By Ellen Williams and Maia Craig
We attended the City Planning Commission meetings regarding the Nicora Place development planned for West Spain Street. Many people from the neighborhood wrote letters and spoke about how they will be negatively impacted by this development (18, three-bedroom, two-story buildings on a parcel approximately two acres in size).
It will mean a dense wall of buildings facing neighbors on all sides, loss of light and privacy, in addition to making it very difficult to make turns onto Spain from driveways and Junipero Serra, putting drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians at further risk.
There have been many meetings, at which speakers have presented well-researched points, describing the negative impact this development will have on our daily lives. This is a group of informed, thoughtful people concerned that their lives and property values will be negatively changed forever.
Our question now, after the Planning Commission perfunctorily approved the project: What is the point of having all these review sessions? It truly appeared that the members of the Planning Commission were, by law required to listen, but nothing that was said or written would give them the energy to propose modifications based on their hearings. Possible modifications could have included a less aggressive density of buildings, a mixture of one-, two- and three-bedroom buildings that are not all two stories.
The developer was adamant that there could be no such modifications because it would not meet his business needs. The developer was also adamant that it was not the job of the Planning Commission to modify his design. And that was that.
Sad to say, we have lost faith in this system. Why is it more important that the developer make his designated price points than that neighbors lose both property value and quality of life?
The Planning Commission appeared to be lacking any proactive energy to modify this development. We might as well have saved our breath, not bothered to research anything, spent our evenings doing anything but writing letters, going to meetings and trying to communicate our very real concerns. Those of you counting on the Planning Commission to protect your neighborhood from aggressive development, think again.
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The authors are West Spain Street residents living near the development site.