Tasked with helping to draft the document that will guide Livermore’s growth over the next three decades, the General Plan Advisory Committee (GPAC) began discussing eight locations across the city last week to potentially rezone to meet the growing community needs.
At the start of a process that won’t be completed for two years, the 19-member GPAC panel spent four hours on March 9 learning about and discussing ‘land use issues’ for future housing development. , commerce and industry, and whether any of the expiring 2004 general plan locations need to be changed.
The committee – a panel of people who live and/or work in Livermore – made no major decisions and adjourned the meeting until 11 p.m., after discussing four areas of the city for consideration. A special meeting to discuss four other sites was to be scheduled.
Joanna Jansen, a consultant with PlaceWorks, a company that helps cities write master plans, told the group that most land use designations from the 2004 Master Plan that are due to expire in 2025 will likely remain the same “but we think there are parts of Livermore where this is a fitting opportunity to determine if any of these designations might change.
“The reason for doing this land use alternatives process is to take a look at the land use map as a whole and think about where designations might need to change to encourage different types of growth or preservation,” Jansen said.
Through public outreach, feedback from residents, and suggestions from committee members, PlaceWorks identified nine areas for discussion:
First Street from the Viaduct at Trevarno Road: 26 acres currently used for auto services, motels, and residential townhouses;
Pacific Avenue to Livermore Avenue: 7.7 acres with an existing mall and parking lot;
Las Positas Court: 16 acres with office buildings;
Downtown Second and Third Streets: 25 acres of mid-sized lots with a variety of uses from offices to restaurants;
Greenville Road at I-580: an area with commercial and industrial uses as well as vacant lots;
Southfront-Vasco Public Development Area: 730 acres primarily light industrial;
Laughlin Road: 276 acres of mostly vacant undeveloped land;
East Avenue and South Vasco Road: 54 acres of mostly light and industrial use that have been converted into wineries and breweries
In opening discussions, panel members seemed to favor keeping the first street designated for commercial services, but improving the streetscape to beautify the neighborhood; and continue to use Pacific Avenue at Livermore Avenue as a mixed-use, low-density neighborhood, again with revitalization to improve the “gateway” to the city.
“I think it would be a really good place for a wine country visitor center,” said committee member Krista Alexy. “It’s a gateway to the city center.”
Panel members seemed more open to changing the Las Positas Court business park area for another use. Committee member Tracy Kronzak suggested it was worth investigating because the location is within biking distance of the Valley Link station on Isabel Avenue and close to downtown.
The committee did not seem to want to change the land use designations for Downtown Second and Third Streets, but rather look at possible improvements for Carnegie Park.
Committee member Alan Burnham raised the subject of potential zoning changes in the city center to address concerns about four-storey buildings. .
“The reason I bring this up is that you’ve probably noticed there’s controversy about four-story buildings downtown,” Burnham said. “I just want to make sure that the specific downtown plan is consistent with the feedback from people or the community. And if it’s not, then maybe a change is warranted. And can maybe that’s not the case. I’m not expressing any opinion on that. But I just want to make sure that somehow we’re not going to have a continuous war, for lack of in a better word, about downtown development and people feel like it’s destroying the character of the downtown.
Paul Spence, director of community development for Livermore, explained that four-story buildings are permitted in a limited area, between First Street and Railroad Avenue, and between L and Maple streets. He noted that council action is needed in most places to get approval for the four-story project. John Marchand, a committee member and former mayor, warned Burnham not to react to what he called “fabricated controversies”, noting that those who complained about the height of buildings were only challenging certain projects.
At the request of a committee chair, a public comment by David Marco was then read aloud by the town clerk at the meeting. Marco called for reconsidering high-rise development on South L Street between Railroad Avenue and First Street.
“From retail stores on First and Second Streets to houses further south, the planned apartment towers would dominate them and make the area hostile and imposing,” Marco wrote. “Equally important, the infrastructure in this part of town would be terribly congested with traffic from tower residents. This is totally independent of the price of housing. It’s just too many people in too little space. would ruin a real treasure in this area.
California law requires cities to create broad, long-term policy plans to address population and economic growth, noise, land use, open space conservation, climate change, access to healthcare, infrastructure, traffic and other issues.
The process of updating the 2004 plan began last summer when city council hired PlaceWorks as a consultant and appointed community members to serve on the advisory committee.
As cities write their documents, they must also include plans to meet state requirements for market rates and affordable housing. The Association of Bay Area Governments recently calculated that Livermore must approve development of 4,570 homes from 2023 to 2031 to meet its share. PlaceWorks estimated that the community needs approximately 5,100 to 5,200 homes from 2031 to 2039, and another 5,900 to 6,000 residences from 2039 to 2047. To meet housing mandates, the city is required to zone for a required number of affordable housing units, but not necessarily to obtain development agreements.
According to PlaceWorks documents, Livermore’s population has grown from 81,975 in 2011 to 91,216 in 2021. Jobs in the city, meanwhile, have grown from 40,581 in 2011 to 53,338 in 2018, the highest year. latest available, Jansen said.