Walnut Creek city staff will recommend that the city join with Lafayette, the East Bay Regional Parks District, and the Muir Heritage Land Trust to buy 22.6 acres of prominent hilltop land that is east of Acalanes High School and adjacent to Walnut Creek’s 170-acre Acalanes Open Space. (The beautiful photo comes from Bob Brittain who lives just below Acalanes Ridge.)
The Haji family owns the property, which is also runs along the East Bay parks Briones-to-Mt. Diablo Regional Trail. Acquiring this land will bring to the public one of the most visible hilltops in all of central Contra Costa County—one that is visible from a dozen different cities, and all the way from the Carquinez Straits to the summit of Mount Diablo. The land will also provide a valuable corridor for people and widelife along this key ridgeline.
According to Walnut Creek’s Community Relations manager Gayle Vasser, the property owners have entered into an agreement to sell the property to the Muir Heritage Land Trust (MHLT) for $1.3 million.
The Walnut Creek City Council will consider a funding agreement on Tuesday, March 16 that would split the costs among the four parties.
Lafayette, Walnut Creek, and the EBRPD would each pay 30 percent of the purchase price, or $391,650. The Muir Heritage Land Trust would pay 10 percent of the purchase price, which is $130,550, But the trust would also be o be responsible for title, escrow and closing fees—and funding he maintenance, management, and operation of the property in perpetuity. The trust would also be responsible for other miscellaneous costs as well.
The parks district has the ability to purchase this property at an attractive price right now, thanks to the parks district’s Measure WW bond, which voters approved in 2008.
That measure provides funds that the parks district can use for capital projects, including land acquisition.
The availability of this special parks and open space funding creates an opportunity for the district and cities to preserve valuable open space for public use even at a time when cities are struggling financially.
Walnut Creek City Manager Gary Pokorny says this deal is remarkable for many many of the reasons stated above, but he added that in an era when some levels of government are not able to work internally to solve problems, “the voluntary cooperation of three public agencies, a private non-profit land trust, and dozens of private volunteers to make this acquisition happen is truly remarkable.”