Archive for the ‘Growth & Development’ Category

State says Measure T’s growth limitations in Antioch’s Sand Creek area “cannot…be adopted, implemented or enforced”

Thursday, April 1st, 2021

The Let Antioch Voters Decide: The Sand Creek Area Protection Initiative known as Measure T on the November 2020 ballot cannot be implemented.

Violates state law known as SB330, the Housing Crisis Act of 2019

Would have devalued property by over 99%, downzoning it from 2 homes per acre to 1 home per 80 acres

Cities and counties must approve new homes or face hefty fines which will fund low-income housing

By Allen Payton

As was reported in news articles and an editorial by the Herald during the 2020 fall election campaign, the state has issued an opinion letter confirming that the residential growth limitations in Measure T on the November ballot, “cannot permissibly be adopted, implemented or enforced.” That’s due to the passage of SB330, the Housing Crisis Act of 2019, which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, also as previously reported. Known as the Let Antioch Voters Decide: The Sand Creek Protection Initiative, the measure passed by almost 79% of the vote.

SB330 added Section 66300 to California Government Code preventing cities and counties from reducing zoning of residential property by either council action or citizen initiative until Jan. 1, 2025.  Also, if a city council doesn’t approve new housing within existing allowable zoning, the new law requires a court to fine the city a minimum of $10,000 per housing unit denied and force the city to approve the new homes, and require they spend the funds from the fines on additional, low-income housing.

SB330 and State Housing Law

The language of SB330 reads, “(c) It is the intent of the Legislature, in enacting the Housing Crisis Act of 2019, to do both of the following: (1) Suspend certain restrictions on the development of new housing during the period of the statewide emergency described in subdivisions (a) and (b). (2) Work with local governments to expedite the permitting of housing in regions suffering the worst housing shortages and highest rates of displacement.”

Furthermore, the act reads, “The Legislature finds and declares that the provision of adequate housing, in light of the severe shortage of housing at all income levels in this state, is a matter of statewide concern and is not a municipal affair…Therefore, the provisions of this act apply to all cities, including charter cities.”

In addition, the new law reads, “with respect to land where housing is an allowable use, an affected county or an affected city shall not enact a development policy… that would  have any of the following effects: Changing the general plan land use designation, specific plan land use designation, or zoning of a parcel or parcels of property to a less intensive use or reducing the intensity of land use within an existing general plan land use designation, specific plan land use designation, or zoning district below what was allowed under the land use designation and zoning ordinances of the affected county or affected city, as applicable, as in effect on January 1, 2018.”

Also, the new law amended Section 65589.5 of the Government Code that reads, “the court shall impose fines on a local agency… in a minimum amount of ten thousand dollars ($10,000) per housing unit in the housing development project on the date the application was deemed complete.” Furthermore, the law requires, “the local agency shall commit and expend the money” from the fines “for the sole purpose of financing newly constructed housing units affordable to extremely low, very low, or low-income households.”

So, not only will the new homes in the development that was denied be built, but the city will be fined and the funds from the fines must be used to build additional, low-income housing.

Finally, According to the HCD, “Since 1969, California has required that all local governments (cities and counties) adequately plan to meet the housing needs of everyone in the community. California’s local governments meet this requirement by adopting housing plans as part of their ‘general plan’ (also required by the state). General plans serve as the local government’s ‘blueprint’ for how the city and/or county will grow and develop and include seven elements: land use, transportation, conservation, noise, open space, safety, and housing. The law mandating that housing be included as an element of each jurisdiction’s general plan is known as ‘housing-element law.’

California’s housing-element law acknowledges that, in order for the private market to adequately address the housing needs and demand of Californians, local governments must adopt plans and regulatory systems that provide opportunities for (and do not unduly constrain), housing development. As a result, housing policy in California rests largely on the effective implementation of local general plans and, in particular, local housing elements.” Each of the regions in the state must develop a plan for their Regional Housing Needs Allocation and Housing Elements.

The Bay Area’s current Regional Housing Need Allocation Plan (RHNA) projected 187,990 units needed between Jan. 31, 2015 and Jan. 31, 2023 and another 441,176 units will be needed between 2023 and 2031, according to the HCD and the Association of Bay Area Governments. In the new RHNA, it requires Antioch to add 2,481 more housing units by 2030. (See related article)

City of Antioch Letter to HCD Regarding Measure T and SB330

A letter was sent on Jan. 8, 2021 from an attorney hired by the City of Antioch to the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) seeking their advice and opinion on implementing Measure T. In that letter, attorney David Mehretu of Meyers Nave asked Paul McDougall, Housing Policy Manager for HCD to review Measure T for a determination of its “validity under SB 330 as follows: Letter to HCD Re Measure T (Antioch)

  1. Whether Measure T’s housing development restrictions are proscribed under Section 66300(b)(1)(A) of the Government Code.
  2. Whether, pursuant to Sections 66300(b)(1)(B)(i) and (ii) of the Government Code, Measure T’s housing development restrictions constitute “a moratorium or similar restriction or limitation on housing development . . . within [Sand Creek] . . . to specifically protect against an imminent threat to the health and safety of persons residing in, or within the immediate vicinity of [Sand Creek] . . . ”.
  3. Whether Measure T acts as an impermissible cap on housing pursuant to Section 66300(b)(1)(D)(ii) of the Government Code; and
  4. Whether Antioch may, consistently with SB 330, enforce Measure T’s housing development restrictions.”

Response Letter from HCD Explains Why Measure T Violates State Law

In a March 9th response letter entitled “Enforceability of Measure T’s Reduction in Land Use Intensity pursuant to Housing Crisis Act of 2019 – Letter of Technical Assistance,” McDougall wrote, “the City requested the California Department of Housing and Community Development’s (HCD) opinion as to the enforceability of a reduction in the intensity of land use included in the City’s voter-approved initiative Measure T.” HCD Antioch SB 330 Letter 03.09.2021

“HCD’s opinion is based on the mandatory criteria established by the Legislature with the passage of Senate Bill 330 in 2019, known as the Housing Crisis Act of 2019,” McDougall wrote.

“HCD finds that the less intensive use provisions of Measure T are impermissible under Government Code section 66300,” and “Measure T effectively acts as a ‘…cap on the number of housing units that can be approved…’, a violation of Government Code section 66300…,” he wrote.

McDougall offered one caveat writing, “the City could enforce the reduction in intensity contemplated in Measure T, notwithstanding this opinion, if and when it concurrently changes the development standards, policies, and conditions applicable to other parcels within the jurisdiction to ensure that there is no net loss in residential capacity.” However, he further wrote, “nothing in Measure T provides for an equal increase in intensity of land use elsewhere in the jurisdiction, therefore, these provisions of Measure T cannot be permissibly adopted, implemented, or enforced consistent with Government Code section 66300.”

He concludes his letter offering the state’s opinion that Measure T is impermissible.

“Measure T appears to have been drafted to assure that housing development in the City is restricted in a manner that preserves agriculture and open spaces (Measure T, section 1). However, there is minimal analysis in Measure T to support this outcome. Measure T language more readily suggests it was passed primarily with the intent to restrict future housing development as opposed to accommodating future residential growth as intended in the City’s general plan,” the HCD Housing Policy Manager continues.

“In sum, the provisions of the voter-approved Measure T result in a lesser intensity of land use and create a development cap, resulting in a reduction in the total number of housing units that can be built within the Initiative Area than what is currently allowed in the City’s General Plan. Accordingly, HCD is of the opinion that such a reduction in the intensity of land use created by Measure T cannot permissibly be adopted, implemented, or enforced consistent with Government Code section 66300,” McDougall concluded.

Measure T is Moot, Council Must Approve New Homes

Therefore, as previously reported, the state has confirmed that Measure T, which would have devalued four privately owned parcels on the west side of Deer Valley Road by over 99% from two homes per acre to just one home per 80 acres, is moot and will have no impact on the development of new housing in Antioch. It would have affected less than 900 housing units remaining of the total 4,000 homes allowed in the City of Antioch’s Sand Creek Focus Area of the general plan. But now those housing projects will move forward in the planning process and can be expected to be approved.

That’s because the council must adopt all new housing projects in the Sand Creek area and anywhere else in the city, until Jan. 1, 2025, which don’t require any zoning changes or general plan amendments, or the city will face state fines of $10,000 per unit, at a minimum, and the homes will still be approved and allowed to be built, and the fines fund additional, low-income housing in the city, according to SB330.



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Council unanimously approves Antioch’s second gated new home community

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021

Site map for Creekside at Sand Creek project ACC032321.

220-home development on east end of Sand Creek area south of creek

By Allen Payton

During their meeting on Tuesday night, March 23, 2021 the Antioch City Council unanimously approved a new, 220-unit, single family home subdivision in the Sand Creek Focus Area known as Creekside at Sand Creek. It will be the city’s second gated home community and located immediately south of the Vineyards at Sand Creek new home project, along the city’s eastern boundary with Brentwood. It’s the second phase of the land development project by GBN Partners. The first gated community is the Cielo new home project on the north side of Sand Creek.

The council also approved final maps for both the 641-unit Vineyards at Sand Creek project and 641-unit Aviano Farms project on 5-0 votes. The actions confirmed acceptance of all the improvements required and that the developers have fulfilled all the conditions when the projects were approved in 2016.

Creekside at Sand Creek location map.

Creekside at Sand Creek

Antioch city staff presented the details of the 158-acre project, sharing that the proposed residential units would consist of either non-age restricted units, senior/active adult units, or a combination of both, at the discretion of the developer. The project improvements would include parks, trails, landscaping, and traffic circulation improvements. The remainder of the site, including Sand Creek and the associated buffer area, would be retained as open space.

The project required the approval of a General Plan text and map amendment to the Sand Creek Focus Area to change the land use designations of the site from Open Space/Senior Housing and Hillside, Estate and Executive Residential/Open Space to Medium Low Density Residential/Open Space. In addition, the text of the General Plan is being modified to allow single family units on small lots that are not age-restricted.

Finally, the project will include the construction of a bridge over Sand Creek to connect to and extend Hillcrest Avenue.

Matt Beinke of Blackhawk Services Company and GBN Partners, LLC, made the owner’s presentation on the project.

“It’s been several years in the making dating back to the Vineyards at Sand Creek. It’s always been envisioned as an extension and a phase of that community,” he stated.

“Non-age restricted. It’s a gated community. There are no impacts on Antioch schools. This is in the Brentwood schools,” Beinke stated. “It will build out infrastructure. This has a PLA (project labor agreement) on it so it will be a union construction project.”

There was no opponent to speak during the public hearing.

There were six written comments, all in support.

“One prevailing issue…is the need for more affordable housing. You have the ability to address this tonight,” wrote former Antioch Mayor Don Freitas.

Another was by Derek Cole, an electrical workers union member, asking the council to support the project for the jobs it will create.

Thomas Lawson called in and said he was the business manager of a construction union, speaking in favor of the jobs and apprenticeship program, saying it will bring “union jobs, infrastructure and tax revenue to the City of Antioch.”

“How many local jobs will this bring into our community?” asked District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica.

“This is going to go on, the field work for a year, and the buildout for five years. The vertical construction, the jobs…it’s in the 100’s,” Beinke responded.

“I’m not excited about the small lots,” Barbanica added.

“I’ll add…one of my first meetings as a new elected council member, then-Mayor Sean Wright and I want out to this property,” Thorpe said. “Mr. Beinke presented the concept.”

District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker said, “it would have been nice to see the project labor agreement part of it to understand and what number of those jobs will be local. When we say hire local, union it’s my understanding this won’t guarantee Antioch residents will be hired.”

“Staff doesn’t usually address the issue of project labor agreements. That’s outside of our scope,” said Community Development Director Forrest Ebbs. “We know council likes to have that from the proponent.”

“Likewise, in our presentation, because our time is limited…we don’t have them (union partners) specifically as part of the presentation team,” Beinke explained. “The apprenticeship part of this is huge.”

“I just think that for myself it would be good to understand, you know, good jobs. Who wouldn’t want that?” Torres-Walker asked. “How many would be those coming from outside of our community?”

“I’m excited about this project,” she concluded.

District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock then made the motions to approve the project, including a General Plan Amendment and they each passed on 5-0 votes.

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Plan Bay Area 2050: Final Blueprint Analysis released

Wednesday, January 6th, 2021

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) are pleased to announce the release of the Plan Bay Area 2050 Final Blueprint Outcomes – a major milestone in the development of Plan Bay Area 2050, the Bay Area’s long-range plan to guide the growth of our nine-county region for the next generation. The Plan Bay Area 2050 Final Blueprint, which is made up of the strategies, growth geographies, and regional growth forecast was approved by MTC and ABAG in September 2020.

Building on analyses of the Draft Blueprint, the Final Blueprint includes a set of 35 revised and expanded strategies to tackle the Bay Area’s transportation, housing, economic and environmental challenges while creating a more resilient and equitable future for the Bay Area. These strategies are either public policies or sets of investments that can be implemented in the Bay Area over the next 30 years.

Over the last several months, MTC and ABAG staff analyzed these strategies to determine how much more progress the Bay Area makes toward reaching Plan Bay Area 2050’s vision of ensuring by 2050 that the region is affordable, connected, diverse, healthy and vibrant for all. This analysis shows that continued progress has been made due to the new and expanded strategies featured in the Final Blueprint. The 35 strategies featured in the plan demonstrate how the region can:

  • Achieve the Bay Area’s 19% greenhouse gas emissions reduction target, as set by the California Air Resources Board;
  • Reduce overall housing and transportation costs for residents, especially for households with lower incomes;
  • Increase the production and preservation of affordable housing;
  • Create a more accessible and reliable transit network;
  • Reduce the risk of displacement for people with lower incomes;
  • Invest in parks and open spaces, particularly in historically disinvested communities;
  • Increase resilience against wildfires and sea level rise; and
  • Support a thriving economy with a more balanced regional pattern of jobs and housing.

Read more about the Final Blueprint strategies and their outcomes on

Staff will seek adoption of the Final Blueprint as the Preferred Alternative for environmental analysis purposes by the Commission and ABAG Executive Board in January 2021.

Related: Plan Bay AreaPlan Bay Area 2050RHNA

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Yes on Measure T campaign takes ugly, xenophobic turn

Wednesday, October 28th, 2020

Supporter also uses communist thinking and class warfare to gather support

By Allen Payton, Publisher & Editor

The evil of xenophobia raised its ugly head in Antioch, this week, as a supporter of Measure T, the Let Antioch Voters Decide: The Sand Creek Area Protection Initiative, which is the effort by out of town environmentalists and their supporters in our city, to downzone private property for the purpose of making it permanent open space that the parks district can buy on the cheap, claims she’s of the understanding that the family that owns the Zeka Ranch “are not U.S. citizens”.

In addition, clear communist thinking straight from the first of the 10 planks of the Communist Manifesto is being used as the reason to pass the initiative.

Screenshot of email from Antioch resident Lucy Meinhardt regarding Measure T on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020.

In an email to the editor originally asking about advertising for the Yes on T campaign from Antioch resident Lucy Meinhardt, Tuesday night, she wrote, “I support Measure T because I believe the good of the community outweighs the property owner’s preferences in this case. I have enjoyed for many years the views when hiking the trails south of Contra Loma to the views of the former Higgins Ranch. To see houses there would hurt me to the core.”

The first plank of the Communist Manifesto written by Karl Marx reads, “Abolition of private property in land and application of all rents of land to public purpose.” That’s exactly what she and the supporters of Measure T are attempting to do to the Zeka Ranch and three nearby properties, for a total of 877 homes, which is all that could have been affected by the initiative.

Worse, Meinhardt wrote, “Though the owner owns a house in Antioch, I understand they are not U.S. citizens.”

Louisa Zee Kao, the head of the Zeka Group, Inc. and Zeka Ranch, LLC, who has been fighting for her rights to do with the land as the voters said three times she could, has been a U.S. citizen for over 40 years having emigrated with her late husband and her two children from Hong Kong in the 1970’s. Her grandchildren, for whom she’s working to leave a legacy, were all born in the U.S., as well.

Plus, even foreign residents have rights, and it doesn’t matter who owns the property, because those rights are tied to the property.

Meinhardt went on to write, “I cherish this land for all of us, not a wealthy few who would help the owners reap huge profits. I hope the land will eventually be annexed to the East Bay Regional Parks that surround it.”

So, she admits she wants the privately owned land, purchased by the Zeka Group in 2000, with the first payment made in 1989, downzoned and devalued by over 97% so it can be annexed to and become part of the publicly owned park district land.

Meinhardt uses class warfare which is based in jealousy and envy to keep an immigrant family from increasing their wealth and leaving a legacy for future generations, while providing housing that Antioch doesn’t currently have, even though we the people voted  three times to allow for the new homes to be built in the Sand Creek area.

Screenshot of second email from Lucy Meinhardt on Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020.

In a further email sent today, after being called out for her xenophobia, Meinhardt attempted to apologize.

“Apologies. I had heard this rumor. I usually fact check. Do any Kao’s live in Antioch? The Zeka company is based in Burlingame. I am not xenophobic. Both Zeka and Richfield are out of town firms and are investment real estate firms. The rumor took them a bit further out of town. We will never agree on land use with respect to this land. I am sure there will be lawsuits over the initiative when it passes.”

However, Meinhardt was being xenophobic, by definition, according to the Merriam Webster dictionary: “fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign.”

As for the lawsuits she mentions possibly happening, perhaps the supporters will sue the city and the landowners, but they won’t win because the property owners have rights. Plus, both Zeka – which is a family owned, boutique developer – and adjacent property owner Richfield/Oak Hill Park have already won the two major rulings in their lawsuits against both the city and environmentalists who are behind Measure T.

And again, it doesn’t matter where a property owner is from, where they live or if they’re U.S. citizens, or not. They and their property both have rights.

Devaluing property is in legal terms considered a taking.

How would Meinhardt and other Measure T supporters like it if that happened to something they owned and have it taken from them? Oh, we will just devalue it and then buy it at the lower price for the “good of the community”. I doubt they would appreciate that at all.

But at least she’s honest about what they’re attempting to do: downzoning and devaluing the privately owned Zeka Ranch and three other properties in the Sand Creek area, so the park district can buy it for pennies on the dollar, then annex into the public park land. That’s exactly what the environmentalists tried to get Louisa Kao to do three years ago, so that other developers could use her land as mitigation property for open space, for the to build their subdivisions. She declined the ridiculous offer.

Fortunately, the downzoning and devaluation can’t and won’t happen thanks to Gov. Newsom signing SB330 into law last year which bans cities from downzoning residential land by either council action or initiative.

That’s why Measure T is moot and will have no effect even if it does pass.

In fact, the homes will be approved and built. Because if the city council doesn’t approve the homes planned for the Zeka Ranch or any of the other properties currently zoned residential in Antioch within five hearings on each project, SB330 states the city will, at a minimum be fined $10,000 per housing unit, costing us taxpayers millions of dollars.

So, vote no on Measure T. Don’t take their land and save our tax dollars. It’s unfair and unAmerican.

For more details and to get the facts before you vote, visit

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Read the history of the Zeka Ranch project and why you should vote no on Measure T

Monday, October 26th, 2020


3 Votes by the People in 1990, 2005, & 2006 Establish Urban Limit Line, Allow Homes in the Sand Creek Area. This 4th Vote Attempts to Devalue the Land – Unfair & Illegal!

  • INTRODUCTION: Zeka Ranch is a thoughtfully prepared, new home community, in the City of Antioch that fulfills the City’s vision for the Sand Creek Area on housing, nestled within the unique, existing natural features of the site. The mix of densities, housing types, their location within the master plan and interaction with the site’s natural topography makes Zeka Ranch an exceptional master planned community, which could be the preferred location of executive type housing that the City lacks and has continuously expressed interest in developing
  • PROPERTY HISTORY AND EXISTING CONDITIONS: The Zeka Ranch site, formerly known as the Higgins Ranch, comprises approximately six hundred thirty-nine plus (639+) acres situated in the westerly limits of the former Sand Creek Focus area. The site is bordered by the East Bay Regional Park District, Black Diamond Mine Regional Preserve to the west, Roddy Ranch to the South, Empire Mine Road and Richland Communities proposed Ranch project to the east and public open space to the north. The 639+ acres are subdivided into five independent parcels held by five separate entities.
  • The proposed plan creates an opportunity to implement product diversification that caters to executives and other demography looking for higher end housing, in a setting that is distinct from anywhere else in Antioch. The community will be a synergy of planning, architecture, landscape and engineering. The use of narrower and slower streets, Low Impact Development (LID) Techniques, native and drought tolerant landscape elements, ability to integrate smart technologies and sustainable measures in the homes, integration of trails and open spaces with the surrounding regional open spaces would make this a destination for higher end housing that the City has coveted for so long
  • The proposed land uses of the Zeka Ranch project are in compliance with the existing City of Antioch General Plan. As envisioned in the General Plan, Zeka Ranch is a mix of two housing types – Hillside Estate Housing and Executive Housing.
  • HISTORY – 1980’s City of Antioch grants General Plan allocation of up to 2 homes per acre on 640 acres at Higgins Ranch.
  • 1989 City of Antioch began planning for homes in the Sand Creek area, which would be referred to as Future Urban Area 1 (FUA1). Zeka begins process of purchasing the Higgins property.
  • 1990 Contra Costa VOTERS APPROVE Urban Limit Line cutting off 65% of land in the county from subdivision development and allowing new homes to be built on 35% of the land. The Sand Creek area and Zeka Ranch are INSIDE County’s Urban Limit Line.
  • 1990 Zeka was approached by an adjacent property owner to participate in the City’s planning effort, for the area. Since then, Zeka paid 25% of the costs for the City studies and plans for the FUA1 area, even though later Zeka significantly reduced the number of units on their property. The City’s initial plans for FUA-1/Sand Creek area include over 8,900 homes, plus 700 homes at Roddy Ranch, for over 9,600 homes.
  • 2000 Zeka purchases land for a huge amount of money from Higgins family and begins process for approval of upscale, high-end home project. Initial plans included 1,100 homes, but in the interim, they reduced to 740 homes. The East Bay Regional Park District threatened to sue City of Antioch if they allow Zeka development on much of their acreage. Instead of fighting it, Zeka Group voluntarily reduces plans to 338 homes on 196 acres, leaving 440+ as future open spaces.
  • 2003 Antioch City Council approves General Plan, formally allocates 2 homes per acre on Zeka’s land, allowing only 4,000 homes total in Sand Creek Focus Area.
  • 2005 After County Supervisors moved in the Urban Limit Line to cut out the Roddy Ranch, the people of Antioch voted overwhelmingly to approve Measure K, move the line back out and establish Antioch’s own Urban Limit Line. Sand Creek area and Zeka Ranch are INSIDE City’s Urban Limit Line.
  • 2006 County voters, once again approve County’s Urban Limit Line. Sand Creek area and Zeka Ranch are inside the Urban Limit Line!
  • 2017 Save Mount Diablo representative suggests Zeka sell the Zeka Ranch property to other developer in Antioch for open space use, which would have drastically downgraded and devalued Zeka Ranch property, involuntarily.
  • 2017 Zeka Group ready to submit plans. City staff says hold off. City wants to wait until neighboring developer’s The Ranch project is approved. The Ranch project finally approved on 5-0 vote of Antioch City Council on July 28, 2018. Yet the City Council rejected Zeka Ranch PDP Application submittal after its adoption of Let Antioch Voters Decide (LAVD) initiative a month later.
  • 2018 Out-of-town environmentalists launch initiative effort to downzone Zeka Ranch property to just 1 home per 80 acres to only 8 homes on 639+ acres! Antioch voters are misled by them saying they could stop 8,000 homes. That wasn’t true!
  • According to Save Mt. Diablo’s representative, their initiative ONLY AFFECTS LAND WEST OF DEER VALLEY ROAD. By then the City had already approved 1,200 homes at east of Deer Valley Road, 301 homes are planned in a gated, senior community south of Kaiser, and 121 homes are planned around Kaiser. Plus, 221 more homes are now being processed by the City. So, the most the initiative could stop is about 900 homes, not 8,000! The environmentalists KNEW IT.
  • A few years ago Save Mt. Diablo suggested Zeka Ranch sell their land to other developers for open space. Zeka respectfully declined the offer.
  • 2018, instead of letting the voters decide – like the title of the initiative – the environmentalists asked and got the five council members to decide and adopted the LAVD initiative and rejected Zeka Ranch project application! That forced the landowners to sue both the City and environmentalists in court – Zeka and Oak Hill Park Property won, not once, but twice!
  • 2019 Judge rules City Council has to place LAVD initiative on Nov. 2020 ballot.
  • 2019 October, in response to California’s housing crisis, Governor Newsom signs SB330 into law which says effective January 1, 2020 development applications for residential property cannot be downzoned either by city council action or by initiative. So, the Let Antioch Voters Decide initiative, if passed, should be of no effect for voters at the ballot under the SB330 law.
  • However, the environmentalists want to still win and have voters to pass Measure T. They hope it will force the future city councils to vote NO on the projects, only to forcing more lawsuits costing the City, taxpayers and landowners more money. Zeka wants respectfully to tell the out-of-town environmentalists and their local supporters: NO!
  • Today, after 30 years of waiting and planning, Highway 4 has been widened to Antioch, Highway 4 Bypass/extension built to Balfour Road in Brentwood, and the BART extension to Antioch is completed. (Major roads in Antioch, plus the Highway 4 widening and extension were designed for 12,000 homes in the Sand Creek area and Roddy Ranch)
  • Zeka Ranch has duly resubmitted PDP application to Antioch Planning Department for proposed development of 338 home lots under the Law of SB330 and the application plans currently being reviewed.
  • Zeka Ranch community project will be working in nature, for improvements and beautification of nature. It represents less than 8.5% of total 4,000 home allocations within Sand Creek Area and will provide about 70% of open space within its lands in proactive mitigation.
  • NOW is the time for the Voters of Antioch to VOTE NO on Measure T. We wish to work with the new City Council for approval of Zeka Ranch plans, so, NICE, UPSCALE HOMES, on VIEW LOTS, surround by hundreds of acres of OPEN SPACES can be built, like those in Blackhawk, the San Ramon Valley, Walnut Creek and Brentwood. They will attract executives and business owner investors to Antioch who will bring new companies to the area, creating the LOCAL, QUALITY JOBS for Antioch residents.
  • All the new homes will pay their own way, with more police and fire protection, and road impact fees to help complete Antioch’s long-planned roadways and the Highway bypass/extension widening to Marsh Creek Road and beyond.
  • CONCLUSION: Zeka Ranch will be a diverse, well designed, well amenitized and secure master planned community that will provide high-end housing within the City boundary and inside both the 3-times voter approved County and City Urban Limit Lines, which the City of Antioch envisions for this location. The Zeka Ranch team looks forward to working with City Staff, other agencies, the Planning Commission, City Council, residents, and many stakeholder groups as we create a legacy community within the City of Antioch.

For more information visit the No on Measure T page on this website at

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Regional housing needs proposal allocates 2,481 more housing units for Antioch between 2023-31

Tuesday, October 20th, 2020

Photo: ABAG

1,443 to be low- to moderate-income units; 43,942 total units allocated for Contra Costa cities

Methodology emphasizes equity for projected 441,000 additional housing units needed Bay Area wide

“Housing Element Law emphasizes that all Bay Area communities have to share the increased state planning number…” – ABAG President and Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin

Public comment period begins Oct. 25

The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG)’s Executive Board at its meeting Thursday evening, Oct. 15 passed the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) proposed methodology — a mathematical formula by which the state Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD)’s requirement that the Bay Area plan for more than 441,000 additional housing units during the 2023-2031 RHNA cycle will be distributed among the region’s nine counties and 101 cities and towns. New state laws — as well as the region’s strong economy and related job and household growth over the past decade — are also a significant reason for the growth in HCD’s determination, which will require the Bay Area to plan for 253,000 more units than required in the 2015- 2023 RHNA cycle. ABAG RHNA 10-15-20

Under the proposed methodology, communities in Contra Costa County would be expected to add 43,942 housing units, about 10% of the total. Antioch is allocated a total of 2,481 more housing units, with 1,443 of them low- to moderate-income units.

From ABAG’s RHNA dated Oct. 15, 2020.

Communities in Santa Clara County would be expected to account for about one-third of all new units to be incorporated into the housing elements of Bay Area jurisdictions’ general plans, and San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland are expected to have the highest expected planning numbers for individual cities.

ABAG President and Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin commented, “Housing Element Law emphasizes that all Bay Area communities have to share the increased state planning numbers.  The adopted proposed methodology is the best way to share the housing responsibility among all our region’s local governments, to encourage housing in areas with good access to jobs and in locations designated by the state as high-opportunity areas, and to meet fair housing and greenhouse gas reduction requirements.”

With the Executive Board’s action, ABAG on Oct. 25 will open a public comment period on the proposed RHNA methodology. The comment period will include a public hearing at the Thursday, Nov. 12 meeting of ABAG’s Regional Planning Committee, after which both the committee and the Executive Board will again weigh in on the methodology. If approved, ABAG will submit this draft methodology to HCD for review, likely in January 2021, and then use the state agency’s recommendations to develop a final methodology and draft RHNA allocation in spring 2021. Release of the draft allocation would then kick off an appeals period in the summer of 2021, with the final RHNA allocation assigned to each of the Bay Area’s local governments in late 2021.

According to the California Department of Housing and Community Development, “Since 1969, California has required that all local governments (cities and counties) adequately plan to meet the housing needs of everyone in the community. California’s local governments meet this requirement by adopting housing plans as part of their ‘general plan’ (also required by the state). General plans serve as the local government’s ‘blueprint’ for how the city and/or county will grow and develop and include seven elements: land use, transportation, conservation, noise, open space, safety, and housing. The law mandating that housing be included as an element of each jurisdiction’s general plan is known as ‘housing-element law.’

California’s housing-element law acknowledges that, in order for the private market to adequately address the housing needs and demand of Californians, local governments must adopt plans and regulatory systems that provide opportunities for (and do not unduly constrain), housing development. As a result, housing policy in California rests largely on the effective implementation of local general plans and, in particular, local housing elements.” Each of the regions in the state must develop a plan for their Regional Housing Needs Allocation and Housing Elements.

The allocation methodology is a formula for accommodating the Bay Area’s total housing need by quantifying the number of housing units — separated into above-moderate, moderate, low and very-low income categories — that will be assigned to each city, town and county.  The allocation must meet statutory objectives and be consistent with the forecasted development pattern from Plan Bay Area 2050. The final result of the RHNA process is the allocation of housing units by income category to each jurisdiction. Each local government must then update the Housing Element of its General Plan and its zoning to show how it can accommodate its RHNA allocation.

The proposed RHNA methodology was developed by ABAG’s Housing Methodology Committee (HMC) after nearly a year of meetings and technical analysis. The HMC process provided a forum for local elected officials, staff from city and county governments, various stakeholder groups, and members of the general public to formulate a data-driven proposal.  Members of the HMC were selected from a diverse pool of applicants and included representatives from each of the nine Bay Area counties.

President Arreguin praised the HMC for its challenging work: “The proposed methodology represents a big accomplishment not only for the HMC or for ABAG, but also for our region.  The committee members’ involvement in this complicated and sometimes contentious process brought together very diverse voices to develop a methodology that works for the entire Bay Area.”

Additional information about the proposed methodology and the RHNA process is available on ABAG’s website:

Founded in 1961, ABAG is the regional planning agency for the Bay Area’s nine counties and 101 cities and towns, and is recognized as the first council of governments in California.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Antioch’s Measure T will have no affect on new housing in Sand Creek area, don’t be fooled, vote no

Monday, October 12th, 2020

The latest plans for the Zeka Ranch new home project submitted to city staff last month. Note the grey, dashed line arbitrarily drawn by East Bay Regional Park District staff of where they wanted housing to be built on the property cutting off most of the flat land from new homes because it’s too close to the Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve. This land is the target of Measure T and the environmentalists.

Unnecessary fourth vote by the people could have at the most only stopped 877 homes remaining to be approved; would have downzoned private property by over 97%, from 2 homes per acre down to 1 home per 80 acres – unfair, unAmerican, and an “illegal taking” of land

By Allen Payton

Antioch residents have the opportunity to vote on Measure T on the November ballot because a judge told the Antioch City Council they had to place it there. But, since that ruling, Gov. Newsom signed into law SB330, the Housing Crisis Act of 2019.

According to the Legislative Counsel’s Digest, “This bill, until January 1, 2025, with respect to land where housing is an allowable use, except as specified, would prohibit a county or city, including the electorate exercising its local initiative or referendum power, in which specified conditions exist, determined by the Department of Housing and Community Development as provided, from enacting a development policy, standard, or condition, as defined, that would have the effect of (A) changing the land use designation or zoning of a parcel or parcels of property to a less intensive use or reducing the intensity of land use within an existing zoning district below what was allowed under the general plan or specific plan land use designation and zoning ordinances of the county or city as in effect on January 1, 2018.”

What that means is even if Measure T passes, it will have no effect on the remaining four parcels of land on the west side of Deer Valley Road in the Sand Creek Area that have had a 2-home per acre zoning designation since the 1980’s and officially since 2005.

So, why is Measure T on the ballot?

Because in early 2018 out-of-town environmentalists with a few Antioch residents who supported their efforts, pushed forward the Let Antioch Voters Decide: The Sand Creek Protection Initiative. They were trying to stop about 2,000 homes by moving in the city’s Urban Limit Line and downzoning all the property west of Deer Valley Road to just one home per 80 acres – a 97.4% decrease in housing units and devaluation of property.

But the proponents lied to Antioch residents to get them to sign the petitions telling them they could stop 8,000 homes. Yet, they knew that only 4,000 homes were allowed in the Sand Creek Area since the city council voted for that amount in the City’s General Plan in 2005.

The fact is by 2018, 1,174 homes had already been approved on the east side of Deer Valley Road. Plus, another 350 are planned on the eastern edge of the area, 121 homes planned north of Kaiser, and 301 senior homes are planned in a gated community in the hills south of Kaiser, for a total of 1,946 homes. That left only 2,054 homes that the initiative might have been able to stop – because it only affects the west side of Deer Valley Road.

Richland Development, the proponents of The Ranch project with its 1,177 homes on the west side of Deer Valley Road, launched their own initiative to get the voters to approve their project, but also threw their neighboring four properties under the bus downzoning them to one home per 80 acres, as well. Although they gathered enough signatures and the council adopted their initiative in 2018, a judge threw it out. Instead, in June of this year, the city council voted unanimously to approve The Ranch project and the environmentalists did not oppose it. In fact, they praised the project for protecting hillsides and the 250-foot setbacks to Sand Creek. (See related article)

So, that leaves only 877 homes that can still be approved in the Sand Creek area. Not 8,000 or even 4,000.

Map of area covered by the Richland Communities’ alternative initiative that would have downzoned and devalued neighboring properties, and The Ranch 1,177-home project area. Herald file graphic.

History of New Homes Planned for the Sand Creek Area

The bottom line is homes have been planned for the Sand Creek Area since the 1980’s when the city council and staff started drawing up plans and communicating with the landowners. Then we the people voted – three times, telling the landowners homes could be built on their property. Developers started making option payments on some of the land as early as 1989.

Beginning in the mid-1990’s 8,950 homes were planned in the Sand Creek Area, then known as Future Urban Area 1 (FUA-1) and 700 homes were proposed for the Roddy Ranch development for a total of 9,650 homes. But that number was reduced to 4,700 homes total by the City Council in 2003.

1990 – First Vote of the People Allowing New Homes in Sand Creek Area

Yet, what they call open space has actually been owned by developers for 20 or more years, since we the people of the county voted in 1990 for an Urban Limit Line and placed it along the ridgeline on the south side of the former Roddy Ranch Golf Club. That vote cut off 65% of the land in the county from subdivision development. The Sand Creek area land is inside the other 35% of the land where it’s allowed.

2005 – Second Vote of the People Allowing New Homes in Sand Creek Area

Then after the Board of Supervisors moved the ULL in and cut out the Roddy Ranch property, in 2005, we the people of Antioch voted to move the ULL back out and establishing Antioch’s own ULL. Known as Measure K, it passed by almost 60% of Antioch voters.

2007 – Third Vote of the People Allowing New Homes in Sand Creek Area

Then in 2007, the county had another vote on the Urban Limit Line to confirm its location. The line remained in the same place. So, once again we the people voted to allow new home construction in the Sand Creek area.

Land is Owned by Developers, It’s Not Open Space

That’s why for over 20 years the land in the Sand Creek Area has been owned by developers, waiting for the right time in the market to get their projects approved and build their voter allowed new home subdivisions.

But they missed the market, twice and faced the 2008 economic downturn. Yet, in the meantime, Highway 4 was widened through Antioch, the Highway 4 bypass/extension was built to Balfour Road in Brentwood and BART opened in our city. All the internal major streets in Antioch and highways were designed with 12,000 homes planned for the Sand Creek Area and south. Yet now that the Roddy Ranch is permanent open space, so those 700 homes planned for half-acre lots inside a gated community on 900 acres inside the ULL, will not be built.

City of Antioch planning map with land-use designations. VLD-H = very low density  hillside, etc.

11th Hour Effort to Stop the Sand Creek Area Homes

Then, just as three of the remaining five property owners were ready to move forward with their plans for final approval by the City Council, the environmentalists tried to stop them with their initiative. Worse, even though the Zeka Ranch was ready to submit plans in 2017, they were advised by City staff to hold off until The Ranch project on the east side of the old Empire Mine Road submitted their plans, so they could coordinate on road alignments. So, The Zeka Group held off. In the meantime, the two initiatives moved forward, and both gathered enough signatures to be placed on the ballot. Instead the five members of the City Council chose to adopt both initiatives instead of placing them on the ballot.

Why Can Brentwood Have Nice Homes & Gated Communities, But Not Antioch?

They didn’t stop the nice, upscale, senior and gated communities, and even million-dollar homes from being built in Brentwood. But they don’t want Antioch to have them? Why not? People who live in Antioch want to live here, move up to a nicer home, or to a senior community and not have to move out of town, like some of our former city leaders have actually done – to Brentwood.

Plus, the homes in the Sand Creek Area on the west side of Deer Valley Road won’t be built for five to 10 years, because the sewer line has to be extended from the east end of the valley. Also, all the homes will pay the regional traffic impact fee of $15,000 each, and a new, annual police funding assessment, yet they won’t have the impact on crime and police services as other parts of Antioch. That’s just a fact.

The best part is that the types of homes planned for the Zeka Ranch project will attract business owners and executives to Antioch to bring their companies and jobs to the 200-acre area near Laurel Road, that the city council I was a part of set aside in 1998 for employment and commercial uses.

Here’s What’s Really Been Going On

The environmentalists and the East Bay Regional Park District lust for the Zeka Ranch and its 640 acres adjacent to the Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve. Although they could build 1,280 homes on the property based on the two homes per acre zoning designation, The Zeka Group, owner of the Zeka Ranch, originally planned about 1,100 homes. The park district threatened to sue the City of Antioch if they allowed that, so Zeka chose to be a good neighbor and reduce their total to 750 homes. But that wasn’t good enough. Park district representatives drew an arbitrary line on Zeka’s property and said they could build homes in that area. (See map top). The Zeka Group, led by Antioch homeowner Louisa Zee Kao, chose not to fight and scaled down her project again, this time to just 337 units on 200 of her 640 acres. Yet, that’s still too many for the environmentalists and what they’ve written into Measure T which would downzone the property to just eight homes, total! Why? So, the park district can buy it for pennies on the dollar. That’s what the environmentalists tried to do a few years ago by asking The Zeka Group to sell their land at a deep discount to another developer to be used as open space, at a price much lower than the $30 million they’ve spent to purchase it, as well as the costs for creating the plans and going through the city approval process.

Taking of Land

That’s what is called an illegal taking of land. That’s why The Zeka Group won in court twice and both The Ranch initiative and the environmentalists’ Sand Creek initiative were thrown out in 2019. The judge said the council couldn’t adopt The Ranch initiative the way it was written. He also said the Let Antioch Voters Decide initiative, (which is ironic, since the environmentalists got the five council members to decide by adopting it in 2018, circumventing the voters) had to be placed on this November’s ballot. (See related articles, here and here)

SB330 Makes Moot Measure T

But the initiative is moot – has no meaning and will have no impact – due to the language in SB330. Even if Measure T could go into effect, it’s just wrong, unfair and frankly unAmerican. How would you like it if you followed the rules, bought some property, spent money on plans within the limits allowed and just as you’re ready to get your approval to build, the rules are changed on you and now your property is worth 2.5% of what you paid for it? I doubt you would like it or think it’s fair. But, that’s what Measure T is attempting to do to four property owners in Antioch.

Fortunately, that can’t happen and the Yes on T campaign is really a waste of time and their supporters’ funds. Yet the environmentalists are still trying to deceive the voters of Antioch hoping that you’ll vote for Measure T to send a message to future council members to not approve the remaining 877 homes. However, if a future council votes against the Zeka Ranch project or any others on the remaining parcels in the next five years, the City will be on the hook for having to purchase the land at the fair market. That could cost Antioch taxpayers millions of dollars. So, save our tax dollars, don’t take their land, and vote No on Measure T. To learn more, visit the No on Measure T page on this website.

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Council majority postpones decision on Delta Fair Village apartments indefinitely on a split vote

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020

Rendering of proposed Delta Fair Village apartment complex.

Cite applicant’s history of code enforcement violations at site, and other properties he owns in Antioch; Project can be brought back to council sooner than a year, and as a possible condo project, instead;  Construction unions attempt “greenmail” to pressure developer for PLA

By Allen Payton

During their meeting Tuesday night, the Antioch City Council on a 3-2 vote, postponed indefinitely the proposed 210-unit Delta Fair Village apartment complex, proposed by the owner of commercial property in Antioch, because he has consistently ignored code enforcement issues and been fined for it multiple times. The applicant, Gabriel Chiu, who with his family through their Chiu Family, LLC, owns the property as well as the Deer Valley Plaza, where the former AMC Deer Valley Theaters were located, didn’t participate in the Zoom meeting. Instead, his architect was available to answer questions, but the council members’ questions were for Chiu, not about any features of the project.

Two of the council members mentioned wanting a union-only hire, Project Labor Agreement (PLA) for the project.

During public comments, Kyle Jones, who said he was with an organization named Antioch Residents for Responsible Development, read a letter from the group’s attorney outlining a variety of concerns they have with the project, mainly over environmental issues. 2020-06-01-Attorney ltr from Antioch-Residents-for-Responsible-Development

They want an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the project, for impacts on air quality and health, he said.

“Impacts to air quality will be significant without mitigation,” Jones said. The greenhouse gas impacts of the project were underestimated.”

During an internet search of the group’s name, a copy of their attorney’s letter was found on the website It refers to the tactic known as greenmail, which is used by labor unions to in effect blackmail a developer using environmental issues until the developer agrees to a PLA. That’s because the construction unions don’t really oppose the project, as they want it to be built, only as long as their members are the ones who are hired to build it.

According to their attorney’s letter, under the title “Statement of Interest” identifies the group’s membership. It reads, “Antioch Residents for Responsible Development is an unincorporated association of individuals and labor organizations that may be adversely affected by the potential environmental impacts of the Project. The association includes Antioch residents Nathan Deleon, Sunshine Kinder, and Anthony Lundberg- Palacios and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 302, Plumbers & Steamfitters Local 159, Sheet Metal Workers Local 104, Sprinkler Fitters Local 483 and their members and those members’ families and other individuals that live, recreate, work and raise their families in the City of Antioch (collectively “Antioch Residents’).the Antioch Residents for Responsible Development consists of three Antioch residents.”

One additional item that was mentioned during city staff’s presentation on the project, which wasn’t included in the staff report in the council packet, the conditions of approval “obligate the project to join the pending Contra Costa Fire District’s Community Facilities District (CFD),” to pay for additional fire service needed by the future residents. Other new development projects in the area are being required to be included in the CFD.

Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts was the first council member to speak on the matter, saying the property owner has had “an extensive history” of ignoring code enforcement issues. “In other words, these are impediments to economic development. Based on the lack of maintenance, these issues can dramatically affect surrounding businesses and residents.”

“Please tell me how this…applicant is going to be different,” she asked city staff.

“Our task before you, is to evaluate the project,” responded Forrest Ebbs, Antioch Community Development Director. “We’re sensitive to the fact that there are other issues. But I can’t introduce outside elements to this process.”

“Our analysis of the project is complete, and we can speak to that,” he added.

“Until I can have an answer on this, I don’t feel comfortable. I really don’t,” Motts stated. “We have a responsibility to the residents…we have a history of approving developments haphazardly.”

Thorpe then said, “Thank you for that. I think I share the same concerns.”

He asked if the applicant, Gabriel Chiu was on the line. But only the applicant’s architect was available to answer questions.

“I think we all have the concerns about the applicant,” said Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock. “But we need to move forward. This is an infill project and we’ve been asking for infill projects. The code enforcement issues have to be addressed before the project can move forward.”

“I like this project,” she continued. “We need apartments in the area. It will be nice to see the retail have a facelift.”

She asked that some of the units be reserved for seniors, and for a PLA.

“Will there be a manager on site?” Ogorchock asked.

“There is a condition of approval that there be a 24-hour manager on site of the project,” a city staff member responded.

Councilmember Monica Wilson shared her concerns saying, “although I’d like to see something on that side, I’m with everybody else. I just need some assurances the property will be maintained.”

“It’s already a very dense population in there, with apartments on San Jose Drive,” she continued. “How far back do those code enforcement issues go?”

“I’ve been on staff for over five years,” Ebbs shared. “When I first started with the city, that was one of the stops on a code enforcement tour.”

“I’m just not feeling confident of that applicant maintaining that site,” Wilson continued. “There definitely needs to be a project labor agreement. There just needs to be a lot of things before I can move forward.”

“We have an opportunity to take an area of town and see an investment,” Mayor Sean Wright said, urging the other council members to reconsider their opposition. “If we say no to this project, five years from now, we’re still going to have the same code enforcement issues.”

“We need to bring a project into that area to spur development,” he continued. “This is a crucial opportunity for Antioch. If we say no, tonight, we’re not just saying no to this developer, but to quite a few other developers.”

“I just don’t feel comfortable. If it was any other applicant,” Motts added. “I would need a broader conversation with the applicant before we go forward.”

“If we approve this project, this evening it might give the applicant a quick kick in the rear to fix up his other properties,” said Ogorchock. “All these conditions have to be met before he moves forward. Hopefully the applicant is listening, tonight and hearing the comments.”

Ogorchock made a motion to approve the project and Wright seconded it.

However, Thorpe offered a substitute motion. “My substitute motion is to postpone indefinitely,” he said. Motts seconded it.

“Is there a goal with the postponement?” Wright asked.

“It sounds like there are concerns of our colleagues and the applicant isn’t here to answer them,” Thorpe said. “This is about trust and I don’t trust him.”

“We’ve never had a project come before us in which the applicant wasn’t with us,” Motts said.

“I really think this is a project we need in town,” Wright said.

The council then adopted the motion to postpone on a 3-2 vote with Wright and Ogorchock voting no.

Following the vote, both Motts and Thorpe were asked if they had spoken with Mr. Chiu before the council meeting. Thorpe responded simply, “Nope.” Motts responded that she had not spoken with the applicant before the meeting and that usually developers approach her and other council members with their projects before the meeting, not the other way around.

Had the council voted on Ogorchock’s motion and it failed, the applicant would have had to wait at least one year to bring it back to the council for a vote. Instead, by approving the motion to postpone indefinitely, although unnecessary and a motion to table would have been sufficient and more appropriate, it will allow the applicant to return sooner than a year, and be available to answer questions of council members. It also offers the applicant time to submit a condominium application to convert the project from rental apartments, which both Thorpe and Motts mentioned they were supportive of, following the meeting. That could take four to six weeks according to Antioch Planning Commission member Manny Soliz. (See related article)


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