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More Residents Gather To Talk About General Plan

Residents said they'd like to see more mixed-use developments in Old Town.

Newark residents gathered Saturday to voice their opinions and preferences about housing, open space and traffic.

It was the second of a series of meetings held as part of the Newark General Plan Enhancement Project, a task headed by a team of graduate students and one professor from the California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo.

The project's objective is to update the 20-year-old Newark General Plan, a policy document that acts as a guideline for county and city leaders when it comes to decision-making for future development.

Residents voted Saturday on their preferences of different planning options including high-density versus low-density housing zones; open space versus having parks and golf courses; and traffic issues.

All of the issues were discussed with the goal of getting community members to tell them what Newark’s “sense of place” means to them.

And this time, the crowd was larger; the room was nearly filled to capacity with a more diverse crowd in age and ethnic background.

During a public discussion, residents noted their desires to see more mixed-use development in Old Town and how to allocate space for low-income, high-density housing areas.

Meaghan Mroz-Barrett, group facilitator and Cal Poly student said the last time the team met with Newark residents, they noted the community’s concerns and perspectives of their strengths and weaknesses.

"When we returned to San Luis Obispo, we did some research, prepared more detailed questions and came back to do a more in depth General Enhancement meeting,” Mroz-Barrett said.

Vice Mayor Ana Apodaca was among city dignitaries who was present at the event. She said she attended to observe and listen to the community’s wants.

“We want to hear what everyone thinks.  I’m glad that the team has a great energy and is able to engage the community into participating in the discussion,” Apodaca said.

But not every resident was optimistic about future development plans for Newark.

Jana Sokale, a 21-year resident of Newark said she was concerned about land development in areas in sea level rise danger zones. 

“Development in areas of Newark in danger of being submerged in case of sea level rise was not addressed here today,” Sokale said.  “I like how the community is getting a chance to voice their concerns about the future of Newark, but I’m afraid this might be nothing more than window dressing.”

“Ultimately it is up to the city government to accept the enhancement plan or not and I’m really hoping that they listen,” Sokale added.

The Enhancement Project team plans to return to Cal Poly research alternative growth strategies based on their findings from Saturday’s meeting.

The next meeting will be on Feb. 25 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the , 5501 Cedar Blvd.

For more information about the General Enhancement Project, visit http://mynewarkplan.weebly.com.

Margaret Lewis February 06, 2012 at 08:39 PM
There was the distinct impression that the city staff are either refusing to work with the students or stone-walling their efforts. Areas of the city in the 100 year flood hazard zone were barely discussed. Sea level rise issues were absent. There was more discussion on whether Newark should have a dog park or golf course. Maps of Newark during the power point presentations were wrong. Unless we have taken over Fremont all the way to the Santa Clara County line. The students used census maps which are not the same thing as city maps. So all this time they were thinking Newark was much bigger and had bay-front property. The meeting was held in the community center which is a beautiful facility that the city refuses to open to all but special events and the city-run pre-school. The utility tax was passed and yet this centrally located community center remains locked. There is no excuse for not using this facility. At the same time we were asked if the city needed a performing arts center. The next public meeting will discuss land use, an important element in a general plan. What will we see? More of the same untenable development proposals or an honest look at what Newark needs for the future. If we are shown land use that includes housing development sprawl into Areas 2 and 4 we will know that this general plan is about as far from the real world as it can get.
James February 06, 2012 at 08:46 PM
What do Teens say these days? Oh, right. Epic Fail!
Nadja Adolf February 06, 2012 at 10:33 PM
The students also, according to those who were at the meeting didn't know who owned the salt ponds or that Fremont surrounded Newark! Margaret noted earlier that the Community Center could easily be used for performing arts if sound absorbent material were placed in it - and Michael McClary noted that the city should collaborate with the High School regarding performing arts since they already have a performing arts center. There was also some confusing discussion about a potential stadium - apparently for Ohlone. Once again, there is a nice playing field right across the road at the High School that could be shared. This is going to be entertaining; I only hope that they don't manage to completely crash property values before we sell our house. So far, we aren't underwater; but if this silliness continues it could be a disaster.
Nadja Adolf February 06, 2012 at 10:42 PM
Here is the problem. Our city has accepted the mandatory low income housing required for affluent developments built in other cities. The city also wants a viable shopping center. Retail wants people who can afford to buy their products; Newark encourages developments for people who don't have money. Obviously Newark doesn't really want retail. It isn't clear what the Council wants other than projects we can't afford. Performing arts? A golf course? A stadium? I suspect that few Newark residents have the time or spare income to support these. Fremont, with a much larger affluent population couldn't support a small opera company that used the Ohlone College performing arts center; how can anyone think that Newark could support a theater company or an opera?
Patricia February 07, 2012 at 12:14 AM
I don't there's much to worry about. Without the proper funding none of this is going to take place.

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