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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Cannery Park Project on Hold

In proceedings that quickly turned contentious and then went from contentious to downright ludicrous the council put the Cannery Park project on hold.

The subplots of this discussion were perhaps more interesting that the actual discussion itself on the 610 unit housing development that would also include some retail and perhaps a church or nursing home or another public building. The project is within the city limits, so it is not subjected to a Measure J vote, but it would have to obtain a zoning change.

The council majority felt that with the housing element steering committee being just appointed to update the housing element, it would be premature for the council to approve this project. In fact, as Mayor Ruth Asmundson suggested--the processing of this application would undermine the 15 member steering committee.

The first point of contention was the suggestion by the council majority and the staff report about building a development project again on the Covell Village site. The real motivation for wanting to put on hold this project was thus to see if the housing element process would recommend new development projects for the Covell Village Site. As we pointed out on Tuesday, the 15 member committee is loaded with supporters of the Covell Village development project.

Councilmember Lamar Heystek was clearly perturbed by this suggestion. He pointed out that the Covell Village development project was not just rejected but overwhelmingly rejected by the voters and that this was not something that occurred in the distant past, but was a fairly recent vote and he considered this conversation to be a slap in the face to the will of the voters.
“November 2005 is not in our distant memory. I think it would be disingenuous to assume something for the North Central area. I think as a body, we are kind of tone-deaf.”
Some of this discussion seemed to rankle Councilmember Don Saylor who at one point bizarrely suggested that he was being disrespected. (We'll have a full video clip of this discussion later on).

In addition to the problems with the insinuation that Covell Village could end up being developed once again, Mayor Sue Greenwald's concern was that the property was zoned for high-tech industry and she did not want to change that zoning.

The developer admitted under questioning from Mayor Greenwald that he had assumed that he could get the zoning change.
“Every time we’ve said yes to changing zoning to residential, it raises the speculative value of the land and developers will not build high-tech. My personal point of view is, we zoned this high-tech/industrial, and we should keep it that way.”
Later on the Mayor pointed out to me that the city's designated growth rate of 1.25% per year does not seem like a tremendous amount until you realize exactly what that growth rate means. It means a development project the size of Cannery Park every two years, the size of Wild House every three years, and the size of Mace Ranch every seven years. If you project that out, you realize that is tremendous growth. Growth for which we lack resources such as water and infrastructure to be able to absorb.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting