June 26, 2009

The battle for the soul of Walnut Creek--over a luxury department store--grows even more muddled

Okay, those RAMPART people are now embarking on their own signature-gathering campaign to put yet another initiative up to Walnut Creek voters regarding the future of downtown growth--actually the future of Neiman Marcus in Broadway Plaza.

The Contra Costa Times Elisabeth Nardi reports this morning that the initative was filed with the city Wednesday, and is "aimed" at Broadway Plaza, but could effect all development in the downtown core area.

This is the third signature-gathering campaign to hit Walnut Creek in the past few weeks. Or maybe the fourth? The Times says residents "have been asked to sign two basically anti-Neiman referendum petitions." Huh? I'm confused. But I'm probably not the only one.

Anyway, this newest initiative comes from those RAMPART people. This acronym stands for Residents and Advocates for More Parking and Reduced Traffic. And, according to Nardi, their initiative is, like their name, lengthy. Twenty-one pages. Is anyone going to take the time to read it? They are almost as long-winded as I am!

The initiative is also far reaching:

"It adds language to the city's general plan and municipal code in several areas; it calls for a vote by the people for any new, or addition, to a retail project at or over 40,000-square feet in the "retail gateway area." The initiative also mandates that height limits in the retail area can't change without a vote of the people. Also, physical parking spaces must be built for development at or over 40,000 square feet, according to the initiative; valet or mechanical parking lifts could not be used or considered as new parking."

Is it just me, or is this whole battle over a department store entering the realm of the absurd, if it hasn't already? With all these competing initiatives and signature gatherers yelling at shoppers downtown, and vice versa, and a signature gatherer for one of these initiatives even getting arrested last week at the Shadelands farmers market for pushing someone?

One person commenting on an earlier story said, well, at least people in Walnut Creek are getting hot and bothered and feisty about something. Isn't that kind of exciting? You know, residents becoming all engaged in their community and its development future and all that.

I guess.

But wouldn't it be nice if people were getting engaged in their community over an issue that involves something more--ideologically and civically lofty--than a luxury department store?

Does the soul of Walnut Creek really lie in this retail project? Neiman Marcus, er Needless Markup, ha ha ha. A store that, in the national psyche, represents conspicuous consumption? Is this really the issue over which residents and city leaders are going to fight tooth and nail?

Oh, the liberal, socialist, commie, pinko in me is rambling.

I know that supporters of Neiman Marcus coming to Broadway Plaza say that the store will bring in revenue that will allow the city to support those valuable and and more lofty civic-enriching programs we all care about: public safety, arts, recreation. They also say that fighting for this store is really about fighting for the right of city residents to be free to decide their own destiny, free of the outside, big-money influences represented by historically litigious, Michigan-based mall company Taubman.

Neiman Marcus opponents say that they, too, are fighting for the right of Walnut Creek residents to decide their own destiny--to be free of the outside, big money-influences represented by Southern California-based Macerich, which owns Broadway Plaza.

Here's a thought: Maybe engagement in this battle gives Walnut Creek residents and city and business leaders a chance to believe that they are exercising some control in their small corner of the world--when the rest of the world seems so out of control, so uncertain. We've got the recession, and civic unrest in Iran, and two wars, and North Korea threatening world destruction. We've got the death of the King of Pop. We've got the state budget mess, although this Neiman Marcus battle, with all its competing initiatives, is starting to remind me of the dysfunctional state initiative process that has contributed to our state budget mess.

Something for all of us to ponder, including our city and business leaders. And I'll stop rambling.


Anonymous said...

RAMPART, hmmm why do you need more parking if you have less traffic? I might recommend this group provide ideas to the transportation department on ideas for reducing congestion. Have a RAMPART group perform a study of how long it really takes to cross town at different times of day. What stop lights need adjusting etc. Go to other cities and find best practices (e.g. maybe mechanical lifts do have some value).

Don't be another group that opposes everything and doesn't provide solutions! And a solution is not to stop developing a town.

FYI, I'm not for or against all development.

Anonymous said...

Broadway Plaza wants to build on an "underutilized" lot in downtown. The carrot is a POSSIBLE Neiman Marcus store. Would there be support for a 92,000 sf building downtown if it wasn't a NM store but instead a store SUCH AS Neiman Marcus?

Anonymous said...

The following statment clearly shows how disingenuous RAMPART is:

"Neiman Marcus opponents say that they, too, are fighting for the right of Walnut Creek residents to decide their own destiny--to be free of the outside, big money-influences represented by Southern California-based Macerich, which owns Broadway Plaza."

Macerich owns Broadway Plaza thus owns property in the city, pays property taxes and has a right to participate in the debate. Taubman has no property in WC and its only interest is to eliminate competition for its own gain.

It is time for WC to start rejecting interferences by outside players in shaping their city.

Anonymous said...

By being a property owner in Walnut Creek and thus paying taxes Macerich may have what you call a right to participate in the debate. I don't have a problem with that as long as they attempt to be good neighbors.

How many, if any of the top leaders of the Macrich company actually reside in and raise their children in Walnut Creek? Probably none, so it is fair to say that they really don't give a hoot about the quality of life issues in our town. As a publicly traded company they are only interested in the bottom line at the end of the day and could care less about city services that don't affect them. But of course these very same people cannot be classified as "outside players" interferring with the shaping of our city's future.

Macerich and Taubman are in this war for only one reason...MONEY. Neither are blameless when it comes to misinformation and innuendo in their respective campaigns. Both will do whatever it takes to win.

Sadly, as with all wars, those without any realy voice in the matter are the biggest losers...we ordinary people who live in and love our town and wish to protect it's future.

Anonymous said...

Why is raising your children in WC of any relevance? Was there a fine print I missed? There are plenty of people in WC without children or who have children who have left WC. Do they have no say?

Anonymous said...


Businesses are interested in money, duh. Smart businesses are interested in a long term sustainable revenue streams. So if your a shopping center developer are you going to build one that doesn't have enough parking and complete traffic congestion. Not much money there since it would be unattractive to paying customers, so back to your point about what business is interested in.

So far Broadway plaza and downtown have been a positive to my quality of life. Sure downtown has a number of people and cars, maybe that's since it's a place that people find attractive. I don't really care that 3 people are waiting in front of me to cross the street. It's nice to be out walking around.

Anonymous said...

Except for the occasional trip to Whole Foods Market, and the very rare trip to the Container Store, I stopped shopping and dining in Downtown Walnut Creek years ago. Not only is parking and traffic a pain, but the stores have gotten way too upscale for my working class budget.

Okay, I'm not being completely honest... I do take my kids to Broadway Plaza to trick-or-treat, and I always stop at the Auntie Anne's Pretzels while I'm there.

Anonymous said...

I only go to Ann Taylor Loft and once a year to the Container Store. Now I am heading to IKEA instead of WC. Had dinner at a restaurant on Main St., decent food but way over-priced. Only reason we went was because we were given a gift certificate. Sad, WC is and will be losing many of its regular shoppers because of the parking/traffic issue and the outlandish pricing.

Anonymous said...

Re parking, are you people insane? Do you not realize there are four massive FREE indoor parking garages downtown, plus the outdoor lot behind Macy's. I have never had a problem parking in one of them.

Anonymous said...

I had one problem parking a few years ago on Christmas Eve buying the last-minute feeling-guilty present. Other than that, I have NEVER had a problem parking in Walnut Creek in the past 10 years.

Of course, I don't mind moving my rear end a block or two. It's good for my health. Too bad about those who are locked into mid-20th century lifestyles.

Anonymous said...

Yep, same here. Never had a parking problem but I'm not afraid to walk across town. It's very enjoyable.

Anonymous said...

Same here. I never have a problem parking in WC. To the contrary I usually can't get over the fact how easy it is to find free unlimited parking within a few blocks of all the attractions in Walnut Creek. Also I can't see how the alternative of shopping and dining in WC could be IKEA in Emeryville. Not that there is anything wrong with IKEA (other maybe that traffic and parking there is a true mess on busy days) but you can't compare the two things. What for a special dinner you have the Swedish Meatball Special?
No I'm not exclusively only shopping in high end stores or dine at high end restaurants. But I do like the variety WC offers which allows me to shop both at Target and at Nordstroms or to dine at places like Va di Vi or Prima as well as Black Bear Diner or Chipotle.
So let's keep our downtown a magnet with attractive stores and let not outside interest interfere with it.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmmmmm, went to downtown WC today at 12:30, found parking behind Macy's and walked to Crate & Barrel. Was very quiet and hardly any people. Only busy place was CPK (only 10 minute wait). So this tells me people are going elsewhere or not shopping, maybe because of the economic downturn. I don't see the need for a Neiman Marcus in this economy, WC is already over-priced and stores are struggling. If anything, less is more.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:53 wow you are quite a keen observer. Maybe you should be running a mall with your talent. Why do you think it should be up to you to decide whether Macerich and NM want to invest in a store at Broadway Plazza? Stores are struggling that's why we should not allow NM? So you think stores don't want NM? Think again! Boy you just can't loose either there is not enough parking or there is too much parking.

Anonymous said...

"went to downtown WC today at 12:30, found parking behind Macy's"

"So this tells me people are going elsewhere or not shopping, maybe because of the economic downturn."

OK genius, but there has always been available parking behind Macy's. Even two years ago I was able to get a parking spot there. I see you're really reaching for straws. Keep at it buddy.

DumbAsBricks said...

For those of you claiming there is always parking, I don't think that the issue of parking at 12:30pm in the heat of the afternoon during a workday is the concern.

Rather, consider the parking situation on a Friday evening between 5 and 9. Or perhaps closer to a holiday season. It is impossible.

That holds true for the Macy's parking lot, the one on top of both starbucks, olympic place, and above the Maggie Moo's.

Anonymous said...

Yes DAB, the only time I go into downtown WC is off season in the middle of the day, and at best that is 1 to 2 times a year. Parking is a nightmare Friday and Saturday evenings, Holidays and special events. I tired numerous times to do some Christmas shopping in WC but could not find parking, I will not drive around searching, either it is there or we leave. We tried to park in the "free garage" on a Sunday eveing, there was an event at the Lesher and "free" now was "everyone pay". So we went into Concord for dinner.

WC at its best in some of these comments, so full of entitlement and snobbery. Yes, WC is losing many long time patrons, including us who are from WC.

The point is, what purpose is a NM? It is a name but why would this help other shops? Are the smaller shops hoping that NM high prices will drive people to their lower priced shops? I refuse to sign any petition as this is a huge waste of precious time and money.

Anonymous said...

'We tried to park in the "free garage" on a Sunday eveing, there was an event at the Lesher and "free" now was "everyone pay".'

Hey dum-dum, that lot is not free, ever, so get your facts straight before whining about things you know nothing about.

Anonymous said...

Hey Anon 9:47

Boy you are an unhappy and mean person, it seeps into your writing. That "free lot" usually has tickets that can be validated at establishments (used to use this lot a lot), they would not even accept validated tickets that night because of the event at the Lesher. Boy, who is the dum dum now. Ignorance and uneduated all at once, wow.....

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:25 and 11:13

You might be calling others mean (and no I'm not 9:47), but I notice that you are not telling the truth and I suspect you must have motive to post lies here.

At 8:25 you say:
"the only time I go into downtown WC is off season in the middle of the day, and at best that is 1 to 2times a year"

At 11:13 you say:
"used to use this lot a lot"

So you either used to go a lot downtown or at best 1 to 2 times a year. What is it? Or do you just like to spread misinformation on blogs because it is anonymous?

And by the way calling somebody Ignorant und uneducated all at once sounds pretty mean too....

Anonymous said...

'That "free lot" usually has tickets that can be validated at establishments (used to use this lot a lot)'

Why would you need a validation ticket if it's free? Oh I thought so. That because it's NOT FREE. Again, I call you a dum-dum for that. That's not ignorant, it's the truth, and I'm sorry if the truth hurts.

Anonymous said...

Go to the CC Times website and read the June 25th WC Journal letters to the editor. The one that stood out was by a fellow named Sol Henik. I think he's on to something!

Anonymous said...

Ha, Ha Anon 1:41 and 11:40 note the words "USED TO" Now it is only 1 to 2 times a year when we have to go into downtown WC. We USED to be there a lot until parking issues began.

The lot itself would be free, of course the dinner or activity would not be. Charging because of an event does not promote people to use the facilites because at any time they could decide to not allow validation. So it promoted the money to be spent elsewhere. WC is hurting just like everyone else, time to entice people to shop or eat, not turn them away.

However if you are residents of WC, I am so sorry...

Neither one of you answered the question as to the benefit of Neiman Marcus being built in WC. I have not heard or read one solid "for NM" argument yet. I guess there are none?

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:18

When you're in a hole stop digging. Now you want to tell us that "We USED to be there a lot until parking issues began".

Unfortuantly your own quote was not refering to being downtown but it refered to using the garage. And don't tell me you would be using a garage when there was ample street parking available.

That's the problem with lying it's hard to keep the story sraight.

By the way here not in my words but in the words of a small business owner reasons for NM in WC (this appeared in Letters to Walnut Creek Journal June 25th):

New store would help all of downtown

As a small-business owner in Walnut Creek, I am appalled that a large company like Taubman can come into our town and using just a few key hot button words like "parking" or "traffic" can convince people of this city to sign a petition against a project like Neiman Marcus.

This project would bring tax dollars to our town (which are badly needed), jobs (again badly needed) and shoppers (also badly needed). These shoppers would not just shop at Neiman and then leave town; they would shop and eat and wander to other stores "... we all need that revenue.

The fact that they are paying people to come in and gather these signatures — people who don't live here and have no interest in our town other than getting paid and know nothing about the facts — is so wrong.

Let's not let a big corporation like Taubman decide the future and the vibrancy of our town.

Sherry Bennett

Main Street Postal and Business Center

Walnut Creek

Anonymous said...


Wow, that is all I have to say. I was not lying, it is the truth, born, raised and live in WC and that evening we could not find street parking either. We could in Target, but did not want to be towed or ticketed. Plus how right is that to take a Target shoppers spot? This has happened to us many times and maybe it is better for parking in WC now because people are not shopping or dining out due to the economy and high prices in WC.

I don't know Taubman, nor do I care. But based on you, and the retailers I have spoken too (fact is that many of my social contacts have shops in downtown WC) I am not convinced NM is the right thing to do right now. Why not focus on what is there now, promote the better shopping and parking times, and stop raising the retail rents. How about lowering rents to help the current tenants and to entice more affordable retail.

There is not hole that has been dug, I just was not clearly stating my facts.

A. USED to shop WC every week, now only 1 to 2 times a year.

B. Have had to leave WC on many occasions because of not being able to find parking within a decent distance of destination. There are physical limitations that a reasonable distance is needed.

C. If this is how you promote your opinion, you had better re tink your strategy.

D. This just promoted me to vote NO on NM if it ever comes to that.

E. The future and vibrancy of WC is changing, like the rest of America and the World.

This has gotten quite funny actually and pretty sad, all over a store. There is much, much more to life than a retail store and downtown WC.

Concerned Walnut Creek Resident said...

Anon 1:53

Thanks and great letter written by Sol Henik, certainly makes one really think. Here is the link:

Anonymous said...

3:14PM, you are a DOLT. They posted a letter by Sherry. So why would you address her directly? She is not the poster. There are plenty of handicapped parking spots nearby. I think that applies to mentaly challenged people too, so why not try that instead? As for me, I'll park in one of the many free garages a few blocks away.

Anonymous said...

Ha, ha, I am sorry that you are mentally challenged...

Concerned Walnut Creek Resident said...

what is a DOLT?

Anonymous said...

"what is a DOLT?"

Someone who can't type "DOLT" in google to look it up.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:14 this is Anon 2:35 again

First I'm not Sherry. If you would have read correctly I told you that I lifted Sherry's letter from Letter to the Walnut Creek Journal.

So Sherry has never accused you of lying, but I did and you seem to keep still doing it.

At 11:13 you said you used to use the parking garage a lot.

But prior to that at 8:25 you said you only go to downtown 1 or 2 times a year.

At 2:18 you said you used to go to shop in downtown a lot before parking was a problem.

You don’t explain that you did use to use the parking garage a lot. I do not believe you that you would park in the garage when there was ample street parking because you seem the person unwilling to walk half a block to where you want to go.

So both can’t be true that you used the parking garage a lot and that you only go to town 1 or 2 times a year since parking has become a little tighter.

But that this not the only lie you are telling here. Look at your posts and your agenda. Now you say that a letter by a small business owner why she supports NM for WC promoted you to be against NM? How stupid to you think people are?

So my friend keep on digging ... and to not hog the entire blog here I will refrain form answering your next lie.

New to the Area said...

Whoa, just found this blog and what gives? Just moved here and now wondering if this is what Walnut Creek is like? Everyone, get your feathers unruffled, it is just a store. If you are ruffled over stores and parking then you do need a life.

Never been to a NM and not interesested in a NM. Now what about a Bass Sporting goods, now we are talking.

Anonymous said...


Walnut Creek really is a wonderful town but somehow has gotten itself all turned upside down over a store possible coming to town. Read the archived comments and you will find that the passions were inflamed when an arrogant city council didn't take the time to listen to their constituents over growth and traffic issues. The serfs staged and uprising, taking said council by surprise and the current battle ensued.

It has gotten quite amusing to watch the action from the sidelines but the positive that comes from all of this furor over a store is that people are now interested in what is happening in their town.

When this dies down, let us hope that the citizens will continue their interest in hometown politics and policies.

Anonymous said...

And by the way NEW TO THE AREA I almost forgot to mention if you print the 6:01 PM message and bring it to any store in the Sunvalley Mall you will receive a 10% discount.

Anonymous said...

Years of frustration with WC City Hall is rearing its ugly head. Neither side should be surprised at the reactions. Soccer Mom said it best...."the battle for the soul of Walnut Creek."

Anonymous said...

I really hoping to find something interesting about Sol's letter to the editor ( Instead he's suggesting some conspiracy about someone running for political office and references the library with disdain for a plaque. I'm not sure a plaque will every be placed on the building.

Wow Sol, just a bunch of complaints. Are you being funded by Taubman?

Anonymous said...

Hey 11:00AM, let's lose some of this meanspiritedness.I think that Sol Henik's point of view probably represents a segment of the WC population that has been ignored by the powers that be. Suggesting that he's being funded by Taubman only invites the question are you being funded by Macerich?

Anonymous said...

If you want to read, (with an open mind please) a very cogent view of the whole mess, check out Michael Fredericks op-ed in todays WC Journal in the Times.

He is a downtown property owner as well as a long-time resident of WC and has a very good history lesson for all of us.

Guess what I do not understand about both sides of this issue is the nastiness that some posters feel is the only way in which to get their point across.

Intelligent open dialogue with opposing views is a healthy thing but childish namecalling and baseless innuendo is not. If you are going to stoop to that level of discussion, at least do it with a sense of humor. The world will not stop spinning no matter the outcome of the NM project.

Anonymous said...

Anon, 12:20pm - You said:

"Intelligent open dialogue with opposing views is a healthy thing but childish namecalling and baseless innuendo is not. If you are going to stoop to that level of discussion, at least do it with a sense of humor. The world will not stop spinning no matter the outcome of the NM project."

Anon 12:20pm, you also referred to M. Frederick's diatribe as "cogent". I don't consider Frederick to be persuasive at all, especially when he stooped to childish namecalling you shun as he reached the end of his rant:

"Walnut Creek revolves around you — not just environment or regional shopping. Walnut trees get felled, creeks paved, pretentious imbeciles elected and appointed ... through it all, over 160 years, the community pulls through despite commercially contrived boundaries and leadership — not because of them!

I don't really care what your Neiman opinion is, as a resident, just that you care enough to have one. The 80 special interest conspirators who sold $13 million in publicly-funded commercial parking as "library" and endorse WALPAC, the chamber of commerce-backed political action committee, buying council seats with tacit council approval, don't have any interest beyond their own. Deference to such people can only work well in the minds of the reckless and stupid, who they continuously recruit."

So is it OK with you for Michael Frederick to call all Walnut Creek elected and appointed officials "pretentious imbeciles" and the people that elected them "reckless and stupid"?

That's inconsistent with your post. I won't address the baseless innuendo in Frederick's vicious screed. Be assured that he is off-base on this as well.

Anonymous said...

I actually did read the letter by Sol Henik but I have to admit I don't understand the point or points he tries to make.

I don't see any conspiracy even if the chair for "Yes for Walnut Creek" has political ambitions. It is clear that Sol too has political ambitions. And so what if he as their former chairman wants to seek the endorsement by the chamber of commerce? I assume Sol is seeking the endorsement by the Whitekittyfoundation which is fine with me as well. Maybe you want to explain to us the controversy here?

And no matter how you feel about the City Counsel I find it disheartening that a high school teacher refers to a library as "$40 million dollars worth of steel, slap a plaque on the front with City Council names on it". From our educators I would expect a little more respect for the institutions which are so central to our education and knowledge.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Sol's writing is pointless. $40M worth of steel? He's not providing any productive dialog.

Anonymous said...

40M$ worth of steel? Hmmm wonder what the School Board thinks about educators who use such language for a library? I'm sure there are plenty qualified teachers who would try to encourage their students to make use of a library. I'm gladly seeing my tax dollars going to a new library, but I'm not sure about teachers who seem unwilling to accept a democratic decision and show no willingness to entice students to make good use of the new library...

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:04 -
Have you ever written a letter to the CC Times? Is so, you know that there are very strict limits on the number of words allowed each writer and also how often a writer may contribute each month. Makes it rather difficult to have a real dialogue on any subject with those limitations. Even the op-eds are limited but at least there you get a few more words.....just have to face the problem of the editorial staff accepting them. Their usual excuse for not printing written contributions is a "space" issue. Seems that they could collect all of the letters and op-eds from citizen writers and put them in the Monday edition as there never seems to be enough news for them to print a real paper that would take more than a half hour to read.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it was a democratic decision to approve the building of the library... if it was, it would not have been built considering it was voted down twice. I'm sure Mr. Henik's disapproval of the library is based on economics rather than not providing an educational tool.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:02 of course it was a democratic decision. What was voted down were bond measures, but the City Counsel had the right to approve the building. Just because you don't like it doesn't make it illegal. And of course Mr. Henik had the right to oppose it. But he lost and the library is being built now and I object to his continued ranting. He has an obligation as an educator to support the library now and he sets a poor example by calling it 40M$ of steel with a plaque.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:39 of course it was a democratic decision.....but what Mr. Henik says is true.....the City CouncIl just found a way to get around the voters who defeated the bond measure by voting 4-1 to fund an oversized and very expensive library. Just ask former City Manager Mike Parness, who had the balls to suggest (post election) that the size and cost be scaled down to satisfy the wishes of the voters. Look what he got for that rather sensible solution.......FIRED. You see, in the form of democratic government we have in WC, one who disagrees and doesn't march in step with the lofty plans doesn't get a hearing or have the right of dissent. Let Mr. Henik rant. That is was democracy is supposed to be all about.

A $42+ million structure that robs funds from the needed services that the City of WC is charged to provide is just a steel building with a plaque. Men, women and children could have learned very easily in a much smaller and less expensive building. Oh, and also, police protection, street maintenance, flood control, and other vital services wouldn't have to suffer for years to come.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure many feel like I do. We have good jobs and have a good income. We pay good taxes but don't really complain about it. We know that we have a good life and would not want to trade places with the less fortunates. We also understand that much of our taxes go to support the less fortunates.

But once in a while we feel it is our turn too, we want a nice library for us and our children. These are the children who don't need special counseling in school or keep the police department busy.

So why should we not deserve a big and nice library? Why should we be told that we can't afford it?

We look forward to the new library and don't appreciate when people show so much destain for it.

Anonymous said...

"So why should we not deserve a big and nice library? Why should we be told that we can't afford it?"

Well, the fact is, we can't afford it and that is very apparent if you have been following the financial situation in Walnut Creek. The economy is not the only reason that the City is having financial problems and cannot provide the necessary services that everyone needs to maintain a safe and happy life. Walnut Creek has overspent on the new library, pure and simple. Other vital services and programs now suffer because our new library is too large and too costly. This is the largest capitol improvement ever undertaken in city history and the project was started without all of the funding in place. Guess revenue went in the tank and now the city finds itself short of funds for the first time in many, many years. There is no money in the kitty to keep the building open once it is finished.

No doubt a new library is nice to have but just like your life at home, you do not buy a Ferrari when you can only afford a Dodge. It is just that simple.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:55 - so what should have been the appropriate size and cost? People keep saying it's too big and too expensive. So please provide some specifics. I'd like to know.

Anonymous said...

Oh my god the sky is falling .....

To use your analogy since I do make the Ferrari payments I don't want to drive the old Dodge. Thus I have no problem for me and my kids to enjoy the new library

obiwan said...

Anon 7:52 AM:
I didn't post the comment about the too big and too expensive library design, but I share the poster's viewpoint. Here are some areas where I feel needless costs were added:

1> There are architectural elements to the new library - like the grand staircase and other 2-story air spaces which add to the bulk of the building and the cost. You still have to enclose those spaces with walls and a roof.

2> Meeting rooms were considered "essential" in the library, even though we already have meeting rooms just steps away in Civic Park. I attended a Neiman Marcus presentation in the Civic Park Community Room earlier this year and, while not as elegant as I'm sure the new library meeting room will be, it served the purpose.

3> The new library was designed with shelf space for 213,000 books based on some average ratio of books to population. That's looking backwards instead of forwards. The wealth of information available on the Internet already exceeds that which can be contained within 4 walls, and a library's worth of information can already be stored on extremely small electronic devices. How long will it be before you go to the library and instead of walking out with a book, you walk out with the CONTENTS of a book downloaded to your netbook PC, Kindle or thumb drive? Do we really need shelf space for 213,000 books in a library that is supposed to serve us for the coming decades?

I raised these points at a City Council public hearing. The comments fell upon deaf ears.

I think that NM and much of the controversy surrounding it is another case of deaf ear syndrome.

Which is more upsetting - that an outside interest with ulterior motives is meddling in the Council's grand Broadway Plaza expansion plans, or that no sugar daddy stepped forward to rein in the Council's grand library plans?

Anonymous said...

Responding to 11:39pm

#1 - This reminds me of my friends current addition to his house. He's increasing the size but also adding a large entryway with an addition peaked roof over it. It will not add any real functional square footage but will make the house more inviting. Probably the same idea with the grand staircase.

#2 I took my daughter to a number of Children's programs. They crammed the kids in a room that looked to be an old closet. Glad to hear they will have more room at the new place. I'm thinking the civic park rooms are under some other ownership than the library and thus aren't used for library purposes. Hey if it was all the same ownership they should've dropped those buildings and incorporated them into the design. Probably would've been cheaper.

#3 I like your futuristic thinking. I don't think were ready for the school system/PTA/parents to be buying Kindles for everyone. I know information is on the internet but I still see newspapers being delivered, Barnes and Noble still selling books and magazines being sold.

My kid and all her friends go the library about every other week. It's great for their exposure to learning.

Now to get back to this thread about NM and considering #3, with all the internet retail available why are adding stores to shopping areas?

Anonymous said...

Anon 7/4, 11:39pm

"I raised these points at a City Council public hearing. The comments fell upon deaf ears."

Making a public comment does not mean that a government entity must follow the commenter's orders. However, they are required to take public comment into consideration along with staff recommendations and other input.

If one feels that wrong decisions have been made, the solution is to elect candidates with whom one agrees on substantive issues (or to run oneself). For example, an anti-library candidate was fielded in Walnut Creek City Council elections both in 2006 and 2008. He lost by a wide margin in spite of having support from a portion of the community.

So, Anon 11:39, will you throw your hat into the ring for the 2010 election?

Anonymous said...

In addition 9:08am, I'm sure the council hears public comments and attempts to validate the issue. For example, comments that not enough parking exist and it takes 15 minutes to cross town are part of the public comment.
Some of the public comment may not match reality so it falls on deaf ears as it should.

Anonymous said...

The Danville Library is 18,000sf.
The Orinda Library is 24,400 sf.
According to the Lafayette Library website, their library will be 34,973 sf (it's under construction). The Walnut Creek Library website doesn't mention the square footage but I believe it to be 42,000 square feet. The new library will be in addition to the WC Ygnacio Library as well as the "books to go" library that serves Rossmoor. Those that opposed the library plan did so mainly because of its size, the expensive parking garage and its encroachment into Civic Park. Those who oppose Neiman Marcus have similar concerns about its size but as with the library they are ignored. Ironically, Taubman (an outside developer) is giving them a voice.

Perhaps Taubman should financially support a candidate that has not been hand picked by City Hall and represents residents who believe inreasonable development. After all, the playing field here in WC has never been level, with city supported candidates receiving donations from Chamber of Commerce interests and developers including Macerich (another outside developer) The reality is that the money it takes to win an election in WC comes mainly from those concerned with lining their own pockets.

Anonymous said...

Dublin (pop. 47K) Library Facts from their website....

"Built by the City of Dublin and designed by BSA Architects, our new library opened in Spring 2003. It is a spacious, attractive building enhanced by public art. Enjoy the stained glass windows in the rotunda, the mural in the children's area and the whimsical columns that greet you at the front entrance. Phase one of the building contains 29,945 square feet, which will expand to 38,120 square feet when fully completed."

Livermore (pop. 80k) Main library alone is about 35K square feet, very nice design.

Ok folks I didn't have opinion if it was too bit, too fancy before I did this research and read Anon 12:10pm. I've concluded that the WC Library is basically in line with others and even a bit smaller considering our population than other local libraries built in the last 5 or so years. They contain meeting rooms also.

Thank You.

Anonymous said...

Annon 12:10

"The reality is that the money it takes to win an election in WC comes mainly from those concerned with lining their own pockets."

But I'm sure the money Taubman funds in order to have a minority of residents create legal road blocks against the dully elected city counsel is spent out of the goodness of their heart and lining their own pockets would be the furthest from Taubman’s mind.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:10pm points out that libraries in different cities are different sizes. Considering that cities have different populations, it is logical to have a discussion about this parameter by normalizing library size to population. Thus, the calculation of squre feet of library space per resident is a figure of merit. Here are those numbers for the four cities cited in the last post:
Danville 18,000/41,182 = 0.44
Lafayette 34,973/25,011 = 1.40
Orinda 24,400/18,259 = 1.34
Walnut Creek 55,000/63,486 = 0.87
(The 55,000 sq.ft.counts 13,000 for YV Library + 42,000 for downtown. It does not count Rossmoor, which is not a public library)

A typical figure statewide is around 1 sq.ft. per person. Walnut Creek is not overbuilding its library from this perspective. In fact, Danville appears to need a larger library.

Taubman can indeed finance candidates but can only give $150 for each. If any Taubman employees want to donate to a candidate, they have the same limits. All donors of $25 or more must supply their name, address, occupation and employer in reports filed with the CA FPPC and the City Clerk. The records are open to public inspection.

Anonymous said...

I don't think logic will convince the same people who still can't get over the library and fight the NM store. For example they object to the parking gragage for the library and complain about no enough parking when it comes to NM.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:59pm, I agree. I read some of the articals on one side of the argument and they seem revenge oriented not analysis related like the posts above (12:59, 1:26).

One coco times writer called out his hatred for the "#$%** flashing light" in his artical. Guess what side of the argument he's on...

Anonymous said...

Even teachers and students will admit that NO one goes to libraries anymore! More people will go to NM. Build NM! They should have left the old library alone.

Anonymous said...

2:36, you do realize the city is not building the NM site. You comment makes not sense.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:36pm:

That is an outrageous and unfounded statement! Are you another person whose thought processes are not interfered with by logic or one of the same tired old bunch?

Logical people, please check the following article from the Contra Costa County Library website. The length of >4,096 characters precludes posting it here:

Anonymous said...

Obviously Anon 2:36 is simply a troll posting BS on bulletin boards to evoke a reaction.

It goes without saying that even today libraries are just wonderful for a community.

Anonymous said...

Regarding anon 2:36: I don't think he's that far off. I would argue that older people especially senior citizens use libraries as do stay at home moms with their kids. But the majority of everyone else use their phones, computers, those i-book things from amazon and of course Barnes and Nobles and Borders bookstore.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:44,
Do you have information that Anon 2:36 is a male or is he, in fact, you? There is no content in that post regarding the sex of the poster.
Wild speculation about a so-called decrease in library use is just that. Nationwide evidence based on electronic counters at library doors proves just the opposite.
I am involved in a research project on an entirely different topic tonight so please do your own research. (You will receive extra credit for using reliable sources.)

Anonymous said...

The thread between the new library and Neiman Marcus is very thin, and yet not so. As one writer pointed out it is all about the frustration of some local residents who believe that the planners and City Council do not listen or hear, nor do they care to listen or hear any comments that do not agree with their pre-determined plans.

Anon. 1:25 on 7/6- Yes, individuals personal and business contributions are limited by City Code and are open books because of FPPC rules. What you didn't say for some reason is that each election we see large amounts of money being spent on behalf of candidates by "Independant Expenditure Committees" (PACs) that quite often are hastily formed in support of the chosen candidates. They have great influence and certainly do make it difficult for the "unknown" candidate to get her/his message out to the voters on a level playing field. To now claim that "OUSTSIDERS" are taking over our city is a joke. It happened long before Taubman ever became involved in the NM fight.

Other facts that you overlooked looked when doing your calculations of sq. footage to population are by not including the roughly 10,000 residents of Rossmoor, who do in fact use the library delivery service, public or not, and also that most people in the northern area of Walnut Creek use the Main Branch of the County Libary on the Pleasant Hill border because of convenience and because it is the MAIN branch. You simply cannot have honest calculations without including these two very populated areas of town.

As to the argument about the library parking is the cost that shocks and upsets the dissenters. By making all of the parking underground, the City is managing to spend around $13 million for 150 parking spaces.... only a net gain of FIFTY (50) spaces from the original street level lot. Pretty expensive parking for 50 more cars.

Anonymous said...

I'm Anon 1:25 from 7/6. I'll stick mostly to responses on library issues on this post.

Anon 12:06 on July 7th wrote:
"Other facts that you overlooked looked when doing your calculations of sq. footage to population are by not including the roughly 10,000 residents of Rossmoor, who do in fact use the library delivery service, public or not, and also that most people in the northern area of Walnut Creek use the Main Branch of the County Libary on the Pleasant Hill border because of convenience and because it is the MAIN branch. You simply cannot have honest calculations without including these two very populated areas of town."

Anon 12:06, you seem to be confused about what to leave in or out of a calculation of square feet of library per resident. you don't get to choose that. The calculation CANNOT be parsed because that would its definition. Taking Rossmoor residents out of the calculation because they have a delivery service is not valid. They are not locked in over there and many Rossmoor residents visit Walnut Creek, Lafayette or Orinda libraries. You also don't remove BART riders using the Books a Go GO service. You don't remove folks in WC that visit other branches like Pleasant Hill because it works both ways! Close to half of the Ygnacio Valley users are from Clayton and Concord. Also, note that Pleasant Hill services have been dramatically reduced as of 7/1 and it is now officially NOT the Central Library. Note also that Alamo residents will largely shift toward the new Walnut Creek branch when it opens and away from Danville. Finally, the residents of unincorporated Walnut Creek will be served as well. They number close to 20,000. So a conservative estimate still says WC has a lot less library space per resident than either Lafayetter or Orinda when the new downtown branch opens next summer.

Oh shucks, I might as well repeat this point. The fact that City leaders may not follow your orders every time you give public comment does not mean that they don't "listen" to you. It does mean that your arguments were not as persuasive as the other input they evaluated. They have to make decisions that serve the whole City based upon all of the input they receive. If you don't like their decisions, run for office or support alternative candidates.

Anonymous said...

3:10 pm
"Oh shucks, I might as well repeat this point. The fact that City leaders may not follow your orders every time you give public comment does not mean that they don't "listen" to you. It does mean that your arguments were not as persuasive as the other input they evaluated. They have to make decisions that serve the whole City based upon all of the input they receive. If you don't like their decisions, run for office or support alternative candidates."

I have never spoken before the City Council to voice my views. I have, however, written letters to Council Members and have received by return mail the standard "Dear Constituent, thank you for your letter" form letter written by Brad Rovenpera that really did not address my concerns or give me concrete answers to questions I raised.

I have very vigorously supported alternative candidates with contributions, canvassing and voting. Doesn't do much good when the "pre-chosen and annointed" candidates have all of the money on their side to tell their story.

I do not wish to run for office as I have given much of my time to the City of Walnut Creek in other ways. Besides, if I won, you would be on blogspots complaining about my decisions as a council member and I can't take that kind of pressure at my age!