Parking, safety drove ‘no’ vote on Clayton’s high-density project

Guest Editorial

As a member of the Clayton City Council, I wanted to share my thoughts on what led me to vote no on the high-density Olivia project downtown.

After the Clayton Planning Commission rendered its decision on the project, it was appealed and forwarded to the City Council. There were four appellants: the developer, a Clayton business owner/resident and two residents from the Stranahan development.

I reached out to all of these individuals and questioned their reasons for the appeals.

The developer’s opinion was clear: He wished to proceed with the development and provide additional residential units in Clayton. He further relayed to me that he had presented an initial plan that included a 60-unit, three-building, two-story development with appropriate on-site parking. The Clayton Planning Department rejected this proposal for limited technical reasons, on which he did not elaborate. This proposal was never brought forward to the City Council, and the rationale for the rejection was not identified to me.

The Clayton business owner/resident expressed concerns regarding the number of units and the height of the current 80+ unit, three-building, three-story development proposal. Further, he had concerns about the bare minimum on-site parking proposed.

The two Stranahan residents individually told me their concerns about the 80+ unit, three-building, three-story proposal. Further, they noted that with the lack of adequate on-site parking, excess parkers would likely overflow onto Marsh Creek Road, which has only two lanes for vehicular traffic and two minimal bicycle lanes. They also believed that parking would likely overflow into the Stranahan area to accommodate the Olivia project’s guest and overnight parking needs.

At the two City Council meetings dedicated to hearing from the developer, the Clayton community and other interested parties, the vast majority of opinions identified three major areas of concern: parking, traffic and safety.

These three major areas of concern highlighted, in my view, the lack of on-site, adequate parking at the currently proposed Olivia project, the additional traffic generated by the proposed development on Marsh Creek Road and the potential for citizen safety in the immediate Olivia project area.

After all presentations and deliberations at the second and final City Council meeting on the Olivia project, I had hoped that the developer would offer to revisit his proposal and bring back the original 60-unit, three-building, two-story proposal for discussion and, ultimately, a unanimous project approval.

As a result of the above, I voted to deny the proposed Olivia project as presented.

Jim Diaz is a City Councilmember in Clayton, CA.