By Ken Hambrick
It looks like the project to build a huge apartment complex on the Walnut Creek BART parking lot is a go. The city Planning Department anticipates groundbreaking this year.
This city has already become the queen of stack-and-pack housing. If you want to see what beehive living is, just go take a look at the Brio built at the corner of Civic and Ygnacio — 300 apartments in one huge ugly building.
In a contest for the most stupid idea we would have two front-runners, high-speed rail and the proposed 596 apartments on the BART parking lot. While HSR would probably win, the Walnut Creek BART project would be a close second.
Why would anyone want to add 4,055 vehicle trips a day to the already heavily congested California and Ygnacio Valley intersection? Transportation planning says no problem. And I will sell you the Benicia Bridge for a buck.
Only 1.3 parking spaces are provided for each one-, two- and three-bedroom apartment. Do planners really think renters will all ride public transportation, bicycle or walk? I’ve got news for you, they drive cars.
Projects like this don’t cut down on auto trips. People rent apartments because they need housing, not because they are at BART. Fewer than 10 percent of the residents at the Pleasant Hill BART development ride public transportation. Guess what the rest do — they too drive cars.
Another thing missing from most all the apartment/condo developments, built and proposed, is the lack of amenities for children. I guess the kids just have to play by running up and down the hallways.
City documents portray this as a toxic waste site (toxic waste site are my words not the city’s). “Adjacent to Interstate 680, renters could be exposed to higher levels of diesel exhaust. To reduce the risk of cancer, some units should be outfitted with special air filters, and tenants must be told of the potential health risks.”
In addition, the project requires a general plan amendment for zoning changes and an increase in the building height limit. So why have these at all if we can change them at will? But the City Council always gives developers what they want.
This project has gone so far it is really pointless to point out all the deficiencies now. Hopefully, though, the citizens will rise up and confront the council on its ill-contrived direction.
A while back I checked the planned/approved projects on the city website. There were apartment projects totaling 1,310 units either under construction or already approved (one single family project).
Maybe it is too late to save the city from being one big apartment complex. If developers have their way, and they will, the city will become completely “apartmentized.”
Bye, bye to the once great family town. It will only get less family friendly and not a wonderful place to raise your kids — or to live.
This article was first published in the East Bay Times (May 17, 2017)