MEASURE A HEIGHT RESTRICTIONS
The Chamber of Commerce has composed a task force of Walnut Creek leaders new and old, to discuss what a possible repeal of Measure A would look like for the future of the city.
Originally passed on March 12, 1985, as the Building Height Freeze Initiative, the measure prohibits the construction of buildings over six stories, or 89 feet in height. A key piece of legislation, it was enacted to prevent the proliferation of tall buildings and the potential for increased congestion. “Measure A has been an important part of Walnut Creek for 33 years,” says Chamber President Jay Hoyer. “Nobody’s saying eliminate it, we’re saying let’s take a look at these rules and what it could mean for the next 30 years.”
Hoyer says he hears a lot more about Measure A from the business community than residents, who he believes are the most impacted by its restrictions “I don’t think my neighbors are getting together for coffee and talking about Measure A,” he says. “The business community bumps into it regularly.” According to Hoyer, Measure A is as a relic of the past that stands in the way of the kind of commercial development that could bring more diversity to the city. New career opportunities, he believes, are in the tech and corporate sectors, not necessarily in the retail and car dealership businesses that have been a staple for economic development in the city.
“Measure A, in and of itself, is a measure that restricts heights, that’s all it is. But at times it seems larger than life when folks discuss it,” says Hoyer.
Walnut Creek resident Tom O’Brien, makes it clear that he is just as opposed to repeal of the measure today as he was six years ago. “I live in the Almond/Shuey area, a tiny enclave of single-family homes and duplexes downtown,” he says. “The scale and character of the neighborhood were the reasons why I saved money for twenty years to buy a home here. Our Measure A height limit is basically all that’s preventing our neighborhood from being bulldozed and built over with six-story and higher apartments and condos.”
O’Brien asserts that the height limitations imposed by Measure A reflect the values of the city’s residents past and present. “No developer has been willing to bet that the voters feel any differently. Measure A took away the council’s authority to raise height limits,” says O’Brien. “For anyone who values the scale of their neighborhood—not just downtown—think twice before voting to overturn Measure A.” -Aziza Jackson