On Tuesday, July 16, the Citizens for a Livermore Central Park submitted a total of 8110 signatures to the City Clerk in support of the Central Park Plan initiative. The clerk will review the petitions and send them to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters to validate the signatures.
According to a press release from Tammy Reus, secretary of the organization, "The number of signatures submitted far exceeds the number of validated signatures needed. We are confident that the measure will qualify for the ballot."
Livermore Mayor John Marchand stated, "This initiative frustrates the will of the people who, in the recent election, overwhelming supported candidates who were strongly in favor of moving forward with the downtown plan. If it passes, it will delay any progress on new parking, new parks or a hotel in the downtown for years to come. Finally, this initiative will triple residential densities in the downtown to 150 units to the acre and include co-housing micro-units.
"The Council heard loud and clear that residents opposed increased densities and micro-units. Once people understand what the initiative really does, I believe they will reject it," Marchand added.
According to the Citizens’ press release, "The signatures were gathered more quickly than anticipated, even though the signature gatherers were repeatedly heckled and interrupted while speaking with the public. Despite the efforts of the opponents, the signature drive was easily concluded with signers expressing their preference for the Central Park Plan over the Council's Plan. They indicated that they want a large continuous Central Park in their downtown with plenty of parking near Livermore Avenue. They said that they like the idea of placing 84 affordable multi-family units on the periphery of the park area, with an additional 46 units transferred to Pacific Avenue so that additional affordable units can be built there."
The press release continued, "The Central Park Plan Initiative effort was started because of the City Council's failure to listen to the public about the development of the former Lucky's site, which is currently being used for parking. Initially, the Council considered adopting the Lennar Plan to build 260 homes on the lot in the center of downtown. This idea was hugely unpopular."
The City continued to move forward with development of a plan. The citizens wanted to provide input so the plan would reflect the public's vision for downtown. The Council conducted a $500,000 community Outreach Process. The press release stated, “That process resulted in a 3-1 preference for the construction of a hotel on the westside of Livermore Avenue. Despite these results, the Council adopted a plan placing 130 homes on the west side and a hotel on the east side of Livermore Avenue. This is not what the people wanted.
"Citizens then circulated a referendum to address the community's dissatisfaction with the Council Plan. The measure qualified for the ballot, but the opportunity to vote never came. The Council found a way to work around a vote by modifying their plan, leaving the essence of the plan unchanged. The current Central Park Plan initiative then followed.
"The people deserve a chance to vote on the plan they want for downtown Livermore. The Council is now considering yet another tactic to undermine voter rights. On July 22, the Council has scheduled a public hearing to consider entering into a formal development agreement with the developer, Presidio, for a hotel on the east side of Livermore Avenue. We believe the Council is trying to expedite their plan in order to confuse the public and interfere with the initiative process.
"The signatures have been gathered. The initiative will qualify for the ballot. The voters can and should decide the future of downtown Livermore. The city’s goal in executing a development agreement so quickly is intended to create the impression that the initiative is dead and that voters have no power to create a better plan. That is not the case."