Possible changes to Greenlight near

June 05, 2004

Alicia Robinson

After months of haggling, city officials are poised to adopt changes

to the Greenlight rules that are largely in line with what members of

the slow-growth group wanted.

It's still unclear whether those changes will mean the end of a

lawsuit Greenlight leaders filed in late March over the guidelines

for how the city applies the Measure S law.


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

Greenlight projects.

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

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