The Antioch City Council voted unanimously on June 9 to place the “Let Antioch Voters Decide” initiative on the November 3 ballot. The initiative aims to preserve natural features and wildlife habitat in the Sand Creek area—the largest contiguous open space in the Antioch city limits. Its passage will allow Antioch voters to approve any new projects in the Sand Creek Focus Area and will permanently require voter approval of amendments to the city’s urban growth limit line, a provision that will otherwise expire in December of this year.
Fourteen letters in support of placing the initiative on the ballot were read into the City Council minutes. Four people spoke in favor, including Joanna Garaventa, Conservation Analyst for CNPS East Bay (EBCNPS), and Seth Adams and Juan Pablo Galvan from Save Mount Diablo. An attorney representing the Zeka Group spoke against placing the initiative on the ballot. The Zeka development company owns 640 acres in the Sand Creek planning area alongside Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve. According to an East Bay Times report, Zeka attorneys have suggested that the city could face serious legal consequences if it placed the measure on the ballot.
Sand Creek lies within Contra Costa’s “Four Valleys,” an area designated as one of EBCNPS’s 15 Botanical Priority Protection Areas. EBCNPS volunteers have been actively supporting preservation of the Sand Creek area for years. In spring 2018, Save Mount Diablo and a coalition of residents and community organizations that included EBCNPS collected signatures from 9,000 Antioch residents to bring the measure to a vote. A competing initiative sponsored by one of the developers, Richland Communities, also qualified. A period of complicated legal challenges followed, but the council’s recent action will finally put the “Let Antioch Voters Decide” initiative on the November ballot.
EBCNPS is continuing to work with the Antioch Community to Save Sand Creek toward passage of the initiative.
— Joanna Garaventa, CNPS East Bay Conservation Analyst, and Jim Hanson, Conservation Committee Chair