Dubliners for Change is a diverse group of resident volunteers working together to ensure that our city is governed in an ethical, constituent-driven manner. We are dedicated to the preservation of open space and the environment, quality education free from school overcrowding, sufficient infrastructure to support our city, and the development of a premier pedestrian friendly downtown.
December 13 2016
100 Civic Plaza Dublin
Dubliners for Change
December 6 2016
100 Civic Plaza
7471 Larkdale Dublin
Construction of 19 single family detached homes and on 2.648 acres. The site is not vested and the city is under no obligation to approve the project.
City of Dublin is accepting public comments on the Wanmei Project until 5:00pm on Monday, November 22, 2016. For further information please contact Marnie R. Delgado at (925) 833-6610 or email email@example.com. After public comments closes, the project will go thru Planning Commission and then to the City Council for approval.
DEADLINE FOR PUBLIC COMMENT: November 22 2016
Ms. Marnie Delgado
City of Dublin
Commmunity Development Dept.
100 Civic Plaza
Dublin, CA 94568
RE: Mitigated Negative Declaration for Wanmei Development Project
I am submitting these comments on behalf of myself (a 20+ year resident of Dublin and former DSRSD elected official) and Dubliners for Change, a grassroots Dublin organization of which I am the current chair. These comments are in regards to the Recirculated Mitigated Negative Declaration for the Wanmei Project. Please note that these comments include (1) general comments on the deficiency of the MND and (2) specific comments on specific environmental impacts resulting from the proposed development.
General comments on deficient MND
The mitigated negative declaration has a number of faulty assumptions and deficiencies, too many to cover in this letter Relying primarily upon the Eastern Dublin General Plan Amendment and Specific Plan EIR from May 10, 1993 is a significant problem. For example, the number of car trips estimated in the 1993 EIR has been proven to be faulty (i.e., significantly underestimated) by subsequent Dublin traffic survey data on actual car trips. The 1993 EIR analysis and findings are based, in part, on certain planned DUSD facilities which have not been built (2nd high school, etc.) and the absence of these facilities has significantly increased traffic from eastern Dublin and western Dublin (to Dublin High and to other DUSD schools which are not at capacity) which has also not been addressed in any EIRs. These traffic impacts can obviously not be legally mitigated in a MND by a Statement of Overriding Considerations adopted by the Dublin City Council. The Negative Declaration actually undermines itself by noting that “a number of transportation impacts have been determined to be significant and unavoidable,” such as the 175 estimated new day trips resulting from the project. Again, the 175 day trip estimates is based upon standard industry projection metrics and is not based upon the results of Dublin traffic surveys, and again, the number of car trips has been historically underestimated, and there has been no mitigation efforts, especially for the traffic to/from DUSD facilities. Even if the City is stating that 175 trips per day is accurate (again, easily refutable), are you saying that this number is not significant? That no mitigation is needed? In summary, the MND has a number of deficiencies, and I have summarized only a few here.
We request at a minimum that a full Environmental Impact Report be prepared to evaluate these impacts and to evaluate the cumulative impacts of this project in the context of all the other development activity occurring in the project vicinity.
Specific comments on Environmental Impacts
If this project is approved, there will be significant impacts on the existing environment, including impacts on various protected wildlife species that currently reside in and around the Northern Drainage Conservation Area (NDCA) and the tributary.
As LSA and WRA noted, several endangered species have been identified in the surrounding areas and as WRA indicated, several of these species have the “potential to occur” in the project area. Local residents have seen the fully protected white-tailed kite on the project site perched on the tree near the residential dwelling and on trees along the tributary. Also seen on the project site were northern harriers and loggerhead shrikes. Looking at the NDCA and the surrounding landscape, you will notice that there are groups of eucalyptus trees west of Fallon Rd. and 200 ft east of the project site. A handful of young individual trees are on the southern part of NDCA, but the majority of trees are along the tributary. If the project site were to be developed, the trees with branches hanging down onto the property will be impacted and it is important to note that an evaluation has not been conducted of the species residing in these trees, species that could be impacted by the project. In addition to the possibility of there being protected bird species in the trees, we know that golden eagles often feed on birds. The trees along the tributary are ideal for providing shelter and nesting environment for various birds that are a food source for golden eagles. Any disturbance to these trees could have a significant impact on the food source for the golden eagles.
As mentioned in the reports, the project site has trailers, piles of debris, small wooden and various structures on and off the ground. The project area itself is a perfect incubator for rats, mice and related species that occasionally are important components of the golden eagle’s diet and that of white-tailed kites and northern harriers. Any disturbance in the current footprint of the site could potentially have adverse effects on the food supply of various protected species. We recommend that the City of Dublin officially notify the owner(s) of the property not to clear out the site as it could have significant impact on golden eagles, white-tailed kites and northern harriers.
As for prohibiting the use of rodenticides via the Home Owners Association, this is a step in the right direction. But how will this be monitored and enforced? Local residents are currently experiencing a tremendous increase in infestation of rodents and this has been discussed in local social media sites. There have been neighborly exchanges on using poisons, sticky pads and various other traps. Many people have expressed concerns over the use of poison but local residents have seen dead rats and mice in their neighborhoods, likely the result of rodenticide usage. In theory, it sounds good to make this part of HOA restrictions, but we believe it will be impossible to enforce. Besides poison, residents have seen rats on sticky pads where the rat had dragged the pad onto the street. If the same were to occur near the project area, protected species could be hit by vehicles while feeding on the street. It is too risky to make assumptions about effectiveness and then rely on the by-laws of a HOA to enforce proper handling of rodenticides and other methods of getting rid of rodents.
We grant that the Quarry Lane School was built before the golden eagle nest was discovered. However, it is important to note the timeframe of disturbances caused by a school verses people living in houses. School starts and ends at specific times, and throughout the day, there are prolonged periods when school children are inside the building; on weekends, the school is closed. The disturbances caused by the school currently allow a window of opportunity for the eagles to hunt relatively undisturbed. However, the same cannot be said about the occupants of this proposed development. There will be activity occurring throughout the day and on weekends. In addition, we are very concerned that once people become aware that golden eagles nest nearby, they will venture out and attempt to find the nest. It should be noted that although there are other houses further up on the hills, none are at the same level as the tree where the golden eagle nest is located. Currently, it is difficult to gain access to NDCA, but when residences are built so close to a protected area, there is a high probability that people will ignore signs and venture out to explore the NDCA. This is already occurring in the Creekview area where there are signs stating that the area is protected, yet often you will find people and dogs walking the protected area.
As for starting construction from July 1st until December 31st, this is unacceptable and unjustifiable. We note that the golden eagle pair at Creekview nest in Dublin had a late breeding season and the fledgling left the nest in late July. Even the fledgling from the NDCA pair was seen near the eucalyptus trees near the project site in mid-August 2016. There is no specific data that show when this fledgling left the vicinity of the project site. To base construction dates on general assumptions could be detrimental for a successful breeding season for the golden eagle pair. In reality, we do not know what caused the golden eagles at Creekview to breed so late in the season. One cannot presume, much less guarantee with these dates that construction would have no significant impact on fledglings who remain in the area until mid-August or later.
Current usage of the project site is vastly different than the proposed development. There will be a significant increase in human activities including noise (e.g., potential use of fireworks on 4th of July – it is, after all, legal to set off fireworks in Dublin, block parties, loud music. etc) as well as an increase in chemical fumes and aerosols (car exhaust, fertilizers, insecticides, etc.). Currently, the existing residential structure and lights are only at the front of the property whereas the proposed project will have residential structures bordering the NDCA, and there will be a road with streetlights. Additionally, at night, there will be light from incoming cars, which likely will illuminate the area in NDCA. All these factors increase the risks of disturbing the golden eagles and other protected species in the area.
There is so much at stake here especially after loss of other hunting grounds in the area for the golden eagles. Potential cumulative impacts must be evaluated. Many in the community used to see golden eagles hunting in places where construction now is occurring – Wallis Ranch, Moeller Ranch, Terrace Ridge. By allowing this project to proceed might be the last straw that drives away the golden eagles from nesting in the area. This is a huge risk and gamble that the City of Dublin should not take. The project area should be protected from any development and our recommendation is that staff invokes the legislative process to eliminate the proposed residential units from the General and Eastern Dublin Specific Plans. At a minimum the potential cumulative impacts on the golden eagles and other protected species must be evaluated.
Dan Scannell, Chair
Dubliners for Change
Dubliners For Change Comment Paper
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