CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (Mar. 19, 2022) — Developers of a residential project proposed for unincorporated land south of Pittsburg have filed a motion for a new trial following a Feb. 10 Contra Costa County Superior Court ruling that halted the plan because of an inadequate environmental report.
The long-planned proposal calls for 1,650 homes on 606 acres in the unincorporated hills south of Pittsburg.
Last month’s court ruling denied Discovery Builders Inc. and Faria Land Investors LLC from proceeding with the Faria/Southwest Hills project that the Pittsburg City Council approved unanimously in February 2021.
Challenge from Save Mount Diablo
The court decision came after Save Mount Diablo (SMD), a land trust conservation organization in existence for 50 years, launched a legal challenge to the project. SMD said the development would involve extensive grading on hillsides, ridgeline development and impacts to the East Bay Regional Park District’s Thurgood Marshall Regional Park.
Seth Adams, SMD’s land conservation director, called the environmental report “egregiously bad.” He said the developers “added 150 units the night of the (2021 Pittsburg council) presentation without any kind of environmental review.”
The court noted inadequate information for 150 dwellings, as well as unaddressed water supply and air quality impacts.
“They had many opportunities to correct their mistakes, and they didn’t,” Adams said of the environmental report. “They were trying to call it a master plan without a plan. The courts said ‘No.’ ”
New hearing March 24
In a motion filed Feb. 24, the developer is asking “for a new trial in the case challenging the city’s environmental review of the Faria project to have the court reconsider evidence that it may have overlooked when it ruled that the city’s environmental review fell short in three relatively minor respects,” said Louis Parsons, president of Discovery Builders.
A spokesperson said a court date has been set for March 24.
“Once all the evidence is considered, Discovery is confident that the court will find that the city’s environmental review is comprehensive and satisfactory,” Parsons said.
If the project is approved, the city of Pittsburg would annex the county land.
‘A second chance’
Adams called last month’s decision “a major victory” for Pittsburg’s hills and for preserving “open space, habitat for wildlife and the community’s scenic views.”
Anticipating a counter to the decision, he said that after correcting environmental documents, the Pittsburg City Council could approve the project. “They have a second chance to make it better by protecting the ridgeline and neighboring regional park.”
Developers are confident the project will go forward.
“The General Plan for Pittsburg designates this area for residential; Pittsburg’s Planning Commission recommended approval of this project; the City Council unanimously approved this project by a 5-0 vote; and local residents approved inclusion of this land within Pittsburg’s Urban Limit Line for development of homes when they approved Measure P,” Parsons said.
Karen Jenkins is pleased to be a correspondent with the Concord Clayton Pioneer News. She has worked as a community journalist on and off for three decades at publications including the Contra Costa Sun in Lamorinda; the Antioch Daily Ledger; the Avon-Beaver Creek Times in Colorado; Roll Call in Washington, D.C. and the Daily Nexus at UC-Santa Barbara. She is also the student advisor for The Sentinel, the student newspaper at Northgate High School in Walnut Creek. She may be reached at Karenjenkins241@gmail.com.