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Clark Road Project
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Clark Road Project ~ FAQ   

Q. Where is the “Clark Road Project”?
A. Its western border would be a little to the west of the Clark-Boas trail that starts at the top of Clark Road, and would end at the last gate on the trail before the crest of the hill. The eastern border would be a bit to the east of Leisure Lane. The site is roughly in the shape of an H. To see a map of the prospective site click here: Clark Road Project site.

Q. I thought the East Bay Regional Park District owned that land. They have a trailhead at the end of Clark Road, and the trail goes through it.
A. The EBRPD does not own the land that the first part of the Clark-Boas Road Trail runs through. The trail can go through because EBRPD has a right-of-passage there. There are three gates on the trail and the EBRPD's land starts after the last one, about 300 feet (the steepest part) before the crest of the hill.

Q. Who does own it?
A. The land has tentatively been sold to a group of Chinese buyers called “Lead Horse”. They have a 60-day contingency in place as of (roughly) Sept. 1, 2014, which will allow them to back out of the purchase if they decide it’s not a wise investment. If they back out, ownership would revert to the 2 individuals who have owned the property since 1996.

Q. Is the CRP unincorporated, that is, part of El Sobrante?
A. Although, practically speaking, it is an integral part of El Sobrante, technically and legally it is part of Richmond, as are most of the little fingers of development running up the hill.

Q. What's in it for El Sobrante?
A. Unless you are fond of dust, noise, and traffic, not much. The tax revenue generated by this project will go to Richmond, not to El Sobrante or to the county. Which is unfortunate, as the county will be responsible for the upkeep of the roads leading to the project as well as other services.

Q. At the Sept. 17 meeting at the Elks Club, it was said we should let this project proceed, because these developers were nicer than the previous ones, and if rejected, would be followed by even nastier developers. Is there any truth to this?
A. The outline we were shown is very similar to the last version proposed in 2003. Touting “enhanced nature” and “super-green” homes above the 400 foot line (which is protected), the realtor implied that is we stopped this, something much worse would follow. It’s important to remember that this property has survived more than 30 years of development attempts. Every attempt has failed, due in part to the will of the people, and failure to comply with Richmond and county building codes. We were told in 2003 that it was best to make a compromise as “this time something is going to happen for sure”. But – the hills remain unscathed. In the end, you really could say the hills themselves have defeated all of the assaults on them, as they truly are highly unsuitable for development.

Q. Isn't there a danger of landslides and subsidence? Isn’t that site highly unsuitable for a large housing project? And won't an earthquake have potentially catastrophic consequences?
A. We think so. The vast majority of impartial technical experts think so. Most public agencies seem to think so. For over 30 years, no one has found a viable solution to building on this notoriously unstable soil. Remember that any “solution” would have to last essentially forever and resist for 100’s of years the unstoppable powers of Nature. Buttresses, de-watering shafts, and the like fail - California is littered with examples. Developers don’t have to be overly concerned with the long term survival of a project – after 10 years their liability for the project is over, and then the granter of permission to build (Richmond) would be the responsible party. So after 10 years, the developers will be just fine – but we will still be here!

Q. Didn’t we put an end to all of this a few years ago?
A. The earlier proposals were stopped, but there has arisen a new threat. There will always be the possibility of new attempts as long as the land is owned by private investors.

Q. What stopped the last two Clark Road proposals?
A. The 1990 proposal was struck down by the court because the developer's proposal was inconsistent with the City of Richmond's General Plan. The 2003 proposal was terminated after the applicant decided not to attempt to rebut the mass of critical comment that was submitted after they released the DEIR.

Q. What happens now?
A. Ark Studio West, the planning consultant to Lead Horse, will submit their findings and make a recommendation as to whether or not they feel Lead Horse should proceed with the purchase. If they go ahead, there is a regulated series of procedures they must go through to gain permission to build – for an overview of the process, click here: Development Process. If Lead Horse backs out, the owners will be looking for an alternative. We hope that they will actively pursue placing the land into a public agency’s hands so the hills can be protected for the future. Doing so could be an ideal solution for everyone, including the owners.

Q. What can I do?
A. You can check our website often for news. You can sign up for the CPFOS mailing list, so that we can alert you to events and current action items. You can sign up for the email list by sending an email to: cpfos@saveelsobrantehills.org. We need volunteers to distribute flyers, do research, and etc. – if interested, please send an email to the above address. You can talk to your neighbors and people in surrounding areas and educate then as to the present situation. As events progress, there may be more specific actions to take. For now, we are mostly in a “wait and see” state.

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