Contentious Paid Parking Hearing Continued to a Friday Afternoon.
On Open Access and the UC severing its relationship with the publisher Elsevier

Does the City Council Listen?

By Ron

In the "other" blog today, there's a suggestion that the Lincoln40 developers were more considerate of the neighbors, than the Trackside developers. And, presumably by extension, this means that Lincoln40 should have been approved, but not a 4-story Trackside.

It certainly is possible that the Lincoln40 developers were more considerate of neighbors than the Trackside developers. (Of course, this ignores the fact that Trackside is IN the neighborhood, while Lincoln40 is separated by the railroad line.)

But, it misses the point. Immediate neighbors aren't the "only ones who matter", regarding proposals. Lincoln40 will have a far larger impact on the city as a whole, vs. a small 3-4 story proposal such as Trackside. (This is not the same thing as saying that one should support Trackside in its current iteration.)

To further illustrate, you might have a bunch of students appearing before the council (e.g., supporting Lincoln40), and a bunch of neighbors appearing to oppose Trackside. But, if the council only listens to those who show up at a hearing, they might very well favor a proposal that has a more harmful impact to the city, as a whole.

The "other" blog also repeatedly suggests that no market-rate rental housing has been approved in recent years, but fails to address how many have actually been proposed. There's also no comparison with the (lack of?) market-rate proposals in other cities, which would likely reflect the impacts of the recession and housing market crash. In other words, any conclusion that the city has been "remiss" in approving market-rate housing is not necessarily accurate.

And of course, the "other" blog fails to mention the lack of commitment to build sufficient housing on campus, in recent years. And, it ignores the fact that students can live on campus, but others cannot. Which begs the question, regarding why the city should approve housing that is essentially designed almost exclusively for students, and why the city should assume the costs and impacts of those decisions without fully considering them. (There's been very little study regarding the fiscal impacts, for example. Or, the impact on non-students who may have benefited from a more traditional design.)

Nor has there been much discussion of the impact of eliminating even more commercial space, to accommodate housing. Or, the impact that this dense housing will likely have on traffic and parking in the city/downtown area.

In any case, these are the type of issues that one might not gauge accurately, based upon who shows up at a given council meeting.

Comments

Colin Walsh

I found it very interesting that there was not a single student at City Council to discuss the Pacifico Co-op issue 2 weeks ago.. I actually saw Student activist Aaron Latta leave right as the item was taken up.

Pacifico was intended to provide affordable housing for 120 students, but has sat mostly empty for almost a decade. I really have to wonder why the students like Latta that have showed up to advocate for new development like Lincon 40 seem so unconcerned that the City is continuing to let this possible student housing languish, or even be converted into other types of affordable housing.

Before Lincoln 40 was approved, the Pacifico Co-op was the only City mandated affordable housing for students.

Ron

Note that this article was originally in the form of a comment, written in response to another article.

I probably would have titled it "who" does the council listen to, vs. "does" the council listen. In the case of paid parking, the entire city is a "stakeholder", in more ways than one.

Regarding paid parking, I'm not surprised that those who generally support more development (whether it's infill, or peripheral) are often the ones clamoring the loudest for paid parking. Coincidentally, these appear to be some of the same folks who support "residentialization" of downtown, without paying for the impacts of doing so (e.g., in the form of parking minimums for new residents, etc.).

There are exceptions, including some bicycle advocates who seem to believe that cars will magically disappear, without adequate parking. (In fact, some may "disappear", along with customers to downtown.) In any case, it's a pipe dream to believe that making it more difficult to drive and park in a small area will eliminate cars on a larger scale. (Witness the increased traffic on I-80 and throughout the region, if you doubt that.)

Also, witness the fiasco on Mace Boulevard (south of I-80), resulting from the traffic calming "improvements". (Really unattractive, as well.) I understand that the funding for this is the type of "improvement" one can expect, by adhering to SACOG growth requirements. (I can hardly wait until MRIC is proposed again, to add into that mess. Including even more traffic on I-80, the access points, and along the freeway frontage roads.)

The city as a whole really needs to consider the ramifications of all growth and development, whether it's "smart growth" or sprawl. And, that includes the elimination or compromise of existing commercial space, e.g., in the form of outright displacement of existing commercial space, as well as traffic and parking challenges created by new development.

In the long run, I am not hopeful that the city will avoid the implementation of paid parking, and tightening of restrictions in surrounding neighborhoods. Downtown will essentially be "reserved" for those who live there, or within a short distance. (Perhaps some would prefer this?) Along with the relatively few hard-core bicycle advocates (who likely aren't doing much serious shopping or bringing along friends/relatives, to patronize downtown restaurants and businesses).

Yeap, welcome to the world of "improvements", including paid parking!

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