The following was sent to City Clerk Margaret Wimberly for inclusion in the City Council meeting on July 11, 2017:
My name is Heather Hurst, and I reside in Shadow Lakes. I am writing to you so you can deliver my opposition for the rezoning of Deer Ridge and Shadows Lake to the Mayor and City Council of the City of Brentwood.
I would like the letter to be posted for the public comments section of the next City Council meeting to be held on July 11, 2017.
Here is my story and the reasons for my opposition:
I am originally from Pennsylvania, but moved to California in 1998. I drove through Brentwood every day on my way to teach kindergarten in Discovery Bay Elementary School. The City of Brentwood was a lot different back then! We lived in California for 4 years, and then due to my husbands’ job, we relocated multiple times and to many states in the last 15 years. Two years ago, we had the opportunity to move back to California. When researching the area, we were pleasantly surprised to see all the changes and progress that the City of Brentwood made in the time we were gone. When we saw Shadow Lakes, we knew that was the community we wanted to live in and raise our 2 daughters. We loved the feel of the area and the neighborhood.
In all of our moves (and we have moved 7 times in 19 years), I have never seen a Senior Housing Community in the middle of a neighborhood, as the Golf Owners are suggesting they build in Deer Ridge. I have never seen a Senior Housing Community in any neighborhood, as they are also suggesting they build in Shadow Lakes. We would have never purchased our home in Shadow Lakes if there was a Senior Housing Community there, and I am sure many people feel this way. Therefore, our neighborhoods would be less desirable and the value of our houses would decrease if the board supports this plan to rezone land in our neighborhoods to build Senior Housing Communities.
I urge you to look at all the Cons for this plan. The reason that the Golf Owners are suggesting this rezone is to help themselves get out of debt. They are not looking for what is best for our community. In the letter they sent out, they state that “the consolidated golf course and new senior homes will allow us (the golf owners) to:
*Pay for the consolidated golf course and new community amenities
*Pay off our (the Golf Owners) accumulated debt so we can continue operating
*Pay and keep current our (the golf owners) delinquent real estate taxes
*Leave 18 fewer expensive greens, fairways and tees (for the golf owners) to maintain.
*Assess a monthly fee on each new senior unit to guarantee maintenance
*Provide lot line adjustments for residences where possible
*Reduce water consumption”
Most of the reasons that the Golf Owners list for rezoning land and consolidating the courses are to help them. They do not specify what the “new community amenities” will be. They do not provide how many “lot line adjustments for residences” will be made and how this will happen. The Golf Owners also list that they will “reduce water consumption;” however, in all of the pictures that are provided in the pricey brochure that the Golf Owners sent out showing what the closed holes could be (i.e. open space, walking trails, vineyards, community gardens, and bike paths), each picture displays lots of “green,” which would use water. Therefore, water consumption may not actually be reduced. And what happens if all of the units are not filled in the Senior Homes built? Will the Golf Owners have enough positive return to allow for construction and guarantee maintenance of the amenities?
On that note, once the property in our neighborhoods is rezoned, the Golf Owners have NO obligation to the residents of Shadow Lakes and Deer Ridge to actually create any amenities on the closed holes. They have not proposed any type of binding obligation that would ensure these “amenities” are constructed. Heck, after the land is rezoned, the Golf Owners could walk away from the Golf Course, and there is nothing that can be done about that. Just because the Golf Owners get clearance to carry out a plan, does not mean that they will actually carry out the plan, which has been shown in the past.
In 2010, the Planning Commission granted a Design Review Approval for the current Golf Owners to construct a new cart bridge across Balfour Road. The Golf Owners never obtained a building permit, and asked for many extensions (which were granted) before the permit expired in December of 2015. Therefore, just because the Golf Owners are asking permission to consolidate the golf courses, create community amenities, and build a cart bridge across Balfour today, it does not mean that they will ever get the building permits and actually do any of the things that they propose. However, if land in our neighborhoods is rezoned, I am positive that these Golf Owners will sell the land to a developer and reap all of the benefits of the price they will receive for this sale. And we, the residents of Shadow Lakes and Deer Ridge, will be left with two monstrosities in our neighborhoods.
The Golf Owners state that they “chose senior homes because there is a need, as well as a strong buyer interest.” Even if there was a need for “senior homes,” I have never seen any built in a neighborhood! Usually “Senior Homes” are built in an area already zoned for that type of building. The only reason that the Golf Owners are looking to rezone the land in Shadow Lakes and Deer Ridge and build these Senior Homes is to benefit them.
Once these Senior Homes are built, it will cause a significant increase in traffic in what was originally zoned to be a single family, residential community with a golf course. The addition of these facilities will also impact the appearance of the neighborhood regardless of where they are placed. The potential for Assisted Living or Skilled Nursing facilities will further tax an already under funded Contra Costa Fire department in East County. The ambulance service for the county is also now provided by the Contra Costa Fire department, and it does not have the ability to adequately support East County. Finally, these facilities will have a significantly detrimental impact on property values for both Shadow Lakes and Deer Ridge. The values of property (and tax revenue) are based on single family housing in a golf course (open space) community and not one with mixed land use.
The Golf Owners are threatening that the property will be liquidated if they do not get support to rezone the property. It appears that their previous business plan did not work because they purchased the facility at what they considered at the time a value; however, they failed to consider the changing demographics and attitudes towards golf. Nothing in their presentations describe a business plan for rezoning this property for senior living, combining the golf courses, building a multi-million dollar bridge across Balfour, providing a significant increase in amenities, and on-going maintenance of quoted amenities. They are not even watering and maintaining both golf courses today (which they admit in the letter sent out)!
In my opinion, it is best if the land is maintained with its current zoning and allow the business owners to sell the property to someone with a viable business plan. They will sell for a loss which will allow the new owners to implement a business plan that is viable for the long term. In my opinion, if the property is rezoned, the Golf Owners will obtain proceeds from either 1) selling the rezoned property (at a higher value to an investor) & still close the golf course, or 2) develop the senior living facility for a profit but still not follow through on the proposed amenities, or 3) some combination that results in lower property values, more congestion, more impact on county services, and an impact to all of the residents in both developments.
Once the property is rezoned the Golf Owners have NO obligation to the residents of Deer Ridge and Shadow Lakes or the city of Brentwood. However, once the property is rezoned, there is no turning back. I urge you to consider what is best for our community, and do not allow the rezoning of land in either Shadow Lakes or Deer Ridge. Thank you for your time.