LIVERMORE – The council this week received a presentation on the Comprehensive General Plan Update and provided feedback for the General Plan Advisory Committee (GPAC) and staff during the land-use alternatives drafting process.
The General Plan for 2025-2045 will capture the city’s long-term plan for growth, land use, sustainability, and resource and open space conservation. It is slated for final adoption in early 2024.
During the Sept. 12 meeting, Andy Ross, City of Livermore senior planner, presented the General Plan land-use map. He explained that while some areas are already well planned, some geographical regions will undergo change. City staff is in the planning phase and requested council feedback on land-use alternatives for four different focus areas: East Avenue/Vasco, Las Positas Court, Laughlin Road, and Southfront-Vasco.
“Ultimately, each one of these alternatives will be refined into a preferred scenario, and that preferred scenario will be integrated into this General Plan land-use map as an updated map for the General Plan,” Ross said.
The alternatives for the areas featured a variety of options for uses, including the development of residential, commercial or industrial, among others. Each also offered details on the potential net new jobs or housing units an area could offer, based on currently permitted density ranges. (Find the draft maps here: https://bit.ly/Indy_DraftMaps.)
Ross noted that part of the planning process has included gathering feedback from the community on the vision for Livermore’s future. He said the city had met with 1,600 residents during the Sept. 9, 2021 to May 31, 2022 timeframe. Residents cited priorities for Livermore that included maintaining a sense of small-town character, affordable housing, a strong economy, and improved mobility and access to transit, Ross reported.
Councilmember Trish Munro spoke to the challenges of delivering on priorities that could be somewhat contradictory.
“If we want to maintain a small-town feel, that’s difficult to do when we are building lots of houses,” Munro said. “If we want to do a lot of infill, that says something about how high we get to build, because that means we’re not building out … So one of the things I’d like to make sure we do is think very carefully about (how) Livermore prides itself on having a small-town feel, despite the fact that we are 88,000 people, and we’re going to be growing by close to 50%.”
Councilmember Brittni Kiick asked staff to provide future feedback on how job projections were calculated — especially when considering a remote workforce that might be working for a company out of the area, but from a site in Livermore.
Vice Mayor Gina Bonanno called for an analysis behind each of the decisions regarding how space would be allocated. She referred to the makerspace alternative associated with the East Avenue and South of Vasco Road area.
“I have no doubt that we have makers that want to expand space, or they’re interested in possibly going to South Vasco,” Bonanno said. “The question is, how much space do we put in a quantitative way into a General Plan? We are putting something on the line when we say we’re going to do 25,000 square feet of makerspace … How much we allocate has to be based on something more than qualitative ideas with hopes and prayers that if we build it, they will come.”
Councilmember Robert Carling noted that the Las Positas corridor industrial alternative raised concerns about access and bio species.
“From my point of view, I can’t imagine trying to turn some of that open space now that we have there into industrial,” Carling said. “I appreciate the comments about making sure we continue to provide space for industrial development and job creation, but I can’t imagine trying to turn that into any industrial access there.”
Mayor Bob Woerner said a blended use for the Southfront area would make the most sense should Livermore hope to accommodate a station for Valley Link — a commuter train that would connect the Tri-Valley to the San Joaquin Valley. He also raised the concept of placing homes near Las Positas College. He said he’s reached out to officials at the college to discuss student housing. He wanted to make “sure we have the student housing figured out.”
“That’s a major element for the future of the college,” Woerner said. “So I think that deserves explicit discussion.”
Woerner also spoke about the housing problem facing the Bay Area and noted that Livermore couldn’t be expected to fix that issue for the entire region. However, he wondered if there would be a way to upzone an area that was once lower density or not intended for housing at all, if the property owner were willing to provide a preference for those who are employed in Livermore.
“We should think about this, because if we just add more housing, we haven’t solved Livermore’s problem,” he continued. “This would be something similar to the transfer development credit program.”
His fellow councilmembers supported the concept.
Ross reported that staff has already begun the initial research required for policy development. The staff timeline shows final adoption of the General Plan beginning at the end of 2023 and spanning into early 2024.
For more information, visit imaginelivermore2045.org.