DANVILLE -- Danville residents, upset by talk of changes to make way more for more development and low-income housing, have given town planning commissioners an earful on the issues.
About 200 people turned out Tuesday for a third meeting on the town's controversial update to its general plan. It wasn't an overflow crowd like previous meetings, but the message hadn't changed.
Once again, the overwhelming view of those who spoke out was that they don't like the 2030 General Plan and the changes it could bring to their town.
"Are we turning Danville into Fremont, San Jose, Antioch, or San Francisco, Oakland?" Danville resident Jane Liu asked the planning commission. "Do you want the whole country, every town to look the same -- all the same with higher crime?"
Several speakers talked about Danville being a great and safe place to live and how adding more development and low-income housing would negatively impact traffic, safety, fire department response times, schools, property values and the quality of life.
A point of contention for many in the 2030 plan is the Association of Bay Area Government's regional housing needs allocation assigned to the town by state mandate.
The town is required to set aside at least 9.6 acres for high density, affordable housing. The 2030 plan identifies 14 possible sites totaling 35 acres, mostly around downtown, where property owners could build multifamily housing to achieve the requirement.
"ABAG is asking you to hang yourselves," said Terry Thompson, who lives in Alamo on the Danville border. "In addition, they're asking you to build the gallows, and the town has dutifully built this beautiful 300-page noose, and they'd like you to use it," he said, referring to the draft plan being considered. He called for the town to pull out of ABAG.
Danville resident Mike Arata criticized ABAG. "When local governments surrender their authority and autonomy to unelected regional bureaucracies, those bureaucracies are often captured by third-party special interests, and mandates not in the best interest of the individual member jurisdictions frequently result," he said.
General plan changes that allow developers to cluster new homes on land zoned for agriculture have long been a point of contention between the town and the Save Open Space Danville group, which has been at odds with Danville over a proposed housing development on Magee Ranch. The group hopes to force a public vote on development under Measure S, a growth-control measure Danville voters passed in 2000.
Diablo resident and Save Open Space Danville member Maryann Cella told the commission that the 2030 plan is doing an end-around on Measure S, which requires a public vote for general plan amendments that change land uses.
"It's trying to circumvent an existing right," she said.
Not all speakers opposed the 2030 plan. A handful praised the commission, Town Council and town staff for their stewardship.
Save Mount Diablo land programs manager Seth Adams said, "For decades, this town has grown slowly and carefully and the proposed general plan, even if you disagree with parts of it, continues that trend of slow, careful, thoughtful growth."
Tuesday's meeting was the third of six on the 2030 plan. The commission will hold its last meeting on the plan Jan. 22, when it is expected to make a recommendation to the Town Council. The council will meet Feb. 5 and March 5 before voting on the plan. All meetings are at 7:30 p.m. at the Danville Community Center, 420 Front St.
Contact Jason Sweeney at 925-847-2123. Follow him at Twitter.com/Jason_Sweeney.