Here's the latest and it is not the greatest news, but we intend to persist.
1) NEW PLANS LOOK LIKE THE OLD PLANS.
An environmental analysis has been added, there are "new" plans and other reports on the city's website for this project. >> Click here to see the latest plans and reports.
Most of the concerns brought up at the last hearing are not addressed by these resubmitted plans.
Issues not addressed by the new plans:
THIS LOT IS TOO SMALL FOR ALL THIS: this plan can be summed up as one commissioner put it, "putting 10 gallons of water in an 8-gallon bucket". There is way too much going on in this small lot for it all to work. That issue has not been addressed in the latest submitted plan. Remember, the Sherwin Williams will have 40-foot trucks coming in with deliveries. And Amy’s plans to be open from breakfast through late night. It’s actually ludicrous to think all this will fit easily and safely on such a small plot of land. Do we have to remind them about Sprouts again? Chik-filet and 24-hour fitness? Apparently, we do. Dropping the paint store from the plan would make this work actually. Do we need a third paint store within blocks of two competitors?
They are still trying to say that the Masses and Sherwin Williams Paint Store are a different project from the Amy’s Drive- Thru. Why?
Because if you look at the project as a whole it is significantly under-parked- not to mention the parking spots that will be made inaccessible by the peak drive-thru lines. As some of the commissioners noted, looking at this as two separate projects is not logical and is only a trick to allow them to try to get away with less parking that would be required if you looked at this project holistically.
DRIVE-THRU TRAFFIC ON AND OFF A SIDEWALKLESS RESIDENTIAL STREET: The “new” plans still show an entrance/exit onto 2nd Avenue. And with current traffic flow, lines will back up onto 2nd Ave, and exiting traffic will be tempted to go right down 2nd Ave to avoid the light and restricted turns on N. Main.
It’s important to note, we were prepared to accept a new proposal, even with a drive-thru, when we heard (falsely) that in the revised plan, all the entrances and exits to the whole area would be on N. Main - not 2nd Ave. It wasn’t ideal, but at least we could mitigate the issues spilling into and impacting our RESIDENTIAL streets and neighborhood.
When we met with Amy's last week they said the city was "requiring" them to put an entrance/exit on 2nd. We heard from someone at the city that that was not a city requirement.So, who's telling the truth? We tend to believe the city at this point and the concerns raised by commissioners and the public about using a residential street as overflow for drive-thru lines and traffic.
Why is Amy’s not willing to have all the traffic on the N. Main? That’s where the into and out of driveways are for ALL the other drive-throughs on N. Main. Why should Amy’s be allowed to use a residential street to line up cars and dump traffic after exiting?
Apparently, Amy's and Hall still think it's appropriate to block and congest one of only two entrances and exits from the Larkey Park neighborhood. We don't.
2) WE NEED YOU TO SHOW UP AGAIN
Signs went up Friday (August 23rd) for the next hearing of the Design Review Commission. This meeting is not up on the city's website yet and so it appears, despite concerns raised by commissioners at the last meeting, things being rushed forward,
Hall and Amy's are again using the tactic of moving fast and hoping the opposition dies down and people stop asking hard questions that need solid answers.
There's another important reason we need you there...see #3 below after the info about the meeting and where to send your emailed comments.
The meeting is set for Wednesday, September 4th at 7 pm
in the City Council Chamber.
If you want to have your voices heard, please show up!
If you plan on coming to the meeting, but especially if you can not make it, please take some time this week to write to the staff planner and the city council so that your comments are published in the public documents.
Most important to write to is the Planning Office:
It couldn't hurt to CC the planning office general email at email@example.com
A CUP (Conditional Use Permit) for a drive-thru will likely also need to be approved by the City Council, so they should be well aware of all our concerns as well.
Matt Francois: Francois@walnut-creek.org
Loella Haskew: Haskew@walnut-creek.org
Kevin Wilk: firstname.lastname@example.org
Justin Wedel: email@example.com
Cindy Silva: Silva@walnut-creek.org
Mayor/General City Council: firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is an condensed and easy to copy/paste list of all the emails above:
email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Francois@walnut-creek.org, Haskew@walnut-creek.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Silva@walnut-creek.org, email@example.com
3) PAY-OFFS BUY SUPPORT - AND ATTEMPT TO DIVIDE
Some background on where this is coming from…
Larkey Park Neighbors United (LPNU) started when one of the homeowners on the street behind the development site rallied their neighbors to oppose the In-n-Out development.
And the neighbors rallied in droves-- spending our time, money, and efforts to make social media posts, telling other neighbors, signing petitions, designing and printing flyers, canvassing door-to-door, building and updating a website, sending out emails, reaching out to the media and doing everything we could to bring attention to stopping a drive-thru on this spot.
We were all going to be impacted by a development, but the families on that street were the most impacted and acted as spokespeople for the group to others, to Hall Equities, and to the media.
We were united as a group of neighbors working together to improve the neighborhood -- thus the name of the group. We celebrated that success together and vowed to keep working to get that lot developed in a way that make sense for the city, the developer, and each other, especially the folks who lived right behind the current neglected and blighted site.
When the Amy's postcards went out this spring, we rallied once again, at the request of one neighbor and his family specifically. Again, we were united in trying to find a way to get this lot developed in a way that made sense for the neighborhood and all interested parties.
We revived the website, send out emails, had more meetings with city officials, with Amy's and with our neighbors. We showed up at community meetings and at the last hearing and made the case as a united voice. The neighbor who started it all even thanked us for representing him and his interests so well at the last meeting. The group, while mixed about how much could be achieved, even discussed accepting Amy's proposal if they would not have the traffic directed on to or from 2nd Avenue.
Then something changed. Dan Angius informed us last week (after we asked directly why he was meeting with Amy's on his own) that he had worked out a deal with Amy's whereby they were paying to do landscaping on his property in exchange for his public support.
Really? Yeah, really.
"In full transparency, we’ve been in discussion with Amy’s for the past month about improving our landscaping in our backyard which they have agreed to. I’m happy to go into detail here as well, but they’ve been good to work with on this and considering how this will impact my family, we’ve been appreciative. With that in mind, I will be supporting them in the next community meeting."
So why are we telling you this?
First off, we actually believe in “full transparency” and we wanted people to know that Dan no longer speaks for LPNU and why.
Second, we didn't want people to be surprised when Dan, a former leader and voice of LPNU, gets up and says he and his family no longer oppose Amy's Drive-Thru. And we wanted people to know one of the reasons he decided to publicly support this project.
Third, this tactic of “paying off” neighbors to secure their support, while not entirely surprising given what has gone down with this project to date, feels very wrong. No, it is wrong.
It’s one thing to offer to do things to improve the neighborhood, or the sidewalks, or address the traffic issues and to upgrade the site landscaping to get a project approved. That happens all the time. Developers have to give the city something they want or require (solar, adequate parking, safety measures) to get what the developer wants - an approval. But it’s another thing entirely to go door-to-door offering to enrich individuals in exchange for their public support.
How would we feel if the Planning or Design Review commissioners were offered free landscaping at their homes? Free vegan burgers for a years for themselves and their families? Or what if that was offered to city staff or elected council people? It would be wrong for Amy’s or Hall Equities to do that in exchange for support. Is it less wrong to offer personal benefit to a private citizen in exchange for their public support?
As good neighbors we united around Dan and the others who live on that street behind the development, because none of us felt a drive-thru was a good idea there - for those residents or for the rest of us who use 2nd Ave every day to leave and come back to our homes.
Apparently, Amy's and Hall Equities found yet another questionable way to dampen the opposition to the drive thru. Instead of making a sincere effort to adress the neighborhood's repeatedly expressed legitimate concerns, they decided to use tactics such as:
- going out to other neighborhoods in Walnut Creek (and beyond Walnut Creek too), far from this site to garner the appearance of neighborhood support;
- trying to focus the discussion on the "ethics" of their food, the "green-ness" of their business practices, and the sweetness of their family origin story to distract from the real issues of a drive-thru AT THIS LOCATION
- having Hall threatening to "put a gas station there" if we didn't accept an Amy's Drive-Thru and
-trying to rush these two separate plans through the process with as little review and collaboration as possible.
When those attempts weren't working as well as they'd hoped with the Larkey neighbors, they decided to divide the neighborhood opposition by offering compensation to people most impacted - essentially buying their support.
We get it. We'd all probably like someone to pay for landscaping in our backyards too, but self-interest wasn't ever what this was about -- for any of us. It was about what was best for the neighborhood.
While we're disappointed that at least one of the neighbors took them up on their offer to benefit themselves instead of the neighborhood, we have decided that it's important for the city, the planning commission, and the neighborhood to know exactly why one of this group will be voicing his support for the project at the upcoming meeting. We also want to call attention to the fact that Amy's is perhaps not as ethically and community minded as they'd like us to think.
And we wanted you to know why it's important to write, and if possible, show up at the next meeting to have your voices heard as well.
LNPU is still UNITED in the belief that this is not the right development for this location. We are UNITED in the belief in truth and transparency. Transparency is important to us, it's important to city government and to the process of development here and everywhere.
If you can't trust that your city officials, local business leaders, or your fellow citizens to tell the truth and act in the best interest of the common good, the social fabric of a community breaks down fast.
So with all that said, we ask that if you have feelings -- genuine, unbought feelings --about whether or not 2nd and N. Main is the right location for a drive-thru, any drive-thru, please write the the city planner ASAP and make your voice heard.
And if at all possible, please review the link to the plans, and show up and express your concerns at the meeting on September 4th at 7 pm.
Thank you for your feedback and your support.
Larkey Park Neighbors United.