Contra Costa County, CA November 2, 1999 Election
Smart Voter

A Public/Private Partnership to Explore

By Carol Federighi

Candidate for Council Member; City of Lafayette

This information is provided by the candidate

On October 12, 1999, representatives of Cortese Investment Company met with members of the City Council, and Planning Commission, Design Review, and Economic Development Commissions to explore options for development of the "Stoner" site, at the southeast corner of Dewing and Mt. Diablo Blvd.

The Corteses have entered into a purchase contact for the property and have a 45-day "due diligence" period in which to investigate the feasibility of developing it before they must close escrow.

I am among those very interested in this site as a possible location for additional public parking in the downtown. The site is strategically located across the street from Town Center. It is also between Fiesta Square and the Diablo Foods/post office center. I have been concerned that the retail and office components of Town Center MAY BE underparked, and that Fiesta Square will be at capacity when fully leased. Parking for the uses near Diablo Foods and the post office are at a premium, and the pressure will only increase when the former Rite Aid building is occupied Over ten years ago, DKS Associates noted that the primary demand for additional parking in the Central Business District occurs in the areas with the most intense retail uses, and it identified the BART block and Lafayette Circle areas as potential locations for future parking facilities.

Over the years, the City has collected Parking Development Payments and meter fines. The total in the parking fund is nearly one million dollars today. I would like to see that money utilized to provide additional parking in the downtown where it can benefit both retailers and the public. Ideally, a parking structure will encourage us to park in one location and walk to several different destinations. This would serve our General Plan goal of encouraging a more pedestrian friendly downtown. At the least, it could provide additional employee parking, which would free up spaces on congested lots for customers.

The Corteses outlined three possible scenarios for mixed retail and office use on the site. They varied from one which would develop no additional public parking to a third proposal which would necessitate City participation and the purchase of additional nearby sites on Mt. Diablo Blvd. and Lafayette Circle. It was the latter which most intrigued those of us present. It would provide for a more attractive development, allow structured parking to be hidden behind the retail, and eliminate a nonconforming use (the gas station) in the district.

I am enthusiastic about the possibilities, but I want to be certain that the resulting development, in spite of its density, is still in scale with the village character of our downtown. We will need to look carefully at the height of the proposed buildings to make certain that they are compatible with our community. In addition, it is important to me that the kinds of shops we attract are not all national chains. And obviously the costs of this partnership will have to be studied closely. Ideally, Lafayette will end up being served not only by additional wanted retail but also by the public parking that will support it and service the wider community as well.

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