One of the key tensions among Walnut Creek residents is whether this community of 63,000 people should hold onto its quiet, small town roots–or it should become more urban, and less suburban. This tension shows up all the time in comments on this blog. Most recently I’ve seen this tension in reaction to posts I’ve done on the new library and about the City Council’s approval of a nine-unit housing project on the fringe of the historic Almond-Shuey neighborhood.
Contributing to this tension, it seems, is frustration–on one side and justified or not–with city leaders for not doing a good enough job listening to residents. On the other side are residents and business leaders who tend to be pro-development, whether the development involves a new high-end department store, a new library, new high-density “infill” housing projects in certain neighborhoods, or a new BART transit village.
The following comments, to some degree, express different aspects of the tension. I thought I’d share a few and ask: Where do you fall on this small town/big town debate?
Here are views expressed by readers:
Regarding a post that referred to the new library (due to open this summer), a reader said:
Why is it so close to the street like every other newish building in Walnut Creek. Do we not value any set-backs anymore? … I’ve noticed the same thing. I think the WC city council wants to make WC look like a true city (like NY city or SF) where the buildings are right on the sidewalk. I don’t like it at all.
Regarding the City Council’s decision on the Almond Lofts project, on a half-acre lot fronting Oakland Boulevard, many readers, who participated in this debate, offered different viewpoints on the small town/big town question:
It’s only a matter of time before Walnut Creek is nothing but a shopping district surrounded by apartments. I get the distinct feeling that the City Council would love that.
But Steve Reiser, a realtor (and former president of the Contra Costa Board of Realtors), and Almond/Shuey resident and publisher of the Almond/Shuey Blog wrote:
Guess what? If you buy, rent or live in a downtown neighborhood, you have to deal with the consequences of downtown living. Disclosure laws are such that if you buy here today, you would need to sign a document acknowledging items such as BART, freeway, traffic and potential development. It cracks me up when someone moves to or lives in downtown Walnut Creek, then complains about traffic and noise. It goes with the territory.
[Reiser says he put together a petition drive, prior to the Almond Lofts decision, asking Almond/Shuey neighbors to voice their approval of the project.]
He explains that he put it together because “I personally believe that this is a smart project and ideal for that lot. … Oakland Blvd has unfortunately taken on somewhat of a hodge-podge element of urban blight; empty offices, run-down homes and apartment buildings, a new pot club, weekly abortion picketers, and of course the big (eyesore) empty lot in question which is often used to park trucks and trailers.”
Of course we can’t go back to the good old days, and quite honestly there is alot about the good old days that we would not find amusing or convenient.
But…….we must be better stewards of what is left of the older parts of town that add so much to our community.
The “tear it down and fill it up with multiples” attitude has got to come to an end, now!
For the council members who don’t live in or any where near the older parts of town, seem to feel that their neighborhoods are the only ones worth preserving. Wrong.
Wake up people! It is only going to get worse and pretty soon we will have a totally “plastic” downtown created because our council is “infill” mad. No matter, it doesn’t affect their way of life in the end.