Local News Matters weekly newsletter

Start your week with a little inspiration. Sign up for our informative, community-based newsletter, delivered on Mondays with news about the Bay Area.

Subscribe

* indicates required

With strong union support but against broad environmental opposition, the Pittsburg City Council on Monday night unanimously approved the Faria/Southwest Hills project that will have 1,500 more houses built along the busy state Highway 4 corridor.

The subject of a 2005 city ballot measure that passed by less than 400 votes, the project was proposed by the Seeno Construction group under its Altec Homes subsidiary. The company’s CEO Albert Seeno III attended the virtual meeting Monday night and spoke in support of the project at length with project manager Louis Parsons.

City Manager Garrett Evans noted during the meeting that extensive public outreach has led to a project that is now designed for 341 acres of development and 265 acres of open space, down from the original plan for 478 acres of development.

The project includes $13.69 million for county habitat impact fees, $43 million for traffic mitigation (including improvements to the Highway 4 Bay Point exit and on-ramp), $13.4 million for school facilities and $1 million for Pittsburg facilities. The city will also realize a projected $2.75 million in added property tax revenue at the project’s completion.

Planning Manager Kristin Pollot also noted that the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District last month approved a $10 million contract to construct a new fire station on Goble Drive just north of the Faria project.

Faria will also include 150 affordable housing units, which several council members noted could be ADUs (accessory dwelling units), or “tiny homes” as small as 300 square feet. Several public comments criticized the plan for not requiring comparable stand-alone homes as affordable housing options.

Parsons and Seeno emphasized their belief that the positioning of the homes in the valleys of the hillside property will preserve the ridgeline views of the area with little development visible from the highway or the city of Concord. A number of public comments criticized the developer for submitting no detailed plan for streets, lots or neighborhoods. Lots can be as small as 4,000 square feet with 75 homes planned as single stories.

Juan Pablo Galvan of the group Save Mount Diablo spoke against the project during the public comment session, citing the proposal’s increase of traffic, air emissions and wildlife impacts. The Greenbelt Alliance and other local environmental activists also submitted objections.

Several area affordable housing groups also sent written objections to the council. The East Bay Regional Park District also filed its opposition to the project. Seeno’s firm is currently suing the park district over the plans for the planned Concord Hills Regional Park nearby.

Several local union representatives spoke in support of Faria during the council meeting.

Council members Jelani Killings and Juan Antonio Banales noted Monday night that since voters approved the 2005 ballot vote rezoning the property, the council’s only choice was in the details of the housing plan, not if there will be homes there.

Mayor Merl Craft also said her support for the project will bring upscale housing and other commercial services to the city.

“We need to raise our income levels so that grocery stores and other retail will want to come to Pittsburg,” Craft said.