Latest News Articles From The San Ramon Tribune

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Wal-Mart Superstore for San Ramon Downtown?

Could a Wal-Mart Upscale Superstore be in store for the Downtown City Center?

Think it can’t happen in San Ramon, think again. Wal-Mart has been trying for years to get a Superstore in the San Ramon Valley. While Pleasanton has a general merchandise Wal-Mart, it is not a Superstore. The terms big-box, superstore, megastore, and supercenter also refer to these large square footage retail establishments.

Just recently the Livermore City Council said absolutely No to Wal-Mart’s plans of building a Super Sized Store in the Livermore area. In fact a total ban on Big Box Stores was set in place.

Wal-mart Greeter Gone Wild
“Livermore City Council passed an ordinance to forbid such superstores from being allowed within city limits. Livermore voted for the ordinance after Wal-Mart showed an interest in bringing an 185,000-square-foot discount retail center with a grocery store to town.

Although rebuffed by Livermore, Wal-Mart or another retailer deciding there may be a viable market in the Tri-Valley could shop their plans to another city.” ref

Why Did Livermore Ban Superstores?

The fact of the matter is where Wal-Mart superstores have been built in various places in the country, they have caused a major problem of urban decay. Urban decay occurs when areas of the city fall into a state of disrepair or a major shift in the buying habits of people put local community anchor supermarkets out of business, and associated retailers are subsequently displaced due to not enough business at the various locations around the area. The Livermore city council understood the significance of maintaining the local anchors to support the other large percentage of businesses and small retailers that make up the Livermore landscape. They recognized the threat of a Wal-Mart Superstore to the community and made the right decision for the people.

Dublin is now being targeted as a Wal-Mart superstore location, but Wal-Mart would like a much better location in the Tri-Valley. Could the new San Ramon City Center be a target for a Wal-Mart Superstore? Do you think that is ridicules? After all, our City Council keeps telling us that they want an upscale department store to anchor the downtown city center. As of yet, no upscale department store has shown an interest in setting up shop in San Ramon.

The demographics of San Ramon simply will not support an upscale department store, and the department stores know it. San Ramon buyers, while having significant income levels, are maxed out with high mortgages, and shop for the best deals possible. Blackhawk, a community with very high income levels had a major department store failure “when upscale Saks Fifth Avenue closed its compact but opulent store – its first in the East Bay – in early 1999 after being open only a year.” ref

So how does a Wal-Mart Superstore fit into the San Ramon landscape?

Forget the idea of a big sprawling box but think of the new upscale Wal-Mart Superstore like their prototype store in Plano, near Dallas Texas. “Wal-Mart is adding new products and revamping stores to catch up with competitors including Target Corp. and Issaquah-based Costco Wholesale Corp. that are winning customers with exclusive brands.” ref

What Would a Wal-Mart Superstore do for San Ramon?

This would likely result in the local Nob Hill store and all the other small retail shops in that shopping area being severally threatened to stay in business. The Target store adjacent to the new Wal-Mart would be severally crippled as well as all the little shops in that center. Competition in business is good, but when the supply and demand is way out of whack, the likelihood for urban decay and businesses going out of business is a very real probability. Not only would there be significant impact on the local San Ramon business community, but current traffic figures would have to be thrown out, because a store like Wal-Mart would bring in significantly higher traffic from all the outlying surrounding cities, and would likely draw the lower income crowd, which would be a major factor for the community at large.

Police services would likely have to be increased. The Iron Horse Trail would significantly be impacted. Safety of crossing Bollinger Canyon, Rd. will be a major issue for the Iron Horse Trail, which is being used more and more by the residents of San Ramon. The crowds at the San Ramon City Park basketball courts would significantly increase. With increased crowds comes an increase in the criminal elements. The skate park would be impacted. Actually, just about every city element is affected by this major influx of people traffic.

So, San Ramon City Council Members, be careful for what you wish for, because the very real possibility is you are going to get more than what you wished for, and you’re not going to like it. Think this can't happen in San Ramon? Read the Wal-Mart Watch

The High Cost of Low Price

Extra Extra Read All About It!

News from the Tri-Valley at the San Ramon Tribune online newspaper. Feel free to submit your news articles for consideration for publishing.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

San Ramon City Center 2.0 FAR!

The San Ramon Environmental Impact Report for the city center site states that the building FAR (Floor Area Ratio) is 1.27 FAR across the entire City Center project.

Make no mistake about this, this FAR is extremely dense.

Building Massing

Floor Area Ratio (FAR) provides a measurement of building massing and is calculated by divided project square footage (2,168,466) by the square footage of developable land area (1,702,760). The entire City Center project would have a 1.27 FAR, which is within the maximum allowable 1.35 FAR established in the Zoning Ordinance for the City Center Mixed Use (CCMU) zone. [DSEIR Section 4 Part Two - Aesthetics, Light, and Glare]

DSEIR FAR Report is Misleading

This however, is quite misleading because of the word "entire" is used to spread the FAR out over the entire 44 acre project. The lot with the three seven story office buildings is actually being proposed at a 2.0 FAR. Note: No other office developments in San Ramon come close to the building density being proposed in the City Center. All other business office buildings according to the General Plan are 0.45 FAR maximum.

Understanding FAR - Floor Area Ratio

Floor Area Ratio
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Floor Area Ratio (FAR) or Floor Space Index (FSI) is the ratio of the total floor area of buildings on a certain location to the size of the land of that location, or the limit imposed on such a ratio.

The Floor Area Ratio is the total building square footage (building area) divided by the site size square footage (site area).

As a formula: Floor Area Ratio = (Total covered area on all floors of all buildings on a certain plot)/(Area of the plot)

Thus, an FSI of 2.0 would indicate that the total floor area of a building is two times the gross area of the plot on which it is constructed.

See Carfree Cities: FAR Explained

The current northern portion of undeveloped City-owned property where the three 7 story office buildings would be built is approximately 7.56 acres. The southern 6.71 acres portion contains parking areas associated with Bishop Ranch 1.

DSEIR 3.1.2 - Existing Conditions
The existing conditions of each individual parcel are described below. Photographs of the use of each parcel are shown in Exhibits 3-3a through 3-3e.

Parcel 1A
Parcel 1A consists of 14.27 acres of undeveloped land and developed parking areas associated with Bishop Ranch 1. The northern portion of Parcel 1A contains approximately 7.56 acres of undeveloped City-owned, rectangular-shaped property. This land contains ruderal vegetation, with ornamental landscaping surrounding the property on all four sides. This portion of the parcel contains fill imported from other nearby parcels that have been developed. The southern 6.71-acre portion of Parcel 1A contains parking areas associated with Bishop Ranch 1. The parking areas are characterized as at-grade, asphalt-paved with landscaped islands and freestanding lighting. Sidewalks are present along its frontages with Bollinger Canyon Road and the Bishop Ranch 1 East roadway.

Sunset Development has an existing entitlement to develop its portion of Parcel 1A as a 328,220-square-foot office complex in accordance with the previously approved Chevron Park Annexation and Development Agreement. This entitlement was originally granted to Chevron Corporation, the previous owner of the property. Sunset Development subsequently acquired the entitlement when it purchased the Bishop Ranch 1 property.

One acre = 43560 square feet. So, to come up with the square feet of the buildable area we can multiply the 7.56 acres X 43560 square feet = 329,313.6 square feet of land.

What is being purposed is for Alex Mehran of Sunset Development to build with the entitlement of 328,220 sq. ft. that originally came with the property, plus 194,652 sq ft. from the destruction of the office complex across the street, plus an additional 158,897 sq. ft. to come to a total of 681,769 sq. ft. of office space in the land mass of 329,314 sq. ft.

To figure the FAR, take 681,769 divided by 329,314 = 2.07 FAR.

This is Too Two FAR Out!

With these high structures next to the Iron Horse Trail, (note: the Iron Horse Trail is considered a regional trail and is maintained by the Parks District) they will tower above anything else in the city today. The DSEIR came up with shadow analysis on the Iron Horse Trail at 10 AM and 2 PM (where the sun is near it's peak heights) for both the summer and winter months, but conveniently left out the evaluation of what the shadows would be like at mid to late afternoon on the Iron Horse Trail. During the summer months, the Iron Horse Trail is used quite frequently in the mid to late afternoons. For this evaluation to be left out from the 600 page DSEIR is not by accident. This will have a significant impact on the Iron Horse Trail and needs to be taken into account properly, because technically the Iron Horse Trail is part of the Parks, according to the General Plan 4.8-I-17

"• Sun access planes adjacent to public parks (1:3.5) to prevent substantial shadow impacts.

City Center would be excluded from these requirements, with the exception of the sun access plane requirements adjacent to public parks. Refer to Figures 4-5 through 4-8."
Set Back Requirements For Buildings Next to Parks

The Iron Horse Trail is a regional trail facility that provides an excellent recreational experience for users. The Iron Horse Trail is operated and maintained by the East Bay Regional Park District (District). San Ramon City Article

What Does The San Ramon General Plan 2020 Say For FAR Averaging?

In the General Plan chapter 4 Land Use, Density/Intensity Standards it distinctly states, "No averaging is permitted such that the maximum FAR would be exceeded on any individual site." Well folks, this is exactly what is being done on the three seven (7) story office buildings site.

Here is the quoted text from the General Plan:


The General Plan establishes density/intensity standards for each land use classification. In the residential designations, residential density is expressed as housing units per net acre, exclusive of public streets and other rights-of-way, drainage easements, public uses and undevelopable land (slopes over 20 percent and land subject to the Resource Conservation Overlay District).

For non-residential uses, a maximum permitted ratio of gross floor area to net site area (FAR) is specified. FAR is a broad measure of building bulk that controls both visual prominence and traffic generation, and is calculated exclusive of area devoted to parking. It can be clearly translated to a limit on building bulk in the Zoning Ordinance and is independent of the use occupying the building. No averaging is permitted such that the maximum FAR would be exceeded on any individual site. The Zoning Ordinance can provide specific exceptions to the FAR limitations for uses with low employment densities, or it can provide for bonuses in FAR in return for the provision of amenities for public benefit, such as workforce housing units. In addition to density/intensity standards, some land use classifications also stipulate allowable building types, such as single-family residential.

The density/intensity standards do not imply that development projects will be approved at the maximum density or intensity specified for each use. Zoning regulations consistent with General Plan policies and/or site conditions may reduce development potential within the stated ranges.

Let's call this for what it is, a Mega High-Density Center. The proponents of the Downtown City Center want to make you feel all nice and rosy with promises of a Downtown City Center with soul. What the people of San Ramon will get instead is a place that will bury their souls, and people will be asking years down the line, "Why on earth did the City Council want to place this high-density congestion on the people?"

Feel free to submit your articles. Please read the welcome message.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Citizens Outraged by Proposed High-Densities for San Ramon City Center

The following topics were raised at the Planning Commission Public Hearing last night:

Requested all financials on this project including Development Plans, Land Transfers; Tax Revenue sharing agreements with Alex Mehran of Sunset Development Co. and the City of San Ramon. Any, and all documents that effect this plan for the people to review ASAP.

Asked for a 30 - day Extension (to the 45 day review and comment period) to review the Mega-Size 700 Page Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and, to make comments.

The proposed project has a 1.27 FAR when aggregated over the entire approximately 44 acres (note: this is quite extreme). However, it really is a 2.0 FAR (Building ratio density) in the office area with the three seven story office buildings. This is extremely extreme! DSEIR report claims they can go all the way up to a FAR of 1.35 over the entire Downtown City Center area [DSEIR Section 4]. This 1.35 FAR is more than 3 times the allowed FAR for any other area of San Ramon. The 1.27 FAR and certainly the 2.0 FAR (with the 100 foot tall seven story office buildings) must be changed and, reduced with a reasonable density for condos etc...

Proposed 100 Feet Tall San Ramon Office BuildingsBuilding height in this plan is open-ended with no current limits at all! They are grouping all the 44 acres into one section so Alex Mehran of Sunset Development can build what ever heights he wants. We need to establish limits to building heights in this plan. According to the Environmental Impact Report: "The City of San Ramon General Plan explicitly exempts the City Center project from any building height limits." [DSEIR Section 3-46] Certainly the people never intended for buildings 7 stories and 100 feet tall or greater in height in San Ramon to be built, when they voted for the General Plan. They reasonably thought that a City Council would not pack it in and give a developer carte blanche design with the kind of high-densities and tall building structures being forced down the people's throat.

Out of a total of 44 acres for this plan, the City is given only 3.5 acres - less than 10%!!! This is outrageous, and not a plan created by the people, for the people. This is a plan created by big money, for big money!

The plan entitles the developer to gain profits from one-million three hundred sixty five thousand (1,365,000) square feet in comparison to the total allowed of one-hundred ten thousand (110,000) square feet of the City Offices/Civic Center. Our 18 acres of owned City prime property next to Central Park will go to the Developer! Not Civic Uses.

Bollinger Canyon Road bike lanes have recently been removed and, now Bollinger Canyon is being expanded to alleviate traffic jams and gridlock that we currently have. This proposed City Center plan will add 30,000 new car trips per day and magnify our traffic problems.

The sign on the corner of Bollinger Canyon (next to Central Park) says future site of our "Civic Center Project" is misleading and untrue. Not a single civic purpose is planned for that site. It is all private retail, condos, hotel, department store etc.. We want this sign changed and corrected so that it is not misleading to the public. In addition, another sign placed where the proposed "Civic Center" is planned on the 3.5 acres for the public to see. Note: The original concept for a City Center, as outlined by the 2020 General Plan was primarily as a "Civic Center" for public use, not a major retail shopping center, high-density business offices, high-density housing, or a private hotel.

The bottom line, as this plan currently unfolds, it really is not good for the people of San Ramon. This plan allows a developer to get rich at the expense of the San Ramon citizens.

New readers please read the: San Ramon Tribune welcome message.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

San Ramon Research Search Engine

SearchBuilding a Better Mouse Trap

With all the talk of the community center or more properly said to be a downtown city center, we at the San Ramon Tribune felt it was important to provide people with the best research tools possible for analysis of the various projects going on in the San Ramon community.

To that matter, we have built a Google Custom Search Engine for the main websites in San Ramon, related to civic and business matters for the local community. There has been a collection of major data over the years from a number of websites that is of historical importance. Citizens, government officials, and even newspaper reporters can get the inside scoop using the San Ramon Search Engine as a research tool for all matters related to government and community.

With the launch of the San Ramon Tribune online newspaper a little over a week ago, we have given all the sites operated by the San Ramon Tribune editors a new and fresh look and feel. We think you will find the new sites quite versatile and user friendly. However, there are times where you might have remembered reading something in one of the postings on one of the websites but forgot where it was at. Well, with the Google Custom Search Engine we have substantially solved that problem for everyone.

While having a search specific to one site is great, an even better solution is to include a number of websites. Sure, we could have just included our own websites in the search results, but that would not have been as good a solution as including some of the other websites from around the San Ramon Valley.

We have included the City of San Ramon website found at, in the search results. While the City of San Ramon has a search engine built into their own website, it is sometimes very difficult to find the pertinent information a person is looking for when using their built in search engine. With the San Ramon Tribune's Google Search algorithm, the results are much better in our estimation, and are displayed in a much more comprehensive manner, and is much easier to navigate between the results.

We have also included into the search results, from the website San Ramon Observer located online at The San Ramon Observer has for sometime collected a number of historical documents of significance and personal comments to justify inclusion.

Websites maintained and operated under the San Ramon Tribune include the following:

The San Ramon Tribune online newspaper about a wide variety of news topics found at

The Golf Course topic found at Archives of the history of the city council changing the zoning of the golf courses from parks, to commercial recreation (which allowed significantly higher FAR, Floor Area Ratios, and other commercial building), and finally into their own golf course zone.

The Eminent Domain topic found at Archives of what the city council has tried to do with Beta Court, and the implementation of eminent domain for private gain on the San Ramon books.

Privacy Talk topic found at Details of how many of our city officials take privacy too lightly on the Internet, and what people need to be careful of, and aware of, when communicating with the city through the city's website.

There is one other website that still can be found in the search results, but will soon diminish in the search engine results pages, and that is the San Ramon News, website. As you know, and are reading this online, you will notice that the became the San Ramon Tribune. Note: If anyone has a link to the old website, it will still function, including the links to a particular internal article will also work, but if you would like to update the link on your website, it might make better sense for your readers online. For the moment, the search results will have both the new and the old site included for awhile.

Additional San Ramon Websites Included in the Search Results

The San Ramon Chamber of Commerce found at We felt it was good to include the business community into the fold.

San Ramon Historic Foundation
located online at The Historic Foundation is dedicated to the preservation of San Ramon's early farms and homesteads.

And, last but not least, is the San Ramon Arts Foundation located at The San Ramon Arts Foundation (SRAF) was founded in 2000, and was established as a tax-exempt organization 501 (c)(3) to encourage, support and promote the arts that enhance the quality of life in San Ramon.

As the City of San Ramon grows, we expect to see other websites develop from business and community groups, individuals, and other organizations that will be welcome into the search fold. If you would like to submit a site for consideration into the San Ramon Search custom search engine results pages, send us an email with the website suggestion. We can not make any promises that a particular website will be included into the custom search engine but we will give consideration to everyone.

How Does The Search Engine Work?

Simply type in a search term above in the search bar, or on any of our websites and you will see the results pages specific to the sites listed above. If you wish to display only a certain segment of websites in the search results, simply refine your results using the refinement links, or click on the label at the right side of any of the results that has a label on it. This will then only display the various sites included by the refinements.

Currently the list of refinements are as follows:

City Website, Tribune, Observer, Eminent Domain,
Golf Courses, Privacy, Chamber of Commerce, Arts,
Historic Foundation,

Once again, use the San Ramon Tribune custom search for research, local government documents, policies, laws, rules, regulations, ordinances, building codes, zoning changes, eminent domain, golf courses, city council affairs, business concerns, traffic congestion, ridge line development, open space issues, brown act, property rights, redevelopment, entitlements, ABAG numbers, privacy, and even controlling rats in San Ramon.

Note: From time to time we will fine tune the search engine to possibly include all websites but give extra emphasis to the selected websites listed.


Please Read:
The San Ramon Tribune Welcome Message

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

San Ramon City Center Public Hearing Notices

San Ramon city center
San Ramon City Center Mixed Use Project

City of San Ramon and Sunset Development Company

The project site is comprised of several parcels at the intersection of Camino Ramon and Bollinger Canyon Road (APNs: 213-133-063, 213-133-086, 213-120-010, -011, -012, -013, and -014),

The applicants are requesting approval of a Development Plan, Development Plan Amendment, Land Use Permits, Major Subdivision, Minor Use Permits, Architectural Review and Environmental Review. Specific project elements include approximately: 635,000 square feet of retail and cinema uses, a 169-room hotel, up to 487 residential dwelling units, 680,000 square feet of office space, 50,000 square feet of retail/flex uses, and a 110,000-square-foot City Hall, including Council Chambers, Library, and Police Department headquarters on approximately 44 acres.

A Draft Subsequent EIR has been prepared for the project pursuant to Sections 15146 and 15162 of the California Environmental Quality Act Guidelines (45-day review period August 13, 2007 to September 26, 2007).

City of San Ramon
Attn: Lauren Barr, Senior Planner
2226 Camino Ramon
San Ramon, CA 94583
(925) 973-2560

Posting Period:
August 10, 2007 to August 21,2007

If you challenge this application in court, you way be limited to raising only those issues you or someone else raised at the public hearing described in this notice, or in written correspondence delivered to the Planning Commission at, or prior to, the public hearing.

SAID HEARING will be held by the Planning Commission, City of San Ramon, commencing at 7:00 PM, on August 21, 2007 at San Ramon Community Center, 12501 Alcosta Blvd., San Ramon, California, 94583. (Note Change in Meeting Location)

View the San Ramon City Center draft subsequent EIR here:

San Ramon City Center
Draft Subsequent EIR

Next Downtown City Center Public Hearing:
October 2, 2007
Time: 7:00 PM
San Ramon Community Center
12501 Alcosta Blvd, San Ramon, CA

Thursday, August 9, 2007

New Newspaper: San Ramon Tribune

San Ramon, CA 8/9/07
The San Ramon Tribune has officially opened their doors today.

San Ramon Tribune NewspaperThe San Ramon Tribune is an independent, online published newspaper, that tells the other side of the story. Many times, the traditional local newspapers and some of the other online news sources get a story that is spoon-feed to the reporters and writers which is seldom questioned with any type of critical thinking skills. While there is some degree of truth in presenting a spoon-feed story, it is seldom more than the party line.

Many of the reporters, and other local news sources, seemingly having some close ties with the Mayor and City Council members and even Sunset Development company, in which if reports are too biased against a certain issue, the editors in chief bow down to the political pressures, and only report the news from a very pro City Council and pro development perspective.

The San Ramon Tribune is not like these other newspapers. Our philosophy is to try and present news stories from a critical thinking perspective. Sure, this will ruffle more than a few feathers, but if the San Ramon Tribune articles prompt the reader to think of the other side of the story, then the reporters have done their jobs. The Tribune will include a variety of types of news stories online. In fact, the San Ramon Tribune is the Peoples Newspaper. No other local newspaper provides the type of direct feedback as does the Tribune.

The way the Tribune operates is through your editorial feedback in the form of comments on the various stories online. While other local online news outlets provide a similar way of comments on the various stories, they have a limited amount of time that they run the stories on the web. Take for example the San Ramon Times or the Contra Costa Times, in which a story is posted on the Internet, and then after a month or two can never be found again.

As newspapers have been gobbled up by big conglomerations, these organizations provide very little in the way of personal news reporting. Reporters for one newspaper actually cover the news for articles written for a wide collection of newspapers. See all the Media Newsgroup Newspapers owned by this company. The Alameda Times-Star, The Argus (Fremont), Contra Costa Times, San Ramon Times, Oakland Tribune, Pacifica Tribune, San Jose Mercury News, San Mateo County Times, Santa Cruz Sentinel, and even the Tri-Valley Herald (Pleasanton) are just a small segment of newspapers all owned and operated by the Media Newsgroup. Take a look online at some of these newspapers, and you will see many of the same articles, if not all the same, across a wide variety of websites, with the only difference the branding at the top. Are we really so naive to think, that we are going to get the news written in an unbiased fashion? What do you think would happen if a reporter were to start doing some in-depth investigative reporting into certain unethical happenings behind the scenes at some of the various local government proceedings? What is likely to happen would be a reprimand at best or a pink slip at worst. These reporters are fighting just to keep their jobs now, because of continual reporter and news personnel consolidations and layoffs. No reporter wants to make waves today. Even if a reporter is aggressive in their news gathering, they have to report to editors that have more than likely been instructed not to ruffle any feathers themselves.

So, this is your newspaper. You get to add comments no matter which side of the fence you are on. We have a couple of rules that are important to note. We respect your privacy, and we expect you to respect the privacy of others. Don't just throw personal names (private individuals) around, especially if you are not sure of the facts. Even if you are sure of the facts, consider the person's privacy before listing their name in an article commentary. Your comments can be made anonymously, with a pen name, or with a Blogger account. Keep your comments civil.

San Ramon Tribune reserves the right to remove comments from this website for any reason.

So, put on your critical thinking skills and try to stay calm, cool, and collected in your thoughts. Share it here at the San Ramon Tribune.

We encourage you to also submit your stories for posting. We can not promise that all stories will be published, but we will review them and consider a story for online publication. If you wish to remain anonymous as the author, simply let us know of your wishes, and we will not publish your name. Click the submit story link on this website to submit your stories and articles for consideration.

For those wondering about the name: San Ramon Tribune; here are a few thoughts.

A tribune was an officer of ancient Rome elected by the plebeians to protect their rights from arbitrary acts of the patrician magistrates.

A tribune is a protector or champion of the people.

Please read our introduction and welcome posting.


Executive Editor
San Ramon Tribune

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