Response to Mark Palajac’s May 20 Letter

Jim Hutchins, Livermore

Mark Palajac’s letter to the editor on May 20 made claims regarding the Alternative Plan put out by Save Livermore Downtown. My group, Preserve Downtown Livermore, has reviewed the plan by SLD and believes it is a viable and feasible plan.

Mark claims the Alternate Plan’s density is more than twice the Eden plan, but the acreages are wrong. When both plans only consider the acreage of the lots the buildings are on, the Eden plan is 94 units/acre while SLD’s is 91 units/acre.

Mark claims none of the parcels north of Railroad are owned by the city and cannot be acquired in time, but one is owned by the city, and others are open to selling. Sufficient land can be acquired in time to demonstrate viability and satisfy A1’s requirement.

Mark claims any change will trigger a new competitive award process, but with an increase in the number of affordable units, the project’s score would increase, and retaining the funding is very likely.

Mark claimed SLD’s plan had units half the size, but it has the same ratios of one-, two- and three-bedroom units, and at the same density, they would be about the same size.

Mark claimed by including more units, the per-unit cost would go up past statutory limits causing loss of funding. But economy-of-scale means per-unit costs would decrease, not increase. SLD’s above-ground robotic garage is much cheaper than the underground parking in Eden’s plan. By moving the housing across Railroad Avenue, the current site would be retained by the city and the housing requirement alleviated allowing it to be used for a destination park.

Mark says there is no funding source for SLD’s plan, but SLD’s website lists potential sources of funding. Mark also says no building partner has been identified, but the city can partner with Eden to develop the site north of Railroad, or the city can engage another developer if Eden declines.

While running for mayor, Bob Woerner put forward what he called a “win-win” of moving the housing to the north of Railroad and building a large park for the community. This was a campaign issue that helped him get elected. But after he was elected, he dropped the pretense.

The people deserve a large, beautiful park in the center of downtown, not a large high-density apartment project in its last open space.