Thank You to the Three Councilmembers Who Voted with Their Constituents
We have achieved another HUGE victory! In a three-to-two vote, the Concord City Council dropped Seeno/Discovery Builders as Master Developer of the former Concord Naval Weapons Station.
On January 28, Mayor Laura Hoffmeister and Councilmembers Laura Nakamura and Carlyn Obringer voted to let the Exclusive Negotiating Agreement with Seeno and their partners expire.
We thank these councilmembers for their powerful decision. We’re grateful that they stood with the vast majority of Concord residents who recognized that the Term Sheet put forward by Seeno and their partners was inadequate.
We thank these councilmembers and the Concord residents who saw that Seeno’s record of litigation and controversy made them untrustworthy and unsuitable partners on the huge Concord reuse project.
Please send Mayor Laura Hoffmeister and Councilmembers Laura Nakamura and Carlyn Obringer a thank-you email so that they know we appreciate them and their hard work.
Despite everything, Vice Mayor Edi Birsan and Councilmember Dominic Aliano still wanted to stand with Seeno.
Thousands of Emails and Petition Signatures: Drop Seeno!
A majority of the then-city council decided back in August 2021 to choose Seeno and their partners as Master Developer. After nearly a year and a half of intense public action, this bad decision has been rectified.
We have worked to educate residents throughout this time through our email blasts to residents, volunteer flyer dropping, and a mailer to the city, and residents responded.
The Concord City Council received thousands of emails, petition signatures, calls, and letters notifying them that the decision back in August 2021 was a bad mistake.
More than 1,800 people signed Save Mount Diablo’s petition asking the council to drop Seeno, of which about 70 to 71 percent were Concord residents. More than 3,800 letters were sent digitally to the council, in addition to thousands of other emails.
Concord residents let the council know that Seeno/Discovery Builders and their partners should be dropped as Master Developer.
“The residents of Concord have not agreed to important aspects of this proposal, and that must happen first,” Councilmember Laura Nakamura said. “To me, it’s as simple as that.”
A Brief History of the Concord Reuse Project
In August 2021, the then-City Council voted three to two to enter exclusive negotiations with Seeno and their partners to be Master Developer.
Then-Mayor Tim McGallian, then–Vice Mayor Dominic Aliano, and Councilmember Edi Birsan voted to make Seeno and their partners Master Developer, with Councilmembers Carlyn Obringer and Laura Hoffmeister dissenting.
McGallian lost his re-election bid in November last year to now-Councilmember Laura Nakamura.
The decision before the Concord City Council this past Saturday was whether to
- accept a Term Sheet proposed by Seeno and their partner that outlines the project and other agreements,
- require changes to that Term Sheet, or
- let the Exclusive Negotiating Agreement with Seeno and their partners expire.
Problems with Seeno’s Proposed Term Sheet
The Term Sheet proposed nearly 4,000 more houses than what was previously agreed for the project back in 2012.
It offered less park and green space that what had been promised to residents. And it proposed an unworkable arrangement to meet affordable housing requirements, among other serious shortcomings.
East Bay Times Journalists Urged Concord to Drop Seeno
In January alone, the East Bay Times published four stories about Seeno and their involvement with the development of the Concord Naval Weapons Station.
Here are the major takeaways:
Albert Seeno Jr. has filed several lawsuits against his son Albert Seeno III to fire him as CEO of five family companies. Seeno Jr. claims his son has taken hundreds of millions of dollars from his father, has over $100 million in debt, bullied him into hiring him as CEO, and has been abusive and misogynistic toward employees.
Because of Seeno’s alleged debt, Seeno/Discovery Builders may no longer have the financial resources to meet the obligations of the Concord reuse project.
- When Concord First Partners was competing against other developers to win exclusive bargaining rights, the planned number of housing units for the Concord reuse project was 12,272. After Concord First was chosen, and their competition was eliminated, they claimed they couldn’t afford the original deal and must build 16,474 homes to make the project work. That’s a more than 30 percent increase that dramatically changes the project that the community agreed to.
The new proposal undermines affordable housing. With more than 4,000 new proposed units, the number of affordable housing units has remained the same as the original plan.
What’s Next: The Search for a New Developer
The City of Concord will now search for a new Master Developer.
Save Mount Diablo will continue to work with residents, decision makers, and stakeholders to defend the public benefits that have been guaranteed in this project and ensure that it benefits the region.
Those benefits include 19 percent—almost 900 acres—dedicated as city parks and greenways, including a 4.5-mile stretch of Mount Diablo Creek.
Thanks again to Mayor Laura Hoffmeister, Councilmember Laura Nakamura, and Councilmember Carlyn Obringer for their time, effort, and good decision. Please email them to let them know you appreciate them.
Top photo by Scott Hein