Land Use Advocacy Works!
Save Mount Diablo has protected tens of thousands of acres of land from development by advocating for their preservation. We work with developers, regulators, and lawmakers to develop pragmatic solutions that allow growth and development in a way that permanently protects as much open space as possible. We are widely recognized as being excellent representatives for our wild lands.
What’s the Threat?
The biggest threat to preserving these natural lands is development.
About one third of the land on and around Mount Diablo is at risk. Of the more than 400,000 acres of natural landscape in the Bay Area at risk of development, the largest proportion is in Contra Costa County.
Below are some examples of threats to the mountain and how Save Mount Diablo works to counter these threats.
Sometimes as an initial step in trying to develop open space, landowners will try to subdivide (divide one large piece into several smaller pieces) a large parcel of land. Large parcels are harder to build on. Think of the typical house. Most houses are on lots of less than one acre, not one house per 10 acres. More, smaller pieces of land mean more potential development sites. Save Mount Diablo monitors these proposals and makes sure the rules are followed to disclose and mitigate potential environmental impacts.
Challenges to Urban Limit Lines
In 2010, developers in Brentwood sought to overturn a voter-approved urban limit line in an effort to build 1,300 houses and develop commercial areas on 740 acres of protected agricultural land and open space. Save Mount Diablo teamed up with Brentwood residents and other environmental groups to defeat the developer-sponsored Measure F in June 2010.
Developers tried to annex beautiful Doolan Canyon, the last remaining open space between Dublin and Livermore, into Dublin so that they could build more than 1,000 houses. This annexation would have threatened an existing regional preserve, added lots of traffic to an already terribly congested area, and encouraged more housing in what was already one of the fastest-growing cities in the state.
We led a coalition of residents and environmental groups in a ballot initiative that created a new urban limit line on Dublin’s east side, which limits development and protects Doolan Canyon, and then defended the new urban limit line against a developer’s competing ballot measure in November 2014. Residents and the environment won.
Pollution and Climate Change
Though development creates immediate and obvious threats to Mount Diablo, its foothills, and habitats, side effects from progress such as pollution and climate change pose serious and lasting dangers as well.
Land Use Planning
We monitor more than 50 planning commissions agendas each week and respond to 50–60 development applications every year.
Save Mount Diablo is active in the land use planning arena, monitoring development proposals that affect open space around Mount Diablo and in the northern Diablo Range and working with neighborhood groups and other organizations. We respond to everything from cell tower applications to large subdivision projects. We take a pragmatic approach; some projects we strive to stop, some we strive to improve, always seeking public benefit and open space preservation.
Balancing Economic Growth, Affordable Housing, and Open Space Preservation
Save Mount Diablo has been a key player in striking the balance between economic growth, affordable housing, and open space preservation.
The Concord Naval Weapons Station reuse plan, for example, which Save Mount Diablo has worked on as part of a community coalition, allocates 74 percent of the 5,000-acre area to be preserved as parks and open space. To date, more than 2,700 acres has been protected as Concord’s first regional park, Thurgood Marshall Regional Park – Home of the Port Chicago 50.
Some of our major current land use planning projects include defending open space around Pittsburg from the James Donlon Boulevard extension and Faria/Southwest Hills Annexation projects, protecting Antioch’s Sand Creek Focus Area, continuing our commitments to keep the rural Tassajara Valley beautiful, and making sure the Concord Naval Weapons Station development process is sustainable.