The former Lucky site’s contamination has been determined to be worse than previously disclosed and in August the San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board initiated additional testing to determine the extent. A report of the testing results is due in October. Based on testing results, the Water Board will tentatively approve a clean-up plan and issue a fact sheet explaining procedures, duration, etc. The public will only have thirty days to comment on the proposed clean-up. The Water Board does not have the ability to mail the fact sheet to the residents, but the city can and should. Without the fact sheet, the residents will not be able to comment in a meaningful and informed manner. Email the Council to request they send a copy of the fact sheet to all residents, and to hold a hearing to clarify and explain the possible cleanup solutions and the costs of each alternative. The residents will pay the costs, and we have the right to know the total price.
Mayor Bob Woerner – email@example.com
Vice Mayor Trish Munro – firstname.lastname@example.org
Councilmember Bob Carling – email@example.com
Councilmember Gina Bonanno – firstname.lastname@example.org
Councilmember Brittni Kiick – email@example.com
We are Livermore mothers trying to preserve Downtown Livermore’s character. The city is planning to build two large four-story 130 unit low-income apartments buildings on the only remaining open space left in the heart of our downtown, along with a five-level parking garage immediately behind First Street businesses. All of this is going in across the street from the four-story 222 unit Legacy apartment complex currently under construction on the former Groth Brothers site.
These changes will irrevocably change our downtown for the worse, and once it is done, it is done. This will change our downtown from the small town atmosphere we have known, to one of urbanized high-density housing instead. People lament what happened to Dublin when this happened there, but now it is happening here. And this is our only chance to change it.
We agree that low-income housing is needed, but does it need to be in the middle of downtown, on the only open space left? In 2017 the city spent $500,000 conducting an outreach, and their report says people want to “Maintain the small town, small-scale, historic character” of downtown, that “Housing is not appropriate in the center of downtown,” and “Downtown Livermore should not have high density housing or become ‘like Dublin.'”
As a compromise, in 2018 the City Council approved four modest-size buildings with a large park between them, but in December 2020, the public was shown a different plan where the buildings had grown, the park had shrunk, and the project’s parking was only 60% required by city standards. Click here to see a slider comparing the 2018 plan to the December 2020 plan.
In the April 20, 2021 Planning Commission meeting, a third plan was presented. Compared to the December 2020 plan, the south building’s footprint was reduced, but both buildings are now four stories tall, and the on-site parking was further reduced from 132 to 117 spaces. Here are two sliders to compare the 2018 plan to the 2021 plan, and the 2021 to a football field to see the scale of the buildings.
Here is the artist conception for the north building.
In 2018, the city knew Legacy would be building a large four-story apartment complex across the street on the old Groth Brothers site, but it was only in 2020 when the Legacy project’s concrete garage was built, did residents realize the project’s scale and that these two massive projects were going to dominate their downtown.
On May 24, 2021, the City Council approved the Eden Housing development proposal and, despite the contamination of the site, declared the project is exempt from CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act).
What the people were promised is not what is now being planned – significant negative changes have been proposed in Eden Housing’s December 2020 presentation. These include:
- What was shown originally as four modest-sized buildings are now planned to be two large four-story buildings.
- The approved 2018 plan was for the units to be studio and one-bedroom apartments, but the 2020 plan is for the units to include one to three bedrooms. That will result in a doubling of the number of bedrooms, and close to doubling the number of residents. More people also means more vehicles and more traffic.
- The 2018 approved plan included qualifying residents “for households earning up to 120% of Area Median Income.” The new plan caps income at 60% AMI, so Livermore’s first-responders (police officers and firefighters) won’t qualify, and only entry-level teachers will.
- The project will have 117 parking spaces for all of the residents, roughly half of the about 211 required by city regulations. Any overflow vehicles will therefore occupy the parking spaces needed for visitors to nearby downtown businesses, making parking more difficult and driving visitors away.
- City staff says the park between the buildings has grown 12% compared to the 2018 plan, but this is creative math. Since they get to define the boundaries of what is “the park”, they have claimed only part of the original green space as park, and defined all of the open area in the new plan as park. By that metric it has “grown”, but judge for yourself from the plan diagrams. When the same measurement metric is used on the new plan, the park has shrunk. What is now planned is far from the “large linear green running from Livermore Avenue to L Street” previously promised. Click to see a slider to compare them.
- The setback from the sidewalks is smaller, and in places completely gone.
- With the four-story Legacy buildings on one side of L Street, and Eden’s four-story on the other, L Street will feel like driving through a canyon (with extra wait time due to the parking access).
- The five-level, 65 foot tall L Street parking garage will be immediately behind First Street businesses, and sure to dominate First Street’s skyline.
- The site’s contamination is worse than previously reported, and the San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board has declared Livermore’s cleanup plans are inadequate to guarantee public safety. The Board has initiated additional testing to determine the actual level of contaimination.
In September 2020, when running for office, Mayor Woerner said “I believe it is still possible in principle to relocate the housing element”, but now he is opposed to relocating the housing despite its ability to give a Win-Win, where the open space can become a park for the community, and affordable housing with more units and parking can be built on nearby land. Even more housing for those in need, and a the big park the people were promised? Does sound like a Win-Win. Mayor Woerner needs to stand by what he said.
What can people do?
- Write Sherry Gamboa at the SF Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board (Sherry.Gamboa@waterboards.ca.gov)
- Write the Mayor and City Council members. Their email addresses are on the city’s website.
Ask them to:
- Send the Water Board work notice mailer to all residents, not just to the businesses adjacent to the site
- Hold a joint public hearing after the new testing results are available
- Complete a full Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to evaluate the extensive contamination and possible alternatives.
This site is dynamic and still under construction, so please check back for more content.