On Tuesday, the City Council will consider amendments to the
Measure S guidelines. As they are written, the guidelines require a
public vote on some development plans if they exceed what is in the
city's general plan by 40,000 square feet, 100 peak hour car trips or
100 dwelling units.
The most significant change proposed is that floor area will be
factored in to how much traffic a hotel or theater may generate and
thus whether it requires a public vote. Previously, hotels were
counted by the number of rooms and theaters by the number of seats,
but if the change is adopted, the baseline allowed use for hotels
will be 1,000 square feet per room, and 15 square feet will be
allotted per theater seat.
Those square footages were already in an estimated growth table
the city uses, but they weren't specified in the city's general plan,
city Attorney Bob Burnham said.
"It is the only way that we have been able to select a baseline
when we don't have a floor area entitlement in the general plan," he
said. "The council looked at that last time, and I think they were
pretty comfortable with it."
The proposed guideline changes also stipulate that proposals for
less common uses, such as bowling alleys or tennis courts, which
aren't measured by floor area in the general plan, will be compared
with the floor area for that use in the city's growth table or the
area of whatever is already on the site, whichever is greater.
The other major change in the guidelines proposes that any
development plan that triggers a Greenlight vote must be approved by
the council before going to the ballot. The Marina Park project is
exempt from that provision because of an agreement made with its
developers before the guideline changes got underway.
Greenlight committee members had been asking for both the
hotel/theater provision and the requirement of a council vote on
Mayor Tod Ridgeway said that after those changes, the Measure S
guidelines can probably be put to bed at least for now.
"At this point in time I don't think there's anything left to be
done," he said, adding that there's room for further modifications if
they are needed later.
"It's to our benefit to, in fact, correct any inconsistencies or
ambiguities," Ridgeway said.
But no one would definitively say whether the changes will bring
an end to the lawsuit.
"I think it's fair to say that these amendments address some of
the issues," Burnham said. "Whether they address all of them, that's
something for the attorneys to deal with."
Greenlight spokesman Phil Arst said arriving at the proposed
amendments took effort on both sides, but they may not be done yet.
"All I can say is we have worked hard to cooperate with the city
and protect the interests of the voters to decide the future course
of the city," he said. "We have made some progress on addressing the
issues of our lawsuit, but some major concerns remain."
* ALICIA ROBINSON covers business, politics and the environment.
She may be reached at (949) 764-4330 or by e-mail at