This story was edited Oct. 18 from its original version published Oct. 15 to include new information from Vice Mayor Bob Woerner. New updates will be provided as they become available.
According to notices from city staff, the Livermore City Council will conduct a public hearing Oct. 26, at 7 p.m., to consider development agreements for downtown projects.
During the meeting to be held via Zoom and on YouTube, the council will consider authorizing the execution of development agreements to facilitate future development of properties in the Downtown Plan, which was approved by the city council January 2018.
From Vice Mayor Bob Woerner, The Independent has learned that the development agreement for Eden Housing is unlikely to be included in the agenda. However, development agreements will be considered for all of the other downtown projects: Red Bear Property Management Inc. to construct the Downtown Commercial Project for retail; Quest Science Center to build the Downtown Livermore Science and Society Center Project; and Shakespeare Associates, Inc. to create Downtown Blackbox Theater Project.
When a city in California enters into a development agreement with a builder, the developer is generally entitled to proceed with a project under the local rules, regulations, and ordinances in effect at the time of approval. Such agreements are contracts, enforceable by either side. They give developers certainty that they will be able to proceed with a project in return for a commitment to provide some type of benefit to the public.
During the hearing, the council will also consider Downtown Specific Plan Amendments to allow a four-story hotel downtown, along with a request for a Vesting Tentative Tract Map to subdivide three city-owned parcels within the Downtown Specific Plan Area, creating nine separate parcels consistent with the Downtown Plan.
On Sunday, Oct. 18, Vice Mayor Bob Woerner stated, "The agenda doesn’t come out until Tuesday, but I don’t think a (development agreement) for Eden Housing will be on the agenda.”
He continued, “There’s a distinction between a notice of a public hearing that the staff puts out and the actual meeting agenda; that notice allows something to be put on the agenda, but it doesn’t put it on the agenda ... The only thing I would point out is that (the development agreement hearing) was on the meeting notice calendar, and as of now, there’s no indication that it’s on the council agenda. But we won’t know until (the agenda is) published."
The project site is located within the northern portion of the block bound by Railroad Avenue, South Livermore Avenue, First Street and South L Street.
Eden Housing’s Downtown Workforce Housing Project has presented some conflict in the community. Many have called for the 130 three- and four-story Eden Housing units to be moved off the downtown site to a location across Railroad Avenue to the north, in order to create more than 300 units and free up space for a landscaped park.
Livermore resident Lee Younker has followed the downtown plans over the years and worked with individuals on both sides of the issue. He noted in a recent interview that, while driving down L Street between First Street and Railroad Avenue, he was surprised by the four-story buildings going up on the west side.
“For the first time, I realized that if the Eden Housing project were to go forward with its four-story residential units directly across the street on the east side, it would create a ‘canyon’ on L Street,” he said. “It would change the fundamental character of downtown Livermore. Citizens have gotten used to the light, sunshine and openness of our city's center.”
According to Evan Branning, Unify Livermore CFO, affordable housing is a major issue in Livermore and the region.
“I want what is best for our community, and I will continue to keep an open mind on the pros and cons of any project,” he stated. “With respect to the downtown site, it has long been envisioned for affordable housing. The land was purchased with affordable housing funds with an accompanying obligation to build housing on the site. Building the proposed workforce housing on that site fulfils that obligation and is the right thing to do.”
A staff report will be available for review in the city council agenda packet on the evening of Tuesday, Oct. 20, which can be found on the City of Livermore website, https://www.cityoflivermore.net. A copy of the agenda can be requested via phone at 925-960-4200.
The public hearing is set for Oct. 26, at 7 p.m. To view the city council meeting via YouTube, visit https://www.youtube.com/c/CityofLivermoreCalifornia. Zoom meeting details will be included in the agenda to be released Oct. 20.
To submit a public comment ahead of time, email email@example.com.