Open Space Background

Land Acquisition

Advising the City of Walnut Creek on open space land acquisition was one of the original purposes of the Open Space Foundation. This partnership continued from the Foundation's creation in 1979 until the mid 1980's when the original open space purchases were completed and the bond money spent.

The Foundation turned its attention to other things until JoAnn Hanna, a former Foundation board member, and Bob and Shirley Nootbaar, also long-time members, started a campaign to buy the Diablo Gateway property just above the Northgate area of town. Otherwise a subdivision would have been built there. Many partners contributed to the effort. The deal was completed in 2006 and the property was dedicated the following year. The East Bay Regional Park District holds the conservation easement that secures it as open space. The Foundation contributed $1000 to the effort in 2004 but was not otherwise involved. However, the experience caused us to realize that it was still possible to buy land that could enhance the Open Space.
pine creek basin

Diablo Gateway seen across the Pine Creek Detention Basin with Mt. Diablo in the background. The 36-acre property is the flat bench to the right of the white buildings. Artists frequently paint the mountain from this area. A subdivision would certainly have ruined the view.

Two WCOSF board members, Bill Hunt and Bob Simmons, led the effort to add stronger open space preservation policies to the new General Plan that was completed in 2005. In this they were successful, but they were unable to get any dedicated funding mechanism for future land purchases. The WCOSF board realized that we would have to do what we could by ourselves, so we created a Land Acquisition Fund and invited our members to contribute to it during the annual membership drive. It was not long before we had a chance to use it.

Mangini Ranch

Our open space was acquired to preserve quality of life by protecting viewsheds and preventing development. Ecology was in its infancy in the 1970's; concepts like wildlife corridors and landscape-scale preservation had not been invented yet. Because the City was a pioneer, our four open space units were not contiguous to other open space. Shell Ridge was connected when EBRPD purchased the land for Diablo Foothills Regional Park. Sugarloaf and Acalanes will probably always be islands.

A chance to make progress on connecting Lime Ridge arose when Save Mt. Diablo obtained an option on Mangini Ranch, which adjoins Lime Ridge on the east and almost touches Mt. Diablo State Park. We offered $10,000 from our new Land Acquisition Fund as matching funds during Gary Bogue's fundraising campaign for Mangini Ranch. Save Mt. Diablo completed the purchase in 2007.
Mangini Ranch

Mangini Ranch.

Acalanes Ridge

This is our third and so far largest venture in land acquisition. It marks the first time we were involved in putting together the deal and the first time we had done any fundraising beyond asking for annual membership contributions.  It increased our capabilities and our visibility in the community.

Acalanes Ridge is the 23 acres that sits at the top of the hill above Acalanes Open Space. It has a 360 view from Solano County to south of Livermore, some unusual wildflowers, and is important as part of the wildlife corridor. It had been on our acquisition list since the beginning, but it had never been for sale.

Slide Show of Wildflowers and Views from Acalanes Ridge

In 2004 we heard about a public hearing and discovered the neighborhood had been fighting development of the parcel for a couple of years. We joined forces with them to steer the proposed development in a more palatable direction. After awhile we concluded that there was no mutually acceptable site for development and the only fair thing to do was buy the property and conserve it as public open space. Neither we nor the neighbors had the expertise or financial resources to do this, so we had to assemble a partnership that did.
Acalanes Ridge invitation

Invitation to the Acalanes Ridge dedication from Muir Heritage Land Trust. Photo Steve Hutchcraft

We were fortunate that about this time (2008) the Regional Park District put Measure WW on the ballot to provide money for its next round of land acquisition. The measure included per capita funds for cities. We worked to pass Measure WW. After its success, the deal took shape as follows: EBRPD, the cities of Walnut Creek and Lafayette, and Muir Heritage Land Trust were all equal financial partners. In addition, MHLT held title and negotiated the purchase with the owner. Since MHLT had to raise their share of the funds from private donors, we and the neighborhood offered to help. The Foundation pledged $50,000 and raised a total of $62,322 from 152 contributors. The property was dedicated June 4, 2011. We honor and thank our major donors by name below.
land acquisition contributors