Some Unhappy With Planned Downtown Development in Livermore

A community in Livermore is divided about the future of a downtown lot. One side will rally Friday while the other side will continue to collect signatures to overturn a decision made by City Council.

The Livermore City Council voted unanimously to approve a plan that would decide how to develop an eight-acre lot of dirt and concrete located on Railroad Avenue in Downtown Livermore.

The plan includes a boutique hotel, affordable housing and space for retail and cultural events, more parking and a park.

However, organization Friends of Livermore, backed by the local independent newspaper and self-proclaimed grassroots activists, launched a petition drive to reverse the council’s decision.

If the group collects 500 signatures, voters will decide in November on whether or not to force the City Council to go back to the drawing board.

Friends of Livermore believes the approved plan calls for too much housing and that the location of the hotel and parking is misplaced. They also argue that there won’t be enough greenspace.

"I don’t think the process has been fair," said David Rounds from Friends of Livermore. "In any government, the city council controls the message, the agenda. Two and a half years, we’ve been objecting to it."

The opposing organization, Unify Livermore, along with the Livermore Chamber of Commerce and the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association, disagrees and will hold a rally Friday to discourage citizens from signing the petition.

The nonprofit claims the approval process was fair and they point out that the city conducted months of outreach to citizens and a referendum could delay, if not destroy, the development.

"It’s a well thought out plan," said Karl Wente from Unify Livermore. "The community came together. Lots of studies, engineer, traffic studies, circulation studies, I mean the process had worked."

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