Richard Ryon, Livermore

The Livermore City Council’s Meeting Agenda for April 6, 2021 had Item 6.3: “Discussion and Direction regarding the City Council’s commitment to a culture of welcome, inclusion and respect and the comments made by Planning Commissioner Stein at the Planning Commission Meeting on April 20, 2021, as well as the complaints received from the community.” This item is viewed by some of us to be preparation to fire John Stein from his place on the Planning Commission at the next City Council meeting.

Firing John Stein from the Planning Commission appears to be simple retribution for his being the sole vote on the Planning Commission against the bait-and-switch Eden Housing proposal for the vacant city-owned property in the heart of downtown Livermore. This plan has the support of the Livermore City Council and therefore the City staff. The excuse for firing Commissioner Stein is some remarks he made about grouping low-cost housing in one big complex.

I listened to the Planning Commission debate and heard nothing offensive in Stein’s remarks. He did have a dim view of grouping low-cost housing together in one big complex. Apparently, some took offence to this remark. Stein did go on to support the need for low-cost housing and inclusiveness for all who work in Livermore. I take this to be a sincere statement. Stein’s view on densely concentrated, low-cost housing is the same as that of most city planners, for valid sociological reasons. Many cities have demolished their big, subsidized housing complexes in favor of placing people in need throughout their cities. This is precisely the purpose of Section 8 housing vouchers. This federal program allows low-income prospective tenants to lease any housing they find suitable. They receive a subsidy for their rent. Therefore, they can rent anywhere in the city, not just in centralized low-cost housing complexes.

I find the ire at Stein’s comments to be a fabrication to take retribution for his vote against the current Eden Housing complex plan. Had he voted for it, I find it hard to believe that any Council member would take offense.

Stein’s vote against the new Eden Housing plan is in accord with what I believe to be the overwhelming view of the citizens of Livermore. His stated reasons, such as concentration of low-cost housing in one place, inadequate parking for the complex, and landscaping have a different emphasis than my reasons for opposition. (My personal view is: good idea, wrong place.) His vote was supported by at least 70% of those who submitted statements at the Planning Commission meeting. John Stein is an independent, clear thinker whose views are important to the deliberations of the Planning Commission.