The key votes were 4-1 to approve plans for 500-homes near Coyote Hills Regional Park.
Councilwoman Anu Natarajan cast the lone dissenting votes. Her opposition stemmed mostly from disappointment with the development plan rather than the environmental issues.
“I think we could have done better,” she said “We had the chance to do something that could have been a model.”
The other council members invoked voter opposition to Measure K, the 2006 ballot measure that would have prevented major housing development at the site. They also noted that the project is smaller and has fewer environmental impacts than earlier proposals.
The council meeting was a packed house with 30 speakers. Berkeley (Ugh) Fremont Schools Superintendent Jim Morris played all of his cards warning that because of school overcrowding some of the future homeowners could be driving their kids all the way to … gasp…. Warm Springs Elementary School.
The Patterson’s front man Richard Frisbie continued to argue that the school’s would get $6-$7 enough to build additional facilities at the already overcrowded Ardenwood Elementary School.
Morris, who was sitting near me at the meeting, said the additions Frisbie is pushing would leave the district with more than 1,000 students in a school, whose library, cafeteria and auditorium were all designed for a much smaller school.
*** Morris isn’t saying the Patterson Ranch Development would generate 1,000 students. He said building additions to Ardenwood would leave it with more than 1,000 students, while many of its facilities would still be designed toward for a smaller student body.
The council approved giving the city an additional 5 acres of park space west of Ardenwood that it would likely trade with the school district to allow the district to build new school facilities on city parkland in Ardendwood.
The two churches who have been promised first dibs at two sites west of Ardenwood Boulevard brought lots of folks out for the meetings. They outnumbered the environmentalists, at least for the first two hours before most of them left.
The head of Harvest House church, which sold its former site to a developer several years back, said he had a verbal agreement with the Patterson family for one of the designated church sites.
I hadn’t picked up on this before, but the Patterson site is contaminated with with some type of toxic pesticide. No homes can be built until they clean up the soil. It looks like the Pattersons are banking on a cheaper, less proven method for getting rid of the toxins, but if that doesn’t work, they’ll have to shell out some more money.
Another thing I didn’t pick up on until I talked to Bob Wieckowski after the meeting is that Cargill wants to develop land that’s even closer to Coyote Hills than Patterson Ranch. Wieckowski wants the city — and not the East Bay Regional Park District — to get the land donated by the Pattersons, so it has some leverage with Cargill. But apparently top city staffers don’t like that idea.
The East Bay Regional Park District definitely made it clear that they think they’re getting the 300 or so acres fronting the park from the Pattersons. The park district urged the council to support the development.