San Ramon Planning Commission likely to discuss eminent domain: San Jose (CA) Mercury News, 3/20/06

By Scott Marshall

The San Ramon Planning Commission may consider a plan to move service-industrial businesses on the north edge of town out of that area to make room for more housing there.

The voter-approved Crow Canyon Specific Plan, tabled indefinitely last summer, is coming back before the Planning Commission as the city moves to re-establish eminent domain to give it the right to force such moves. San Ramon staff planners have recommended moving these businesses elsewhere.

The city regards the area, west of Interstate 680 near the Danville border, as being economically blighted, because land and structures are not being used to what city leaders consider the area's fullest potential.

Service-industrial business owners who rent their spaces along Beta Court are fighting eminent domain and efforts to move them, saying that relocation would be an economic dagger into their livelihoods.

No homes exist in the 128-acre specific plan area. Planning Commissioners have disagreed about whether to approve a residential overlay for Beta Court, home to more than a dozen automotive businesses.

Another reason San Ramon leaders want houses there is the city must make good on its housing element, a plan which — among other things — requires that for every house or apartment project of 10 units or more, 25 percent of those units be set aside for very low-, low- and moderate-income buyers.

The number of affordable units required in each jurisdiction is based on increasing population projections. The state Department of Housing and Community Development requirements are that housing supply must be increased, with a mix of housing types and affordability levels; that infill development and socioeconomic equity be promoted; and that a regional jobs-to-housing balance be improved.

City planners anticipate that, by 2007, the number of affordable units required in the city will increase from the 3,789 now required, according to a city staff report. Thus, planners recommend the Planning Commission increase the number of units in the specific plan from 580 units to 735.

The 128-acre specific plan area also includes portions of San Ramon Valley Boulevard, Old Crow Canyon Road and Crow Canyon Court, Deerwood Road, Omega Road, Perdue Road, Hooper Drive and Beta Court.

The General Plan 2020, approved by voters in 2002, established the Crow Canyon Specific Plan as a mixed-use neighborhood integrating hundreds of multifamily housing units and about 570,000 square feet of floor space for retail, office, service commercial and other uses.

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