Date: January 5, 2005 2:09:51 PM PST
To: Friendsof2Creeks@yahoogroups.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: [Friendsof2Creeks] Public Works Committee Issues
3845 Delmont Ave
Oakland, CA 94605-2230
Oakland City Council
I Frank Ogawa Plaza
Oakland, CA 94612
Attention: Nancy Nadel
January 5, 2005
Dear Councilwoman Nadel,
Thank you holding the Public Works Committee meeting on December 14, 2004. Based on the questions you and your fellow committee members were asking, it is apparent that you have been giving careful thought to this project. Most of the current problems were already an issue in the DEIR and EIR despite what the developers claim. The settlement by the Burkhalter Neighborhood's Association neglected to address the creek, which is now a real and valid concern.
At the meeting, I was trying to bring up some issues that have been a concern since the project was initially evaluated by the Planning Commission, As you know the project does not match the low density zoning of the area. Back in the planning approval stage, the following promises were made by the developers, represented by Mr. Chapman and Ms. Cappio, to "compensate" for the mismatch in zoning:
- The creation of low income housing at the site
- The creation of a senior center at the Quarry sight
- Employment of local, Oakland citizens on the construction project
- The creation of public parks and public access areas
- The promise of obtaining a Creek Ordinance Protection Permit, made by
Claudia Cappio at the final Planning Commission approval meeting
To my knowledge none of these conditions have been met. Is it proper, or even legal, to make public promises to get a project approved, only to neglect them later? I know you have your hands full, but I would really like some answers. These promises are public record.
Moreover, with regard to the letter that Bingham McCutchen wrote in response to the Natural Heritage Institute letter, I am surprised that they would resort to using blatantly false information. Namely the assertion that waterquality of Chimes Creek is a "last ditch time barred" issue. The creek has been anissue since day one, and you can see letters of concern in the Draft and FinalEnvironmental Impact Reports, and in other public records. The letter also states that the California Department of Fish and Game and US Department of Fish and Wildlife "commented on the project." What Bingham-McCutchen neglected to mention is the fact that both agencies strongly opposed the project.
Regretfully, The City of Oakland chose to ignore the recommendations of these and other expert agencies. Now, we are all faced with a messy situation that could have been avoided.
Another unfortunate turn of events regarding this project pertains to the City and the DeSilva Group making a mockery of the Endangered Species Act. The way the Alameda Whip Snake issue was dealt with was just plain wrong.
Despite expert consultations, the City and DeSilva once again chose to ignore this species. The enclosures are not properly installed and maintained (photos documentation is available), and the protocol for monitoring them was mysteriously changed from what was originally proposed in the EIR.
This whole project have never should have been approved by the Planning Commission. Based on the hard work and observations of the community, it is obvious that this project is too large for this ecosystem, creek and sewer lines. As is evidenced by the last several months of discharge into Chimes Creek and sewage leakage, this project is stressing this waterway.
This is a chance for the Oakland become a great city. "Great cities" listen to their citizens, and act accordingly. The members of the community that have been monitoring this problem have various areas of expertise, and have worked diligently on this problem, and should be taken seriously. I am not a homeowner along the creek, but do live there. I am a trained biologist, and have had concern for this situation for several years now.
In light of the Perata-Hu investigation on improper approval for several projects in Oakland, it is a good chance to reconsider the net value of this project. No matter what course of action you choose, you still have the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act to contend with.
The best step to take is to reevaluate to whole approval process, and follow the advice of experts and the community, and your own City Council. The call for a study and monitoring project has been suggested, and the resources are available. The Friends of Two Creeks group is interested in preserving and restoring East Bay creeks. A proactive approach would be to fund a monitoring project of Chimes Creek. The study area should be from the Headwaters in the Quarry, through the open areas along Delmont Avenue and Mills College, by the Coliseum out to the Bay.
Another source of funding for a study could be from the fines that the City has issued to DeSilva.
Given the high degree of public awareness of Mills College, the Networks Associates Coliseum, and San Francisco Bay, I would think it in the City's best interest to show that they care. The best possible outcome would be to not approve the DeSilva project as it is current configured, and replace it with one that matches the low density zoning of the area. The positive outcome will be that there will minimal impact on an ecosystem that provides important riparian habitat and acts as a corridor to San Francisco Bay.
Thank you for your attention,