Antioch Council to consider staff report on environmental groups’ Sand Creek initiative

If adopted would cost $65.4 million in fees, and $2.4 million in future annual, net city tax revenue; prohibit any more homes in Sand Creek Focus Area, eliminating proposed gated, senior home community

By Allen Payton

At a previously scheduled, special meeting on Tuesday, August 21, the Antioch City Council will consider the staff report on the Let Antioch Voters Decide: The Sand Creek Area Protection Initiative, put forward by a variety of environmental groups in the county in coordination with Antioch residents. The initiative effort gathered enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. City Staff Report on Sand Creek Initiative

As a result, the council had three choices at their July 24th meeting, to either adopt the initiative, place it on the November 2018 ballot, or send it to staff to study for up to 30 days and return with a report. They chose the last option, with the result that if they don’t adopt the initiative, places it on the March 2020 ballot, at the soonest.

The council, instead chose to adopt the competing West Sand Creek Initiative, known as The Ranch Initiative, put forward by Richland Communities, which owns the land where the 1,177-home project was proposed. The council’s action approved the Development Agreement, which by law, goes into effect next Thursday, August 23, the 30-day mark following their vote on July 24. (See related article)

The council will have the option, at their next regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, August 28, to either adopt the environmental groups’ initiative (The Sand Creek Initiative), including those provisions which don’t conflict with The Ranch Initiative, or place it on the ballot in 2020 for the voters to decide. According to the report, “only those provisions (of the General Plan) outside of The Ranch Development Agreement area would be amended.”

Loss of 1,900 Units

The report states, “The Sand Creek Initiative imposes severe land use restrictions throughout the western portion of the Sand Creek Focus Area and also reduces the overall development capacity of the Sand Creek Focus Area from 4,000 units to 2,100 units. This change along with the differing language regarding constitutionality are the most prominent elements of The Sand Creek Initiative. If adopted, the Sand Creek Initiative would have a profound effect on the Sand Creek Focus Area and would halt all future residential development. Other non-residential uses may still be feasible.”

Loss of Fees and Future City Tax Revenue

In addition, adopting The Sand Creek Inititiative would have future, negative financial impacts on the city, with “a loss of 1,900 units and all of the associated costs and revenues” including, “property tax, sales tax, property transfer tax, property tax in lieu of vehicle license fee, and the Citywide Police Services Community Facilities District.”

“The effect of this action is a reduction in annual ongoing revenue of $3,160,315,” the report states. “The value of this revenue would be offset by the costs of $740,289 to provide increased services to the new development. In total, the net annual ongoing benefit (and net loss) would be $2,420,026 or $1,274 per unit.”

If The Sand Creek Initiative is adopted, it would also mean a loss of pass through and regional fees of $65,411,015 or $34,427 per unit, including $18 million less for Antioch schools and almost $36 million less for regional roads, according to the report.

The report further states that, “alternate sources or increased fees elsewhere may be required.”

Proposed Albers Ranch Site Plan located east of Deer Valley Road and south of Sand Creek.

Prohibits Senior Home Community

Furthermore, the report states, “The City of Antioch previously approved two residential projects in the Sand Creek Focus Area – Vineyards at Sand Creek with 641 units and Aviano with 533 units. With the recent approval of The Ranch with 1,177 units, the current number of approved units in the Sand Creek Focus Area is 2,351. Since The Sand Creek Initiative would limit the total number of residential units to 2,100, any future development anywhere in the Sand Creek Focus Area, including east of Deer Valley Road, would be absolutely prohibited.”

The result of that would mean the proposed 301-unit, gated, senior home community, known as The Olive Groves as well as Albers Ranch, planned for east of Deer Valley Road, south of the Kaiser medical center, Dozier-Libbey Medical High School and the actual Sand Creek, could not be built. (See related article). It is the only other project on the east side of Deer Valley Road currently proposed that has not been approved.

Proposed Zeka Ranch Site Plan located west of The Ranch project.

Also Reduces Zeka Ranch from 256 Units to 8

The report also addresses the effect on the proposed Zeka Ranch project, west of The Ranch and Empire Mine Road, stating, “The General Plan Land Use Designation for Zeka Ranch was approximately 40% Hillside and Estate Residential (256 acres) and 60% Open Space (384 acres). The Hillside Estate Housing designation in the General Plan Land Use Element allows development at a rate of one dwelling unit per gross developable acre…this would allow an absolute maximum of 256 single family homes on the Zeka Ranch property.”

However, some of the land in the Zeka Ranch is not on hillsides and the proposed project includes between 320 and 400 units, which was reduced from the original plan for over 1,100 homes. (See related article).

The report concludes, that, “with the passage of The Ranch Initiative, the development potential of Zeka Ranch was reduced to one unit per eighty acres, which results in a maximum development potential of eight homes. The Sand Creek Initiative applies an identical density and would result in a maximum of eight homes as well.”

Takings Provisions Allow Legal Challenges

However, both initiatives have provisions which allow for a challenge by a landowner who believes their rights were violated due to a “taking” of their property.

The report states that, “Under State and Federal laws, a government agency may not simply ‘take’ a person’s private property and the down-zoning of property has been, and may be, interpreted by courts to constitute a form of unlawful ‘taking’. Presumably, a landowner would need to prove with substantial evidence that the initiative had the unintended effect of unconstitutionally taking their property through the diminishment of development rights, etc.”

The difference between the initiatives is who gets to decide what constitutes a “taking”.

The report states, “Whereas, The Ranch initiative allowed the City Council to determine the validity of a takings grievance and take proper steps towards restitution, The Sand Creek Initiative would require that courts determine that the terms of the initiative violate the law. The Sand Creek Initiative would impose a higher and costlier standard to resolve a takings dispute, should one arise.”

The council meeting begins at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 200 W. Third Street. It can also be viewed via livestream on the city’s website at www.ci.antioch.ca.us/CityGov/citycouncilmeetings.htm. Since it’s a special meeting, it will not be televised live on local cable access channels.

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the attachments to this post:


Zeka Ranch map

City Staff Report on Sand Creek Initiative
City Staff Report on Sand Creek Initiative


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