There is a rancher in my town whose family owns 410 acres of pristine grazing land. His name is Tom Magee. Today Tom and Davidon Homes hosted a Tails and Trails walk for people to bring their dogs and hike through the ranch to see what future park trails would look like. I went along and brought my dog, Daisy.
Davidon Homes wants to cluster together 69 homes in the low part of the ranch, with the remaining 381 acres going to permanent open space. The East Bay Regional Park District would also receive an easement to build a paved 8 foot wide bike/pedestrian path on the ranch land so that cyclists heading to Mt. Diablo could avoid the busy winding Diablo/Blackhawk Road that they need to take to get to the state park.
A small group of homeowners in Diablo and along Blackhawk Road where the new houses would be located are against the development.
Here are some on the objections I have heard:
- It would create more traffic on that dangerous road. Yes, traffic would increase 3-5%.
- Davidon Homes could change its mind and not keep the open space permanent. Donating land to the park district is a condition of the sale, and the town has jurisdiction to make sure it happens and that Davidon follows through.
- Davidon isn’t that invested in Danville. Davidon has built 741 homes in Danville.
- The land is deemed agricultural and to change the zoning now is not fair. Agricultural land is the only type of “open space” land that can be subdivided into five acre parcels with one house per parcel (390 divided by 5 is 78). If this deal falls apart, the Magee family can still sell off its land to buyers who could build houses on the ridge lines and throughout the ranch.
- It doesn’t solve the problem of a winding dangerous Diablo/Blackhawk Road. Steve of Davidon told me today that the town looked into widening the road at the cost of $50 million, which is money the town doesn’t have. The road will still be winding and dangerous, but the cyclists will be off of it, on a new bicycle trail, making the road safer for everyone.
- Cyclists still have to cross the dangerous road to get to Mt. Diablo. Yes, and there will be a stoplight at Mt. Diablo Scenic Road which will work in tandem with the light at Green Valley Road to keep traffic flowing smoothly.
- It’s not a preserve! What a joke! It’s not a joke. It actually does preserve what is currently private land into public open space into perpetuity. It will benefit future generations of cyclists, hikers, and lovers of undeveloped hillsides.
Tom Magee grew up on this ranch and wants the town of Danville to enjoy part of it as hiking trails. He would much rather see homes clustered down low instead of mega mansions sprinkled throughout. He said he could also continue to graze his Angus cows on the open land with whatever entity ends up managing it (HOA, GHAD, or park district). We were coming up on a group of cows as he spoke.
“Don’t worry,” he said,. “The cows are harmless, except watch out for cow 166! She has an attitude. If she is staring at you and not moving, either let her pass or give her a wide berth when passing her.”
I watched for 166 on the way back to the cars.
“Also, never get between a cow and her calf.”
Tom would like to show his future children and grandchildren where he, his dad, and his grandpa grew up. He’d like to show them where his first cow dog is buried. This is why he supports the Davidon plan with the town.
Tom gave me his cell phone number and invites skeptics to come take a guided tour of his family’s ranch (you can p.m. me for his number). He says there is a lot of misinformation out there, and if Measure Y doesn’t pass on March 3rd, his family will sell off the land parcel by parcel, which will eventually result in huge homes on five-acre parcels instead of land for the public to use through permanent open space, for infinity.
A vote No means no bike trail.
A vote No means no public hiking trails.
If the vote goes south, there is still the potential of 78 new houses. Legally, the Magee family has the right to sell the land. The town utilities are already in place at the edge of the ranch in three locations. All the buyers would have to do is extend them to their parcels and build.
The town council unanimously approved this project. The benefits for the town are threefold: safety for cyclists, public hiking trails, no ridge-line homes.
Now that you have the facts, please consider voting for yes for measure Y.
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You can also go to http://www.mageepreserve.com to watch a video and see for yourself.