I’m often a bit surprised by which of my posts generate the most comments. For example, I never could have imagined that my post earlier this year on alternatives to a surface parking lot in Uptown would ultimately led to a movement to stop it. And though I knew many people would miss the Big Longs on Pleasant Valley, I was pleasantly surprised at how immediately so many of you were willing to engage, either by sharing your comments here or by attending the meetings last week.
The meetings were a bit of a disappointment, especially since they turned out to be just a presentation of the images that were already available online and a couple opportunities to speak with Safeway reps (some of whom either didn’t know what they were talking about or lied). But whether Safeway holds more meetings or not, this project will becoming to the Planning Commission several times before it is approved. The first hearing will be on Wednesday, July 15 at 6pm, even though one of the Safeway reps told me she had no idea when this would be coming before the commission. So put it on your calendar and I’ll be sure to remind you as the date approaches.
Before that though, it’s important to think about what we want. I sometimes fall into the trap of focusing on what I don’t want. For example, one thing this project does not need is more parking. I wanted to make sure of that so I stopped by on Sunday afternoon, and I was even a bit surprised at how empty the parking lot was. This was taken in front of Longs, from the middle of the first section of parking:
And this was the parking situation near Pet Food Express and Chase:
Now I know it sometimes gets more crowded than this (I’ve seen it more crowded), but nobody’s going to convince me that more parking is needed.
But what do we want? Many want Longs to stay or something to take over its myriad of 24 hour offerings. Others have called for housing on top of retail. And some of us would like serious bicycle, pedestrian, and transit improvements. But only one person I know has taken the time to come up with an actual plan to meet some of these needs.
Eric at Transbay Blog proposed this:
You’ll have to head over to his blog for an explanation, but as you can see, it includes dense development and no surface parking. It also has a much more urban feel and includes residential on top of retail.
I love this proposal. Do I think Safeway will go for it? Probably not, but that’s ok. We need a starting point. We need to ask for what we want and then compromise from there. It’s not nearly as productive to keep telling Safeway what’s wrong with their proposal, unless we can show them what a desirable proposal looks like.
Thanks to Eric for taking the time to put this together. I’d love to hear thoughts on this or hear about alternate proposals.