March 7, 2016
SMCLC strongly opposes the latest draft of the proposed Downtown Plan which would open the floodgates to massive development while sharply reducing community input. It is a recipe for a dense, congested, overbuilt downtown with ever worsening gridlock and parking. It is exactly what residents have said they didn't want. Here is our recent letter to the Planning Commission, outlining the Plan's fatal flaws.
Almost two years ago, in response to SMCLC's call to action, some 350 residents attended the City's Downtown Plan forum, where resident after resident told city officials to stop the hyper-development planned for our downtown.
The message was clear: Residents overwhelmingly rejected the insider planning process and city staff's "vision" of development sites not tethered to zoning.
The City then funded a scientific poll of residents as to heights and densities in the downtown and got the same answer - by over a 2 to 1 majority, residents -- young and old -- overwhelmingly rejected taller, denser buildings and the "anything goes" sites, euphemistically labeled "opportunity sites."
The City has now released and renamed its 20-year Plan as a “Community” Plan. It would radically transform the downtown with heights up to 130 feet for mega projects on large parcels.
And what about community input? The Plan would sharply reduce it by allowing projects of up to 100,000 square feet to be built almost as a matter of right, without even going to City Council as long as a checklist of so-called “community benefits” is included.
So far our Planning Commission seems largely to have gone along with the Plan but it will return to them for final review and recommendations in May.
This Plan is unacceptable and it breaks faith with residents. We will alert you in May as to the steps we can take together to fix it and control the hyper-development now proposed for our downtown.