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Lennar Urban prevails in master developer saga IT’S YOUR PAPER


From the desk of...

May 27, 2016


PEGGY SPEAR Concord Pioneer



Community input, research key to base project

As your mayor and council member, I’ve taken extraordinary efforts to study issues, ask important questions and make intelligent, reasonable and fair decisions for Concord. Selecting the right master developer for Phase 1 (10 percent of the site) of the Concord Naval Weapons Station is no exception. As a lifelong Concord resiArtist rendering courtesy of Lennar Urban dent, I have seen many LENNAR URBAN WILL TAKE THE FIRST STAB AT DEVELOPING THE VAST CONCORD NAVAL WEAPONS STATION after a unanichanges over the years. I too mous May 11 decision by the Concord City Council. The first phase will be developed in 40- to 60-acre See Mayor, page 6 parcels. For more information on Lennar’s proposal with the city, visit www.concordreuseproject.org/pdf/ proposal/lennar.pdf.

‘Rent Strike’ fights back at increases

In a long, drawn-out civic process that resembled a soap opera or a bad reality show, the city of Concord unanimously selected Lennar Urban as the master developer for Phase 1 of the Concord Naval Weapons Station Base Reuse. Only three City Council members were eligible to vote. In statements to the press and the public, council members reiterated that the decision did not mean that Lennar had rights to development of the entire base. Even Phase 1 will be doled out 4060 acres at a time, depending on performance. Rather than transfer the entire 500 acres of the first phase to Lennar at one time, the city will turn over

See Lennar, page 14

Trees falls in right direction at Willow Pass Park

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series on rising rents in Concord. Next up: Affordable housing – where we are and where we are going. PEGGY SPEAR Concord Pioneer

For the last two months, a small but spunky contingent of Concord renters have been delivering their rent checks en masse to their landlord, the Pinza Group in Walnut Creek. They are paying rent, but not the total amount they are being charged – which over the past six months has been about a $500-700 increase. They aren’t being welcomed, and in one instance the Walnut Creek Police Department was called for “disturbing the peace.” Tenants Together and residents of some Virginia Lane apartments are orchestrating this “rent strike.” Tenants Together is a nonprofit organization dedicated to defending and advancing the rights of California tenants to safe, decent and affordable housing. Virginia Lane has turned into ground zero for the fight against rising rental rates in Concord. “It’s ridiculous,” says Olga Chan, who for six years has paid $1,000 for a two-bedroom, one-bath apartment at 1120 Virginia Lane. Since the beginning of 2016, she has seen her rent rise more than $500. And her requests and appeals to the management have not produced any relief.

Jay Bedecarre photo

Tamara Steiner/Concord Pioneer

BETTY GABALDON STRATEGIZES WITH ACTIVIST EDUARDO TORRES in front of her Virginia Lane apartment. Gabaldon and other Concord tenants have been hit hard by recent draconian rent increases.

AN ITALIAN STONE PINE TREE, estimated at 65 years old and 50 feet tall, fell over in front of Willow Pass Community Center one evening last week. Luckily, the tree was tilted away from the building and landed on the grassy slope right off the intersection of Salvio St. and E. Olivera Rd. City crews were in the process of cutting and removing the tree last week. Mickey Himsl, who was in charge of maintenance at Willow Pass Park for 28 years, said the only trees in the large 40-acre park that fell during his tenure were Eucalyptus and Italian pines. A casualty of the fallen pine was a tree planted and dedicated to former city employee Vicki Matheny Park.

Sailor recalls his personal day of infamy He’ll never forget May ’44 disaster at Pearl Harbor ROD PLAISTED Special to the Pioneer

Most people think of Dec. 7 as Pearl Harbor Day, but my memories are tied to May 21. That was the day in 1944, when an explosion rocked the deck of LST (landing ship, tank) 353 in Pearl Harbor’s West Loch at 3:08 p.m. A chain See Rent Strike, page 15 reaction of explosions and fire killed 163 men, with 396 wounded. Six LSTs sunk, and several more were severely damaged. It was Pearl Harbor’s second Inside greatest disaster, in terms of casualties. I thought I had long ago buried the Calendar . . . . . . . . . . . .17 event deep in my memory bank. Yet as Community . . . . . . . . . . .2 I think about it now, it comes back with From the desk of . . . . . .6 clarity of detail that surprises me. I was an 18-year-old sailor, S.2/c, School News . . . . . . . . .8 assigned to an outfit called Acorn 33. Sports . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10 We were housed on West Loch, waiting Performing Arts . . . . . .16 to be deployed (I later learned) to

Guam – which had yet to be invaded. Our job there was to occupy a captured Japanese airfield and convert it into a Naval base as quickly as possible. We did, and it became Naval Air Base, Guam.

CHAOTIC SCENE On May 21, eight fully loaded LSTs – the largest sea-going crafts ever built – were tied up on West Loch, ready to sail off for the invasion of Saipan. When fires broke out, every able-bodied man on West Loch was rushed to the dock adjacent to the burning ships to remove tons of various stacks of live ammunition that had been off-loaded from an ammo ship tied up nearby. We were working in teams of 10-20 guys, loading ammo into trucks to be taken somewhere safe for storage. This was a super-secret operation. We only talked about it among ourselves, and the incident was classified until 1960. We called it “the Second Pearl Harbor.” My group was loading a truck when

the first explosion hit. It was the loudest boom I ever heard. I watched, transfixed, as parts of the ship shot up high into the clear blue sky, twisting, turning, burning, smoking – like a cloud spreading out. Then, chunks of ship came raining down around us. We all took off to find shelter, but I was too late. I got down and curled up in a fetal position, covering my head with my hands and arms. I heard something hit the pavement, landing within arm’s reach of my head. It looked like an electric motor, about two feet long and a foot thick. The hot, smoking metal landed with a “thump” and sunk in a few inches, without ever bouncing back.

DANGEROUS RECOVERY EFFORT After things quieted down, we all went back to work – rushing to get the ammo safely onto trucks and out of the way. I spotted an air raid shelter and figured I could run fast enough to get See West Loch,

CONCORD RESIDENT ROD PLAISTED was stationed at West Loch in Pearl Harbor when an explosion and fire sunk six ships. He served in the U.S. Navy as a Photographer’s Mate Second Class from 1943-1946. He page 14 is shown here on Guam in 1946.

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MAY 27 Concord Pioneer 2016  

MAY 27 Concord Pioneer 2016