Concord begins final hearings on weapons station plan
By Paul Thissen
Contra Costa Times

February 5, 2010

CONCORD Tuesday night marks the first of the final two public hearings on the plan to redevelop the Concord Naval Weapons Station with parks, schools, thousands of homes and millions of square feet of commercial space.

At Tuesday's meeting, and another Feb. 23, the council must consider the final environmental review of the plan.

After that vote, a few procedural steps will remain to codify the proposal into the city's general plan.

The environmental review considers the "clustered villages" plan, picked by the City Council in January 2009 as its preferred option. That option includes dense development near the North Concord BART station and three smaller "villages" along the southwest border of the property in the area known as "bunker city."

It would add as many as 12,272 housing units, 28,800 residents and bring as many as 26,530 jobs to the inland portion of the 5,028-acre former U.S. Navy munitions depot in the northeast part Concord, extending to Highway 4 and the border with Pittsburg.

"This plan protects Diablo Creek, provides a buffer to our existing neighborhoods, creates a regional park and creates a site for a potential CSU East Bay," said Mayor Guy Bjerke in his State of the City address in January.

Interest groups, though, are not thrilled with the final environmental review. The Community Coalition for a Sustainable Concord has asked the city to rework portions covering traffic, wildlife, air pollution and housing concerns.

The Concord Naval Weapons Station Neighborhood Alliance has gone further, saying it will likely file a ballot measure or lawsuit if the city does not switch the plan to the "concentration and conservation" alternative, a different proposal that sets all development in the area near the North Concord BART station.

These may be the final hearings on the plan before the City Council, but no bulldozers will be rolling onto the shuttered base any time soon. The Navy has yet to begin its version of an environmental review, Bjerke said.

"It's entirely likely that they will take two or three more years to create their final review of the process before they hand it back to us and allow us to work with them to dispose of the property," Bjerke said.

Contact Paul Thissen at 925-943-8163.

Edi Birsan

The two main plans are separated by about 6000 total population. The Conservation plan having about 22,000 people and 10,000 dwelling units/homes. However the conservation plan as a significantly smaller foot print on the area and a larger collection of overall parks and open space.

The projections of job creations is based on a data stream that predates and excludes the current last 3 years with its substantial down turn. If simply having empty houses and building generated jobs we should be in the midst of great boom at the moment. Generation of jobs is a far more complicated system than just building buildings and they will come.

The opposition to the Village program is not just interest groups. In fact there was a wide spread grassroots and citizen support for the Conservation plan with its close in park. In fact it might be more appropriate to speak of Special Interest and the Development Lobby as being in favor of the three village plan.

Both plans attempt to protect Diablo Creek and provide a park within the City. The Village plan places the villages between the City and surrounded as they are by a green moat of about the size of a foot field 300-400 ' the villages become the prime neighborhood for the major East Bay Park. The Conservation plan however, provides the most protection for the Diablo Creek if that is a concern and provides the most benefit to the existing neighborhoods.

There is much more to the story than can be covered in the space that is allocated here for the reporter and it is a rather interesting story at that. I am sure that there will be some more sparks to fly as the current city council digs in to avoid changing their position on the Village plan regardless of what is said at the next two meetings.

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