By Meghan Hall
Nearly two decades in the making, Pittsburg has taken two big steps in annexing more than 600 acres for future residential development. In a special meeting in February, the Pittsburg City Council unanimously voted to approve the Faria Property Master Plan, as well as its environmental impact report and CEQA analysis. The approval will allow Concord-based Seeno Homes and Discovery Homes, its subsidiary, to build 1,500 homes.
The site is currently vacant and undeveloped, and is located just southwest of Pittsburg opposite the Concord Naval Weapons Station. According to public documents, the district is also bounded by Bailey Road, the anticipated Bailey Estates subdivision to the East and Concord’s city limits. Elevations throughout the property range from 435 feet to 1,010 feet above sea level.
The most recent iteration of the project will allow for the development of 341 acres of residential uses and require 265 acres to be preserved for open space. Plans stipulate that single-family homes have a minimum lot size of 4,000 square feet. The northern portion of the site will be developed with three to five units per acre, while the southern half will be developed with between one to three units per acre. The project’s development agreement also stipulates that a minimum of 150 rent-restricted accessory dwelling units be constructed, as well at least 75 single-story homes.
The project was initially pitched back in 1998, then later on in 2005 via ballot measure. Measure P—titled the City of Pittsburg Voter Approved Urban Limit Line and Prezoning Act—extended the urban growth limits for the City, including the Faria property. A year later, in2005, the City entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the owners of Seeno Homes and Discovery Homes, to establish guidelines for development, including a greenbelt buffer to provide permanent preservation between Pittsburg and Concord.
In 2010, the development team requested that the City begin its annexation with the environmental impact report process beginning soon thereafter. The EIR and project scope were modified over the subsequent years, and the Final EIR report was released for review in the July of 2020. The City of Pittsburg Planning Commission recommended the most recent project’s approval in the summer of 2020, citing community need and the project’s alignment with requirements laid out in Measure P.
“What we’ve done is through the various iterations of this plan and in looking at this, what we’ve concluded…is that we knew it was critical that the HCP and resource agencies were amenable to what we were proposing,” explained Discovery Home’s Albert Seeno III. “… I’m really happy after seven to eight years of discussion, we’ve got to that point.”
While certain members of the community, Discovery Homes and the City are optimistic, a number of residents spoke out against the project at the latest City Council meeting. Among the most cited concerns were ones regarding increasing urban sprawl, traffic and fire hazards created as a result of further development. Others stressed the importance of saving Pittsburg’s hills and leaving them open for community enjoyment.
“It has been a while since the Passing of Measure P, and I think that Pittsburgians now have a better understanding of what priceless value our remaining undeveloped land has,” wrote local resident Julie Marco. “We know better than we did before, and it would be a shame to make such an irrevocable decision after being informed.”
With the City’s approval in hand, the request to annex the Faria property will now be filed with the Contra Costa Local Agency formation Commission (LAFCo). After the annexation, formal entitlement applications will be submitted to the City for review and approval.
“We know this is going to be a very nice community, something that’s envisioned in the General Plan,” said Seeno III.
Upon completion, the development is expected to generate $4.25 million in taxes per year.
The Bay Area’s housing market continues to grow, as large-scale development struggles to keep up with demand. According to Redfin analysis, home prices within Pittsburg have risen 30.2 percent over the course of the past year. The median home price is about $609,000, and on average, homes spent just about nine days on the market.