Shadow Lakes HOA Meeting, July 20, 2017
Casey McCann was the speaker at Shadow Lakes’ HOA Board meeting to present a summary and answer questions regarding the DRSL Development Project. He is the Brentwood Community Development Director.
He wrote the following in an email: “Please note that I am only qualified to speak about the applications and the process. For example, I’m not qualified to speak on what I know or don’t know about the golf course owners or their business/financial affairs. I’ll do my best to forthrightly answer all of the residents’ questions, and if I don’t know an answer, I’ll try to get the answer and respond back later.”
All info that he covered can be found at….. http://www.brentwoodca.gov/gov/cd/planning/drsl_devprj.asp
To be added to the contact list for this project, email…Planning@brentwoodca.gov
Questions from attendees (Transcribed as best as possible):
19:55 Q-Is there any way to ensure the owner of the golf course continues to operate the course if a rezone is approved?
A-“The way that would occur is if the zoning were to state that the only allowed use is a golf course, then that would be the case. Right now the existing zoning is for golf course and open space. So it will be up to the zoning. Now even if you did have the zoning in place that said only a golf course is allowed…in that portion. I really don’t know how the city can make somebody operate a golf course if they want to close it.”
20:43 Q-And is there anything preventing the owners from getting a rezone, then selling and then closing the course anyway?
A-“No…there is really not much we (the city) can do.”
20:56 Q-Does the EIR include endangered animals that could be residing on the golf course?
A-“Absolutely” (Please give this input to the EIR scoping meeting in August.) 20:56
21:02 Why would you allow commercial entry on a Lakeview, a residential street?
A-“As I mentioned, that senior facility will have access on Lake View. That is something that needs to be carefully looked at in the traffic and circulation part of the EIR to see what impacts that additional traffic we create on that street and affecting those residents.”
21:25 Q-Does the zoning requesting includes only senior housing?
A-“Yes, they are specifically requesting senior assisted housing. “
21:41 Q-What if they got the zoning and then they wanted to put in apartments, market apartments for example, or some other type of residential use?
A-“It will be up to zoning. That’s the benefit of zoning. The more precise you can get, then you clarify what the uses (are). That is how you make sure that that use stays in place. And if that is what the zoning says, someone later on whether it is the same owner or they sell it to someone else and they want to change the use, (they) have to go back to the city council public hearing process and get a zoning amendment.”
22:18 Q-If it goes out of business, will new rezoning need to be gotten?
A-“Yes. It would. Public hearing with city council.”
22:29 Q-About proposed amenities in application. Golf course owner promising walking trails etc for closed holes?
A-“I don’t know what those amenities are. As I mentioned before, the big question is what’s going to happen with those holes that are closed…trails and whatnot? I think that is something that needs to come out in the community engagement process…that would eventually be clarify by the time public hearings are held in the spring.”
22:57 Q-Why aren’t those a part of the plans that they submitted? “Because they didn’t include that (amenities). I can’t answer for them. Maybe they are hoping that over the several months that it is going to take to process the application…that will hopefully maybe come out during the community engagement process.”
23:19 Can you explain public access rights to the golf courses’ open space?
A-“Right now there is not public access because it is private property. Presumption is that it continues to be private property. Then the public will presumably not be able to access it. If zoning were to designate it for public open space or some agreement was recorded to allow general public to access it, then that would be part of the process. Right now we are presuming the open space will continue to be private open space…under the existing application.”
24:25 Q-What will stop golf course owner from walking away once they receive a payment for the parcels?
A-“Nothing. Frankly it does happen. If it were to happen, it won’t be the first time it happens. In the city of Brentwood those things do happen. This is a land use decision that the city council also makes (when) they are going to approve. But if they weren’t going to approve this, they will be changing the land use it designates. But as far as if this owner or future owner if they decide to go out of business, for whatever reasons, that is really out of city’s control.”
25:09 Q-What are the considerations the city council/planning commission might take when they review this? What are the basis for trying to determine (their decision)?
A-“These applications the (planning) commission and the council will be reviewing are legally called discretionary decisions. That means they have wide discretions. In other words, the Applicant has no right of expectation of right of approval. Entirely up to city council to decide whether they like it or not. Whether they want to approve it as requested or maybe approve it but with changes or to deny outright. Typically the city council when reviewing the applications…they certainly review the details. It could be regarding the parking, circulation, the amount of open space, the setbacks. So they will certainly get into the details. They will also have to deal with general/simple questions. Like…Is this thing a good thing? Is this good for the community? Does it make sense what they are asking? Is this good for the neighborhood? Is this good for the city of Brentwood in general? They are actually allowed to take that into consideration.”
26:31 Q-“What if they (council) once make their decision? What if their decision is challenged in court? Because you hear about that in the paper, whatever. You see these decisions get challenged.
A-“One of the first thing that land use judges look at…First thing they want to see…Did you follow CEQA? Well we are requiring an extensive new environmental impact report and we fully expect that it will be comprehensive and fully legally defensible. And fully comply with CEQA. That is our intent to make sure the EIR is done properly. But the other thing that they look at is make sure that the city follows its own rules in terms of processing. I had a couple of people call me and say…”Why can’t you guys just make this thing go away?” “Just tell them no!” It doesn’t work that way. You can’t. Property owners, all of you, residents and you have the right to come to city and submit an application to change to whatever you want it to be. They have the right under city law and state law to due process. Once they submit the application, the city, as the host agency, has the responsibility to make sure due process is followed. That is what we are going to make sure happens. Ultimately the City council has the discretion to approve this. They are not under any type of obligation other than to show reasonability or objectivity.”
28:14 Q-Since SL/DR has a 2 story height residential/commercial buildings. Will city approve buildings higher than two stories?
A-“Right now you are under two story maximum. 3 stories…that is an aberration. That is a key question the planning commission and city council need to look at. Does the building height make sense for these proposed location, is it out of character, are the number of units to be created by the extra third floor going to create impacts in terms of parking or circulation? Or are views going to be obstructed? Comments made at Tuesday’s meeting, some neighbors had serious concerns that some three story buildings at both of those locations can really seriously affect people’s views. So that certainly needs to be addressed during the application process. And staff will certainly be looking at that.”
29:13 Q-If we were to be successful, stopping this plan, the proposal, the eventual impact can be even more negative for example result in unkempt land and/or sold to another developer. Etc.
A-“Yes, it possibly could. But even if this or some kind of modification were to be approved, there’s nothing to make/to guarantee that the existing owner or future owner will have to stay in business.”
30:00 Q-Is there any option to guarantees to communities, especially those home owner affected by this loss of those course holes adjacent to or to their property?
A-“No guarantees but a huge question needs to be address about what’s going to happen to those areas particularly where holes are closed.”
30:28 Q-What is the probability the city will take over the golf courses?
A-“In terms of ownership…I can tell right now…Zero. The reason why it is zero because it will be up to city council. They have the authority and the city council to date have not taken any action. But that will be up to the city council.”
30:47 Q-What about maintaining the open space? What if the city were to start taking over maintaining the open space?
A-“Again that would be a City Council decision.”
31:00 Q-What can they not do with the open space…like letting the weeds grow 10’ feet tall?
A-“If this owner or future owner just walked away and (weeds) starts growing up…the City of Brentwood has existing code provision that prohibits weeds. In fact our code enforcement members just spent the last 2 months with the annual weed abatement program…city wide. There are provisions in the books to prevent the growing of weeds. We had some limited experience back during the recession. Our staff was dealing with abandon properties where there were a lot of weeds. Theoretically if you had an owner who went bankrupted or they went away…or whatever. The staff would have to contact the property owner and demand that the weeds be cut. And that is what we did during the recession when we had foreclosed homes. We ended up a lot of times contacting holding companies/banks and they were out of state and tracking them down. Haranguing them sometimes to get the weeds cut. And when the weeds did not get cut, then the city started issuing fines. It started at $100 and then the next one issued at seven days later…$200 and then they go to $500 thereafter. We had some properties during the foreclosure process where we had several thousands of dollars of citations or fines placed on the properties that eventually had to be paid by the bank. That would be a huge dilemma because it is one thing, for our staff, to deal with one residential property, but an entire golf course? That would be a huge challenge for us. That would be something we would have to re-strategize on. It will be a very tough dilemma for us.”
33:23 Q-They claim that they don’t have a lenders. That it is a private investment. That they are ready to walk away. They claim nobody is going to come after them for anything. Whether that is true or not, we don’t know.
A-“He is commenting about the financial backing of the property owners. They claim that they don’t have lenders and whatnot. If they, the applicants, want to voluntarily turn over information, financial in nature, that is entirely their prerogative. But they are not required to because it is a land use decision. City council and staff can ask for (financial) information, but because it is land use or environment, we are kind of constrained. You hear information about their financial standing but people ask…”Can’t the city ask to see their books?”, but that actually is not part of the land use aspect.”
34:26 Q-What can you do if they walk away, go bankrupt and you can’t go after them and there is no body left (because they don’t have a lender)?
A-“What you do is you go after whoever is the core. We go after whoever is left standing.”
34:50 Q-If the weeds are tall and is a fire hazard and they are not cutting it…will the city cut it?
A-“What if the weeds are tall and creating a public threat and actual danger and meanwhile you are haggling trying to track people down? And the weeds are still there. What do you do? The city will have the authority (to) get an injunction and we can go in and cut the weeds and put a lien on the property.”
35:16 Q-Wish you take a look between the stop sign here at west country club, stop light and the stop sign, a couple of blocks up…because the property, I think is the golf course. But there’s weeds growing over into the gutter. It’s horrible. Even the cracks between the asphalt the curb the concrete…there’s weeds that are growing there. Who maintains that?
A-“If there are weeds, that’s the golf course. (What about the street?) “If there’s any part that is the public that is maintained by the city. We maintain it. (You should take a look…it is horrible. Between the light here on West Country Club and the stop sign.) If you give me the exact location I will bring it to the attention of code enforcement. That is to be reported to the city. Another thing I want to point out about the weeds and landscape. The staff has been frustrated for a number of years. We’ve heard your comments. It has been a struggle to get two things done…the weeds resolved and a strategy in place to. One question… what a weed is and what is natural landscaping? Code officer says that is a weed but golf course manager says “No its not. That is part of the fairway.” We need to get that resolved. That is not part of the proposal but that is something the staff are going to work with the applicant so that this goes to a public hearing in the spring. Staff will try to insist that the applicants that we have some type of defined strategy identifies first and foremost the areas adjoining the residences…those are the ones with the most at risk direct at risk. If you have weeds behind your back fence and back wall and there is a wild fire …then that’s the most serious risk. So we need to get that clarified. And then we also need to again discern between what are weed areas and what are fairway areas in the newly configured golf course. And or any open space areas, whether vineyards, passive walking trails, whatever… we need to get that clarified and resolved. Get that nailed down. The other part is that concerns the city is that you probably know when these projects were approved couple of decades ago there were beautiful street landscaping in places…trees and shrubs and flowers. those are most part their gone so that is another gaping hole in the application and staff will insist upon some type of plan to re-landscape the streetscapes and bring them back to what they were supposed to be originally. We don’t have a plan in place but that’s what we will insist on.”
38:12 Q-So is this plan all or nothing with regard to the golf course and senior living? Is it possible that they can approve everything except the senior living? Is the negotiation the process so that they would say….well…we’ll let you have a two story building, but not a three story building?
A-“As mentioned before, it is a discretionary decision by the council. So the council is not obligated to either approve or deny and they can also approve but and modify what the conditions are. . For example, if they didn’t like the third story, you know that is too much too much the massing, the visual whatever. They have the discretion to remove that third story and change the zone to maximum height of 2060 (?) or 28 ft. Or even 2 stories. Yes, they have that discretion. And a lot of that ability to make those decisions almost always doesn’t necessarily come from the staff, it comes from the community, at public meetings, providing your input. (They have the discretion to limit the amount of units?) Yes they have the discretion to limit the density or the amount of units.
39:99 (Discussion among residents about the supposed lesser acreage proposed and the present acreage proposed. Did not transcribe)
42:33 “One thing to clarify is the sub division map, they are requesting, if the city approves that. Once that’s set, then you are locked. Area and lot dimension are set. Leading up to that approval…the question of the lot size and configuration is the big question.”
42:54 Q-If the city does decide it takes on the open space, who would bear the cost of that? Will it have to go back to all the residents to pay an assessment in order to maintain that?
A-“Ultimately it is up to council. If the city council were to, down the road, decide…we are willing to take this on as a public parkway, public open space, and open it up to public, the city will have to figure out a way to fund that, the maintenance of that. And that would be I know…it will be likely in the hundreds of thousands of dollars per year to adequately maintain an open space like that. The city will have to find that revenue source that currently doesn’t exist. And hard to police.”
44:17 Q-The owners plans, they are not relinquishing control?
A-“They are not relinquishing at this point. It stays with them.”
44:33 Q-They said all along that the revenue for that maintenance of all those open spaces would come from the assessment of the senior housing.
A-“There is no guarantee of that…that can’t be built into these applications because they (applications) are land use decisions”.
44:50 A-“Getting back to Karen question I mentioned the city council in terms of taking it out rightly as an exclusively City of Brentwood facility. There could be other options like creating some type of assessment district whereby property owners decide to participate. That is beyond my level of expertise as to how you pull that off. But that is very complicated and time consuming. And then of course we have to get the consent of the two communities that would be affected by this new financing mechanism.”
45:28 Q-If we talk about the applicants walking away, I don’t know what that means? They can walk as far as they want but they are still the owner and therefore there some kind of legally responsible for what happens on their property.
A-”Right…I give you an example of Pleasant hills. I use to be a planner in Pleasant Hill. I was involved in actual planning for a 9 holes course called Grayson Woods on the on the far western side of the city, near the Martinez border. It was in operation for about (?) years or so. It closed and the owner walked away two years ago and so it’s been overgrown for two years. I live actually a few miles away from there and so I drove by one Friday morning. I wasn’t trespassing because there was an EPA (?). I walked it because I used to golf there. And it is completely overgrown with weeds this high… the entire site is overgrown. Frankly it is an appalling safety hazard for all those residents who live bordering that. I can tell you the City of Brentwood would never allow conditions like that to happen in this community…where you just have that grave of a threat. We would…I am not talking about theoretically. Our code enforcement officers and our city attorney’s office, they’d make sure things don’t get that bad. Worst case scenario if they walk away…it turns into a weed patch. I mention before, this is not easy. This would be new territory for us. But I cannot fathom that this city would tolerate something that happening in other community with grows this high. We’d figure out a way to get out there and knock those weeds down.
47:47 Q-We have two lakes on this property and if they are not taking care of that, we have two lakes that are drying up and someone were to run into them and that could be a real nasty situation.
A-She mention the lakes. There was a question earlier. A few weeks ago, someone contact the city. (What is the) deal with the lakes going up and down. Those lakes are actually designed for more than their purposes. Those are holding ponds for the watering…the irrigation. The city does not provide non- potable or lake water. The golf course owners have a contract with ECCID which provides most of the water for agricultural use. They provide affordable non potable water to golf course. And those level change because they filled them up and then they draw them down as they water the course. If they did walk away, what happens to those lakes? That will be a part of our concern. First of all there would be a safety concern…about people getting their kids…drowning and whatnot. And the other vector concerns… with mosquitos and what not. Again during the foreclosure crisis we had a big problem with abandoned swimming pools and so our code officers would bring out the vector district inspectors and we would work to get it resolved. Putting in mosquito fish and just again citing the property owners. To make sure the threat is abated. That is an additional concern…the lakes.”
49:37 Q-Before they approve so many units…who does the feasibility report to find out that we support that many senior units. Otherwise we are going to end up with a building that’s vacant?
A-“That is the general part of the city’s council review process. Does this make sense? Are we overbuilt? Do we even need something like this in the community? Wouldn’t make sense for the city to approve something that they know that is not going to be successful. (Who does the study?) The city is very limited in terms of demanding financial information from application ultimately it is a land use decision. I know that finances come into play. But there are not too many property owners, applicants, that are going to turn over their books and then the city would have to hire a consultant. You really can’t get down into the details to the point where you have absolute certainty. This just isn’t going to work out.”
Disclaimers: We are not treating these as direct quotes to distribute and say “AHA!” via the media or any other platform. These are private notes taken during a Q&A session to give a general idea on the rezone process. The notes were transcribed as best as possible from an audio recording and we are not responsible for the accuracy of what was recorded and transcribed. It is possible Casey misspoke or information has changed since then and he should be given every opportunity to clarify respond to questions/comments you have before you act on it. You are strongly encouraged to contact Casey McCann directly for confirmation/clarification…email@example.com.