Author: <span>Board of Directors</span>

In the Summer of 2016 it became clear that Livermore was falling behind in the spending required to maintain its roads, sidewalks, buildings, and other public infrastructure. This insight was the result of a determined effort by the Community Asset Management Program committee, established to determine the state of our assets and what it would take to maintain them.

The general message since that time, is that Livermore is drastically underspending, with many ideas on what to do but no concrete solutions. It should come as no surprise that the first proposal would be a new tax increase. Council decided in 2022 to spend $95,000 on a poll that showed such a plan would fail at the ballot. There has been no followup since then.

In the Spring of 2021, staff prepared a very articulate powerpoint that clearly defined the problem. Page 3 of the PDF shows that although Livermore spends $10 million per year on maintenance, it needs to spend $40 million. From the document:
Infrastructure Dilemma
• Repair/Replace ALL Assets- $40 million per year
Current Spending on Asset Repair and Replacement- $10 million per year
• Minimum Level of Service (High Risk Only) – $20 million per year

Thus, a $30 million per year deficit.

The longer PowerPoint version of the Spring 2021 presentation puts it more bluntly on Page 39 (notes section):
So, we’ve established that we need at least $30M/year. This is way too much to simply shift existing City budget dollars around. 

If Livermore does not increase funding, infrastructure citywide will slowly grind down and deteriorate. This is an “off the books” deficit, so it is easily ignored or forgotten by the people responsible for closing the budget gap. We encourage everyone to read through the information on and research for yourself in greater detail. We find it eye opening, and alarming.

There is a viable solution

All of the money necessary to close the budget gap exists unspent, in the form of Livermore sales taxes that are being held for the Valley Link Train construction. The train has other funding sources too, but it is not clear it will be built. CBG is on record as expecting it will NOT be built, due to a number of factors. We recommend that those $20 million per year of sales taxes be redirected toward Livermore’s deficit using standard legislative procedures.

Statement to Livermore City Council

Prepared for the June 26, 2023 Open Forum

CBG values our historical partnership with the City of Livermore as we have worked together on environmental protection.  We began our cooperative efforts more than 20 years ago, when the City joined our successful lawsuit against a damaging development that ultimately created a multimillion dollar fund to acquire open space. 

The City and CBG continue to enjoy a shared goal and partnership to protect open space and the environment. Today, Garaventa Hill is first on our list to protect, and that is why the following subject is troubling.

The General Council of the FPPC Mr. Bainbridge sent a letter on June 16th to your City Attorney.  He states, “Lafferty is currently preparing a revised EIR for the Project…” and “The revised EIR and renewed application will be submitted to the Planning Commission”.  He also mentions Lafferty Communities as the owner of the Hill, which we know to be false. This raises a number of questions that beg clarity.

CBG has made public records requests so that we may review the root sources of this official communication and hopefully provide answers as to the genesis of these surprising statements. On numerous occasions we have already made it clear to your staff that we want to be informed about ANY development efforts that may jeopardize Garaventa Hill. Whatever the city knows, we need to know. 

Total transparency is essential for us to best assist the City to fulfill our shared commitment to preserving the Hill.  As a non-profit organization, we have tools and techniques for environmental protection that the City does not have.  Likewise, the City has resources that are not available to CBG. Together, we can continue to be responsive and work in tandem for the benefit of all Livermore residents.

CBG has been educating, protecting and defending for four decades. Here’s something we’ve learned. It is not unusual that after an agency’s staff members become involved in a process (such as the 10 years of Garaventa), it takes time for them to relearn new habits when conditions change.  Garaventa Hill is no longer developable, and that truth is a newer concept for City staff. It is entirely appropriate for your City Manager to give her staff regular reminders of that change, and preempt unintentional negative results. Otherwise, she risks having people on the inside working against Council’s wishes.

We thank you in advance, if there is anything you can do to expedite the records request we made through the portal.  We’ll update you on our findings once we know more.

Livermore Airport expansion policies

The Livermore Airport Commission has recommended a new airport policy that is at odds with residents, and with long sought requests of neighboring cities.

The May 16 2023 Pleasanton council meeting had many residents expressing discontent over noise and pollution. The Livermore Airport Commission followed on June 5th with a contentious meeting that left residents unsatisfied with the process and feeling left out.

The following day, the Pleasanton City Council reviewed the update. The general message from residents and elected officials was that although Pleasanton has to bear the effects of noise and pollution, it has no practical way to influence the activities. It will send a letter in advance of the June 26 2023 Livermore Council meeting to articulate their concerns.

The Livermore Airport Citizen’s Group has been very vocal on these issues. Among their grievances of the recommendation:

  • Fails to implement the Livermore City Council Resolution of March 23, 2010 “The city will AGGRESSIVELY FOSTER the REDUCTION of aircraft NOISE”
  • Public is in the dark, little transparency
  • The City Initiative:  (where the city can put out an RFI/RFP/RFQ) is worded whenever there is “land/improvement available” – this is in direct contradiction to the 2010 City resolution that explicitly indicates only when “existing demand” with “tangible evidence” – and the city does not make this determination – it is the Airport Advisory Commission that does. Likewise “Encourage imaginative and innovative development of land” (section 1.2) is hardly consistent with meet existing demand. And yet they claim in that same section “The above objectives reflect the Airport Development Priorities established by the Livermore City Council in 2010 through Resolution number 2010-058”; no, they do not.

LVK affects residents in all three Valley cities. Consequently, it would only be fair to include wider representation on policy making. Livermore should rework the makeup of the Commission to include representatives from Pleasanton and Dublin at minimum.

With Livermore’s propensity to casually codify recommendations that are before them, it would be better to have such recommendations developed with everyone’s input included and debated. Good neighbors deserve a good helping of courtesy.

Whether or not the proposed Valley Link Rail train follows the same fate as “BART to Livermore”, remains to be seen. BART was a 50 year story with multiple chapters that ultimately amounted to nothing except tens of millions wasted on studies and planning. Added to that were hundreds of millions of Livermore tax funds that never went to serve our residents.

Since Valley Link’s inception, the agency in charge has produced occasional promotional updates. We can expect that to continue. You’ll hear about it in the news, at meetings and through various forms of commentary. But, will the train ever arrive?

We can’t know the answer to that question now. The problem is, Livermore officials are preemptively going about City business as if it will be built, rather than presenting it as something that may be built.

The Isabel Neighborhood problem

The so-called “Isabel neighborhood” area of town was prematurely rezoned for 4000 new homes in 2022. The City Council did not wait for public transit planning to be finalized prior to beginning to construct housing units. The disturbing part is that the housing developers are being told in very certain terms by city staff that the area will be served by a Valley Link train station. Currently, that is too strong a statement and is irresponsible to assert.

We are quite concerned that the overt promotion of Valley Link will encourage some of the home buyers, if not most of them, to expect to be able to use Valley Link for daily transportation. If it does not come to fruition, one can envision a great deal of strife and very possibly lawsuits on the basis of false advertising. Those lawsuits might not be limited to the developers, as the city is openly publicizing to the developers that the train will be built. In the process of selling newly built residences, these developers will doubtlessly laud the train as one of the benefits to buyers.

We would caution everyone at this time (residents, city staff, developers, and any agency) to consider the Valley Link train as a potential transit project with an unknown operational date. Ideally, the actual construction of most Isabel related projects should be put on hold until we can have greater certainty about the transit availability.

It is also worth remembering that the original idea was for no Isabel neighborhood at all, unless the area was serviced by full, real BART. It won’t be fair to anyone if we end up creating a borough poorly planned from a traffic perspective, and not even a consolation train to show for it.

The status of the Lafferty Communities’ “Garaventa Hills” housing development is one of the most frequent questions we are asked. It is an understandable concern for may of our residents in an environment where there is very little new information.

Real Estate Robots

Some online real estate sites have listings that add to the confusion. Many of them are robots that scrape old information, present it as new, and the search engines treat it as current information despite it being bogus. Thus, if you search for “Garaventa Hill” or “Garaventa Hills” with any regularity, you are bound to see some misleading results. Today, we saw this:

Garaventa Hill 2023 Update

This deceptive site masquerades as a place you can get actual real estate information. The date – April 2023 – gives one the impression that it is somewhat current information about a downtown Livermore development with inventory. When you click the link, you are shown other properties. Classic clickbait.

Legitimate Media Not Without Fault

There are also innocent mistakes that have caused unnecessary confusion. For example, there was the electrical expansion project that PG& E failed to realize was no longer necessary. There is no need to expand infrastructure for a cancelled development. It was a disturbing episode, but the way it was reported by The Independent was far from perfect. The headline “”Litigants Surprised By Renewal of Garaventa Project” accidentally suggested that the developer was preparing to move forward. The content of the article was well done, but anyone who stopped at the headline could get the wrong impression.

Garaventa Hill Is Safe (until further notice)

The “Garaventa Hills” housing development project does not exist. Rest assured, nothing has changed since the Supreme Court invalidated the EIR. No substantive attempt to resurrect it has been made. All the funding necessary to buy the land for the purpose of conservation is in a protected account and ready to be used whenever the landowners would like to sell. In the mean time, there is no development option.

It is always possible that someone will try something with any undeveloped piece of property. Fortunately for Garaventa Hill, there are now several organizations which will be ready to act promptly in opposition if any hint of development discussions comes about.

Livermore Wine Country Inn proposed hotel and conference center location
The proposed 30-room Inn with large restaurant, full bar, hair salon with day spa and gift shop cannot proceed as the design violates aspects of the South Livermore Valley Specific Plan.

There is a proposal for a hotel called the Livermore Wine Country Inn. It would be located at the intersection of Hansen Road and Arroyo Road in deep South Livermore. The project is separate and has no connection with the Presidio Companies’ proposal for a potential downtown hotel.

Progress on the development was halted by the Court of Appeals. The reason behind the ruling against the developer follows a theme that is becoming uncomfortably familiar, as it is a result of elected officials insisting on not doing what the regulations state they must do, and ignoring public advice to do what is legal.

The proposed site is located in the South Livermore Vally Specific Plan area (SLVSP), which articulates the requirement for 100 foot setbacks on that parcel for the B&B. Instead, both the Planning Commission and the Livermore City Council sided with the developer and against the residents. The developer wanted to bend the rules and require only half the required setback (50 feet) – officials were happy to go along.

Now the entire project is uncertain. If all parties would have simply followed the rules and developed the space as originally envisioned in the SLVSP, Livermore Wine Country Inn might be hosting guests already and supporting our tourist industry. Instead, it is possible it can’t be built at all, and tremendous time, money and attention will have been wasted.

Planning Commission should have done everyone a favor and rejected the design in 2019. Failing that, the Council should have listened to the pleas of residents to make the project conform.

The next mistake to be made is up to the City Attorney. He could keep it going in the courts, or support the community and accept the loss. Let us hope the legal process is over and that the project can be reworked accordingly into a form more closely envisioned in the framework of the South Livermore Valley Specific Plan.

New housing developments of 11 or more units are required to make at least 15% of those units permanently priced significantly below market value. This applies apartments, condos, townhomes, single family homes – any form of dwelling unit.

Developers usually don’t like building them, so they take advantage of a loophole. Instead of creating affordable units, they are allowed to offer a payment to the City as a condition of making more or all of the units available at market rate. This fee goes into a special fund that is held with the City, that is supposed to eventually be used in some manner to build affordable units in the future. There are a number of problems with this arrangement that directly lead to the inadequate affordable inventory.

Not enough units have been built

This is the obvious primary problem. Many people who work in Livermore cannot live there due to insufficient income. A variety of essential occupations fall into this trap, such as teachers, healthcare workers, first responders, and the list goes on.

Affordable projects take too long

As the fees are collected over time, the challenge becomes how to spend them. The typical scenario is that City staff and the Council should be proactive in getting them applied toward actual, shovel-ready projects in what would hopefully be a sufficiently rapid pace. The expensive market rate projects can be ready to be occupied in as little as a year or two, but the affordable projects can languish for decades. When they do get built, they tend to be 100% below market concentrated compounds. It has long been known that such a configuration is not the best way to welcome people with diverse income levels into the fabric of the city.

“Inclusionary Housing” is superior to affordable housing projects

Like most communities, Livermore practices inclusionary zoning policies (also known as inclusionary housing policies and IZ policies). They aim to create affordable housing units by encouraging or requiring housing developers seeking to construct new market-rate units to set aside 15% of the units as affordable for moderate-income to low-income tenants or homeowners. IZ policies are designed to encourage new housing developers to build affordable homes in market-rate housing areas with the goal of creating communities with diverse income levels.

Here’s how it works in Livermore

Inclusionary zoning can be mandatory, voluntary, or a combination. Livermore requires new constructions of 11 units or more to set aside 15% of dwelling units for affordable housing programs. Developers often claim that the project won’t be feasible for a variety of reasons and may offer to pay their way out of building as many, or any. Sometimes several factors interact to either increase or decrease the number of units built such as: density bonuses, expedited approvals, fee waivers, and subsidies.

Benefits of Inclusionary vs. Concentrated Affordable Zoning

  1. Increased supply of affordable housing: Inclusionary zoning policies help increase the amount of affordable housing available to lower-income and moderate-income households. IZ also offers a path to meeting federal fair housing standards set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
  2. Greater opportunity for low-income households: As housing prices soar, inclusionary zoning ordinances aim to help low-income renters and homeowners afford to live in areas with greater access to employment, schools, and public transportation.
  3. Decrease economic and racial segregation: Inclusionary zoning can help create a more economically and racially diverse city by enabling people to live throughout Livermore and not just relegated to parts of town deemed less desirable.
  4. Healthier: Living in a mixed-income community can have a positive effect on our residents’ health, such as a reduction in stress and overall improved mental health.


Fees are too low

With developers so commonly choosing to buy their way out of building the units, clearly the fee structure is inadequate. The city council has the sole authority to adjust the fee.

The usual standard in the US is for the fee to be adequate to construct each of the unbuilt units at a future date. A case in point is the Lassen Road Townhomes, where the developer (WestGate Ventures) was allowed to avoid building 14 townhomes for a mere $776,000. In no version of reality could a future unit be built for $55,000. This has been a common condition in recent years, and fees need to be substantially higher.

Systemic Dysfunction

City Staff and Council are prone to run on autopilot when it comes to developers. Projects get proposed Planning Department, then run through Planning Commission with a lot of negotiations and modifications. By the time it gets to Council, it is easier to say “yes” than it is to challenge the process for adequacy, as was not done with Lassen Road Townhomes. Council needs to demand much more to ensure a better affordable mix within future housing developments.

The standard practice of producing EIRs was upended to some degree by a recent loss in the Supreme Court by the City of Livermore. We decided to investigate deeper into the process of how these reports are created and by whom.

In Livermore’s case, the report with the salient deficient information was produced by Lamphier-Gregory for a development that would have been called Garaventa Hills. Now, an effort by Save Seven Hills Ranch to preserve open space instead of developing it into housing gives us the opportunity to examine the DEIR documents of these two nearby proposed developments. The first one has already failed, and we believe this new one is on its way to a comparable


Recently, we noticed a striking similarity within a key element of each report: the “No Project Alternative”. This is the component that was found to be out of compliance with CEQA law in three different courts, with finality at the California Supreme Court. Although we are a Tri-Valley organization, we do share some environmental kinship with neighboring counties; we also receive court mandated compliance reports on water delivery in Contra Costa County, where Seven Hills Ranch is located. Thus, we’ll wade into the Spieker development for the purposes of education and study.

Comparing the “No-Project Alternatives”

For the Livermore “Garaventa Hills” proposal, the DEIR was written by Oakland based Lamphier-Gregory. The DEIR for the Spieker proposal was written by San Jose based David J. Powers & Associates.

EIRs are usually very long documents – well over 100 pages. As we have observed before, the purpose of these reports is often far less about environmental protection and much more about pushing a development project forward. For the good of the environment, CEQA requires a No-Project Alternative for a legislative body to consider. It usually is identified as the environmentally superior alternative among all the others, as to avoid describing it this way would be inaccurate.

Here they are side by side:

Garaventa Hill (Lamphier):

Under a “no development” alternative, the Project site would remain in an undeveloped state. There would be no impacts on the environment, because no new development would occur.
Ability to Accomplish Project Objectives and Feasibility
A No Project/No Development alternative would not meet any of the project objectives, except for separating adjacent habitats from development activity (objective 6) and preserving the knolls (objective 7). With no development, this alternative would not complete implementation of the Maralisa development, would not contribute to housing availability, and would not provide housing near employment centers. It is assumed the existing informal trails would remain on site.

This alternative represents the possibility that no project is approved on this site. However, there is no current proposal for the City or other agency to purchase this site or otherwise preserve it in an undeveloped state. This site is zoned for and previously indicated under the Maralisa plan for residential development. Therefore, while this alternative analyzes a no development scenario, it is not necessarily feasible to assume the site would remain undeveloped in the long term.

Seven Hills Ranch (Powers):

The CEQA Guidelines specifically require consideration of a “No Project” Alternative. The purpose of including a No Project Alternative is to allow decision makers to compare the impacts of approving the project with the impacts of not approving the project. The Guidelines specifically advise that the No Project Alternative is “what would be reasonably expected to occur in the foreseeable future if the project were not approved, based on current plans and consistent with available infrastructure and community services.” The Guidelines emphasize that an EIR should take a practical approach, and not “…create and analyze a set of artificial assumptions that would be required to preserve the existing physical environment (Section 15126.6[e][3][B]).”
The No Project Alternative assumes that the project site would remain as it is today with the existing buildings being reoccupied.
Comparison of Environmental Impacts
The No Project Alternative would avoid all the project’s environmental impacts.
Relationship to Project Objectives
The No Project Alternative would not meet any of the project objectives as no change would be made to the existing land uses at the site and the current land uses do not provide any senior living facilities.
Because the No Project Alternative would not result in any new development on the site, this alternative would avoid all environmental impacts of the project. This alternative would not, however, meet any of the project’s objectives.

Notice the similarity in the language, and the general disinterested “mood” of the content. It is hard to believe the reports were prepared by two entirely different companies, for different counties, and different developers. Let’s face it, Lamphier-Gregory and David J. Powers are both essentially saying to their respective legislative bodies, “you seriously can’t do this”. As one of three alternatives presented in the massive EIRs, they occupy less than a page each.

We believe we see rather unhelpful brevity and insincerity of the overall effort to truly examine the alternative that is in the public’s best interest. That is what was struck down by the Court.

The Appellate justices noted (in “Save the Hill”): “As the Guidelines make clear, an EIR “shall focus on alternatives to the project or its location which are capable of avoiding or substantially lessening any significant effects of the project, even if these alternatives would impede to some degree the attainment of the project objectives, or would be more costly.” (Guidelines, § 15126.6, subd. (b), italics added.)” and:

“Lacking adequate information regarding the no-project alternative, the city council could not make an informed, reasoned decision on whether this Project should go forward. Accordingly, its decisions to certify the RFEIR and approve the Project must be set aside… (See Sierra Club v. State Bd. of Forestry (1994) 7 Cal.4th 1215, 1236;”

Getting Involved Earlier

The public often desires to make a real difference in how our government agencies impact the environment due to legislative actions. Typically intervention begins after the information spreads about an undesirable proposal, at some point after a DEIR is first produced. Community organizing then starts, with the focus on the legislative body being primary. This may be too late. Could there be a better way?

If the public can get ahead of the process at an earlier stage, (for example, if active concerned residents were to intervene at the bidding stage where environmental consultants first get involved) it might go a long way toward redirecting the momentum of staff and the elected body.

Let’s suppose an RFP is bid on by three consultants. The choice of vendor will be made at a public meeting, where comments could be given at this earlier date and perhaps encourage the bidders to reconsider their interest. Bidders may learn about crucial elements that might make the project unbuildable or very difficult evaluate. Perhaps they would need to adjust their bids to reflect additional costs, consider undiscovered obstacles, or not get involved at all. No consultant, no project.

Conclusion (for now)

CBG has not spent an extensive amount of time collecting the large number of EIR documents that would be required to discuss any definitive patterns within the Environmental Consultancy industry. What we do see in this case is an extraordinary similarity in the methods by which environmentally superior alternatives to development are disadvantageously positioned in legislative body reports. We expect to add more information as it becomes available.

The Garaventa Hills development process evolved from a fairly straightforward housing development proposal, onward through considerable public pushback, and now moving forward toward full preservation as open space. A core enabling factor of saving “The Hill” was the discovery of a specific sum of money to buy the land – the Dougherty Valley Settlement Agreement Fund, or DVSA. Many people have been asking for more details on the origin and structure of the funding, and how CBG relates to it.

Litigation Cornucopia

There were many lawsuits and other settlements associated with the various Dougherty housing projects. This page discusses our settlement as it relates to CBG’s actions and has nothing to do with other funds similarly named in Contra Costa County. Feel free to investigate, as we haven’t focused on that. There was some legal action with Danville. In San Ramon there was a lot happening – here is a Dougherty Valley Settlement document that might get you going in the right direction.

Zone 7’s Journey into the Abyss

It all started in 1998. Zone 7, the Tri-Valley’s wholesale water supplier, was considering whether to broaden its services to include delivering water to future customers in Contra Costa County. A series of housing developments, sometimes referred to as the Dougherty Valley Project, would be a massive, unpopular development of 11,000 houses that faced many obstacles. Crucially, it did not have a source of water and thus would not be buildable.

The developer was unable to find a supplier until cooperative talks began with Zone 7 (via DSRSD), even though the area was outside of its allowable service boundary. Dublin was agreeable to provide the infrastructure, but they did not have a source for water. That’s where some all too creative methods began to be employed.

Here’s what they figured they would do. Dublin would provide water connections, and Zone 7 would “wheel” water from the Berrenda Mesa source, and on to Contra Costa County. They reasoned that doing it this way wasn’t really servicing outside the Tri-Valley, even though it was, and they could get around the inconvenient restrictions. Illegal, but technically possible with the addition of some infrastructure.

CBG’s Dougherty Valley Lawsuit

A public hearing process was required. On January 28, 1998, the Board held a public hearing on proposed contracts and an escrow agreement associated with the multifaceted plan. Many members of the public, including CBG and some of our executives (such as former Livermore Mayor Don Miller, former Zone 7 Director Margaret Tracy, former LVJUSD Director Jim Day), as well as Livermore Vice Mayor Tom Reitter, future DSRSD Director Tom Ford, and Sierra Club’s Cynthia Patton, pointedly informed Zone 7 that they were about to break the law. The minutes also reveal that the negotiations were rushed and had just concluded, giving the public only hours to review the many pages of documents. They felt the process was being ushered through the approval too quickly.

Representatives from the housing development interested parties also stated their case and recommended that Zone 7 should indeed serve their development projects.

In the end, the Directors reiterated the many benefits they claimed justified the actions, ignoring out of hand the many issues of law and insufficient review presented by resident speakers. Setting aside all the testimony, the Zone 7 Board then voted 6-1 to authorize the President to sign five agreements approving and implementing the contracts for delivery of water by Zone 7 for the Dougherty Valley Project.

CBG sued Zone 7 on behalf of Valley residents March 19, 1998. Days later, we were joined by the City of Livermore. Months of court mandated proceedings ensued. To avoid prolonged litigation and a near certain loss in court, Zone 7 offered to settle our litigation in November 1999. As part of the provisions, the settling parties paid all of CBG’s and Livermore’s legal expenses, as is common when plaintiffs prevail in court, and the DVSA Fund was established.

So how does the Fund benefit Valley residents?

The purpose of the Fund is to provide some measure of relief from excessive traffic and also support habitat preservation. One of the many reasons I-580 is so congested is because our water agency in essence, played a small part in creating thousands more commuter cars that take to the roads every day. Many of them go straight for the freeway, and that traffic is reduced to a small degree by preserving some land that would otherwise be built up and therefore a traffic source. When such purchases protect endangered species, all the better. In this way, we got “something” in exchange for the traffic caused by the defendants.

Process of Implementation

The money itself resides with the City of Livermore. Over the years, the Fund has been put to use for its intended purposes as needed.

We believe that Garaventa Hill will be the next acquisition in the chain. It will be leveraged as soon as the City Council receives a request for funding via a bona fide buyer who enters a purchase agreement, and wants to own and preserve the Hill in perpetuity.

Expenditures are geographically limited. In the Tri-Valley, we can consider funding any open space purchase east of Collier Canyon Road and North of I-580.

Ongoing oversight

The City of Livermore, DSRSD, and Zone 7 continue maintain actionable responsibilities to CBG. DSRSD and Zone 7 make regular reports to us in connection with the Settlement. They have cooperated fully and courteously over the years.

Livermore performed admirably for more than a decade. Their performance has declined recently, most notably in their failure to inform us, discuss or pursue the possibility of protecting Garaventa Hill. We hope to make arrangements for improving the ways we work together on applying funding in the best interests of residents.




As reported in The Independent:
“After noticing the PG&E workers near Bear Creek Drive and Garaventa Hill, nearby neighbors began asking questions about why power was being extended to an open space area that environmentalists recently battled and later won in court protecting it from a luxury housing project proposed by Lafferty Communities Inc.”

Vladimir Pavlushkin worked for an environmental engineering consulting firm and has experience with encroachment permits. He asked for a copy of the work permit and looked at the specifications. It showed that a residential power line was being pulled down Bear Creek Drive, parallel to existing utilities. It will serve no purpose and basically dead-ends with the street and never be needed.

It turns out that PG&E asked the city for a permit to do work on the street, which is a common activity for any utility, and the company did not look deeper into the issue of whether electrical service would still be needed. The housing development it would have supplied was to be called Garaventa Hills, and it should have been common knowledge by then that the site is not buildable for environmental reasons. That part of the memo did not seem to reach all the right people.

Apparently the previous developer of the proposed tract (Lafferty Communities) had requested the work be done at some point, and PG&E eventually followed up with a request of their own from the City of Livermore. It seems to be an extreme case of one hand not knowing what the other is doing.

We applaud PG&E for taking any steps to improve the grid reliability and safety. It would be prudent for them to more carefully determine which projects are necessary and which should not be pursued. With all the power outages we had recently, priority should be given to areas that suffer failures due to capacity constriction.