City Council Planning

Ron Packard Los Altos Targets 40 Main Sorensen Project Again

40 Main Street on left, 4 Main Street looms on right
Written by lalahpolitico

40 Main Street on left, 4 Main Street looms on right

 

…council could vote to direct staff at the May 8 meeting to roll back the zoning language for the CRS zone of Main and State Streets to a two-story limitation…

Ron Packard Los Altos council member, with his office building at  4 Main Street is again targeting the Sorensen 3-story project planned at 40 Main Street. Item 12 on the City Council Agenda for this Tuesday, May 8, when passed, will essentially instruct staff to roll back the zoning language for the CRS zone of Main and State Streets to a two-story limitation and a height limitation.  A couple of years ago, the wording eliminated the two-story limitation so that there is now only a height limitation.

Ron Packard and Mayor Val Carpenter, not staff, have written the report for agenda discussion item 12.  They believe there have been too many exceptions to the 1993 Downtown Urban Design Plan granted to developers in exchange for  insignificant “public benefit” to downtown.

Packard says,”A creative developer could find some “public benefit,” however marginal, and then request a significant exception to the zoning ordinances”

“It is our opinion that these exceptions to the zoning ordinances, in light of the broad wording of the Downtown Urban Design Plan, are too subjective, and can unnecessarily lead to false expectations and cause community unrest. A creative developer could find some “public benefit,” however marginal, and then request a significant exception to the zoning ordinances. That can result in unreasonable expectations. There is also the risk that if an applicant insists on pursuing the matter, there may be unnecessary frictions in the community, many of whom may be unfamiliar with the Downtown Urban Design Plan, and the fact that downtown benefits are not mandated, as are residential benefits. There is also the danger that the combination of the expansive wording of the Downtown Urban Design Plan, and the unlimited scope of exceptions to the zoning ordinances, can lead to accusations that the City staff, commissions, and/or Council engage in favoritism. Finally, the zoning ordinances have been well thought-out, and generally should be honored, and not carelessly discarded with unlimited exceptions.”

Item 12 Report on City Web Site.

EDITORIAL COMMENT:

granting of exemptions for public benefit seem to have done a great deal to deliver much needed downtown redevelopment, remarkable during this long economic downturn

The downtown grapevine says this is just the lastest Packard move to prevent the Sorensen project at 40 Main going up next door to his 4 Main Street law office building.  From the outside this sure looks like Packard wants to preserve his view corridor over the cottages now on the Sorensen parcel.  The moves to stymie Sorensen so far:

1)    Ron Packard’s “ad hoc retail committee” wants to boot banks out of the Main and State area.  Sorensen was anticipating a bank as the first floor tenant.

2)   The council just recently approved a Downtown Parking Study initiative led by Carpenter and Packard that could take as long as a year.  Sorensen had proposed restriping Plaza 10 right away to act as a pilot project and also to mitigate the parking needs of his 3-story. He was denied. Council said a through study of all alternatives, not just striping was needed.  Effectively, the study delays the Sorensen project again, already in the works for 4 years.

3)   Now this rewriting of the CRS zoning ordinance to reapply the two-story limitation will likely kill the Sorensen project.

Booting banks, a parking “study”, and a CRS zoning rollback all stymie the Sorensen project  and all serve to preserve the view corridor of Ron Packard’s 4 Main Street

What’s not affected by this likely CRS Main and State zoning change?  The Morris project on Main Street is not yet approved but that one has now been redrawn as 2-story plan, so that project can go forward.  The Enchante Hotel at 1 Main Street is a 3-story plan, with a height variance (!), but that plan got final approval almost a year ago, so it’s exempt from this proposed zoning roll-back. In fact, if it is ever built, the exotic-looking hotel will likely be the only 3-story on Main Street for many years to come.

Bottom Line:

Over the past few years, the revised downtown CRS and CRS/OAD zoning, plus the granting of exemptions for public benefit seem to have done a great deal to deliver much needed downtown redevelopment, remarkable during this long economic downturn.  Packard, to preserve his view corridor, seems to be willing to drag the whole CRS district back a couple of decades.  He has crafted these restrictions on banks, parking, and 3 stories to apply to the whole CRS district, rather than just Sorensen next door, so that he can vote on them.  To bag his target at 40 Main, Packard is willing to shoot the whole flock.

 

He has crafted these restrictions on banks, parking, and 3 stories to apply to the whole CRS district, rather than just Sorensen next door, so that he can vote on them.

 

 

 

About the author

lalahpolitico

Norma Schroder is an economics & market researcher by trade and ardent independent journalist, photographer and videographer by avocation. Enthralled by the growth of the tech industry over the decades, she only became fascinated with business of local politics only in the past couple of years.

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