James Hutchins, Livermore
In September 2020, when running for mayor, Bob Woerner addressed people’s concerns about the housing downtown saying, “I believe it is still possible in principle to relocate the housing element … The objective is to figure out the best feasible location by carefully evaluating all the factors.”
He promised there would “be plenty of opportunity for public input and reasoned discussion of the potential benefits,” saying, “I am sure there is a way to help the community come together.”
Fast-forward to after he won the election for mayor, and his promises all vanished. He has indicated that looking at alternatives is no longer “feasible” and is pushing forward each new Eden Housing proposal.
Since September, what the public has been shown has bigger buildings, inadequate parking, almost double the number of people in the same area, and now excludes the promised housing for police officers, firefighters, and seasoned teachers.
What changed? Woerner won the election and now doesn’t need to care what the people say, at least until he is up for re-election in two years. What happened to the “win-win” he promised to seek “to help the community come together”?
The fact is Mayor Woerner isn’t a public servant. He is a politician, with all the baggage that entails. Politicians only act when they think it benefits themselves, not when it helps the people they were elected to serve.
Consider the recent issue raised by Commissioner Stein regarding Livermore’s segregating of low-income housing into discrete projects, separate from market-rate apartments. Stein advocated for affordable units to be integrated into new projects, and was attacked for such comments. But he was right, and his comments resonated with many, and this became a problem.
So, at the next planning commission meeting, the ability for apartment developers to buy out of including low-income units by paying an “in lieu fee” was quietly rescinded. It is only when politicians fear a backlash that they act in the people’s interest instead of their own.
Seeking a “win-win” for our downtown is in everyone’s interest, and our politicians need to be told that. The center of downtown should be a beautiful park for all to enjoy, not a series of housing units that will forever overshadow it. There are alternatives. People need to speak up for what they want and protect what they have.
Once it’s gone, it’s gone.