By Roz Rogoff
Answering questions from my last blog on the cemeteryUploaded: Sep 8, 2014
My last blog on Vice Mayor Phil O'Loane's objections to the cemetery in Tassajara Valley brought out some comments that I want to reply to. My answers are long enough for a new blog, so I figured I'd make this a follow up to my last blog to explain why I believe Phil is playing politics with the cemetery.
One Danville resident three miles away in Alamo Creek said it would lower her property values. Property values go up and down depending on the market. Real estate is cyclical. If property values are down, just wait a few years and they will go back up. For example there's a house in south San Ramon near the 405 Freeway listed for double the price it sold for in 2012.
The Alamo Creek lady questioned my claim that "Many residents in this area want a cemetery nearby." "Well, Roz, I didn't see the 'many' residents at the San Ramon City Council Informational Session in June get up and speak about how they would like a cemetery in the Tassajara Valley. BUT I DID SEE more than 'many' residents speak against the so-called cemetery development."
That's because that so-called Informational Workshop was staged. The attendees were all prepared to speak out against the cemetery and said pretty much the same things. No one who was for the cemetery was invited.
The Chinese residents of Dougherty Valley are culturally opposed to living near a cemetery. If they are so opposed, they should move, but I still don't get why some non-Asian residents of Danville are opposed to a cemetery located miles away from their residential neighborhoods. As I pointed out above there are worse things to live near, but so many people want to live in San Ramon even those homes still sell for outlandish amounts.
The Alamo Creek resident should know that the Tassajara Parks development is planning 152 homes next door to Alamo Creek. You might want to focus your discontent closer to home.
A poster named "Citizen" brought up the defeat of Measure W. "Most of the voters were longtime residents living on the west Side of San Ramon who were already fed up with the decade long development in the Dougherty Valley and did not want any more in the city or adjacent to the city."
The No on W campaign used scare tactics about an obsolete plan for 4000 houses to get it defeated. I've been criticized for bringing back that possibility in my last blog, and yet that's exactly what the No on Measure W campaign ran on. It wasn't San Ramon's City Government that considered the original 4000 homes in Tassajara Valley. It was Contra Costa County.
Dougherty Valley was developed by Contra Costa County, which permitted 3000 more homes than San Ramon would have allowed. That's why Measure W included moving our Urban Growth Boundary into Tassajara Valley, to keep the County from having total control over whatever happens out there. If you didn't like the way Dougherty Valley was developed, that was a major reason to vote FOR Measure W.
A person posting as "Hiker" asked, "What IS the job of a politician? To cram something damaging and unneeded down the throats of residents in order to appease developers?" No, the job of a politician is to get elected.
The job of an elected official is to follow State Laws and protocols. A City Councilman is elected to keep the City running smoothly, prepare a budget that is realistic while protecting citizens from potential or unexpected hazards, and to keep spending from going over the budget.
You may have noticed that cities like Stockton, where expenses exceed revenues, go bankrupt. That means some development is necessary because development is a big source of revenue for cities and counties. The quality of life of the city you live in is often based on the quality of the developments in that city.
Also, and this is the important part, property owners have rights. A city or county cannot prevent a property owner from doing something on his or her property if it is within his or her rights.
A cemetery is a permitted use for Sid Corrie's property in Tassajara Valley. The County Supervisors cannot prevent it on the basis of zoning or being outside their Urban Limit Line because it is not considered an urban development.
Bill and Harriet Newman who live next door to Corrie's property claim the mortuary building is too big and the plans to cut a ridgeline to add an upper level make this development too urban for that area. I visited the Newmans four years ago and I agree with those two complaints.
That does not mean a cemetery can be prevented. It means those aspects can be "mitigated" by making the mortuary building smaller and not allowing the ridgeline to be flattened for the upper level. I favor both of those mitigations.
I see no point in opposing this cemetery other than for political gain. It is a permitted use and there's no reason why a handful of even 450 out of 72,000 residents of San Ramon, should be so vocally opposed to something that in my opinion is a benign use of the property.
Elected officials walk a thin line between what the public wants or doesn't want and the legal rights of property owners. Since this property is under Contra Costa County jurisdiction, San Ramon's Vice Mayor Phil O'Loane has no authority to make any changes unless he runs for County Supervisor.
And, yes, I am speculating that Phil is planning to run for County Supervisor. If he is not, maybe I'm giving him the idea.