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Lafayette Council Gets Its First Look At Slimmed Down Terraces Project

The council votes to move forward with the planning process for the development, which now calls for 45 homes instead of 315 apartments

Lafayette City Manager Steven Falk explains the new Terraces proposal to the City Council and a packed house on Monday night
Lafayette City Manager Steven Falk explains the new Terraces proposal to the City Council and a packed house on Monday night

The Lafayette City Council agreed Monday night to move forward with the planning process for a vastly different Terraces housing project.

City Manager Steven Falk unveiled a new proposal worked out by the developer and city officials for the 22-acre property at Pleasant Hill Road and Deer Hill Road.

The new plans calls for a maximum of 45 single-family homes clustered near the center of the property as opposed to the 315 apartments originally proposed by the O’Brien Land Company.

That proposal was rejected last month by the city’s Design Review Commission, which said the project had too many units and too many problems.

The council voted 4-0 Monday night to have the City Attorney draft an agreement that would halt the planning process on the 315-unit proposal. Councilwoman Traci Reilly recused herself because she had signed a petition involving the development before she was elected to the council.

The council will now hold hearings on the new proposal on Jan. 13 and Jan. 22. After the second hearing, they will decide whether to start a new 9-month planning process on the 45-home proposal.

Falk said the city and O’Brien Land representatives had talked a dozen times since mid-November to craft the new proposal.

He said a new plan was needed because of the widespread opposition to the original proposal and an environmental report that identified 13 negative impacts. On the other side, the developer had threatened to sue if the original plan wasn’t approved.

Falk said the new plan allows up to 45 homes on 8.7 acres of the parcel. The homes would be on 4,500-square-foot lots and be about 2,000 to 2,500 square feet each.

The remaining land would contain open space, an all-weather soccer/lacrosse field, a dog park, a tot lot and a 75-space public parking lot that could help with overflow parking needs at Acalanes High School events.

There would also be a bicycle path that encircled the project, making it easier for cyclists to get to the BART station.

The entrance to the development would be on the western edge on Deer Hill Road to encourage drivers to use the central Lafayette freeway ramps instead of the ones on Pleasant Hill Road.

Under the agreement, the developer would own the 8.7 acres with the houses. They’d be responsible for grading the entire property as well as undergrounding utilities and landscaping.

The city would purchase the remaining 13.3 acres for $1.8 million. The developer would use that money to build the parks, fields and parking lot. The city would retain ownership of those facilities.

More than 100 people attended the hearing. Many were stunned into silence.

Those who did speak were both pleased and skeptical.

“I’m completely amazed,” said Carol Singer, a member of the city’s Park, Trails and Recreation Commission.

She said she was “flabbergasted” at the dog park and sports fields being included.

“This is just the perfect spot for these activities,” she said.

Kendra Loveless thanked the developer and the city for crafting the new proposal.

“This is so much better,” she said. “I don’t know how you did this.”

Others were more dubious.

One resident said he wanted to be sure they city hadn’t been bullied into the agreement by the threat of a lawsuit

Eliot Hudson, representing the Secluded Valley Homeowners Association, said residents need more time to study the new proposal. He also reprimanded city officials for allowing the situation to happen in the first place.

“We should have never gotten into this position,” he said.

Another resident, Hunter Davis, said he felt the developer had this planned all along. He said they presented a frightening 315-unit proposal so they could unveil the 45-home plan.

“I feel this was the developer’s strategy from the beginning,” said Davis. “They now expect us to welcome them with open arms because we get a dog park.”

The council members said they felt it was appropriate to at least move forward so they could study the new proposal furthur.

“I think we should go forward to at least explore this alternative,” said Councilman Mike Anderson. “I don’t see the down side.”

Mayor Don Tatzin said moving ahead is the responsible thing to do. However, he said the council will need to look at the merits of the housing development and not focus on the amenities such as the sports field

“Our decision should be about whether this is a good housing project,” he said.


Scott December 10, 2013 at 01:20 PM
I am far from a NIMBY but was against the Terraces Apartments because of the traffic issues but would be up for this reduced plan. We need an official dog park and a lighted soccer field would be awesome.
c5 December 10, 2013 at 11:41 PM
I don't really care how this all came about...it seems like a good use for the property, and one that will generate sufficient property taxes to pay for the added services the residents will use. I'll be darned.
lovelafayette December 13, 2013 at 06:59 PM
Last time I checked development of privately owned property is legal in Lafayette! I applaud Steve Falk for making lemonade out of what sure looked like lemons! He listened to what residents DID want, as 700 of us told him we did NOT want a BMX park. The sports fields, bike path, a park to serve "northern" neighborhoods, dog park, purchase of more park land, all were suggested as better uses of Parks $$ in anti-BMX public comments or letters. These same priorities were revealed in a 2009 needs survey, but PTRD rode roughshod over the residents and went for BMX which was NEVER mentioned in any survey! Parks was clearly left in the dark by Steve as a new park was negotiated and park funds were obligated. Hopefully City Manager Falk continues to one-up and circumvent the Parks Department and Commission, and exerts more control over those PTR loose cannons and dead wood who failed to protect our Community Park and eliminated an endangered species there.

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