For several months, residents have been voicing their concerns about the proposed land use for the 80 acres of land on the east side of Dublin. The land, long owned by the Dublin Land Company (DiManto Property), is zoned for high density housing due to the decisions made by a prior city council. The parcels, divided into northern pieces and a southern section, have been the topic of debate among residents, city officials, owner John DiManto and Summerhill Homes, a residential developer based out of San Ramon.
Last May, the City Council unanimously voted against approving the study to convert land currently zoned for commercial (southern parcel) to residential. In a pervious Patch article, many residents posted comments asking for less housing and more commercial.
[Related article: Rezoning Request for Builder Denied by City Council]
When asked for his thoughts about the Tuesday meeting, Councilmember Abe Gupta told Patch, via email:
"This is a bad bargain for the City. There is no rush to allow these homes to be built except for enriching the developer during a hot real estate market. We should wait for a unified plan that gives the residents what has been promised for the last 15 years-- vibrant, high-quality commercial at a prime location. More houses will continue to overcrowd our schools and add congestion to the roads. Allowing these homes may result in the promise 5-10 years from now of a small drug store and strip mall. This is unacceptable to the residents of Dublin."
Councilmember David Haubert says he is in favor of lower density housing that also includes retail.
"It feels like we are only seeing half of the homework project," Haubert said. "The developer tried to bring a slice of the package. They want to go forward with only the promise of commercial. We need to ask the developer to bring a full and complete package. Dublin needs more balance and we need to increase the ratio of retail to residential.”
According to Haubert, earlier this year, Summerhill Homes came to the council with a proposal that included much more high density housing.
"That proposal was for both parcels but had little content with no real plans for commercial and we told them no back then," Haubert said. "The difference Tuesday was that they offered more lower density housing but still nothing for the southern parcel. I’m in favor of the shift from high to medium density for these parcelsWe need more community input on how best to develop the vacant land in eastern Dublin.”
Former Dublin councilmember Kasie Hildenbrand spoke at the meeting and told Patch, via email:
It is my opinion the council should have denied the request for a study and asked the landowner and developer to come back to the council with a comprehensive plan for all parcels. Over the years, the council has consistently slowly chipped away at the vision the Dublin residents voted for and approved in the east side of town. Reasons range from changes to the market, changes in land use planning, or simply because a new and better idea presented itself. On the occasion the council has held out and waited for the planned development projects have typically come forward. Though it may take longer than expected we do see vibrant projects come through when developers are challenged to do so. The residents of Dublin deserve a land use plan that brings vitality and sustainable options to this area. Walkable retail and commercial is absolutely needed in this area and residents would prefer to see that over more housing at this time. Also, let's not forget the larger development on the horizon that will bring additional people into Dublin to live, work and play who will undoubtedly frequent the retail and commercial of this area.
Resident James Morehead, who has lived in Dublin for 14 years, also voiced his concerns to the council during the meeting on Tuesday.
Morehead told Patch, via email:
"It was clear from the presentation by Summerhill that the developer is very anxious to build homes, and would build a lot more if given the opportunity. I support moving to lower density housing, single-family homes, but the Council should use the leverage they now have to get commitments on building out more walkable retail which Dublin needs. If you look north, south and east of Dublin you see cities with walkable retail that really pulls the community together. Parcels 1-4 along Tassajara Road are perhaps the last chance for Dublin to create a place where residents can walk, meet, eat and shop. I realize more homes are coming in any scenario but why give up two parcels for homes with no commitment to create a vibrant retail environment in the remaining parcels? Abe Gupta and David Haubert voted no, and Kevin Hart made it clear multiple times that he'd vote no in the future if there is no commitment made on parcel 2 for commercial / retail. If residents really want the right mix of low density housing and more importantly walkable retail they have to get involved in the coming months."
Robert Freed, President and CEO of Summerhill Homes, says the company is "very pleased with the outcome of the meeting."
"We are excited about plans to be moving forward," Freed said. "I think it is a step in the right direction for that site."
According to Freed, Summerhill Homes is under contract to purchase parcels three and four, along with a section of parcel two for residential purposes from DiManto.
"We are not involved in any of the development of the retail," Freed commented. "DiManto is seeking developers for the retail portion and we are working with them on the planning of the retail side. I think the community and city want to know how these properties will interface."
Wendy Baker of Summerhill Homes says that residential will happen on the northern parcels.
"We are trying to configure the housing so it compliments the neighborhoods adjacent," Baker said. "We are trying to be responsible for the decisions. We don't want to blatantly disregard or push away the community's desire for commercial development."
Several sources say that landowner John DiManto was at the council meeting but did not speak.
What does Dublin need, more commercial property or residential units? Tell us in the comments section.