I've invited representatives on both sides of the Measure I debate to share guest commentaries on CrazyinSuburbia. Measure I essentially asks Walnut Creek voters to say yes or no to allowing a new 92,000-square-foot Neiman Marcus--or another department store--to come to Broadway Plaza.
With these guest commentaries, I wanted to let both sides make their pitches. There's no doubt that what either side says will provoke comments, questions, and a strong desire to rebut. In part, that is what the message board is for, to comment, question, raise points for or against. But your comments can inspire follow-up questions, and we'll definitely want those answers before we go to the polls on this issue November 3.
Anyway, here is what Richard Carlston, has to say on why Walnut Creek residents should vote "yes" on Measure I. He is a co-chair of the Yes for Walnut Creek. He is also a longtime Walnut Creek resident, who has been active in community service for more than 25 years, starting first in the youth athletic and scouting programs. More recently, he has been active in the arts, the business community and am now a Parks, Recreation and Open Space commissioner.
I am voting Yes on Measure I for 10 very simple reasons:
1. More jobs. A new downtown anchor retail store means more jobs for the community, both good-paying construction jobs and jobs working in the new store. A “no” vote means no new jobs.
2. Better business environment for local merchants. Our locally owned merchants and restaurants rely on the strength of Broadway Plaza. Neiman Marcus shoppers will patronize our local merchants on Main and Locust streets and our local restaurants. That’s why the local merchants, Downtown Business Association, and the Chamber of Commerce fully support Measure I and Neiman Marcus coming to Broadway Plaza. A “no” vote is a vote against our local merchants and restaurants.
3. More tax revenues. In Walnut Creek, we enjoy a safe community, well-maintained roads, beautiful open space areas, an extensive array of parks and recreation facilities, a wonderful Lesher Center for the Arts, and more – because of our strong retail base. The sales tax revenue from Neiman Marcus will help us maintain our quality of life. What does a “no” vote do for our tax base? A “no” vote means no new sales tax revenues and further cuts in city services.
4. More and better parking. The language of the initiative is clear: Measure I mandates “175 additional spaces for continued self-parking by shoppers.” (Initiative Section 2.(7)) A “no” vote means no new parking.
5. Real downtown traffic and pedestrian safety improvements. A YES vote mandates that Broadway Plaza spend $1 million to improve how our downtown streets and parking work. A “no” vote means these improvements will not happen.
6. A store that fits our community. Broadway Plaza listened: The store will be just two stories tall and half the size of Nordstrom. Measure I restricts the size and the height to what we asked for.
7. Broadway Plaza--a good citizen and neighbor. Broadway Plaza has been part of Walnut Creek since 1951. In those 60 years, Broadway Plaza has helped us in hundreds of ways--supporting Animal Rescue Foundation, the Diablo Regional Arts Association, Wardrobe for Opportunity, the local food banks, the Walnut Creek Library Foundation, our schools, and so many others.
8. This project received no special treatment from City Hall. In fact, Broadway Plaza and the City did significantly more than was required to analyze the environmental impacts and develop appropriate mitigations. The community outreach effort involved dozens of public and community-based meetings and gathered the input of more than 2,000 community members. We can be proud of the process and confident in the results. This is city government as it ought to be.
9. The unwavering support of our community leaders. Measure I is endorsed by people we trust: All 5 of our City Council members, 10 former mayors, all of our city commissioners, and dozens of non-profit, civic and business leaders. We are standing firm in our service and commitment to our community. Read all our names at http://www.yesforwalnutcreek.org/. The opponents? The same three former mayors who hold the distinction of being the only incumbents to be defeated in their re-election bids – and one of the three no longer lives in California.
10. Yes for Walnut Creek, a true grassroots community-based effort. Hundreds of community members – from Rossmoor to the Woodlands, Quail Ridge to Livorna Estates – have not only endorsed Yes on Measure I but are walking their neighborhoods, calling neighbors, and attending meetings to speak in favor of the project. Hundreds of YES yard signs are popping up across the community. These are not hollow claims. The evidence is there for us to see.
Those are the 10 reasons I’m voting Yes on Measure I.