Stop Sprawl Development on Jersey Island
Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors
Jersey Island’s largely undeveloped natural lands and its location adjacent to the Big Break Regional Shoreline have made it a haven for many of the Bay Area’s native avian and aquatic species. But now there is a development proposal that would pave over the Island's open space and agricultural lands to build hundreds of single-family homes interconnected with tourist attractions like an exotic wildlife park and waterpark. Not only does this development threaten critical habitat, but it would also require extensive infrastructure development that will be under threat as sea levels rise. This is NOT the climate-smart development our region needs. We must protect places like this that provide essential benefits to the impacts of climate change.
You can help us stop this project in its tracks by signing our petition to urge project stakeholders to firmly deny extension of the Urban Limit Line and prohibit inappropriate sprawl development, and instead, enhance Jersey Island with much-needed park, recreation, and habitat conservation initiatives.
Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors
From: [Your Name]
Dear members of the Board of Supervisors,
On October 27, the Ironhouse Sanitary District Board of Directors passed a resolution to move forward with a sprawl development proposal that threatens open space and increases the risks of negative climate impacts for Jersey Island, located in Contra Costa’s District 3. This development proposal (currently referred to as the “New Use Evaluation”) will require an extension of the county’s existing Urban Limit Line and conversion of agricultural lands. Greenbelt Alliance has long advocated for responsible, climate-SMART (Sustainable, Mixed-use, Affordable, Resilience, Transit-oriented), land use in the county, which is why we are urging you to firmly oppose this development proposal by maintaining the existing Urban Limit Line.
Jersey Island’s largely undeveloped natural lands and its location adjacent to the Big Break Regional Shoreline has made it a haven for many of the Bay Area’s native avian and aquatic species and an important recreational asset for the county and neighboring jurisdictions. The current development proposal essentially asks for the conversion of open space and agricultural lands to build hundreds of single-family homes interconnected with tourist destinations (including an exotic wildlife park, waterpark, and other tourist attractions) that will increase vehicle miles traveled (VMT) while simultaneously putting people and infrastructure at risk of future flooding and economic distress.
The Ironhouse Sanitary District (ISD) is motivated to reposition Jersey Island because of net monetary losses as well as the increasing liability of the levees, as recognized in their 2018 RFP document that notes that “most of Jersey Island is [4 to 18 feet] below sea level” and acknowledges that “climate change and associated sea level rise will significantly exacerbate this condition and place additional cost pressure on levee maintenance” (Board Report). In other words, the ISD is considering this new development to maximize revenue while also transferring liability for levee maintenance and sea level rise threats to the county and its new inhabitants.
This proposed development may aid ISD’s near-term balance sheets, but it will come at an even greater cost to the County and its taxpayers as the adverse impacts pile up. Instead, we suggest ISD revisit the proposal to partner with East Bay Regional Parks District (EBRPD) to further develop Jersey Island’s recreational and habitat uses, which would conform with Contra Costa’s existing zoning, not require an extension of the Urban Limit Line and provide increased recreational amenities and access to the Delta without putting people, and infrastructure, at risk of climate impacts.
At a time when climate hazards are increasing throughout the Bay Area, we need your leadership to stop development proposals like this that put peoples’ lives at risk and destroy the nature-based solutions that are critical to creating resilience. So please use your authority to stop this sprawl development, and instead, enhance Jersey Island with much-needed park, recreation, and habitat conservation initiatives.