What a City!

Lots of great letters in the paper today! I’ll weigh in soon with my thoughts on the general plan, but I hope plenty of you will log in and leave your own comments here. (I’ve fixed the comments so you just have to verify a word to post, not log in as a registered user.) …

In a perfect world …

A great new Walnut Creek downtown library would include about 150 underground parking spaces with a design that puts an expanded building over the current parking site without encroaching on the tennis courts or rose gardens. That’s the kind of design I’d be willing to pay for with a November bond measure. …

Can you hear me now?

There’s a funny Walnut Creek City Council quote I keep seeing in the Contra Costa Times. It goes something like, “You know, the folks who show up at Council meetings probably don’t even represent the real feelings of the people.” … Councilman Charlie Abrams gets The Quote in Sunday’s Times, where he’s paraphrased as saying “(I’m) not sure those who attend public meetings truly represent a cross-section of the public.” … Well, Councilman Abrams, I don’t attend many public meetings, and I can tell you, the folks out here are just as concerned as those in your halls. You see, when a city council begins to lose touch with the people it represents, those people just might not want to waste their breath bending its ear. … It also strikes me that if the council has strong local grassroots support for its actions, it should be able to stack rooms of people in favor of those policies. Its inability to do so shows clay feet. … It’s not just “prominent old-timers” (apologies to JoAnn Hanna) that the Council has to worry about. It’s people like me and my neighbors: renters and first-time homebuyers, folks who live in the condos on Oak Road and down Ygnacio Valley, who push their infants on the swings and play tennis at Civic Park. … You might be aggravating folks who remember what the town was like 30 or 4o years ago, but you’re also waking up a whole new generation who came to Walnut Creek because it’s the best darn town in the East Bay, and who don’t want another Dublin-Pleasanton. Middle-class, educated, progressive people. … You see, when we hear about things like the Council booting the recycling center to make way for auto dealers; threatening the future of great downtown businesses like Mark Morris and La Fogata; converting working-class rental units into unaffordable condos; throwing the Veterans Hall in the dustbin of history in favor of speculative commercial development; ignoring the needs of dog owners; and threatening to put hundreds of superfluous parking spaces in our park, we get a little upset. …

Round 1 goes to Save Civic!

There are plenty of happy folks around Walnut Creek this weekend, as citizen action forced the Council to shelve any thought of eminent domain for Casa Cristina (and to scale down the library project and scrap plans for new retail stores in Civic Park, according to City Manager Mike Parnessremarks in the Times.) … We also made the top headline in the Times (Save Civic co-editor John Morse is quoted, and this site is referenced, though not by name). … This is big folks. You all deserve a round of applause . … I’ve also updated the flyer to reflect this victory. …

Friday Flash

FLASH: CC Times to report no eminent domain for Casa Cristina. … Sunday update: The original online version of the story Friday was a bit different than the one that appeared in print on Saturday. The original version states that no commercial space will be sited in the park. … Maybe people wouldn’t have complained about eminent domain if councilmembers hadn’t stated that they were considering it. It’s also interesting that the council took the time to put a $21 million bond on the ballot before its recess, but not to clear up the eminent domain issue. That had to happen at a scarcely noticed special closed session. …

A growing effort

Things are booming for Save Civic Park. John Morse, a Parkmead district resident concerned with the land-grab development going on in Walnut Creek, joins the site this week as a co-editor to talk about issues such as the new General Plan that goes before the City Council in coming months. … Theresa Harrington, our local C.C. Times reporter, has an article in today’s Walnut Creek Journal about the City’s efforts to lure more business to the office parks around town. Read it online, then post your comments below and send them by e-mail to Journal editor Aaron Crowe at acrowe@cctimes.com. … Tell him Save Civic Park sent you! … Also today, I spoke to a key member of the Diablo Greens about the library project, sharing concerns such as the impact on the Farmers Market. Hopefully all the town’s political parties will see the worthiness of our effort here. … Thanks for reading! …

Market photo courtesy the Real WC.

Not in my name

While the City uses our tax dollars to slap around one of Walnut Creek’s oldest families, the women of Casa Cristina have been digging into their own pockets for decades to protect their property. The home’s history is documented in Bay Area publications back to 1933, and in 2001 architectural and landscaping surveys found national historical significance in details such as the backyard picnic area with walls and fireplace constructed of Australian basalt. The rock was first used as ship ballast, then to pave the cobblestone streets of San Francisco before H. Lloyd Drury put it to use behind his new home. … It’s this kind of history documented in the old guest book that Julia Maxwell and Elizabeth Heidt showed me today. You can trace the family’s history through that book, from the yellowed news clippings to the children’s scrawled signatures from Easter dinners. …