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Livermore resident files referendum on updated Eden Housing agreement

Plans to launch campaign to collect signatures for petition
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Rendering of the completed Eden Housing downtown development, featuring two four-story buildings and Veterans Park situated between them.

The Eden Housing affordable housing development planned for downtown Livermore faces a new hurdle as a resident has filed paperwork to begin circulating a referendum petition in an effort to overturn the City Council's approval of an amended disposition, development and loan agreement (DDLA) for the project.

Attorney Barry Fadem told Livermore Vine in an email that he started the referendum process on behalf of his client Richard Ryon by submitting a proposed impartial summary for the referendum petition to the city clerk on May 27.

In a statement, Ryon said his action was in direct response to the council's May 24 approval of the DDLA, which includes modifications and additions to further facilitate the development process.

"Livermore residents have lost confidence in this City Council. Instead of listening to the majority of its constituents who favor a different location for the Eden Housing project, the Council has voted to approve an extensive revision to the disposition, development and loan agreement that will allow the city to transfer the property at Railroad Avenue and L Street to Eden Housing by this September," Ryon said, adding:

"The City is allowing Eden to acquire the land before Eden has secured the bulk of its financing for its project and before the lawsuit challenging last year’s city approvals for the project has been concluded."

While the 130-unit residential development was approved by the city last year, it remains at the center of a contentious community debate. The approval of the project is currently being challenged in court by citizen group Save Livermore Downtown. Their initial petition was denied in Alameda County Superior Court earlier this year, which prompted the group to pursue an appeal to the state appellate court last month.

After the council unanimously approved the amended DDLA, Mayor Bob Woerner addressed the ongoing litigation against the project, calling it a "needless delay of the project."

"I'm also confident that the court will deny SLD's appeal, therefore, I wholeheartedly support moving the project forward by approving the staff recommendations," Woerner said.

Eden Housing president Linda Mandolini echoed similar sentiments about SLD's actions in a statement to Livermore Vine.

"The City of Livermore has been very consistent in their support of the Downtown project. In addition, local businesses, organizations and neighbors have been strong advocates for housing that makes it possible for the workforce to live closer to their jobs, reducing commute times and traffic congestion, and allowing them to serve the greater Livermore community. Even the Alameda County Superior Court, an impartial observer, deemed the SLD’s claims as 'almost utterly without merit' and that rejecting the claims they had presented was 'not a close call,'" she said. 

She added, "Downtown is an ideal location for the project as it was acquired by the City in 2009 for use as affordable housing and due to its proximity to its many amenities, including public transportation. There aren’t any alternative locations for this type of affordable project in Livermore. It is time for SLD to stop wasting time and resources and allow the Livermore workforce to have a place they can call home and the opportunity for a better life."

It is unclear whether Ryon is affiliated with the Save Livermore Downtown citizen group but he expressed concern in his statement that the council's approval of the amended DDLA would prevent future council members from being able to choose an alternative location for the project.

"As soon as the property is transferred to Eden, there will no longer be an opportunity to assess potential alternative locations for the housing project at a site that can provide even more apartment units and more parking," Ryon said.

He added, "Three new City Councilmembers will be elected this November. If a majority of the new Council favors relocating the Eden Housing project, this agreement will tie their hands and provide them with no real options. They will be left with a project that they and Livermore citizens do not support."

Upon receipt of the proposed impartial summary, the city attorney can modify the impartial summary or decide to make no changes. Regardless of the city attorney's decision, Ryon said he plans to "begin a campaign to collect signatures on a referendum petition so that voters can decide whether the Eden agreement harms the city, and should be rejected."

According to city officials, the total number of registered voters in Livermore is currently 56,979. A referendum would need signatures from 10% of voters (5,698), however, that number could change as the number of registered voters changes. 




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Cierra Bailey

About the Author: Cierra Bailey

Cierra is a Livermore native who started her journalism career after college as an editorial intern with the Pleasanton Weekly in 2014. After attending graduate school at Syracuse University, she’s back as the editor of the Vine!
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