Save Lafayette is opposed to AB2923 and has been working to either defeat it, or in worst case, modify it. We also have been encouraging the Happy Valley Board of Directors President to take action with their members, who are the most impacted. We encourage all Lafayette residents to oppose it. Edi Birsan, Concord City Council Member, said it very well in the latest Diablo Valley Gazette:
Opposition to Assembly Bill 2923 (AB 2923) Money and Land: The BART GRAB
“Over 150 years ago the state of California decided that one of the two functions of Cities was to be Land Use Planning. Cities build communities. Cities are led by directly elected officials that live in the cities (with a few felonious exceptions here and there). Railroads were created to run trains. The current bill in the State Legislature AB2923 that was passed in the Assembly intends to totally negate that function of cities and in effect allow 5 members of the BART Board living in San Francisco and Alameda to determine what gets built in Contra Costa on BART land regardless of the requirements of the existing zoning established by the elected officials of those
Remember those 5 are looking at the interests of San Francisco and Alameda, not you. BUT wait there is more, not only can they decide what height, density, and use is put to them, it also strips all cities of any future zoning changes and allows the BART Board to make any rules they want. As if that was not enough of a stick in your eye, they also can totally disregard the parking requirements of the city construction code and the cities are FORCED to change the zoning to whatever the BART Board feels like defining not only now, but in the future as well if the whim moves them.
BART is a railroad, that needs to focus on providing a SAFE, clean, and efficient train system. Does their track record give anyone confidence that suddenly they will be able to make community plans? Are you willing to yield to their E.S.P. ((Extremely Small Prospects)) to delve into what the local community needs in terms of the balance of housing, jobs, traffic and the supporting impacts on police, parks, schools, water, etc.?
So WHY? Like many things in politics it comes down to MONEY and POWER. When a developer gets to build an apartment structure and gets to eliminate the structured parking, it puts $40,000-$50,000 into his pocket. Eliminate 100 spots and it is $5 million in the bank. BART who wants to make more money on its land than its parking fees, which they already have jacked up, can get lease revenue from the construction trading away the zoning to put massive apartments where none would otherwise be allowed. When BART obtained their land, they knew the zoning. When the commercial, retail and residential folks around the station invested their money into their land, they knew the zoning. Everyone knew the road to change it went through the local Planning Commission and into the City Council Chamber in front of THEIR
This Bill is a gross violation of that social and political contract that defined the community and its related parts: the people, business, local elected officials and a focus on what is a community. We should be standing united against this. If BART wants to subsidize and help housing construction, they can turn their land over to the cities. We know how to build communities and that will give them time to learn how to run a railroad” – Edi Birsan.