In order for BART to come to Livermore, BART required a huge development around the lsabel Avenue/I-580 interchange to guarantee ridership. The Livermore Planning Division created a plan, but BART failed to come. Now, Valley Link Rail, the planned commuter rail from Dublin BART to Lathrop, wants the same amount of development in an effort to attract state funding.

At the Valley Link board meeting last month, Livermore gave a report describing a planned Isabel development plan with 4,095 housing units, including 1,000 affordable-housing units, plus more than 2 million square feet of business space. Referring to the development as a gateway to Livermore, the report claimed that it would satisfy enough community needs that the development's residents would have no need to go downtown.

Livermore’s Mayor Marchand, a member of the Valley Link board, added that the six story buildings would not be noticed because they would be nestled among the highway ramps of the interchange.

When all this development across I-580 from the Livermore Municipal Airport was questioned, Marchand, responded that the concern was about sound rather than safety. Because of this, he indicated that flight paths may be routed farther south of I-580, rather than go directly over the Isabel interchange, so the noise would not affect so many. The mayor added that Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory would be expanding the number of employees greatly and would need the additional housing. (Lab workers would not be increasing ridership on Valley Link, since they would not use it to get to work. Therefore, the motive here seems to be to provide housing to please state funding sources.)

Phase I of Valley Link includes seven stations: Dublin, Isabel, Greenville, Mt. House, Tracy, River Islands, and Lathrop. An average of 2,200 housing units per station is being urged. Therefore, all the housing could be placed at several stations. Because each affordable housing unit counts as 1.5 units, Isabel would be handling 4,595 units by itself. There would be no added housing then at Greenville, which has an Ace connection, nor at Mt. House. The "station" for Mt. House is more of a platform than a full station and is located in Alameda County. San Joaquin County will handle housing requirements for its stations.

Livermore reportedly conducted an outreach of 50 meetings with over 800 participants, and got over 3,000 survey responses. Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, chairman of the Valley Link board, complimented Livermore for such a thorough outreach.

The city plans to release supplemental environmental impact documents and hold advisory body public hearings this spring, and hold Planning Commission and City Council adoption hearings this summer. The Valley Link board will meet in Livermore on Wednesday, March 11. For more information, go to valleylinkrail.com.