Sustainable Saratoga Urges Inclusive Public Review Process, Design Best Practices
Sustainable Saratoga thanks Mayor Yepsen for scheduling a discussion of the proposed City Center parking garage at the recent March 18 City Council meeting. Representatives of Sustainable Saratoga attended and spoke, urging the Council to ensure that the proposed garage will be subject to a transparent public review process in consideration of the impacts that the facility could have on the downtown area. Sustainable Saratoga believes that if a garage is built on the current lot between High Rock Ave. and Maple Ave., the design should respect existing City standards by incorporating appropriate setbacks and ensuring that street-level activity is enhanced and not diminished. Sustainable Saratoga addressed its concerns to the City Council in a recent letter and in a handout illustrating the challenge of successfully integrating a large parking garage into a vibrant urban setting.
Mayor Yepsen and Commissioner Madigan summarized their discussion of the proposed parking structure at the most recent meeting of the City Center Authority’s Board. There they conveyed their interest in a public process and good design, as well as the importance of envisioning the project in the context of past and current planning efforts, including those to establish linkages between High Rock Park, Congress Park and beyond.
City Center Authority President Mark Baker gave an update on the planning for the parking structure. The City Center Authority’s Board is reviewing several responses to a request for proposals to design and build it. Mr. Baker acknowledged the concerns of the City Council and the community, and assured the Council that the Authority’s Board encourages a public review process. He indicated that the design will consider recommendations about setbacks, trails such as the proposed Greenbelt Trail and the appearance of the building.
Sustainable Saratoga will continue to monitor and inform you about this project. We will keep the pressure on for a public process and adherence to the recommendations of our Zoning Ordinance which, among other things, states:
“Parking structures should be set back a minimum of 50 feet from the property lines of all adjacent streets to reserve room for liner buildings. If no liner building is constructed in conjunction with construction of the parking structure, the yard should provide publicly accessible civic space.”[Chapter 240, Article 3.1.2(D)]
Liner buildings containing commercial and/or residential uses would ensure that downtown streets are vibrant centers of activity and contribute to the city’s destination appeal. The alternative could be a parking facility that results in bleak streets where pedestrians would be uncomfortable walking at night. We encourage everyone to get involved, and tell the City Council, the City Center Authority and the land use boards what you think about this project, which will have a major long-term impact on the appearance and function of an important part of our city.