Parkmead Community Association

City-County News

The Parkmead Community Association board seeks to keep the neighborhood informed of city and county actions that impact the Parkmead neighborhood. This can range from traffic issues and development in or near our neighborhood to new ordinances and regulations. Our newsletter and email blasts highlight these issues, and this website provides updates and background.

  As part of the mission of the Parkmead Community Association, we “represent the area before governmental bodies” and seek to keep the neighbors informed. We invite you to participate in city and county issues so our elected representatives know your opinions.  See our Local Links for contact information.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Scroll Down for other City-County News
 
1500 Newell Highrise Project at S. Main

Left-Turn Arrow at S. California and Newell

Olympic Corridor Trail Connector

I-680 South Bound HOV Lane
*************************************
Neighborhood Traffic Meeting
by Pete Johnson (Updated October 2013)

More than 80 neighbors turned out on April 10 for the Neighborhood Traffic Meeting at Parkmead Elementary School. Those in attendance raised lots of concerns about safety and traffic. See below for background.      

If you are interested in participating in a Parkmead Traffic Task Force please contact us at traffic@parkmead.org  In addition to your email address, it would help to have your name and street. 

UPDATE: Since the task force did not materialize over the summer, the PCA Board came up with some issues to pursue with the County and City and to recruit some neighbors to assist. An informal committee met on Oct. 3 to work on refining the list of issues.These issues were grouped by location and are not all inclusive. 

Traffic Management Issues for follow-up

1) Newell and Lilac Intersection - County street repairs and flooding and study pros and cons of removing the bus stop and rely on the bus stop at Lilac and Lancaster after surveying stakeholders.

2) Arbutus "S" Curve - County and City suggested a traffic study (speed, volume, origin/destination) after school resumes (County has some data from summer when school closed for comparison) and recruit Arbutus neighbors for involvement in next steps

3) Lilac Sidewalk - from Arbutus to Newell - consult with City on options, parameters, costs and survey neighbors on south side of Lilac (7 homes) for opinions and involvement.

4) School traffic on Magnolia (and Newell) for school drop off and pick up - County proposed meeting with Parkmead principal after school resumes - PCA to be involved (Dorris-Eaton?)

5) Hillside Church parking on Magnolia - County put in red curb at request of church a year or so ago. PCA should revisit concerns with neighbors on Magnolia above church.

6) Newell and Olympic right turn lane to help exiting neighborhood.


Background: County Supervisor Candace Andersen suggested the meeting via her staff. The Supervisor attended our pool party at Dewing and spoke to us at our fall pizza meeting last year where she heard traffic concerns raised by neighbors and later several neighbors contacted her office about specific issues. She proposed a neighborhood traffic management meeting led by County traffic staff. The PCA expanded this to include the City since part of Parkmead is in the incorporated city. In addition, the CHP and Walnut Creek Police agreed to attend. Parkmead Elementary agreed to hold it at the school and be involved.  The meeting was publicized electronically to those for whom we had emails and on our website and Facebook and on Nextdoor Parkmead; plus signs were posted and some flyers handed out.

The Meeting: After a panel of traffic and law enforcement experts made introductory remarks, the meeting was opened to questions and suggestions. They ranged from traffic on Newell and Lilac with concerns about numbers of cars and speed to more specific examples of cars running stop signs and pedestrians being endangered on many of our narrow streets. Traffic on the Arbutus “S” curve with dangers to pedestrians and crossing Lilac to use the pathway were of major concern. School traffic on Magnolia, especially at pickup time, and church parking on upper Magnolia on Sundays impacting residents above the church were raised.  The WCI school bus stop on Lilac near Newell needs attention, as traffic is blocked and the road is in bad condition - plus flooding at the corner. Cyclists going through stop signs have been brought to the attention of the CHP, which has been out recently for enforcement.

 Next Steps: Can we get sidewalks? “No Parking” signs? Speed bumps? More stop signs? Crosswalks? Improved roads for safer walking?  More enforcement? There are costs and regulations. It takes consensus and community effort. The County and City are willing to work with us where possible. The PCA Board wants to work with concerned neighbors and not let this just be another meeting of complaints and no follow up or action.  We will be working with those at the meeting who want to stay involved and with other interested neighbors as well as our schools and religious institutions. 


Olympic Corridor Trail Connector Study 
by Pete Johnson (Updated September, 2014) 

OVERVIEW: The County is funding a study to better connect the Lafayette-Moraga Trail and the Iron Horse Trail through the City. The City is involved, since the connector is on some city streets. Coming from Lafayette, the recommended corridor is Olympic Blvd. east to S. California Blvd. and then right to Newell near Trader Joe's and then left on Newell to Broadway near Whole Foods. Newell through Parkmead, Lilac and Lancaster are well used by cyclists and are seen as "tributary routes" with possible signage being posted to guide cyclists. 

UPDATE: The second "Community Workshop" took place on Tuesday Sept. 16, 2014 from 6:30 to 8:30 at Parkmead Elementary School's Multi-Purpose Room at 1920 Magnolia Way. For a copy of the "Olympic Corridor Trail Connector Study Draft Preferred Alignment Report" and other details go to the County website at:
http://www.co.contra-costa.ca.us/trailconnectorstudy

There was a good turnout, about 100 including County staff and lots of Parkmead neighbors plus folks from both Lafayette and WC, Saranap, reps from the local bike coalition.  It hopefully proved that Parkmead Elementary is a good venue and if the topic is right the Parkmead and Saranap neighbors will participate.

They had large maps of various sections of the Corridor on about 10-12 tables for folks to review and ask questions of staff at the tables, make notes on the maps and on the lists of options, both short and long term. These maps are all in the report on the County website.

There was one map showing Newell from the barrier through Parkmead to S. Calif as an optional route with Lilac and Lancaster not highlighted although both noted in the narrative as cycling routes.  There was some discussion of ensuring limited access (bikes and pedestrians only) by the barrier while making it smoother for bikes (as in a short paved path). There was some concern about signs pointing cyclists thru Parkmead on Newell since it would encourage cycle use. Others felt the signage reflected reality and led to a safer route off Olympic. One participant suggested highlighting Lilac from Newell to S. Main for Las Lomas students. There would be no markings on Newell etc street surfaces in Parkmead, just directional signs.  I did NOT hear mention of making Newell one way… but it could have been brought up as folks circulated amongst the tables. 

Timeframe - Oct-Dec - get final city (WC and Lafayette) and County approvals - fast track - so done by year end so the local governments can apply for State funds in spring 2015.

If you wish to receive notification of meetings or provide comments on this you can do so on the County website.


The County and City held "study sessions" in late July and early August 2014 to provide feedback to the consultant for their Draft Alignment Report. The first community workshop was held on December 5, 2013 at Parkmead Elementary School. Earlier a stakeholders meeting including the PCA was held at the Lafayette Library on August 15, 2013.

It has become readily apparent that making Olympic Blvd. into a safe route for cyclists of many levels (long distance, commuters, recreational) and for pedestrians will be challenging. See below for details.

Background: The PCA has been monitoring the Olympic Corridor Trail Connector since late 2012.The County has the lead on this project. County Supervisor Andersen is aware of our interest and we are on the County e-mail list for updates. Former PCA board members and avid cyclists, Tony Almeida, Tony Phillips and Dennis Hoagland, are keeping an eye on it too.

The County has contracted with Alta Planning and Design of Berkeley to conduct a study of issues, research alternative routes and obtain public input. On August 15, 2013 a meeting of the Stakeholder Group was held at the Lafayette Library. Stakeholders include local governments, neighborhoods, schools, cycling groups and more. The PCA was represented by Pete Johnson.

The main connection corridor under consideration is Olympic Blvd. but there is no clear and definite route once you reach 680 coming from Lafayette. There are also issues of safety on all potential routes. The Connector is to be used by various groups including long distance, recreational and commuter cyclists as well as pedestrians.

At the December 5, 2013 community workshop there was a brief presentation on the project showing overview, current conditions, goals of the study, options etc. followed by 4 small groups working with large maps to make comments and suggestions and then each group reported back on their thoughts and suggestions. There were about 30-35 in attendance including about 15 Parkmead neighbors along with County and City staff and consultants plus reps from two cycling groups. Safe Routes to Schools funding is a possibility.  

Olympic Blvd. is the favored route but it has problems for safe cycling and walking without significant infrastructure changes, especially from Newell to just past the freeway underpass. Several options have been considered. One was Boulevard Way from the Tice and Olympic intersection to Mt Diablo via Saranap to get downtown, but Mt Diablo Blvd from 24 to downtown is a busy thoroughfare. Pathways following Las Trampas Creek were considered but are expensive and difficult to access. Using Paulsen Lane and connecting to Newell under the freeway was also discussed but has some construction issues crossing the creek. Thus Newell came up on the list to consider to connect from the barrier to downtown (Kaiser and Trader Joes). This is obviously a narrow street to fit cars and cyclists/pedestrians on so much discussion ensued in 3 of the 4 small groups where our neighbors were participating. The idea of making Newell one way from downtown to Olympic came up again among the options discussed. No conclusions were reached and the consultant will compile all the feedback in its Preferred Alignment Report. 

The County and City "study sessions" in late July and early August gave these entities an opportunity to be updated on the project and provide feedback to County staff and the consultant. The PCA had representatives at each meeting both to listen and to provide input.

As more public hearings are scheduled in the next few months and we will keep neighbors informed.  

I-680 South Bound HOV Lane   
by Pete Johnson
(Updated November 2013)

UPDATE: There was another neighborhood meeting on October 30, 2013 at Parkmead Elementary School 1920 Magnolia Way where the Contra Costa Transit Authority (CCTA) updated the public (see below for background). The official purpose was to receive comments on the Draft Initial Study/Environmental Assessment with Proposed Negative Declaration (IS/EA). The CCTA did a mailing to nearby residents in Parkmead, Saranap and Alamo.
The CCTA website http://www.ccta.net had a “fact sheet” pdf.

Background: There are plans to extend the high occupancy lane on I-680 from N. Main thru the 24-680 interchange to Rudgear. The Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) made a presentation to the WC City Council on Feb. 21. This will involve some widening of lanes and re-striping, new sound walls and widening the Las Trampas Creek bridge on 680 near Newell, Paulson Lane and the Palm Court shopping center (Bothello and Alpine). It also may involve the S. Main under crossing near Creekside. This is all expected to be in the current right-of-way. The sound wall on S. Main/Danville Blvd. between the S. Main off ramp and Rudgear will be replaced with a combination retaining/sound wall placed closer to the street. This project will be designed in 2013-15 and construction will be 2016-18. City staff informed the PCA and Friends of the Creek of all this.

There was a neighborhood meeting on May 31, 2012 at Parkmead Elementary School  where the Contra Costa Transit Authority (CCTA) described the project and answered questions. The CCTA did a mailing to nearby residents in Parkmead, Saranap and Alamo. About 45-50 people attended. The DRAFT Environmental Impact Report (EIR) will be out in June 2013 and another public meeting will be held. There will be more info on the CCTA website at some point. http://www.ccta.net    

The second neighborhood meeting on October 30, 2013 was an open house to update the neighborhood and review environmental impacts. There was little turnout from Parkmead neighbors. The next step is design of the project in 2013-15.


 


1500 Newell Highrise Project
at S. Main 
by Pete Johnson
(Updated August 2014)




UPDATE: Construction is underway!!
This is the site of the former high-rise at S. Main and Newell. The City approved the project in 2010 with PCA involvement concerning traffic impacts. The plan was for a four-story building with mixed-use residential and retail with 49 condos over retail stores with two levels of underground parking. In 2013 the developer submitted revisions to have a restaurant in addition to retail. The approved project had parking plans for retail but did not have the parking capacity to accommodate restaurant uses thus another public hearing was held in December, 2013. The City approved the revised plans.  Demolition of the high-rise and 7-11 was completed in November 2012.

Background:

After a year of public hearings, the “Village @ 1500 Newell” was approved by the City of Walnut Creek as of February 2010. The site is at Newell and S. Main and encompasses the land from the eight-story highrise on the corner to the creek by 7-11. Once the building permits are issued they are good for up to 2 years. We do not know when actual demolition (of the highrise and 7-11) and construction will begin. The new project will be a four-story mixed-use residential and retail building with 49 condos on three levels over retail stores with two levels of underground parking.

The Parkmead Community Association has been involved in the review process with city staff, the developer and several commissions. Friends of the Creeks joined us in the review process. Under the new city General Plan 2025, any development in the “Newell Ave./S. California Blvd area” should address issues of concern from the Parkmead neighborhood. This is the area from the former Pinky’s Pizza and Trader Joe’s to the highrise and the Ross shopping center. The General Plan mentions issues of “visual corridors, a circulation plan that considers and mitigates additional traffic impact on the Parkmead and other surrounding neighborhoods, bike and pedestrian access to and through the site, and improved pedestrian and visual access to creek amenities.”

We were concerned that the new building will increase traffic on Newell, especially for cars exiting the new underground residential parking garage on Newell, which may head west toward S. California Blvd. The traffic study commissioned by the City predicts no traffic increase and actually even less traffic since 7-11 will close. Based on our concerns, the City proposed some traffic mitigation to direct traffic away from our neighborhood and assist us in exiting at Newell and S. California. The City installed two new “no freeway access” signs on Newell before the freeway overpass. In June 2010, the City Council approved funding for a left-turn signal at Newell and S. California to assist in exiting our neighborhood. It is in the Capital Investments Program budget for 2010-2012 and will be installed in that time frame. We also expressed safety concerns about cars exiting the new garage on Newell and turning left across several lanes of traffic by Kaiser to get to S. Main but were assured this would not be a problem.

The developer made some pedestrian and bike improvements since the original design, including widening the pedestrian part of the S. Main St. bridge over Las Trampas Creek near the 7-11. These will hopefully make it easier to pass through the area on the way downtown as well as to improve creek access if Newell Promenade (where Taxi’s was) is ever re-developed. The owners of Newell Promenade were at the public hearings and may be developing their site in the future but have not officially submitted a proposal for their “Creek Park Project.” Their proposal would be more mixed-use residential and retail with greater creek access. The PCA and Friends of the Creeks are in communication with the owners. It is unfortunate that these two projects are not being reviewed simultaneously and more coordinated.

The Walnut Creek City website has more information and project drawings (as of March 2010) under "Quick Links" and then pull down to "Current Projects" and scroll to "The Village@1500 Newell.” Contact Pete Johnson, PCA City Liaison, at parkmead@parkmead.org if you have questions about the PCA role or want more details.

 * * * * * * * * * * * *
Walnut Creek Pedestrian Masterplan
added April 2014

The Pedestrian Master Plan is the first citywide planning effort focused on making walking in Walnut Creek safer, easier and more popular. The Plan will assess existing conditions for walking; develop goals and policies to guide the implementation of walking facilities; recommend programs and activities to promote walking; and formulate guidelines for the implementation of sidewalks, crosswalks and footpaths. Particular attention will be paid to improving access to schools and transit within the Downtown, as well as to parks, trails and neighborhood shopping centers.

The first public meeting was held on April 22, 2014 at City Hall. Future public meetings will be scheduled.

For more information about the Pedestrian Plan, visit www.WCwalks.org or contact Jeremy Lochirco, Senior Planner at the City, at (925) 9435899 ext. 2251 or email:lochirco@walnut-creek.org



Chabad Child Care Center & Synagogue
by Pete Johnson (Updated October 2013)

UPDATE: In September 2012 the County approved the synagogue and child care facility for Chabad of Contra Costa at 1671 Newell Ave. After 18 months of review and 3 public hearings, approval was granted with some conditions. These take effect immediately for the synagogue while the child care facility does not have a scheduled opening date but Chabad has applied for permits to begin work on the site.

The key breakthrough in the lengthy process came when Chabad arranged to lease parking space from Kaiser on weekends. The conditions on the synagogue in particular and the childcare center to a lesser extent were the result of input from the neighbors and the PCA. Conditions include Chabad having a parking monitor on site for large events, a formal “complaint system” for the neighbors with reports to the County, limiting late night synagogue activities, keeping trash cleaned up and some minimal landscaping. Chabad is to work with the PCA on the pathway and landscaping suggestions.

Background:

Chabad of Contra Costa submitted plans to Contra Costa County for a Child Care Center at 1671 Newell near Circle Dr. and the freeway underpass in March 2011. Chabad hosted a meeting with interested neighbors on October 25, 2011. They presented their plans and there was a discussion concerning traffic and parking. Chabad, the immediate neighbors and the PCA plan to work together in the next few months on these issues in conjunction with the County and, as appropriate, the City.

Since the property is in unincorporated Walnut Creek, County planning staff is reviewing the plans and the PCA has been in communication with the staff. 

The Child Care Center will utilize the existing structure with no internal construction and will add a new playground. This is both a Jewish preschool and day care. There will be 2 classrooms with up to 33 children and 3 teachers plus one aide. As part of their land use permit they have described how they will handle parking and traffic.

Per their plan submittal, Chabad is “a religious organization providing services to Jews in Contra Costa County”. They rented the residence for about 3 years and purchased it in October 2010. They are our neighbors and members of the PCA.For more information on Chabad of Contra Costa go twww.JewishContraCosta.com/

In April 2012 the County issued its "initial study" or environmental report which found no significant environmental impacts for the proposed child care center. Since the synagogue had never been reviewed by the County, Chabad sought approval for that too. Neighbors on Circle Dr. and nearby Newell submitted comments to the County by May 16. On July 10 the staff recommended approval of the child care center to the ZA, but denied approval of the synagogue for inadequate parking. At the July 16 hearing Chabad announced that they were negotiating with Kaiser to use the surface staff parking lot on Newell on weekends so the hearing was continued. At the August 6 hearing, the signed parking agreement with Kaiser was reviewed along with some changes in onsite parking. Chabad will have parking on weekends on the Kaiser surface lot on the south side of Newell by the freeway. There were still minor concerns about parking and other issues so the ZA then continued the hearing until Sept. 24 when final parking plans were reviewed and public comment heard.

In 2004 when Hillside Covenant Church expanded their facilities they held public meetings for neighbors before the final County decisions were made. Chabad is following this precedent in their plan for a child care center. The PCA role in this is to inform the Parkmead neighborhood as to proposed projects and to facilitate communication but not to take a position.

Left Turn Arrow at S. Calif. & Newell
by Pete Johnson
(Updated November 2011)

UPDATE: The City installed the left turn arrow signal in late November 2011.   

The City of Walnut Creek is working with the Parkmead Community Association on traffic concerns at Newell and S. California Blvd. near Trader Joe’s. We had requested some mitigation to assist in exiting our neighborhood when turning left from Newell onto S. California Blvd since the old left-turn arrow was removed in 2002. We received support from the Design Review and Planning Commissions during the hearings reviewing the proposed Village@1500 Newell and ultimately from the City Council.
City staff proposed modifying the Newell/S. California signal to add what is called a "protected/permissive" arrow which will allow a few seconds for left turns before the west-bound traffic gets a green light. The left-turn arrow will only be triggered if there are cars in the left-turn lane. Funding for this comes from developer-paid traffic impact fees, which are separate from the General Fund that is undergoing cuts. Such funds are specifically for traffic improvements and not in the City Operating Budget. City staff asked for “our left-turn signal” to be added to the Capital Investments Program (CIP) for 2010-2012 along with several other new projects. The Transportation and Planning Commissions endorsed this and the City Council approved the funding on June 15, 2010.
Installation has not been scheduled, and the best we can say now is that it will be completed in the next two years. It is not linked to the Village@1500 Newell project or to traffic changes at S. Main and Newell.

The Village@1500 Newell project and the demolition of the highrise that is there now are dependent on the developer obtaining funding in these difficult economic times. We will stay in touch with the City on this situation and the left-turn signal and will update this website as we learn more.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Website Builder