|Clark Road Project
July 7, 2003
The draft EIR for the Clark Road Project is complete and available for public comment. Over the last several months, I have received hundreds of letters, phone calls and emails about this project. I have tried to thank those who have contacted me, but at the same time, I have asked them to understand that the City Council has no action pending on this project. The initial skirmishes will take place at the Environmental Assessment Panel, the Design Review Board and the Planning Commission. The City Council will weigh in only if an appeal is filed.
Following is some information about how to obtain reports over the Internet. This is a significant improvement I can attribute to City staff in general and Planning Director Barry Cromartie, in particular. That's the good news. The bad news is that the EIR was prepared by LSA, the same firm that, in my opinion, prostituted themselves by greenwashing Seacliff Estates. Also, the new Richmond Planning Department has, in my opinion, its marching orders to bend over for developers.
Some believe Mr. Cromartie was hired with explicit instructions to make life easier for developers. Over the past year, he has made it abundantly clear where his priorities and loyalties lie:
· The Minutes of the Economic Development Commission meeting of August 22, 2002, record Mr. Cromartie stating: " He [Barry Cromartie] also stated that they [the Planning Department] are going to be working very creatively to develop a sign program that would allow the developers to get what they want and facilitate development, which is the key.
More recently, Mr. Cromartie again emphasized his predilections with several emailed exhortations:
· "We must project a consistent pro-business image and create an environment that reflects a pro-business attitude in all our processes, procedures, and policies...."
· "Good ethics is good economics ....."
· Deal Breaking Potential of Such Requests- The request for funds [to mitigate adverse project impacts] may bust the "bottom line" for some developers who may simply choose to not to pay. Instead, potential developers may simply leave Richmond, and invest elsewhere.
The Richmond Planning Department has always struggled with which master to serve. Theoretically, the Planning Department works for the people of Richmond, and its priority should be enforcing the General Plan, the Zoning Ordinance, the Design Guidelines and CEQA, in an effort to get the best possible projects for the citizens of Richmond. Recent research confirms that the built environment has a powerful influence on the well-being of those who inhabit it. Good urban design translates into a good quality of life.
On the other hand, a city lives on property taxes and sales taxes. To the extent that any new construction brings new income to the City, the Planning Department has a newly emphasized tendency to see itself primarily as a fund-raising arm of the city treasury, competing with other cities for every developer dollar. There is, as can be seen by the foregoing quotes of the director, a fear that raising the bar would send would be developers to the competition.
Notice of Availability of Draft EIR and Notice of Public Hearing - A Draft Environmental Impact Report (“EIR”) on Clark Road Residential Project (EID 98-3)has been prepared for the Richmond Planning Department. The public comment period starts June 12, 2003 and comments may be submitted until July 31,2003. The draft EIR is available for review in the Applications section of this site, or follow the link below:
The Environmental Assessment Panel will hold a public hearing to receive comments on the Draft EIR on July 23, 2003 at 7:00 p.m., at Sheldon Elementary School 2601 May Road, El Sobrante. See the notice for more information.
Notice of Availability:
Richmond Planning Dept: