CPA comments on Milpas project to ARB
July 15, 2018
ABR AGENDA ITEM #3, 418 N MILPAS ST/915 E. GUTIERREZ ST.
Dear Chair Tripp and ABR Board Members:
The Citizens Planning Association board met, reviewed the project description and the photos available online. We have the following concerns.
1. NOTICE: This project is in the heart of the Milpas neighborhood. We think that for such a massive proposal there needs to be much greater notice than the mandated 300 feet to the long-established residential neighborhood and one or two yellow placards. What is proposed will be devastating to the broader neighborhood beyond the Milpas commercial strip including to residents of the 8 small bungalows at 915 E. Gutierrez, now providing housing for seniors. Those affordable units are to be demolished, with no replacement housing for the longterm tenants. There needs to be such housing provided.
2. SIZE, BULK, MASS, SCALE: The apparent size, bulk, mass and scale - and height! - of this project are not appropriate for the mid-Milpas Street neighborhood. Although not zoned single-family, the character of the neighborhood just off Milpas appears as modest single-family.
3. HOTEL: Introducing a hotel in that location pulls tourism from the Cabrillo Boulevard area, changing Milpas from its award-winning character to a focus on tourism. (In 2014, Neighborhoods USA, http://www.nusa.org/, chose Milpas Street as its Neighborhood of the Year 2014 in the social revitalization and neighborly category.)
4. AFFORDABLE HOUSING: The AUD incentive program, whatever its merits in providing rental housing, does not require that the housing be affordable. Affordable family, work force housing is what is needed, especially in the historically lower incomed Milpas area. More hotels, with their low income workforce, may be needed, if at all, in areas frequented by tourists.
5. NEED FOR PLAN: Before inserting a tourist-oriented development into Milpas there's a need for an overall plan, a vision for the Milpas corridor.
CPA recognizes that the role of the ABR is design review, but we believe that design cannot be separated from function and area appropriateness. In both those respects, this proposal is neither compatible with, nor appropriate to the intended location, the central Milpas Street neighborhood. .
Betsy R. Cramer, co-president of Ciizens Planning Association