Almost from the moment it was proposed the Terraces of Lafayette project came out swinging, with lawyers and developers expressing a willingness to bludgeon the city into submission and push the project through.
This pugnacious attitude did not sit well with residents, planning commission and city council members who openly criticized the project’s design at the outset and questioned the motives of supporters – who had expressed a willingness to sue the city if they did not get their way.
In land-conscious Lafayette, where land-use issues tend to take on all the huff and puff and rumble of the Panmunjom Peace Talks, The Terraces project set a new precedent for bluster and invective as lawyers were unlimbered and city officials scrambled to find a way to keep the city’s southern gateway from being papered with what one planning commissioner described as “train wreck architecture.”
Looking for an ever-elusive “win-win” in the face of mounting public opposition and thinly-veiled threats from developers, city officials spearheaded by City Manager Steve Falk came up with an alternative to the boxy, South San Francisco-like design initially proposed by developers and, well, watered down plans for 315 apartments on the 22-acre property at Deer Hill Road and Pleasant Hill Road to one with just 45 single-family homes and a lot of the sort of things people in Lafayette appear to covet – a sports field, kiddie play area, a dog park, and room for parking.
The city’s vision for the heavily utilized nexus quieted some but certainly not all of the criticism leveled at developers and – now – Falk. Many residents still feel a tract of 45, 2,500-square-foot homes plonked down virtually at the crossroads of Highway 24 and Pleasant Hill Road (and across from Acalanes High School, with a sporty traffic situation all its own) is an inherently flawed idea.
Some admit to seeing the value in increased housing and other public amenities the Terraces might mean for Lafayette – should the newly revised project be approved after wending its way through the city’s planning process. After a 4-0 city council vote Wednesday the project’s developers, the O’Brien Land Company, were sent back to their drafting table to shape up their design scheme and resubmit their proposal to the city – effectively taking the whole project back to Square One.
After that, it’s anyone’s guess what will happen as these things seem to have replaced Friday Night Football in terms of intensity and vigor. We thought we’d return the issue to the court of popular opinion and open it up to you – what do you think about the New Terraces project? And what do you think is going to happen to the land it’s meant to sit on?