Tag Archives: Discovery Builders

Seeno attorneys request new trial – Save Mount Diablo says motion “Should be denied”

Seeno’s attorneys request new trial following Save Mount Diablo legal victory against Faria project in Pittsburg hills

The Pittsburg hills where the Faria project has been approved for construction, as seen from the San Marco neighborhood in Pittsburg. Photo: Scott Hein
607-acre, 1,650-home development next to planned Thurgood Marshall Regional Park – SMD leader says motion for new trial “should be denied”

Contra Costa Herald, by Allen D. Payton, March 3, 2022

Last Friday, Feb. 25, 2022, attorneys representing Discovery Builders and their Faria new home development requested a new trial for the lawsuit by Save Mount Diablo, following a judge’s decision in favor of the environmental group to stop the project. As previously reported, on March 30, 2021, Save Mount Diablo filed a lawsuit challenging the City of Pittsburg’s approval of the 1,650-unit Faria project, on the ridgeline between Pittsburg and Concord. According to the agenda item documents, the master plan overlay district encompasses approximately 607 acres of land. (See related article)

The motion for a new trial was filed “on the basis that the Court’s decision is not supported by the evidence and controlling legal authorities. Specifically…that there were several portions of this Court’s February 10, 2022, Statement of Decision that may not have fully considered evidence in the administrative record.” In addition, the motion asks that the “Court vacate its Statement of Decision and enter a new decision denying SMD’s motion” and “conduct a new hearing”. Faria project Motion for New Trial Parsons Dec. ISO Mot for New Trial      Raskin Dec. ISO Mot for New Trial    Faria project new trial Proof of Service

A hearing date on the motion for a new trial has been set for April 14, 2022.

The now named Thurgood Marshall Regional Park is directly adjacent to the Pittsburg City Council approved Faria project. Herald file graphic. Credit: Save Mount Diablo/Google Earth.

On the day of the decision, Save Mount Diablo issued the following press release about their legal victory: [Previously published here on BenIndy, see Save Mount Diablo Wins Major Legal Victory Against Seeno to Protect Pittsburg’s Hills.]

Save Mount Diablo Says Motion for New Trial “Should Be Denied”

Asked about the motion for a new trial, Save Mount Diablo Executive Director, Ted Clement responded, “Regarding the Seeno companies/Pittsburg request for a new trial, the Court has already rejected their arguments for reasons fully set forth in its decision. Their Motion for New Trial does not question the adequacy of the administrative record on which the Court properly based its decision (and which the City itself prepared) or suggest there was any other irregularity or unfairness in the hearing. Instead, they seek a second bite of the apple.”

“Their Motion reargues issues that were fully briefed and addressed in the Court’s Decision,” he continued. “They also seek to introduce irrelevant and improper extra-record evidence, violating black letter law that CEQA actions must be decided on the record that was before the agency when it made its decision.”

“Because their Motion provides no basis for this Court to order a new trial solely on the issues decided adverse to them, it should be denied,” Clement concluded.

Sign the Petition for our friends in Concord – Reverse the Seeno decision!

Effort launched to remove Seeno Companies’ grip on major Concord housing development plan

The Concord City Council will negotiate exclusively with the Seeno companies to develop the long-anticipated Naval Weapons Station project. (Dan Rosenstrauch/Staff Archives)

SiliconValley.com, by Shomik Mukherjee, September 29, 2021

In response to the Concord City Council’s decision last month to negotiate exclusively with the controversial Seeno Companies and its affiliated developers to oversee one of the East Bay’s biggest housing projects in recent history, Seeno’s longtime foes are launching a two-pronged effort to sway the council to reconsider.

Notorious for playing hardball with local governments and environmental groups, family-run real estate developer Seeno and its associated companies won the council’s approval for a shot at possibly becoming the master developer of the former Concord Naval Weapons Station. Discovery Builders, which was established by a Seeno family member, is listed as the group’s lead company.

The grassroots Concord Communities Alliance is circulating an online petition that so far has collected 1,300 signatures urging the council to revisit its 3-2 vote. Meanwhile, a member of the Democratic Party of Contra Costa County has written a resolution formally opposing the council’s decision and asked the party to throw its political weight behind a formal protest.

But the opposition will have to move swiftly if it’s going to sink the arrangement. Concord Economic Development Director Guy Bjerke said Tuesday his goal is to finish negotiations by late October. After that, the council could make Discovery Builders the project’s official master developer.

The stakes are high. The master developer would implement the city’s vision for 13,000 new homes and millions of square feet of office and commercial space — in essence, a new community — on the former naval weapons site.

Discovery Builders had previously sued the Navy to stop the project when it was in the hands of another developer.

Now the company, headquartered in Concord near the site of the proposed development, is poised to be in the driver’s seat to oversee that very project.

The resolution by Democratic Party secretary Kenji Yamada blasts Seeno for a “history of bad faith and unethical behavior,” suggesting the company’s negotiations with the city will either end in turmoil or lead to “poor-quality homes and environmental destruction.”

The resolution is currently being reviewed by the party’s “issues” subcommittees and could appear before its central committee for consideration in October. Yamada, who also is a member of the party’s executive committee, says he wrote the resolution as an individual.

“I was surprised that they were selected, not so much because of their atrocious record of ethical violations, but because the name of Seeno is so notorious among residents and constituents of the City Council that I didn’t think the council would dare to select them,” said Yamada, who ran unsuccessfully for the council in 2018.

The Concord City Council discusses its choice for a new master developer of the Concord Naval Weapons Station project during a meeting on Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021. (Screenshot)

The development partners, which include Lewis Planned Communities and California Capital Investment Group as well as Seeno and Discovery, released a statement saying they were “extremely honored and proud” to be selected for the project.

“We look forward to working with the City of Concord and the Concord community to design and develop a first class project that the entire region can all be proud of,” Louis Parsons of Discovery Builders said in an emailed statement.

Former council member Colleen Coll said Seeno has a reputation of running roughshod over any obstacles to its desired developments.

“They don’t disclose their financials, the rules don’t matter to them — none,” said Coll, who served on the council in the 1980s.

Though vilified by environmental groups and others, Discovery and Seeno also have their backers, including labor unions. Well before the council vote, they had secured a project labor agreement with the building and trades union, which guarantees that construction jobs will go to union members. The site’s previous master developer walked away from the project after refusing to sign such an agreement.

The three council members who voted to award the exclusive negotiating agreement last month to the Discovery/Seeno team dismiss the criticisms leveled at Seeno.

“The art of diplomacy and negotiations seems to have a very slow learning curve in a state where 20% of the country’s lawyers live,” Councilman Edi Birsan said in an email addressing Seeno’s long history of litigation.

Seeno sued the Navy in 2018 to stop it from transferring the weapons site to Concord, claiming the influx of new homes would result in traffic gridlock. Last year, Discovery Builders sued the East Bay Regional Park District to prevent it from acquiring adjacent Navy-owned land for the establishment of new parkland.

Discovery Builders claimed the park district did not do a “sufficient environmental review” of the planned park’s impacts on the surrounding environment.

But East Bay environmental groups say Seeno’s track record shows it’s no friend of the environment.

Save Mount Diablo, which advocates for conservation of open space and natural lands, lists on its website a timeline of news reports detailing past criticisms of Seeno.

“There are clear ethical and environmental violations,” said Zoe Siegel of San Francisco-based Greenbelt Alliance.

It’s unclear what impact the petition or the party resolution would have on the council’s decision-making.

Kathy Gleason, a Concord resident since 1974 and a fierce opponent of Seeno’s selection, said she doubts the opposition will succeed in changing the council’s mind but she hopes it’ll at least serve as notice.

“It seems, the way we exist today, that if the public speaks up loud enough and long enough, maybe we’ll get change,” Gleason said.