Deborah McQueen, Livermore

The beautiful downtown Veterans Park, promised to the citizens of Livermore, may be sidelined due to an ‘oversight’ by Eden Housing Inc.

In an apparent miscalculation of their own building plans, Eden Housing appeared before the city council in a recent Dec. 7, 2020, workshop to discuss their need for increasing building size and capacity of the Eden Affordable Housing project, which will result in a substantial loss of public park land. These changes must be implemented if Eden Housing is to receive necessary tax credits for securing their financing.

Eden Housing failed to notify the citizens of Livermore that there were issues with the original proposed square footage, in spite of knowing these limitations since January 2020 - if not earlier.

Additionally, Eden Housing wishes to increase unit sizes to include larger two- (and) three-bedroom units, further increasing the size of the buildings. Larger units might be desirable, but they simply won’t fit into the original design plans.

The end result includes the loss of promised park land, replaced by grass strips, hardscape, and two super-sized buildings standing three (to) four stories, which include a 58-foot tunnel through them. The public was not informed of these proposed changes until Dec. 7, 2020.

The proposed new buildings are certain to be both physically imposing and a permanent eyesore to the downtown, thereby destroying the festive, community-oriented nature of Livermore. The beauty and character of the downtown is not a trivial or merely skin-deep issue. Preserving the downtown’s Genius Loci is central to protecting Livermore’s distinctive atmosphere, and the spirit and importance of community.

The City of Livermore stated in their downtown plan. adopted in January 2018, that their top priorities “identified by the community through an extensive public engagement process” rates parking #1, community character #2, and open space #3. The community and the city noted that the “historic character of Downtown is a key part of Livermore’s identity. The city council shares this perspective and directed that new development reflect Livermore’s historic character in terms of design and building materials.”

Allowing Eden Housing to change the originally proposed four buildings into two structures that conflict with Livermore’s historic character, is a violation of the city’s downtown plan.

The people of Livermore should think carefully about allowing this revised plan to proceed, before ugly urbanization, congested traffic, and reduced parking become the new Genius Loci of Livermore.