A surprise out of our less than transparent City Hall: It appears that after all there is flexibility in the agreement with Metro to build a park-and-ride lot at the front door to Point Dume. We may not have to.
As originally announced by wily City Manager Reva Feldman and a braying council, the agreement was in exchange for $2 million to be used toward the total $42 million plus needed for the purchase of three prime commercial parcels. And as I comment on public radio 99.1 KBUU and select websites, that includes the 18 acre so called Christmas Tree lot at Heathercliff and the PCH.
When first reported as a park-and-ride site the announcement prompted a wave of protests and several alternative proposals. These included mine for needed, well-designed affordable housing for seniors and those who serve the city, but most others were for community facilities and open space.
Well, according to the city attorney, it now seems those Metro funds CAN be used for more broadly defined transportation purposes, not necessarily park-and-ride. It seems a lazy and bloated City Hall just hadn’t pursued a more flexible MTA. So what else is new?
But now there’s word that the city motivated by the public protests will soon initiate a public outreach program, to come up with some alternatives for the lot, and others, and that the effort will be “transparent,” as promised.
There are a number of specific uses that come to mind, beyond my housing proposal, which for now is here being put on the back burner, given the tenor of the times fed by misinformed recalcitrant locals, and also that it might be better located elsewhere, say in the civic center. Hope springs eternal.
The other uses include the long sought playing fields, which I recall, from my Little League coach and Park Commissioner days, was once proposed for the site. Go Point Dume Dodgers.
A sensitive sitting of the fields also could allow room for a community garden, a demonstration landscape, protecting the ESHA there, and, if designed well, some flexible parking to satisfy Metro and serve park users. And there is the possibility also of a multi use facility and band shell.
Not incidentally, that also could take the local pressure off for more recreational facilities on the hallowed Bluffs Park.
The city should have the funds for this, and not be put off by lame duck Laura Rosenthal, who warned at the recent Council meeting that without the income from short term rentals the city may not be able to pursue the development of the sites.
As for her questionable argument allowing de facto hotels in residential zones, more on that in a later commentary.