Pages

July 28, 2009

Readers' visions of Walnut Creek and its future

A few weeks back I asked readers to answer the question: What is Walnut Creek to you? What kind of community should it be? What kind of future should it have? What should residents and city leaders be doing to ensure that we have that future?


I was asking these questions in the wake of controversy over the Neiman Marcus proposal and continued concerns about the library project. I said I might select some of the comments to post as free-standing articles.


I received a great selection of comments: thoughtful, informed, impassioned. The comments were from people who clearly care about the community and represented different viewpoints. Here are three that I thought were complementary, and I will run others in the future,. I hope to allow a forum where residents can continue to debate and discuss issues related to the city's larger "vision thing." Thanks everyone who shared their comments.


From July 8, 2009 10:24 p.m.:
My vision for downtown has always been to maintain its character and charm with development that respects our uniqueness. We are beautifully located beneath Mt Diablo and its foothills. We have trees and alleys and some wonderful spots to sit and enjoy.

In my opinion, the Neiman Marcus project offers nothing to the character and charm of the downtown. They're tearing down perfectly good buildings and putting up a monument to greed. There is not a plaza, courtyard, fountain or even a roof garden in their plans. Instead we are offered walls that will come up to the sidewalk but bring in lots of $$$. People may stop coming when we start looking like every other mall and increased congestion makes us less convenient.

The Bart Transit Village will have 50 foot tall buildings in the existing parking lot east of the tracks. When visitors and commuters arrive at the station, instead of views of the mountain and foothills, they'll be welcomed by concrete walls. It would seem that with all this so called progress, we are giving up a lot of what makes us special. And yes, Soccer Mom, it feels like we're losing our soul to the almighty $$$$.


From July 8, 2009 12:18 p.m.
It would be nice if the city staff and politicians stuck to the General Plan so many contributed to. Some of us spent a lot of time participating and expect our contributions to the process to actually mean something.

Given that downtown is a dense (and growing denser) urban core, it is extremely important to me that the neighborhoods in Walnut Creek become more clearly defined and the character of those neighborhoods be preserved. San Francisco is a good model in way (though hopefully WC will never become that dense!). Each neighborhood in SF is like a town within the city of SF with character, local community, local participation, etc. Why not develop and define similar neighborhood communities in WC? And ... last but not least ... if city staff and council had respected neighborhood concerns about development in the recent past --- e.g., the Homestead Hilton project, the size of the library project, etc. --- there probably wouldn't as much brouhaha about Nieman Marcus...NM is just the final straw, imo.

I personally like the idea of NM downtown, btw.


From July 14, 2009 1 p.m.:
Have lived in WC about ten years now after living for several decades first in the country and then in a densely packed urban environment. Walnut Creek is my first suburban experience ...

However, it's not truly suburban anymore.

From what I can see in WC, the downtown is no longer a suburban downtown, yet many commenting here refer to downtown as if it is still suburban and seem to want to reclaim that feeling. It's way too late for that. The tide turned in Walnut Creek when the Brad Blake projects were built downtown. This is not going to get unbuilt, though there might be a lot of vacant store fronts in this economy for awhile.

I agree with the previous poster who mentioned WC neighborhoods ... Why not let the downtown continue to become more and more urban with high density housing, etc. and contain the density there and around the BART? Then focus attention on defining and preserving the neighborhoods throughout Walnut Creek (maybe those neighborhoods could each develop their own official mini-master plan even) ... That's what successful urban environments do. Examples: Portland, San Francisco, Chicago, etc. Let's accept the inevitable and focus our attention on impacting strongly identified neighborhoods.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks Soccer Mom.....and great photo for the "vision thing".

DumbAsBricks said...

Nobody asked me for my vision of Walnut Creek. Well maybe someone did, but I wasn't listening.

I don't have a vision per se, but I do have list of ideas:

1.1.1.1a I can take my mother to dinner and dessert without having to walk past some bass thumping, alcohol and cigarette smelling, and hormone raging establishment. Not every club needs to be like this. There are plenty of other places that provide a socializing atmosphere in a relaxed and dignified way. By dignified I mean everyone in the establishment conducts themselves in a decent and undrunk plasterfaced manner.

1.1.1.1b No drunken fistfights will breakout in the streets of my town... ever! If I wanted this, I could just stay home with my wife (lol).

1.1.1.1 I would always have a place to park my Lambo Diablo (the only car to drive in WC, of course). This is of course MY vision.

1.1.1.2 Police would be free to take care of things like dangerous traffic intersections at Ygnacio and Oak Grove where people are nearly killed everyday.

1.1.1.3 Our libraries would contain information resources, not all of our fiscal resources.

1.1.1.4 We would focus on a couple areas of the arts instead of having hohum coverage of all of them.

1.1.2 We would re-prioritize our police forces to help the citizens of Walnut Creek instead of protect us from the citizens of Concord and PH (haha).

1.1.3 No more box developments for any reason whatsoever.

1.2 Any chain store coming into Walnut Creek must introduce elements of WC into their brand and make their WC location very unique to WC.

1.3 Give incentive to the auto dealers to move out of downtown and further up Main. Introduce better parking and better accomodate farmer's markets, festivals and local fares.

2.1.1 Improve open space access and allow vendors to support users of the trail systems.

2.3 Improve access to business and services to users of public tranportations.

2.4 Fix the parking situation. Give residents permits to park anywhere anytime.

That's all I have for now. I have to work.

DumbAsBricks said...

Oh I just thought of one more.

Give perks to businesses the improve the downtown experience by offering use of toilets and thoroughfares.

Soccer Mom said...

DumbAsBricks,
Thanks for sharing your vision now. It's never too late. I'll keep this going on an occasional basis.

Anonymous said...

My vision for Walnut Creek, isn't so much a vision as a truth to where it currently stands. Its a hole in the ground where my maid and gardeners choose to live, hopefully no residents of WC ever even attempt to look someone like me in the eye.

-your Danville friend

Anonymous said...

Dear Danville friend

I'm not sure why you would look down on your gardener and maid. I certainly welcome them to WC they seem like good, hard working people, particularly if one considers that they have to put up with a prick like you.

Anonymous said...

Dear Danville friend

I'm not sure why you would look down on your gardener and maid. I certainly welcome them to WC they seem like good, hard working people, particularly if one considers that they have to put up with a prick like you.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:18
I agree. I grew up where there were many bigots. I don't think that Danville resident represents the norm for their community.
And, I don't DumbAsBricks represents the norm for Walnut Creek. However, I recognize and respect his right to an opinion.
The Danville person does not have my respect, just the right to express an opinion.

DumbAsBricks said...

Aside from my cracks here and there, there is nothing visionary or unreasonable in my list. As far as expectations of my city go, this list is pretty light and very representative of my and my neighbors opinions in the Northgate area. We talk about these things regularly and wonder why the city council can't see this.

Taking a revenue at all costs approach to city developments and warping the general plan enough to say that projects are a fit is killing the charm of Walnut Creek. I will have to move to Danville if it keeps up (yawn).

Anonymous said...

DumbAsBricks, I'm not sure what the charm of Northgate might be, but some of your comments seem a little off.

- I can’t see how your downtown dinners with your mother could interfere with the rowdy bar crowd. I have lived for more than 15 years in WC and frequent many of the downtown restaurants regularly but have yet to witness a bar brawl downtown. I would think the downtown dinner scene and the drunken bar scene don't take place at the same time.

- The crack about the Police serving the residents rather than protecting them from Concord and PH people is both stupid and offensive. Stupid because serving and protecting are not mutually exclusive and offensive because there is no need to attack the citizens of Concord and PH.

- Many of the other comments are just incomprehensible. For example do you want the Open Space turned into some form of Disneyland? (vendors to support users of the trail system), or what do you mean by box development? Big box stores? I thought the only one which might qualify as big box store is Target. Do you mean there are others in the planning? I don't know what you mean with the Police not taking care of the intersection at Ygnacio and Oak Grove? Do you mean the traffic regulations are not enforced by the Police? Or do you think the intersection needs to be re-designed, which I guess would not be the job of the Police.

Anonymous said...

You all do realize that Danville, Alamo, and Lamorinda look down on Walnut Creek? Lamorinda residents would cut Las Lomas loose in a heartbeat. It's like an anchor on an otherwise superior school district.

I know that there are many Walnut Creekians that feel that living in Walnut Creek is the pinnacle, but it just ain't so Joe.

As rude as your Danville friends sounds, that's what most of them think of you.

Anonymous said...

"You all do realize that Danville, Alamo, and Lamorinda look down on Walnut Creek?"

How can a city "look down" on another city? You're pretty stupid I guess. Must be from Danville perhaps?