With strong local leadership and the backing of a unified environmental community, the prospects look good for stopping the development of Doolan Canyon.
North of I-580 and east of Dublin in eastern Alameda County, Doolan Canyon is a strikingly beautiful habitat for rare and endangered wildlife, and supports ranching and other rural uses. The main part of the canyon is not visible from the freeway and is accessible only by Doolan Road, which deadends at the East Bay Regional Park District’s recently acquired Schmitz Ranch. This property was purchased as the first step in the creation of a future Doolan Canyon-Tassajara Hills Regional Preserve.
As an unincorporated area, the canyon is currently protected by Alameda County Measure D, the voter-approved urban growth boundary (UGB–see “Stopping sprawl: Measure D and an historic victory in the year 2000″). The urban growth boundary prevents the county from approving urban development and commercial uses in the canyon. A proposal has been made, however, by Pacific Union Homes for Dublin to annex the area between the Park District lands and I-580 and approve development of nearly 2,000 senior-housing units (think Rossmoor in Walnut Creek). A subdivision of this magnitude would destroy the area’s natural values.
Over the past two years environmental groups including the Sierra Club have organized to protect the canyon against urban encroachment. The city of Livermore began proceedings to expand its Sphere of Influence to include the canyon for the purpose of maintaining an agricultural and open-space buffer between Livermore and Dublin. That effort is now stalled at the county’s Local Agency Formation Commission while Livermore and Dublin negotiate.
Recently, environmental leaders in Dublin have stepped forward with the idea of drafting a ballot measure to establish a UGB on Dublin’s east side. These leaders are the same folks who successfully ran a UGB initiative (Measure M) to protect the west Dublin hills in 2000. Nevertheless, we can expect strong opposition from the developers who want to carve up the canyon into residential units.
While it’s still early in the current effort to protect Doolan Canyon, it’s important for people interested in helping this campaign to step forward, learn more about the situation, and get involved. If you would like to help, please contact Dick Schneider at firstname.lastname@example.org or (510)926-0010.