Deborah McQueen, Veronica Long & Christine Thompson, Livermore
The Eden Housing apartment complex does not belong in our downtown project space – it is a left-over piece from old plans. The project has changed over the years. Last December Mayor Marchand said, “It has evolved and I think it is better.” City Council insists that the outdated apartment complex has to stay – even when not supported by results of the year-long public outreach process we paid for.
The public outreach was part of the downtown project evolution. When citizens flooded council meetings to protest the Lennar Development in 2016, a responsive city council stepped back to gather citizen input – paying consultants approximately $500,000 to guide the process. The City made that investment and Livermore residents stepped up to work with them forming a covenant of sorts, where citizen input would have a place in the downtown project plans.
Citizens got postcards saying, “The City of Livermore wants your input on the future of downtown Livermore.” Meeting participants got workbooks saying, “The City Council will consider your input prior to making any decision about the future uses of the downtown catalyst sites.” Livermore residents responded. We studied project materials, sent in letters and statements, and went to outreach events.
The results identified our top priorities as Parking, Community Character, and Open Space. Appendices attached to the final report contained hundreds of statements – many of them clearly stating that they didn’t want any housing downtown with the majority saying something about open/green space.
Following the public outreach campaign, a city newsletter stated, “The Council listened to this feedback and approved a Downtown plan that reflects the community’s input.” However, the “approved plan” is dominated by an apartment complex and the extra space around it is called a park. Stockmen’s park contributed a nice grass area and a welcome cultural/historical component. A science center and black box theater add wonderful assets, but the rest is dominated by the apartment complex, which does not reflect the community priorities and breaks the covenant with residents.
Eden Housing is expected to leave more space for the “park” in its revision, leaving a space dominated by a five-level parking garage and a four-story apartment building. A top priority, open space, an afterthought in the plans. The City Council has demonstrated such creativity in the past finding solutions to these types of issues. Please contact them and tell how you feel about
the apartment complex in our downtown project.