Livermore: Community group sues city for approving downtown affordable housing development | New

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Community group Save Livermore Downtown filed a lawsuit against the city of Livermore on Thursday, challenging city council approval of the 130 affordable Eden Housing development planned for the downtown area.

“As a last resort, Save Livermore Downtown has filed a complaint to stop the implementation of the Eden Housing plan,” Save Livermore Downtown spokesman Jean King said in a statement. “This action was made necessary because members of Livermore City Council did not engage with citizens to consider alternatives to the flawed Eden plan.”

The lawsuit – a copy of which was obtained by The Weekly – argues that council approval of the project “is an abuse of discretion because the project is inconsistent with the specific plan for downtown Livermore and because further environmental review is needed to address new concerns about contamination at the project site.

The lawsuit asks the court to “set aside the city’s approval of the project and require the city to prepare additional environmental analysis for the project, such as a supplemental environmental impact report.” In addition, the petitioners ask that the court “requires the city and Eden Housing to resolve the inconsistencies of the project with the specific plan for the city center”.

Although a warrant petition has already been filed with Alameda County Superior Court, Save Livermore Downtown said the group would like to meet with the city and Eden Housing to possibly find another solution. “We have communicated to City Council and Eden Housing our desire to meet as soon as possible to find acceptable alternatives to the current plan and avoid the need for a lawsuit,” King said.

In response to the announcement of the lawsuit, Livermore Mayor Bob Woerner told The Weekly in an email: “I expect such a lawsuit against our city since the malicious political attacks began to appear in The Independent earlier this year. “

“It is a desperate delaying tactic which I believe will be rejected by the court, where the facts and the law matter,” he added. “I also expect the incredibly deceptive and divisive political theater to continue, as it is not about public safety or the law, but rather about manipulating public opinion for its own ends. This frivolous lawsuit will waste precious tax dollars and will shamefully delay much needed homes for our essential workers. “

Vice Mayor Trish Munro shared similar sentiments. “I am deeply saddened by the cruelty of the people who try to delay the development of Eden Housing. They have no interest in building a community or providing housing for real people, but just want to take advantage of it. let them think about the evil they are doing and act for the good of all, ”she said.

“I am really very disappointed because it is very difficult to build affordable housing and that only makes it more difficult,” Eden Housing president Linda Mandolini said of the lawsuit. “I’m sure the city did everything they needed to do to get us through the approval process and therefore, we think we will prevail in court. It will only delay the project and I think that that’s really what they want to do, “she said, adding that these obstacles are unfortunate because” people are in desperate need of a place to live. “

Save Livermore Downtown has been a staunch opponent of the project and has previously expressed concern that the approved plan is different from the original design approved by city council in 2018, which included four separate buildings and a larger park.

The council-approved design includes two four-story buildings with units ranging in size from 500 to approximately 1,000 square feet. The two buildings would occupy a total area of ​​approximately 38,000 square feet and would include various amenities such as lobbies, recreation rooms and a laundry room.

Approximately 31,000 square feet of land between and to the southeast of the two buildings would be allocated to the Veterans Park, which would be open to the public.

City staff have previously said that some of the design changes since the concept phase were driven by the funding requirements of the state’s affordable housing grants necessitating changes in the mix of units, the size of the units, and the size of the units. units and common areas compared to what was originally envisioned for the project.

Save Livermore Downtown also cited traffic congestion and inadequate parking among its concerns with the project, as well as concern that having four-story buildings in the area “will change the character of the cozy and open downtown from Livermore “.

As the group’s lawsuit creates an obstacle for the city and Eden Housing, Mandolini said: “We are not giving up.” She continued, “Even though it still takes a year to get through the justice system, we fully plan to build this project with the city.”

Earlier this month, Save Livermore Downtown ran an ad in The Independent newspaper that accused the city of ignoring attention-grabbing correspondence from the San Francisco Bay Area Water Quality Control Board. on site contamination.

At the regular city council meeting on June 14, city staff clarified several points of the letter, explaining that the letter was of a typical and standard nature and that its general purpose “was for the water board to communicate its agreement with the conclusions of the city report and request further assessment to assess the impacts of the former use of the property as a lumber yard and also to inform the city that a management plan for the site should be reviewed and approved by the Water office before construction and redevelopment of the site. “

While some contamination exists at the site, city officials said it was not unusual and would be corrected as part of the pre-construction cleanup.

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