By Tim Hunt
San Ramon project receives green seal of approvalUploaded: Jun 30, 2020
It’s notable that the San Francisco-based Greenbelt Alliance has found a project in the Tri-Valley that it favors.
It’s been battling against what it views as “sprawl” literally for decades. That included opposing the Daugherty Valley project as sprawl despite putting 30,000 people between business centers that employ more than 100,000 people. It arguably was infill housing. The same goes for the wasted open space in Northern Livermore where agriculture is marginal at best, Look at it from a broader perspective and it’s putting housing closer to jobs instead of over the Altamont Pass where there is prime agriculture soil being transformed into housing.
The surprise is that the alliance formally endorsed the CityWalk Bishop Ranch Mix-Use Master Plan in San Ramon. The proposal now is working its way through the city planning process. It calls for transforming the Bishop Ranch Business Park, where about 30,000 people are employed into a true mixed-use neighborhood. The plan calls for 4,500 high-density units on 111 acres (the park totals 585 acres) with 15% reserved for low or very low-income residents. It also includes a 169-unit hotel and 170,000 square feet of office and retail uses.
It’s a bold plan to create a more urban environment in keeping with the CityWalk project that opened last year. CityWalk’s mix of retail, restaurants and entertainment likely was designed with the thought of lots of residential within walking distance. The housing will cover surface parking lots that surround 2600 Camino Ramon, the one-million square-foot building that was originally built for Pac Bell.
The plan calls for 10 acres of neighborhood parks, plus recreational use on two lakes (you can already use a paddle boat on the existing lake). An amphitheater is proposed lakeside along with 11 acres in a parkway system with bike paths that are off streets.
The draft environmental impact report was released in May and the comment period is scheduled to end Thursday. The Planning Commission held a public hearing by teleconference on the draft report earlier this month.
Should city leaders approve the project, it will be built over 20 to 30 years. It also includes a new community center.
The Greenbelt Alliance’s announcement read, “This plan makes significant progress towards the development of a more dynamic urban form for the City of San Ramon, encouraging pedestrian and bicycle transportation for work, school, and recreation.
The Bay Area needs more developments like this that help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the human impact on the environment. San Ramon currently has a large job center with more than 30,000 employees at Bishop Ranch. With this proposed increase in multi-family housing units, more people will be able to live close to where they work, reducing vehicle miles traveled which will result in a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.”
Bishop Ranch, for years, has offered robust transportation alternatives to lessen single-passenger vehicles. That includes bus service from the BART stations in Walnut Creek and Dublin. It also offers an autonomous vehicle shuttle in the park as well as bicycles and a free shuttle every 15 minutes on workdays that travels around the park.