Deborah McQueen, Livermore
On August 18th, Save Livermore Downtown engaged with the City Council and Mayor Woerner in an attempt to stave off a potentially extensive legal battle over the proposed Eden housing issue in downtown Livermore. The City, unfortunately treated this opportunity with the same implacable inflexibility for which they have become known of late.
Recently, the discovery of contamination on the Eden housing site is worse than previously revealed. The contamination combined with SLD's legitimate legal challenges to the city's approval of the project moves this project closer toward undesirable outcomes for Eden. But the City, much like the Captain of the Titanic, refuses to change course even though a substantial sea change has occurred. The City’s refusal to work toward a compromise could severely jeopardize their ultimate goal, which is not to lose Eden Housing’s A1 funding. Inflexibility doesn’t look good when it goes into court. Instead of seeking a win-win, they are driving toward a lose/lose outcome.
The City has engaged in many positive improvements in Livermore, but has lacked a clear-eyed, cohesive approach to downtown development for the Old Lucky site. Developer campaign donations are a cloud hanging over former mayor Marchand and Woerner, who rushed both the Eden Housing and Legacy Project forward without thorough public input or transparency. The timing and circumstances surrounding Marchand’s donation from David Eichler, the Senior Managing Director of Legacy Partners, are particularly concerning. The consequences of rushing forward with development has manifested in the unfinished Legacy building, and a deadlock over Eden Housing.
The city is not to blame for Legacy’s/Katerra woes, but they are at fault for rushing approval processes through without looking more carefully at the players and the playing field, e.g., contaminated sites. Katerra’s financial problems were nationally recognized at the time of Legacy’s approval, and Marchand was well aware of the contamination on the Eden Housing site during his entire tenure as Mayor. The Legacy building remains an unrelenting eyesore. The partially unroofed building lacks complete framing, and is marginally protected by plastic sheeting, and drapes. Loose boards and debris lay scattered across the site. Even when a new contractor is eventually hired, it’s unlikely the building will be fully outfitted to withstand the elements come November and December. Rushing pell-mell into the Eden Housing plan would be an additional mistake for the city. For recent photos of the Legacy/Katerra building, go to PreserveDowntownLivermore.com.