Separate fitness center, parking garage projects on tap

At its regular meeting tonight, the Walnut Creek Planning Commission will consider permit applications for two distinct projects -- fitness center/ cafe in the Shadelands Business Park and an office building/parking garage/car storage on North Main Street on the former Piedmont Lumber property.

Proponents of the GRE Fitness Center and Cafe seek a conditional use permit to allow conversion of space in a vacant office building (Building 5) at 2820 Shadelands Drive into a fitness center and cafe.

Also, the Ohio-based Zaremba Group seeks a conditional use permit and design review for a proposed new building, parking garage, vehicle storage area other improvements to a 1.93-acre parcel at 2860 N. Main St.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the City Hall council chamber, 1666 N. Main St.

West Downtown plan gets more discussion March 12

The West Downtown Specific Plan will be discussed again at the next Citizens Advisory Committee meeting, after a Feb. 6 meeting on the subject yielded ample suggestions on the future of the area.

The "West Downtown" area runs from California Boulevard in the east, Interstate 680 on the west, Olympic Boulevard on the south and the BART station on the north.

The advisory committee's main task Feb. 6 was to organize all of the suggestions into logical groups to form the basis for various alternative scenarios for the area.


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This community-led planning process is expected to take about two more years.

The most recent discussion included the proposed 141-unit "The Landing at Walnut Creek" apartment complex on Ygnacio Valley Road near the BART station, on the specific area's north end.

Large oak set for removal from Heather Farm Park

City crews will remove an ailing Valley Oak tree from the playground at Heather Farm Park, likely this week.

Recent inspections of the tree, located in the playground's sand lot, by the city's arborist showed decay in some of the tree's structural roots, leading to the recommendation to remove the tree, said city spokeswoman Gayle Vassar. The city has been inspecting the tree since 2000, removing large branches from the upper canopy as needed to maintain safety.

For more information, contact Public Services Manager Mike Vickers at 925-256-3538

'Animal Architecture' at the Lindsay museum

Explore the animal world's engineers and the structures they build in the four-week, afternoon Animal Architecture class starting Tuesday, March 5 at the Lindsay Wildlife Museum.

In a class designed for 6- to 11-year-olds, discover spiders and their webs, bees and their hives, birds and their nests, and underground mammals and their burrows. Students will visit the museum's busy, buzzy Hive Alive! exhibit--a real, working honeybee hive (enclosed in plexiglass with a bee corridor to the outside).

The class runs four Tuesdays, through March 26 from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Register online at http://wildlife-museum.org/education/kids.

City studying second-hand-smoke ordinance

The City Council has asked staff to study a prospective ordinance imposing restrictions on smoking downtown and in apartment buildings and other multifamily homes, along with other ways to cut secondhand smoke exposure dramatically.

In a recent statewide report, Walnut Creek received an "F" grade for its overall tobacco control from the American Lung Association. The city has received this grade since 2009 from that group, which uses three main grading criteria -- smoke-free outdoor air, smoke-free housing and reducing sales of tobacco products.

In the report to the council, city staff recommended restricting smoking at public events to designated smoking areas, and prohibiting smoking at bus stops, ATMs and ticket lines, and within 200 feet of gathering spots including playgrounds and sports fields. They did not recommend banning smoking downtown,or pursuing smoking restrictions in multifamily units. They did, however, recommend prohibiting smoking in all indoor and outdoor common areas, balconies and patios.

Another area of concern in the lung association report was ensuring that minors are not able to buy tobacco products. Walnut Creek already has an ordinance requiring retailers obtain a license from the county health department to sell tobacco, but the lung association recommends a renewed effort to enforce that licensing.

Next 'Spotlight' event highlights corp yard

Walnut Creek's next "Second Saturday Spotlight" program is March 9, "Keeping Things Running Smoothly," a behind-the-scenes look at the city's Public Services Maintenance Corp Yard.

It's the third in a planned series of "Spotlight" events that will also allow the public to go to the nerve center of the Lesher Center for the Arts and see what goes on at the Lindsay Wildlife Museum.

The "Spotlight" series in Mayor Cindy Silva's primary outreach program to Walnut Creek's residents, said Gayle Vassar, Walnut Creek's communications and outreach manager.

"This is the mayor's way to connect with the community for the year," Vassar said.

Future scheduled "Spotlight" programs and April 13, "Walnut Creek's Legacy of Open Space," led by the Walnut Creek Open Space Foundation

The city encourages people to register for each "Spotlight" ahead of time, so the city can best accommodate those who want to come. The online registration system is on the Spotlight web page. That said, drop-ins are welcome, too.

All "Spotlights" will take place the second Saturday of the month from 9 to 10:30 a.m., and will be very informal tours of a community/city gems. To register or for more information, go online to www.ci.walnut-creek.ca.us/spotlight. or call Vassar at 925-943-5895 or email her at vassar@walnut-creek.org

Grand jury applicants sought

The Contra Costa grand jury is seeking applicants for the 2013-14 fiscal year to oversee city and county governments, and school and special districts.

Grand jury members must be 18 years or older, US citizens and have resided in Contra Costa County for at least one year before selection. They can't hold any elected positions within the county and must be able to be released from their jobs to perform jury duties, among other requirements.

Sixty applicants will be selected to be interviewed by the grand jury Selection Committee. A final panel of 19 will be chosen by random drawing on June 14.

Interested applicants should contact the Office of the Civil grand jury at 925-957-5638 or visit www.cc-courts.org/grand jury.

Paint collection sites established

Several paint collection sites have been set up as part of the California Paint Stewardship Program, which requires paint manufacturers to develop a system to retrieve leftover paint from household and commercial consumers.

The program will be funded by a "recovery fee" attached to the purchase price of paint sold in California. That money will go to PaintCare, a nonprofit organization created to administer the state paint disposal and recycling programs. These fees go up to $1.60 per one- to -five-gallon container of paint.

Some collection sites include Kelly Moore, 2700 N Main St. in Walnut Creek; Glidden Professional, 2260 Commerce Ave. in Concord; Kelly Moore, 5600 Imhoff Drive in Concord; Sherwin-Williams, 1241 Diamond Way in Concord; Dunn-Edwards, 555 Contra Costa Blvd. in Pleasant Hill; and Kelly Moore, 1725 Contra Costa Blvd. in Pleasant Hill.

For more information about the California Paint Stewardship Program visit www.paintcare.org

East Bay Women's Conference is March 4

The 2013 East Bay Women's Conference, with keynote speaker Marlo Thomas and featured speaker Lisa Kristine, takes place March 4, at the San Ramon Marriott.

Both women have had significant impact on the lives of women around the world and continue to act and speak out for positive change.

ABC 7 news anchor Dan Ashley will emcee the conference that blends keynote and featured speaker presentations; breakout sessions focused on contemporary issues; exhibitor booths; a fully stocked bookstore and author signings.

The conference is presented by the Walnut Creek Chamber of Commerce and Chevron Corporation. The $195 ticket price includes continental breakfast, lunch and afternoon reception.

Tickets for the conference, are available http://www.walnut-creek.com and click on the Women's Conference photo on the face page.

-- Compiled by Sam Richards