In response to Johnna Thompson’s letter that appeared in the 12/26/19 Independent. I want to address several inaccurate statements.
1. Foremost are her incorrect statements regarding parking. Ms. Thompson states: “...the proposed hotel will have no parking facility, so hotel guests AND employees will be using the parking garage on Railroad Avenue, as well as the proposed I Street garage. Even with the I Street extension, demand for parking spaces will likely exceed the supply.”
Fact: Demand will not exceed the supply. With the new I Street extension there will be 775 public spaces located close to the Bankhead. Hotel guests and employees will not use the existing parking garage on Railroad Avenue or the I Street extension. The hotelier, Presidio, is responsible for providing parking for guests and staff and is in the process of acquiring a nearby lot for this purpose.
Her letter further states that if you vote “no” on Measure P: “there can be a new parking structure at Livermore and Railroad where it's most needed - near the theaters.”
Fact: A parking structure next to the Bankhead would result in over 1,000 parking spaces located at Railroad Avenue and First Street, far more than what is needed for the 500-seat Bankhead theater combined with other nearby uses. This would create more traffic congestion as compared to a hotel at this location. In addition, this unneeded facility would add approximately $20 million in cost which no responsible City Council would approve.
The L Street garage will add parking where it is most needed, near the Vine Theater and near First Street businesses. Parking at this location will also serve to revitalize 2nd and 3rd Street businesses.
2. She is also incorrect when she speaks about the hotelier. Her letter states: “a hotelier already interested in developing a larger hotel at Railroad and L Streets can step forward to present its proposal, which it cannot do as long as the city has signed an exclusive development agreement with Presidio for a smaller hotel at South Livermore and Railroad.”
Fact: There is no “exclusive development agreement” with the hotelier. The earlier exclusive negotiating rights agreement has expired. The Central Park Group was invited on 11/04/19 by the city to bring forward any hotelier interested in developing a hotel -- they have failed to do so.
The impartial analysis (referred to as the 9212 report) which studied the impact of the initiative, estimated that development of a hotel on another site would result in a delay of four years or more. Furthermore, experts in hotel development have stated that a 125-135 room hotel as planned by Presidio is the right size for this market. A larger hotel, such as the over-sized 160-room hotel proposed by the Central Park Group would likely require a large city subsidy paid for by Livermore taxpayers.
3. Regarding the amount and orientation of open/park space, she states: “130 stacked, 3-4 story condos right in the center of downtown, taking up half the space of what could, instead, be a park from L Street to South Livermore Avenue.”
Fact: According to the 9212 report, the city’s approved plan has more public open space than provided in the initiative concept. The city’s plan has Stockmen’s Park connecting with Veteran’s Park providing continuous open space from Railroad Avenue to L Street.
Livermore voters should be careful to get accurate information about Measure P then decide for themselves what the city approved plan consists of, and what it will mean to the city if the approved plan is not completed.