By Steve Levy
Deny the 429 Univ Ave Project AppealUploaded: Mar 28, 2015
Kudos to the council for accepting Pat Burt's proposal to have staff explore options for metering near term office development. Although I am skeptical that a cap is a good idea, I am sure we all will learn more from the process. I am especially pleased that the council acted with restraint given that night's public comments calling for more drastic and quicker action in the absence of gathering ideas and information.
I encourage the council to continue this careful process and deny the pending appeal of the proposed project at 429 University and not pull it from the consent calendar. I have reviewed the Planning Director's recommendation and attended the final ARB hearing on the project. My understanding is that the proposal meets the legal requirements of the City for redevelopment on that site. In addition the project applicant made several design changes suggested by the ARB.
There are always projects that one or another of us would like to have been done a different way. But resident dissatisfaction with a project that followed the rules is not a good basis for overturning the recommendations of a lengthy and open process. To do so without evidence of a massive mistake in the process would encourage even more appeals of rule abiding projects.
While it may be tempting to pull it from the consent calendar, the council has a very extensive schedule in the coming weeks with the continuation of the development cap/metering proposal, the Buena Vista hearing, input of the Comp Plan summit and process, further discussion of 441 Page Mill, the retail conversion hearings and probably some that I have overlooked.
I believe that issues with regard to the Kipling/University intersection should be addressed but not as a way to delay or deny approval of the 429 project. The opening of the Varsity site to a seemingly very successful café and meeting place and the new restaurant across from 429 merit a rethinking of this intersection but not primarily from anything to do with the 429 project.
Three ideas come to my mind. One is to make Kipling one way. Another is to put a barrier on Kipling right past the 429 and restaurant site so through traffic and parking is blocked. The third is to remove the parking spaces on Kipling adjacent to 429 and the new restaurant.
The applicant has followed the rules, gone through an extensive process, made design changes and received the recommendation of the ARB and Planning Director. Please deny the appeal.