Comments to the Council during the public comment period
Note: this was my prepared satement, which I naturally ignored once I was in front of the microphone. Most of the words were a little different, and some of the paragraphs may have been omitted.
Virtually everyone who gets involved in land use issues at the waterfront starts from the position that commercial development, especially hotels, would be a bad thing.
But the reason we go through a planning process is to look at these policies and assumptions a little more closely, and see if they really meet our social, economic, and environmental goals for the waterfront.
I think very few of the people involved in the planning process would express their position on any single land use issue in such absolute terms as stated in the resolution.
There is also a serious inconsistency here: excluding hotel development, but not restaurant and retail activity, is likely to result in a marina that is forced to commercialize in ways that are even less desirable than additional hotel rooms.
I am asking the Council to delay action on this issue until after there has been an opportunity to review the Preliminary Design Concepts of the Marina Plan, and after the Waterfront and Planning commissions have made their recommendations. These design concepts will be complete for next week's joint Commission meeting, and Commission recommendations will follow. Council action in June will be much more appropriate and informed, and from there the Marina Plan will be completed according to the Council's direction. There is no justification for offering such direction at this point in the process.
There is also a possibility that even the Sierra Club will soften its position on this issue, once the alternatives are studied in detail. I respectfully suggest that the Council might want to leave itself room to do the same.
And, even if this resolution is passed, the Council should encourage all development options to remain in the Marina Plan Preliminary Design Concepts, so that they be can evaluated fairly, on their merits, and in the context of the viable alternatives that remain.