Preserve Lamorinda Open Space

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MORAGA IS UPDATING ITS RIDGELINE & OPEN SPACE DEVELOPMENT REGULATIONS

Your help is needed to preserve Moraga’s scenic beauty, protect wildlife, and prevent more traffic!

PLEASE ATTEND THESE IMPORTANT HEARINGS:

Planning Commission Meeting: Weds. Jan 20, 7:00 pm
Planning Commission Meeting: Mon. Feb. 1, 7:00 pm
TOWN COUNCIL MEETING: Date to be Announced


NOTE: All meetings will take place in Moraga’s brand-new
Town Council Chambers at 335 Rheem Blvd


For the first time in over 13 years, the Town of Moraga is updating its open space development policies. Over the past year, the Town has gathered residents’ input on open space and ridgeline policies. This public input has overwhelmingly favored stronger protection for open space, ridgelines, scenic views, and hillsides.

Moraga is now entering the critical final phase of this process:
the Planning Commission and Town Council will soon decide on new regulations governing development on steep slopes, massive grading of “high risk” areas, viewshed protection, ridgeline protection, maximum building sizes in scenic corridors, and other issues.

For more details, see the staff report for the January 20 Planning Commission meeting

Please attend these meetings, even if you attended an earlier one, as strong and sustained public participation is crucial to ensure that the new regulations truly reflect the majority of residents’ desire for stronger open space protections. Even if you don’t speak, your presence in the audience shows decision-makers that this issue is important to you.

DOES MORAGA REALLY NEED STRONGER DEVELOPMENT RESTRICTIONS?

For years, developers have said Moraga’s open space and ridgelines are well protected by existing regulations…but is this true?

Moraga’s open-space protection policies were put to the test in 2011 when the Rancho Laguna II proposal came before the Town Council. The Council approved 27 houses in designated “open space” along Rheem Blvd.’s “protected” scenic corridor. (You’ve likely seen the massive grading operations taking place along Rheem Blvd. between Moraga Rd. and St. Mary’s Rd.) Over 358,000 cubic yards of soil will be moved and a ~1,500-foot stretch of the ridgeline has been cut to make way for a road and houses. Is this real protection?

Rancho Laguna II is not an isolated project. Under existing regulations, 167 future houses have already been approved on open hills & ridgeline areas, and another 367 are either proposed or could be allowed under current zoning densities. In addition, 673 new downtown or in-fill units are approved or possible, so that Moraga faces up to 1,207 additional residences--a potential 21% increase in Moraga’s total housing1--in coming years. Some of this future development is already irreversible, but the upcoming hearings will address remaining open space we can still protect with good planning policies.

MORAGA'S APPROVED AND POTENTIAL HOUSING UNITS:
Development Project# Housing Units Status
Open Space, Hillside and/or Ridgeline Areas:2
Palos Colorados (along Moraga Rd; NE of Campolindo) 123 Approved
Rancho Laguna II (along Rheem Blvd.) 27Under Construction
Hetfield Estates (off Sanders Dr.)7 Approved
Vista Encinos (near Larch Dr.) 10 Approved
Bollinger Valley (near Bollinger Canyon Rd.)3 152 Proposed
Painted Rocks (along Moraga Rd. & Rheem Blvd) 15 Proposed
Indian Valley (Canyon Rd, by Valle Vista Staging Area)Up to 200 No application yet
Moraga Center Specific Plan (MCSP) Area:
Camino Ricardo Subdivision (along Camino Ricardo) 26Under Construction
Moraga Town Center Homes (Moraga Way by Fire Stn.) 36 Approved
Remaining Additional Units Allowed Under MCSP4 Up to 528 No application yet
Other In-fill Developments:
Augusta Dr. Extension (Moraga Country Club) 65 Approved
Via Moraga (old bowling alley site on Moraga Rd.) 18 Under Construction
TOTAL POTENTIAL FUTURE UNITS UP TO 1,207
1. There are 5,754 housing units in Moraga according to the 2010 U.S. Census.
2. Denotes open space, hillsides, or ridgeline areas along scenic corridors or surrounding residential zones.
3. Bollinger Valley figure includes 26 proposed second units.
4. The approved Moraga Center Specific Plan (MCSP) covers the Safeway Center & surrounding orchards & lots. So far two MCSP development (Camino Ricardo & Moraga Town Center Homes) are approved. MCSP densities allow up to 528 more units in remaining MCSP areas.

For now, Moraga still has stunning open spaces that we drive by every day, as well as a surrounding greenbelt rich with wildlife, creeks, and forests. Some amount of new development will come to Moraga, but major housing increases, particularly in open space areas, would bring huge changes to the feel of Moraga and its quality of life.


BOLLINGER VALLEY FINAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT STILL PENDING.

In Spring of 2013 the Town of Moraga circulated a Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the proposed 152-unit “Bollinger Valley” development on 186 acres of open space adjacent to Las Trampas Regional Wilderness.

If approved, this project would add nearly 1,400 daily car trips to Lamorinda’s roads, bulldoze an astonishing 1.5 million cubic yards of soil, cut down more than 300 mature native trees and line a pristine ridgeline with rooftops. Precious habitat for raptors and songbirds, foxes, coyotes, deer, and bobcats, as well as threatened species such as the California red-legged frog and Alameda whipsnake, will be lost forever.

The Town received extensive public comments on the DEIR including a detailed legal and technical analysis by PLOS. The next step is for the Town to prepare a Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) responding to those comments. The release date of the FEIR is unknown.

To see photos of Bollinger Valley click here.
The Draft EIR is available at: http://www.moraga.ca.us/dept/planning/Major%20Projects/BollingerValley .


RANCHO LAGUNA II GRADING UNDERWAY

In 2011, by a vote of 2-1, the Moraga Town Council approved the 27-house Rancho Laguna II development on the scenic corridor along Rheem Blvd just north of St. Mary’s Rd, and last July Summerhill Homes broke ground on this project (now re-named “Bellavista”).

Construction got off to a poor start: within the first few weeks of grading, the construction crew accidentally cut down a tree that was to be preserved in the scenic corridor, graded haul roads up the hillside that were expressly prohibited by the conditions of approval, and neglected to install required construction fencing and erosion control measures. PLOS and local residents objected, and the Town has since hired an inspector to conduct monitoring and enforcement on this and other development projects. Additionally, the County Grading Inspector issued a temporary stop work order while the violations (some at least) were addressed. This project illustrates the stunning and destructive impact of mass grading operations, and the serious challenges of enforcing required conditions and mitigation measures.

Meanwhile, Summerhill has also carried out major grading and retaining wall construction for its “Harvest Court” project off Camino Ricardo near Moraga Way, and grading has also begun for the Via Moraga project on Moraga Rd. (across from Starbucks). These three projects constitute only 71 of over 1,200 new units that could potentially be approved under current zoning densities throughout Moraga.

FUTURE OF “PAINTED ROCKS” OPEN SPACE UNCLEAR

The “Painted Rocks” area consists of the hills at the intersection of Rheem Blvd. and Moraga Rd., extending southeast on Rheem nearly to its crest (across from the Woodminster/Rancho Moraga complexes) and extending north on Moraga Rd. to Buckingham Dr. This land falls within two designated scenic corridors and the entire property is zoned “open space” in the Moraga General Plan.

In 2014, a major development was proposed for the “Painted Rocks” open space including 15 houses, a performing arts center, “hospitality center,” athletic fields, and winery. Last year, however, the project proponent/landowner passed away unexpectedly, and the project application is not currently active.



PHOTO--Rheem Blvd. Scenic Corridor Looking North. This area was previously proposed for a performing arts center, winery,"hospitality center" and athletic fields.

HETFIELD SUBDIVISION STATUS

In July 2013 the Moraga Planning Commission approved the Hetfield Estates subdivision on a 58-acre open space parcel near Sanders Drive. This approval came after several years of sustained public testimony and technical input by neighboring residents and PLOS, and the project was ultimately reduced from the proposed six 6,000-square-foot houses on 7 acres, to seven 4,000-square-foot houses on 3 acres. The applicant is now preparing the final building plans for Town approval.

PLOS can be contacted at:

Preserve Lamorinda Open Space
P.O. Box 6632
Moraga, CA 94570-6632
925-878-9682

Email PLOS
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