The city has released the pro and con statements that will appear on Livermore’s Nov. 3, 2020, ballot for the initiative that would change the city’s plan for downtown Livermore.
The measure is titled, "Citizens Initiative Changing Development Regulations in Downtown Livermore, and Amending Regulations to Allow Housing at the Civic Center."
Supporters of the city plan refer to theirs as the “Approved Downtown Plan;” supporters of the alternative plan call theirs the “Central Park Plan.”
If citizens vote in favor of the initiative, it would amend the city’s General Plan, Downtown Specific Plan and Development Code. Although the same elements are shown in both plans – park, parking, hotel, retail, residential and cultural – their location, size and nature are different.
Rebuttal arguments must be submitted to the Livermore City Clerk by 5 p.m. on Sept. 20.
Argument in Favor of Measure:
The Central Park Plan is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to create something truly special in Livermore's downtown.
Placed on the ballot by almost 7,000 Livermore voters and designed by noted architects with deep Livermore roots, the Central Park Plan creates a centerpiece worthy of the community. Simply put, the Central Park Plan provides better parks and better parking, for a better Livermore.
• Creates a signature 3-acre Central Park stretching from the Bankhead Park Plaza to L Street, with a real park, larger than the Council Plan, activated with tables under trees;
• Retains Stockmen's Park, an open grassy area that can support events and provide seating for performances on an outdoor stage;
• Constructs convenient parking where most needed, near Livermore Avenue, the city's entertainment center, providing 316 more parking spaces than the Council Plan;
• Puts 3-story affordable housing off the park, not on it, as well as on Pacific Avenue (Council Plan includes 4-story apartments);
• Allows for a resort, destination wine-country hotel west of Livermore Avenue with more rooms, greater tax revenue and more economic benefits for existing businesses than the Council's Plan;
• Adds to Livermore's cultural hub by encouraging a black box theater and science center;
• And provides for interesting shops and restaurants along Livermore Avenue, creating a connection with existing First Street businesses.
In keeping with Livermore’s traditional downtown, the Central Park Plan limits the height of any building to three stories.
In the past, Livermore voters successfully fought for urban growth boundary initiatives to block urban sprawl from destroying the surrounding vineyards, ranchlands and scenic hills. This time, residents can join together to create an inspiring Central Park enlivened by recreational, cultural and commercial destinations at the very heart of the community.
Argument Opposing Measure:
The elected City Council urges a "No" vote on this initiative. If approved, this initiative will invalidate the Approved Downtown Plan (the City's plan) that was based upon months of effort, which included recommendations from downtown development experts, input from thousands of Livermore residents and community stakeholders, and the integration of those ideas by professional Livermore city-planning staff. The Approved Plan is a plan by the people, for the people. This cannot be said for the initiative, nor the drawing that accompanies it.
• This initiative will triple the current housing densities in the downtown to 150 units per acre.
• It will harm First Street merchants by eliminating their parking and back patios, instead replacing them with micro-unit, shared housing.
• The initiative is vague and deceptive. For example, it allows the proposed parking lot next to the Bankhead to be replaced with other uses, including another performing arts theater.
• The initiative does not match the widely circulated drawing, and the inconsistencies will require more public hearings resulting in years of delays and millions of dollars more than the City's plan.
The key to the Approved Downtown Plan is that it balances all of the competing priorities that were important to residents and stakeholders.
Paid signature gatherers deceived voters into signing petitions by promising more open space and more parking. However, a recent analysis concluded that the initiative provides less open space and less available parking than the Approved Downtown Plan – 3.32 acres of public open space versus 2.37 acres in the central park drawing. Additionally, the City's plan has 70 more available parking spaces versus the initiative.
In summary, if this initiative passes, the result will be higher density housing, less available parking, less open space, and more delays and costs.
Move Livermore forward by voting “No” on the initiative.