Largest crowd yet speaks out against Danville zoning changes

By Jason Sweeney


A large group of people attended the Danville Town Council to voicetheir concerns about the Danville 2030 General Plan during a council meeting in Danville, Calif., on Tuesday, March 5, 2013. (Doug Duran/Staff)


DANVILLE -- The Town Council took a conciliatory tone Tuesday night in front of a crowd of about 300 people, most staunchly opposed to proposed zoning changes in the Danville 2030 general plan.

Public testimony continued until late into the night before an overflow crowd that lined the walls and flowed into the lobby of the Danville Community Center.

Large, vociferous crowds had shown up at five previous Planning Commission hearings on the subject since November, but the crowd Tuesday was one of the biggest ever to attend a Danville council meeting.

Residents have been opposed to state mandates for more affordable housing that they fear will change their town's character.

Early in the meeting, Councilwomen Renee Morgan and Karen Stepper indicated they would not support including a "priority development area" in the general plan, to cheers from the crowd. Designating such an area, which many speakers criticized at Planning Commission hearings, would have focused new development downtown closer to transportation corridors and would have enabled the town to compete for federal, state and local funds for road maintenance and improvements.

The council directed town staff to remove the priority development area from the plan before the next meeting on March 19, when the council will again consider the general plan document that will guide the town's development for the next two decades.

About three dozen speakers spoke in opposition to the plan's increases in zoning for high-density affordable housing and against allowing clustered residential development on agriculturally zoned land.

"The people of Danville just don't want this, period," Danville resident Lowell Crow said to loud applause.

A handful of speakers, including county Supervisor Candace Andersen, supported the plan and were in favor of more high-density, affordable housing in town. Andersen said the town had a legal and ethical obligation to provide affordable housing. She said the "riffraff" residents fear would move in are young working people like her son.

A frequent target of speakers was the Association of Bay Area Governments and its "regional housing needs allocation," which requires the town to zone at least 9.6 acres for high-density, affordable housing. Several speakers urged the town to leave ABAG.

San Ramon resident Sophia Cha said she moved to the United States from communist China to pursue the American dream.

"Like other Danvillians, as we came we brought with us our education, our work ethic, our respect for law and order, our desire and ability to raise our children at a higher standard," she said. "That's the description of Danvillians. That's why Danville is the way it is. And there's nothing wrong for us to want to keep it this way."

Cha prompted cheers from the crowd when she called ABAG a shadow government that is following a socialist and Marxist agenda of wealth redistribution.

Former San Ramon Mayor Abram Wilson spoke out harshly against state mandates for affordable housing and about the loss of local control to Sacramento.

"Everyone is welcome in this valley, but we have a quality of life, and that's so important," he said.

Later in the meeting, Mayor Newell Arnerich told the audience that continuing town membership in ABAG was a separate issue and not the subject of the meeting.

The town's sustainability action plan, a companion document to the general plan, was also criticized. The action plan outlines policies related to environmental preservation and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Contact Jason Sweeney at 925-847-2123. Follow him at



Orinda Watch

Fighting for local control of planning and governance.

March 13th Townhall in Lafayette Veterans Memorial Building from 6pm to 7:45pm

Environmentalist/Former Housing Developer/Author and Former Mayor and Current Corte Madera City Council Member speak against High-Density Housing in Lamorinda

Date: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 from 6pm to 7:45pm
Location: Lafayette Veterans Memorial Building, located at 3780 Mt Diablo Blvd Lafayette, CA 94549

Bob Silvestri, author, architect, environmentalist, former housing developer, & community activist. Bob's book is 'Best Laid Plans: Our Planning and Affordable Housing Challenges in Marin.'


Bob Ravasio, current city council member and former mayor of city of Corte Madera, the first city to withdraw from the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG).

Coming to Orinda/Lafayette/Moraga?
Massive high-density, subsidized housing and why the One Play Bay Area from Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) is a terrible idea for all cities and how to solve environmental issues through other means.

A discussion on why the city of Corte Madera voted 5-0 to get out of this plan and the membership in ABAG and why all cities should seriously consider this option.

Please join us for a very informative town hall meeting which will explain why this plan will:
• Negatively affect our schools
• Negatively affect property values
• Ruin our small town character
• Negatively impact the environment
• Cause traffic and parking congestion

For more information, please contact: or

March 02, 2013 /Orinda Watch /Comment
town hall, bob silvestri, bob ravasio, abag, mtc, corte madera, plan bay area, one plan bay area
What is Plan Bay Area?

Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) are developing an integrated land use and transportation plan called “Plan Bay Area.” This plan will serve as Master Plan document for zoning and transportation for all 9 counties and 101 cities and towns in the Bay Area for the next 30 years, and it will change your way of life forever.

This plan will require almost all new housing built in the Bay Area to be “suburban projects”--multi-use, multi-story developments, each one of which must contain a high percentage of very low and low-income subsidized units, and the Plan has a number of other similarly troubling provisions.

Additional Resources:
Plan Bay Area's Jobs-Housing Connection
California Sustainable Communities Strategy (SB 375)
California's Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32)
Orinda's Priority Development Area Map
ABAG's Regional Housing Needs Allocations (RHNA) for 2014-2022

“First they ignore you. They laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.”— Mahatma Gandhi

Why is Plan Bay Area Not Right For Your City?

-The Plan does not provide any additional funding for schools, fire protection, and public safety. These are serious considerations in every urban planning model.

-unrealistic forecasts for new jobs & household formation approaching *2x* the growth rate vs prior decade.

-MTC & ABAG have rejected calls to independently review modeled forecasts for population growth.

-restrictive zoning means large negative effect on business & household formation.

-Purports to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHGs) when research shows these types of land-use changes do not reduce GHGs and, in actuality, this plan actually INCREASES greenhouse gases.

-Gasoline tax funding (originally set aside for maintaining existing roads and bridges) is being shifted away to mass transit subsidies and high density housing.

-massive population density increases (a minimum of 20 units/acre to qualify developers for incentives) around highways/BART stations and downtown areas.

-multi-story/multi-unit buildings, often exceeding existing height limits, primarily very-low- and low-income units HEAVILY subsidized by existing communities.

-increased mass transit subsidies & infrastructure does NOT increase ridership

-Forcefully coercing citizens to take mass transit instead of driving cars using penalities like toll roads, taxes on gasoline/parking, and a vehicle mileage tax using GPS trackers in cars.

-the plan does not provide ANY additional funding for schools, fire protection, and public safety. These are serious considerations in every urban planning model.