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Remembering Our Past and Shaping Our Future
May 16, 2003

Two events this weekend point both directions in time.

         Looking back, Point Richmond is "old town Richmond," where the city began a little over 100 year ago, and the Point Richmond History Association keeps that heritage alive. On Sunday, May 18, 1:00 - 3:00 PM, the Point Richmond History Association http://www.pointrichmondhistory.org/ will have its Annual Meeting and Election of Officers Celebration Point Kids Old Timers Newcomers Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church Light Refreshments For more information call Pat (Bill) Pearson 510-234-2532 - Followed by the installation of the an historical bronze plaque on the Point Richmond Market, the site of the first building in Richmond.

         Looking forward, on Saturday, May 17, there will be a county-wide summit of the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, 19 city councils and affiliated planning commissions to evaluate the draft Shaping Our Future vision, a 20-year plan for where and how the county could grow. Ultimately, every city and the county will be asked to adopt the vision and an accompanying compact. The summit, which goes from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., is open to the public. It will be held at the Holiday Inn, 1050 Burnett Ave., Concord. Questions may be directed to Shaping Our Future, project manager Don Blubaugh, 925-256-3585. or www.shapingourfuture.org <http://www.shapingourfuture.org>.

 

A story on the Shaping Our Future Summit is in today's Contra Costa Times:

 

Posted on Fri, May. 16, 2003

Regional planning summit Saturday


By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
CONTRA COSTA TIMES

 

In the days before Saturday's summit on growth for Contra Costa elected and planning officials, tensions have escalated over the county's urban limit line.

 

Several East County cities have vowed to withhold support for Shaping Our Future, a countywide growth planning initiative, unless it permits an urban limit line expansion.

 

County supervisors have voiced strong support this week for a proposal to strengthen the existing line through a voter initiative.

 

The see-saw will undoubtedly propel the line onto center stage Saturday when supervisors meet with city councils and planning commissions.

 

Shaping Our Future is a 20-year vision that calls for the county and its cities to redirect growth from the urban fringe into existing communities and near public transit. An accompanying compact outlines what each city and the county must do to comply.

 

It recommends fewer single-family homes in favor of a wide spectrum of housing styles, and promotes the construction of transit villages. The vision also includes a transportation improvements package that offers alternatives of express buses, BART extensions and highway improvements.

 

Released in draft form several months ago, Shaping Our Future has attracted other opposition. Taxpayers' groups view it as a direct assault on local control, while neighborhood groups fear higher densities and traffic will destroy their communities.

 

But the fledgling plan's immediate fate clearly hinges on how the county and its cities resolve the urban limit line question.

 

The Shaping Our Future policy panel, composed of elected officials from the county's 19 cities and the supervisors, had hoped the summit would generate agreement, not conflict.

 

The panel wants every city and the county board to adopt the vision, sign an accompanying compact and incorporate its tenets into their general plans. Controversy over the urban limit line has forced the committee to soften and delay its approach.

 

Instead of presenting a compact and pushing for an endorsement, the panel Saturday will offer a set of related principles and ask for comment.

 

The original schedule called for cities and the county to vote on the vision and compact this summer, but that appears unlikely.

 

The panel now recommends up to a six-month process to determine if and where the urban limit line should move. At least six cities, including Antioch, have expressed interest in expanding the line.

 

"We have to be careful not to ask for formal agreements because we still have too many loose ends," said committee member and Danville Councilwoman Millie Greenberg. "It's in everyone's best interest to stay at the table and work this out."

 

The conflict centers around the county's 2000 decision to contract the urban limit line and exclude from development 15,000 additional acres. Landowners with title to property outside the boundary may not apply to build houses and businesses there.

 

Antioch opposed the move, and has conditioned its support for Shaping Our Future on the return of 815 acres southwest of its borders for development. This includes the Roddy Ranch, where the city wants to build upscale executive housing in hopes that it will lure business owners and their firms.

 

The dispute grew ugly at a recent policy committee hearing where a supervisor and the Antioch mayor unloaded on each other. "My city feels we got screwed by the Board of Supervisors," said Mayor Don Freitas. "The vote was biased and discriminatory, and the (existing) line is not our vision."

 

Highway 4 motorists and Contra Costa County do not need more houses in Antioch for at least 20 years, countered Supervisor Mark DeSaulnier.

 

"How can you tell me on one hand that you have all these transportation problems and then turn around and say you need more houses?" he asked Freitas. "I don't see this line moving."

 

Except for 700 acres on the Concord Naval Weapons Station, which sits outside the line, the Shaping Our Future consultant concluded that the boundary provides ample room for two decades of growth.

 

The line must remain intact in order to encourage developers and cities to build downtown and on infill sites, DeSaulnier said.

 

"It takes time ... we're beginning to see things happen, but it won't happen if we move the line and make cheap land on the edge available," he said after the meeting.

 

Lisa Vorderbrueggen covers transportation and growth. Reach her at 925-945-4773 or lvorderb@cctimes.com <mailto:lvorderb@cctimes.com>.

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