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Livermore: Central Park Plan proponents vow to withdraw November initiative

Group announces new support for some aspects of city's redevelopment plan, hopes to work on possible changes to others

The backers of the Central Park Plan for downtown Livermore, an alternative concept to the City Council-supported downtown redevelopment proposal, announced this weekend that they plan to withdraw their initiative measure from the November ballot.

Citing months of private discussions with city leaders and an "interest of finding common ground and bringing the community together," Citizens for a Livermore Central Park have now voiced support for some aspects of the city's downtown plan and hope to work with city officials to bring to fruition possible changes to other areas of the plan.

"We believe that the goals of both parties will be achieved. As a result, we are committing not to file a lawsuit against the City, and to withdraw our Central Park Plan Initiative. In addition to moving forward together with a single downtown plan, our newly united community can better deal with the health and economic crisis caused by the pandemic," said Bill Dunlop, chair of the group.

Dunlop's statement was released publicly in a post on the Facebook page for Better Livermore, another name for the initiative proponent organization.

The Central Park Plan concept took a hit during the primary election in March when the proponents' parallel referendum measure to overturn the city's downtown hotel agreement was defeated by Livermore voters by nearly a 2-to-1 margin.

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It was not immediately clear what the timeline would be for formally withdrawing the initiative, which already qualified for the November ballot, as well as what steps would need to be taken.

"I'm just glad it's over. That's the bottom line," Livermore City Councilman Bob Woerner told the Weekly.

"It's fortunate that the community won't be battling against itself," he added. "We've got to focus on recovering from the pandemic. That's the high-priority now."

"In March, we heard from the voters and they overwhelmingly supported the city’s approved downtown plan. It is to everyone’s benefit that the central park group is ending their divisive and expensive campaign," Mayor John Marchand told the Weekly. "I look forward to working with them as we unite Livermore and work together to implement the community’s vision for our downtown."

The announcement this weekend would seem to signal the end of years worth of contentions debate in the Livermore community over how to redevelop key areas in downtown.

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The issue was central to the two most recent municipal elections, but now it appears that won't be the case for a third in November.

The city's downtown planning was at the forefront of the Livermore mayoral and council elections in November 2018. Voters ultimately elected the most vocal supporters of the city plan.

The City Council spent parts of the next year advancing the city plan, including approving a development agreement with a hotelier to bring a boutique hotel to downtown last summer

But amid those discussions, Citizens for a Livermore Central Park began trying to garner interest for an alternative redevelopment idea for downtown -- their "Central Park Plan."

They obtained enough signatures for their initiative petition in early summer and then pursued a referendum petition to challenge the hotel agreement that was approved in July to be developed by Presidio Co. and operated by AC Marriott Hotels.

The hotel referendum was scheduled for the March 2020 primary election, with the Central Park Plan initiative measure placed on the November 2020 general election ballot.

Central to the Measure P referendum was the location and size of the proposed hotel -- a key component of each side's redevelopment plan.

The city's approved plan called for a three-story hotel with 125-135 rooms next to the Bankhead Theater on the east side of Livermore Avenue, while the opponents instead wanted a larger hotel (up to 160 rooms) on the west side of Livermore Avenue.

Livermore voters overwhelmingly sided with the city's strategy, upholding the hotel agreement by approving Measure P in March, 66.29% Yes to 33.71% No.

Now, nearly a month after the referendum election results were certified and amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Dunlop announced that the proponent group will drop its Central Park Plan initiative in November in favor of helping advance the city plan while also advocating for changes to certain areas.

Citizens for a Livermore Central Park now support the hotel location on the east side, the hotel height of up to four stories, Stockmen's Park and surrounding development concepts, and the location of Veterans Way and parking south of it, according to Dunlop.

He said the group "remains optimistic" that city leaders will be open to discussions on other aspects of downtown redevelopment, including "paid parking facility off Livermore Avenue funded by private investors, return of the hotel to the high-quality Marriott Autograph brand or one similar (enlarged up to four stories), and residential developer's consideration of relocating housing to a nearby location."

But they will no longer pursue their initiative measure in November, nor file any future lawsuit against the city, to accomplish those goals, according to Dunlop.

Woerner acknowledges the city may have to revisit the hotel design and overall phasing of downtown redevelopment due to the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis and its impact on the local economy, especially downtown businesses.

"Because of the pandemic, there is going to be an opportunity to rethink the design of the hotel," he said. "In the post-COVID, or current, world, you have to think about the social distancing for places, like a hotel."

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Livermore: Central Park Plan proponents vow to withdraw November initiative

Group announces new support for some aspects of city's redevelopment plan, hopes to work on possible changes to others

by / Pleasanton Weekly

Uploaded: Sun, May 10, 2020, 1:59 pm
Updated: Mon, May 11, 2020, 3:53 pm

The backers of the Central Park Plan for downtown Livermore, an alternative concept to the City Council-supported downtown redevelopment proposal, announced this weekend that they plan to withdraw their initiative measure from the November ballot.

Citing months of private discussions with city leaders and an "interest of finding common ground and bringing the community together," Citizens for a Livermore Central Park have now voiced support for some aspects of the city's downtown plan and hope to work with city officials to bring to fruition possible changes to other areas of the plan.

"We believe that the goals of both parties will be achieved. As a result, we are committing not to file a lawsuit against the City, and to withdraw our Central Park Plan Initiative. In addition to moving forward together with a single downtown plan, our newly united community can better deal with the health and economic crisis caused by the pandemic," said Bill Dunlop, chair of the group.

Dunlop's statement was released publicly in a post on the Facebook page for Better Livermore, another name for the initiative proponent organization.

The Central Park Plan concept took a hit during the primary election in March when the proponents' parallel referendum measure to overturn the city's downtown hotel agreement was defeated by Livermore voters by nearly a 2-to-1 margin.

It was not immediately clear what the timeline would be for formally withdrawing the initiative, which already qualified for the November ballot, as well as what steps would need to be taken.

"I'm just glad it's over. That's the bottom line," Livermore City Councilman Bob Woerner told the Weekly.

"It's fortunate that the community won't be battling against itself," he added. "We've got to focus on recovering from the pandemic. That's the high-priority now."

"In March, we heard from the voters and they overwhelmingly supported the city’s approved downtown plan. It is to everyone’s benefit that the central park group is ending their divisive and expensive campaign," Mayor John Marchand told the Weekly. "I look forward to working with them as we unite Livermore and work together to implement the community’s vision for our downtown."

The announcement this weekend would seem to signal the end of years worth of contentions debate in the Livermore community over how to redevelop key areas in downtown.

The issue was central to the two most recent municipal elections, but now it appears that won't be the case for a third in November.

The city's downtown planning was at the forefront of the Livermore mayoral and council elections in November 2018. Voters ultimately elected the most vocal supporters of the city plan.

The City Council spent parts of the next year advancing the city plan, including approving a development agreement with a hotelier to bring a boutique hotel to downtown last summer

But amid those discussions, Citizens for a Livermore Central Park began trying to garner interest for an alternative redevelopment idea for downtown -- their "Central Park Plan."

They obtained enough signatures for their initiative petition in early summer and then pursued a referendum petition to challenge the hotel agreement that was approved in July to be developed by Presidio Co. and operated by AC Marriott Hotels.

The hotel referendum was scheduled for the March 2020 primary election, with the Central Park Plan initiative measure placed on the November 2020 general election ballot.

Central to the Measure P referendum was the location and size of the proposed hotel -- a key component of each side's redevelopment plan.

The city's approved plan called for a three-story hotel with 125-135 rooms next to the Bankhead Theater on the east side of Livermore Avenue, while the opponents instead wanted a larger hotel (up to 160 rooms) on the west side of Livermore Avenue.

Livermore voters overwhelmingly sided with the city's strategy, upholding the hotel agreement by approving Measure P in March, 66.29% Yes to 33.71% No.

Now, nearly a month after the referendum election results were certified and amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Dunlop announced that the proponent group will drop its Central Park Plan initiative in November in favor of helping advance the city plan while also advocating for changes to certain areas.

Citizens for a Livermore Central Park now support the hotel location on the east side, the hotel height of up to four stories, Stockmen's Park and surrounding development concepts, and the location of Veterans Way and parking south of it, according to Dunlop.

He said the group "remains optimistic" that city leaders will be open to discussions on other aspects of downtown redevelopment, including "paid parking facility off Livermore Avenue funded by private investors, return of the hotel to the high-quality Marriott Autograph brand or one similar (enlarged up to four stories), and residential developer's consideration of relocating housing to a nearby location."

But they will no longer pursue their initiative measure in November, nor file any future lawsuit against the city, to accomplish those goals, according to Dunlop.

Woerner acknowledges the city may have to revisit the hotel design and overall phasing of downtown redevelopment due to the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis and its impact on the local economy, especially downtown businesses.

"Because of the pandemic, there is going to be an opportunity to rethink the design of the hotel," he said. "In the post-COVID, or current, world, you have to think about the social distancing for places, like a hotel."

Comments

sjd
Livermore
on May 11, 2020 at 8:44 am
sjd, Livermore
on May 11, 2020 at 8:44 am

With what money does the group propose the city buy an entirely separate block of land and demolish all of the businesses on it?

No thanks.


Rich Buckley
Livermore
on May 11, 2020 at 9:19 am
Rich Buckley, Livermore
on May 11, 2020 at 9:19 am

Thank you members of the Central Park Plan committee for their unwavering focus to bring the community together on vital shared priorities expressed in the Livermore Outreach Forums.


Brian
Livermore
on May 11, 2020 at 2:39 pm
Brian, Livermore
on May 11, 2020 at 2:39 pm

Finally! After spending over $1,000,000 in an attempt to bully the taxpayers and city council, Joan Seppala and her cabal are giving up. No more out of town petitioners, no phony campaigns for a “Better Livermore”, no more out of town telemarketers or out of town political consultants and hopefully no more shady out of town Seppala relatives making contributions from outside the county and state!! TheY didn’t have a choice but to throw bad money after bad money or just stop harassing the voters that have told them NO.


RDJR
Livermore
on May 12, 2020 at 5:16 pm
RDJR, Livermore
on May 12, 2020 at 5:16 pm

Rich Buckley, I would suggest sticking to your conspiracy theories about contrails. The Central Park People did nothing but divide the community. Now they are agreeing to what was proposed two years ago. Their additional suggestions are impossible without millions in private donations with zero chance of a return on investment. Their press release is pure political spin in an attempt to save what little reputation they have after two resounding defeats at the polls.


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