to share the available materials detailing the proposed plan.  If you are not on the list to receive these notifications, click here to learn how to sign up.  Here is the full text of the email:

Good Morning,

You have been sent this email because you are currently on the City’s contact list for the proposed Deer Ridge and Shadow Lakes development project.

The purpose of this message is to let you know that the following materials have been posted and are now available for your viewing on the City’s website: Fact Sheet, Project Synopsis, and Application Materials. Here is the link to the web page:

http://www.brentwoodca.gov/gov/cd/planning/projects_under_review.asp

You are welcome to provide input by using the “submit comments” on the page.

Sincerely,

Casey McCann

If you feel you have been placed on the contact list by mistake or if you no longer wish to be contacted, please send a reply email and we will then take you off the list.

Title: City of BrentwoodCasey McCann, Director of Community Development
Community Development
150 City Park Way
Brentwood, CA 94513-1164
Phone: 925.516.5195
Fax: 925.516.5407
cmccann@brentwoodca.gov 

A First Look at the Plan

Casey McCann, Director of Community Development for the City of Brentwood, sent out this email on July 7, 2017, to everyone signed up at the city for email updates on the rezone process.  If you are not on this list, click here to learn how to sign up.  Here is the full text of the email:

A Message to Deer Ridge and Shadow Lakes residents,

The City of Brentwood received an application from Deer Ridge and Shadow Lakes Golf, L.P.  to reconfigure the two golf courses into 18 holes, construct a new cart bridge over Balfour Road, and to  establish General Plan and zoning designations that would allow for the future construction of two senior residential facilities. The applications include:

·        General Plan amendment

·        Rezoning

·        Design Review (for new golf cart bridge)

·        Tentative Parcel (subdivision) maps

·        Environmental Impact Report

General Plan Amendment. To re-designate two areas with a combined area of 31.2 acres from Semi Public Facility to Residential High Density (11.1 – 20.0 dwelling units per gross acre). The remaining area currently designated Semi Public Facility will continue to allow golf course and open space uses.

Rezoning. Amend the existing Planning Development (PD) districts for Shadow Lakes (PD-18) and Deer Ridge (PD-20). Those areas of the existing PD districts that are comprised of the golf courses and associated open space would be included within a new PD district, to allow one 18-hole golf course and two senior residential facilities. All other areas of PD-18 and PD-20 would remain unchanged.

·        New golf course. The two existing 18-hole courses would be combined into one 18-hole course. The existing Shadow Lakes club house would remain and serve as the club house for the new course. Holes 1 to 10 would be located north of Balfour Road. Holes 11 to 18 would be located south of Balfour.

·        A new golf cart bridge over Balfour Road is proposed, linking the new course.

·        Village 1.

o   13 acres located at the site of the existing Deer Ridge club house and parking lot

o   Proposed uses: senior facilities, allowing independent or assisting living

o   Maximum number of units: 250 in multiple buildings, up to three stories in height

·        Village 2.

o   18.2 acres located east of the Shadow Lakes club house, adjoining the north side of Balfour Road

o   Proposed uses: senior facilities, allowing independent or assisting living

o   Maximum number of units: 310 in multiple buildings, up to three stories in height

·        Conceptual Site Plans. The applicant is not requesting design approval of the residential villages at this time.

Design Review. A request to construct a new golf cart bridge over Balfour Road, connecting the new golf course.

Tentative Parcel (subdivision) maps. The applicant is requesting approval of two subdivision maps, one at Deer Ridge (427 M 29) and the other at Shadow Lakes (421 M 01). Each of these maps would create parcels to accommodate the proposed senior residential facilities.

Environmental Impact Report (EIR). Under state law, the City is the “lead agency,” responsible environmental review is conducted for all qualified development projects consistent with the California Environmental Quality Act. The City has determined that an EIR is necessary for this golf course and senior residential project.

*************************************************************************************

Tentative Project Schedule.  Public hearings by the Planning Commission and City Council to consider this application are expected to be held in the spring of 2018.

 

Project Information on City Website. You will be notified by a separate email when the project plans will be available for review on the City’s website (estimated early next week).

To provide comment or ask questions:          Planning@brentwoodca.gov

Title: City of BrentwoodCasey McCann, Director of Community Development
Community Development
150 City Park Way
Brentwood, CA 94513-1164
Phone: 925.516.5195
Fax: 925.516.5407
cmccann@brentwoodca.gov

About the Meetings

Starting around the last week of April 2017, many residents of the Shadow Lakes and Deer Ridge neighborhoods began receiving letters from the golf course management, inviting them to attend meetings to discuss the future of the golf courses, and discuss solutions to “allow golf to continue sustainably as we pay off our debt on our courses.” The letter promised they were looking for solutions that would ensure “there are no adverse impacts to your home or your property value.” They went on to say they wanted to talk to us about “possible solutions.”

Well that sounded pretty good. We were going to talk about how to keep the golf courses going in a way that they would make money, while not affecting our property values. Yes, they wanted to tell us about the problems they were having, and about challenges to the industry. But they were going to discuss more than one solution, so they must have some pretty good ideas. And they wanted our input to help them pick the best one!

When we arrived at the meeting we selected, it was pretty nice at first. There were plenty of tables and a nice buffet meal. Who doesn’t like free food?

But then it started. It was a dark tale they told. They paid $4,950,000 for the courses. In the last eleven years they went $9,831,600 into debt. Not bank debt. Some other kind of debt. In addition to the debt, they were $400,000 behind on their taxes and have annual operating losses of $893,781.

They had managed to dig themselves into one deep hole.

They could not afford to run the courses any more. If nothing was done, they would sell them to a “nuclear” developer who they claim “would likely lock the course gates, fence them off, liquidate everything in the locations and ‘torture’ homeowners until they give in to selling as much of the land as possible.” They want us to believe these developers would let the golf courses fall into an intolerable state of disrepair. Weeds would grow and everything would be so ugly that the homeowners would be ready to do anything. (It was hard, listening to this, not to wonder “but isn’t this just what Suncoast has already been doing to the homeowners in Shadow Lakes?”)

It was a story designed to frighten people, and it worked. It had to be scary, because it had to make what they were proposing next look acceptable, and what was coming next was pretty ugly. But first, they wanted to reassure the homeowners of Shadow Lakes. They apologized “for the poor condition of the landscaping on and around the courses.” But they plead “financial trouble”, and said they would do better if their plans were approved.

So finally, we were on to what we thought would be the good stuff. We were finally going to hear these solutions we were promised. But sadly, there wasn’t any real solution. What we got instead was one plan and two alternatives, but none of these fit the definition of the solutions that we were promised, to keep golf sustainable and to not impact out property values. Even the one plan they wanted us to accept did not live up fully to that promise.

The first alternative was to sell off the courses to a nuclear developer, as already mentioned. This was not meant to be a solution at all. It did not sustain the golf courses, pay off the debt, or maintain property values in the surrounding neighborhoods. It did scare a lot of people though.

The second alternative was to close one course, and keep one open. This was only a partial solution. It did not pay off the debt. It only kept the Deer Ridge course open, and left Shadow Lakes closed in its current condition, thus only maintaining the property values in one neighborhood. So, it was not really a solution. They claimed they couldn’t really do it because it would not pay off the debt. (So why even bring it up, I wondered?)

Finally, it was time to see their plan, their one plan, to save the golf courses, pay off their debts, and keep all the property values up. And what a plan it was. First, they explained how Brentwood has too many golf courses for the number of people in Brentwood. (Watching this, I wondered if it never occurred to them that someone who lived in a nearby town might want to golf here. Because taking that into account changes the numbers drastically.) But they figured they could keep one course going just fine.

They wanted to be fair to both neighborhoods, so instead of keeping one course or the other, they would “combine” the courses by using some holes from each course to make up one course. To make it possible for the golfers to get to all the holes, they would build a cart bridge over Balfour, somewhere between Foothill and Mountain View. Heck, they were already going to do it anyway a couple years ago, but they let the Planning Commission approval expire. Surely they would approve it again.

Obviously, this meant many of the golf course holes in both communities would close. This was where our input was needed. What did we want to do with the closed holes? How could they be re-purposed? To get us started, they had a few suggestions, like community gardens, trails for biking or walking, vineyards, or just some nice open space. Other suggestions from attendees included Frisbee golf or playground equipment. It was a nice idea, but they were in deep debt, and the golf course wouldn’t make much money, so who would pay for it all?

Seniors would pay for it all. Seniors living in new Senior Homes that they want to build on our golf courses. Big multi-story Senior Homes like Cortona or Westmont, they explained. And every unit would be assessed an ongoing fee to help keep the “combined” golf course profitable and maintain the re-purposed closed holes. They did not have a lot of details. Their analysis seemed to be simple, too simple. They said there are more old people now, and the population is aging, so Senior Homes are bound to succeed. And having them on the golf course wouldn’t be so bad. When one person asked how many units they were talking about, they replied 200 to 400. It was not until two months had passed since the first meetings that we finally learned on July 7 that they plan to build 560 apartments in three story buildings on 31.2 acres. (By comparison, Westmont has 131 apartments, is “only” two stories tall, and it is a huge building compared to the club house that sits at one of the proposed sites.)

And you know what? A lot of folks attending those meetings walked out of there thinking “That doesn’t sound so bad. Just some nice little apartments and a few seniors, and we at least get to keep one golf course, so I guess it’s OK.” And Suncoast, convinced of the success of their little shows, was heartened and became determined to apply to the city for the rezoning and General Plan amendments they would need to begin work on this project.

But you know what else? A lot of folks left those meetings realizing that there were a lot more open questions than answers. Why Senior Homes? What does “Senior Homes” mean anyway? Who are these people that own these golf courses? Why should we just trust everything they say, especially with their history of poor business management/practices (being in debt, not paying taxes, and losing money)? How did they come up with this “Senior Homes” idea? Is it really a good idea to build large apartment buildings right in the middle of our neighborhoods? Who does it help? Once the new zoning is approved, how do we know they can and will follow through with their plans after their debts are paid off? We might end up with Senior Housing and still have the “combined” course be sold to speculators. Once these buildings are built, how would we ever restore the golf courses in better times? Can seniors really afford to live in Senior Homes that charge expensive assessment fees?

Isn’t it really expensive to have three hundred people over for dinner and to produce expensive web sites and mailers, and isn’t it expensive to develop EIR reports and all the other filings that have to be made with the city? And come to think of it, how much does it cost to build a cart bridge over a four lane boulevard anyway? And if they have all that money, why don’t they pay up the $400,000 dollars in back taxes they owe, like we all pay our taxes, to pay for the police and fire fighters and schools that we are all paying for? What is really going on here?

So we started talking on social media sites like Nextdoor and Facebook. And our neighbors on these sites began asking questions, trying to answer these questions, and started digging up information. And the more we learned, the more we became opposed to allowing any rezoning of the golf courses and to the building of the Senior Housing in our community.