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Contra Costa supes consider senior residential care development near Walnut Creek

CBS San Francisco
CBS San Francisco
 2022-11-28

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PIX Now -- Monday morning headlines from the KPIX newsroom 07:01

WALNUT CREEK – The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will decide whether a developer can transform 30 acres of mostly open space that's nearly surrounded by the City of Walnut Creek, near Heather Farm Park.

Spieker Senior Development Partners wants to build a large senior residential care development at the site known as Seven Hill Ranch, including 354 housing units within 30 single-story buildings, an 85,000-square-foot medical center, a multi-story clubhouse, a recreation building, a maintenance building, and a parking garage.

It also wants to remove up to 353 trees from the site.

The medical center would contain 100 care units, including 33 skilled nursing units and 23 memory care units for residents requiring daily assistance of medical attention.

Site of proposed Seven Hills senior residential care development in Contra Costa County, near Walnut Creek. Bay City News Service

Amenities would include a swimming pool, tennis and bocce courts, dog parks, gardening center, walking trails, gym, auditorium, restaurants, bar, theatre, library, and clubhouse. The site will include 594 parking spaces.

Opponents say they've gathered about 4,000 signatures in petitions against the project and promise to make their presence known at Tuesday's meeting. Their concerns include removing protected trees, hundreds of facility employees driving through the neighborhoods to get to work, and no public access to whatever open space and seasonal wetland is left.

The site is just west of Heather Farm, owned by the same family for the past century or so, with a caretaker in a hilltop house. To the south is Kinross Drive, a residential street connected to Ygnacio Valley Road that would serve as the main access road.

The county planning commission rejected the project on Oct. 26. County staff responded to its concerns by negotiating concessions with the developer and recommends the board approve the project.

Proposed traffic access and circulation improvements include extending Kinross Drive and realigning portions of Seven Hills Ranch Road within the site boundaries to serve as internal access roads to all project components.

The staff report for Tuesday's meeting says the project "is in the public interest as California is in the midst of a housing crisis." and that rezoning the land would be "a 216% increase over the base single family medium density land use designation."

It also says the proposal is "generally well-suited for the site and the inclusion of health care services and community amenities in the project design will be convenient for future residents and help this proposed new development be compatible with surrounding neighborhoods.

"In addition, the proposed project and conditions of approval have been refined to include supplemental public benefits and additional protections for neighbors and all required findings can be made."

The report also says Spieker has agreed to establish and implement a financial assistance program whereby the facility operator would establish an annuity in an initial amount of $2 million toward subsidies for lower- income households that would not otherwise have the financial means to live in the facility.

Spieker would also pay $3 million over 10 years to county parks, trails or open space. Spieker said security concerns preclude it from allowing trails and public access to the site, but the company would dedicate 2.4 acres along the site west boundary for public purposes.

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors meets at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the board chambers in the county administration building, 1025 Escobar Street in Martinez. Meetings can be joined at www.contracosta.ca.gov .

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