Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Let's Not Shoot Ourselves In the Foot - New Zoning Proposals Will Backfire on San Leandro

To those that say wouldn't it be good if the City assisted in the creation of new, market-rate housing that would attract new residents and thereby generate demand for greater retail, shopping and dining options in San Leandro, my response is - yes, we can have this and without bringing Downtown San Leandro right up and into our residential neighborhoods on the northeast side of the city,

The maps show that city planners are seeking the re-zoning of multiple sites in the core of Downtown San Leandro - many of which are close to the BART station.

That is fine with me. I support new housing in our downtown. In fact, there is one development in Downtown San Leandro well advanced in the planning process that will bring in 60 high-end apartment units within walking distance of BART. There are also vacant lots within eyesight of the BART tracks that would support dense, new housing.

The City expects 15,000 new residents will live in San Leandro by 2040, with 7,000 of these new residents residing in Downtown of San Leandro.  Source:  Land Use section of New General Plan, page 3-38. 

Let's make sure these new residents don't all need to have their own car to get to their jobs. The only way to do this, as set forth in the 2007 Transit Oriented Plan, is to channel new housing in Downtown San Leandro within walking distance of the BART station.

We should not - as now proposed by city staff - redefine/expand the boundaries of Downtown San Leandro by eliminating the zoning of properties along Estudillo Avenue from the fire station to and across Bancroft Avenue as commercial and professional sites and re-zoning these properties as part of Downtown San Leandro.

We would be shooting ourselves in the foot if a large percentage of the 7,000 new residents the city is planning on living in Downtown San Leandro were actually located outside of Downtown San Leandro, beyond walking distance to BART, and thus had to rely on cars for commuting to work.

This sounds absurd but it is entirely possible if the City Council adopts staff's recommendations on the re-zoing of properties along Estudillo Avenue. Unless we speak up and offer reasoned arguments based on the facts against what is being proposed (and not play upon fears or prejudice), I expect that the City Council will approve staff's proposal. 

If your concern is the "wrong" people will move into San Leandro, or other code words for racism, I categorically reject your viewpoint.  Please move out of San Leandro.  The San Leandro of 2016 is a diverse and tolerant community welcoming to all persons. This is the San Leandro I am raising my family in and the San Leandro I will fight to sustain and grow. 

This Thursday night, June 16th at 7 p.m., is our first opportunity to do so at a public meeting of the Planning Commission. The meeting will take place at City Hall in the City Council Chambers. The Planning Commission can make recommendations on the zoning code proposals to the City Council.

The next meeting, however, is one that really counts - the City Council will be reviewing the proposed zoning code changes on July 5th at 7 p.m., again at City Hall. I wish that the City Council was not conducting such an important meeting on a date in which many are away on vacation. There is no reason why the meeting has to occur on July 5th and it is in the power of the Mayor and City Manager to change the date of the meeting.

If you can't make the July 5th meeting, please share your views with the City Council by contacting them via email at  

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