ANTIOCH (KPIX) — On the edge of Antioch is what is known as the Sand Creek Focus Area. It might look like open space, but it’s not. This land is just within Antioch’s growth boundary, it has long been zoned for residential use, and a number of developers would like to start building.
On Tuesday, voters could put the brakes on that.
“So it was pretty quiet the first 10 years we lived here,” says Laddin Meairs. “Then over the last about 10 years it started to build momentum. There’s been talk about building down there.”
Meairs is the original owner of this home, perched on the very edge of Antioch. The years-long debate over how to manage the city’s growth has unfolded right in his backyard.
“So it’s everything to the left that valley up there, that meadow,” he says, pointing over his back fence.
“We’re standing on Empire Mine Road which is the prettiest three miles in Antioch,” says Seth Adams, Land Conservation Director for Save Mount Diablo. “It’s been closed for 20 years and it would be opened up for 4,000 houses.”
Adams and his group have been trying to get Measure T to the ballot since 2016. For one, it would preserve the growth boundary here.
“The second thing that it does is that it says that for an urban development out here between Kaiser and Black Diamond Mine you have to have a vote of Antioch residents,” Adams explains.
Development opponents cite traffic, and the kind of problems that come when a city doubles in size in 30 years.
“When we moved in 22 years ago, the thought was that it was a big priority to build a third high school in Antioch,” says Brian Moore. “That’s never happened.”
Pushing back on Measure T would be the developers who own the land. In a statement one of the groups with plans on this side of town supported their proposals, declaring them well within Antioch’s established growth plans.
“The proposed land uses of the Zeka Ranch project are in compliance with the existing City of Antioch General Plan,” the Zeka Group said, in a statement.
They developers also say downsizing what was previously allowed might run afoul of new state laws designed to increase our housing supply. The forces behind Measure T would rather see that growth somewhere else.
“Out on the edge of the parks, in rugged open space filled with endangered species is not where we need to be building,” Adams says.
Developers filed multiple lawsuits to stop Measure T from appearing on the ballot. It is possible that more litigation could follow if T passes.