YOLO SUN OPINION :
Examination of Woodland’s Downtown Specific Plan (DSP), originated in 1993 and last amended in 2003, reveals a clear pattern of shunning key policy goals and opportunities and fostering glaring contradictions and conflicts, not to mention a stupendous squandering of municipal resources, through the City’s attempt to locate a movie theater complex according to desires of Paul Petrovich (- Petrovich Imperils Historic State Theatre Project & Hoblit: “I Want To Keep My Woodland Dealership — But Petrovich Has A Gun To My Head!” -).
Amazing inadequacies and suspicious misinformation underlie DSP amendments in 2003, which gave rise to the curious idea of demolishing an inconvenient yet historical obstacle, Electric Garage, and erecting an unqualified rival to anticipated State Theatre renovation and expansion.
____ “Priority” Status For Petrovich’s “Cinema Square” ____
Perhaps foremost among a series of severe yet disregarded problems inherent with a flatly contradictory shifting of civic “priority” in the 2003 DSP — is a strange vacuum of information and analyses regarding obviously presumed and understood impacts of locating a huge new cinema development at the other end of downtown from the historic (1937), Art Deco styled State Theatre.
It even appears that some information related to this subject within the 2003 DSP is: purposefully misleading, absent any proper basis of analytical and empirical support in this document and/or is clearly erroneous.
A DSP — “Priority” — formally becomes, in its 2003 version, Petrovich’s “Cinema Square” set of three specific projects proximate to Electric Garage, including: a movie theater complex, a parking structure, and the closure of Fourth Street and an extension of Fifth Street (between Main and Court).
Although “State Theater Renovation and Expansion” remains within the 2003 DSP list of: “Recommended Projects” — it is for wholly unknown reasons denied — “Priority” — status.
“Priority” designation for Petrovich’s “Cinema Square” Project within the 2003 DSP program — lacks any basis of analyses, explanation or justification.
Examples of other “Priority” designations for “Recommended Projects” within the 2003 DSP include: “Police Station[,] Upper Story Residential Reuse[,] Heritage Plaza Enhancement[,] Street Furniture[.]”
Dislodging municipal attention and action from serving intrinsic community interests and values, expressed through its valid concerns with historical preservation of the State Theatre — demands adequate if not ample substantiation.
What occurs, without investigation, evaluation or foundation, within the 2003 DSP — is a severe compression — a virtual collapse — of: “the Downtown’s new entertainment district,” to the vicinity of Woodland Opera House and Petrovich’s “Cinema Square” Project.
Nothing within the 2003 DSP materially supports such an abrupt alteration of sound municipal policy, carefully formulated by this community to achieve comprehensive community interests and values.
____ Bald Dishonesty Of 2003 DSP ____
Reference to the blatant impact of “prioritizing” “Cinema Square,” against “State Theater Renovation and Expansion” — is only contained in a 2003 DSP statement that reads: “the facility [State Theatre] offers potential for use as a conference facility, a theater specializing in niche films or foreign language films, reuse as a community theater, art gallery, and so forth[,] in addition to [its virtually extinguished viability for] first run movies[.]”
Unbelievably, “Continued utilization of State Theater,” is literally projected by this DSP to involve: “first run movies,” despite DSP “prioritization” of Petrovich’s “Cinema Square,” and alongside its catch-all list of potential (desperate) alternatives for “use / reuse” — exposing its baldly dishonest, bad-faith perspective.
The 2003 DSP implicitly recognizes that Petrovich’s “Cinema Square” Project, if completed, would likely terminate “first run movies” at State Theatre; but rather than identify, analyze and publicly explore various consequences of that key eventuality — and inconveniently illuminating the overall, broad context of suddenly raising stark competition against already adopted policy on this subject — the 2003 DSP slyly offers post-”prioritization” consolation in the form of a superficial, shotgun-style inventory of overly vague suggestions regarding potential alternatives for State Theatre “use / reuse.”
Duplicity infuses these awkward articulations of purported municipal priority and policy.
“While a new theater site is included [and “prioritized” in the DSP], continued use or expansion of the State Theater remains an allowed use[,]” states the 2003 DSP, as if perhaps its not being “allowed” was the significant threat against its actually remaining.
Instead of properly considering and evaluating this important, indeed critical context of transferring municipal — “priority” — away from — and in fact: undermining — the various crucial elements of demonstrated community interest and value related to “State Theater Renovation and Expansion” — the 2003 DSP swiftly disposes of its previous allegiance with a bad-faith, throw-away line about vague alternatives.
____ Unjustified Conflicts & Omissions Within DSP ____
Conflicts and contradictions within the 2003 DSP are vividly apparent in several key areas.
General Plan Goal 6.B (supposedly promoted through the DSP) is: “to combine historical preservation and economic development so as to encourage owners of historic properties to upgrade and preserve their properties in a manner that will conserve the integrity of such properties in the best possible condition[,]” easily bringing to mind the present condition and potential historical and community significance of State Theatre.
Related General Plan Policy 6.B.1 states that: “The City shall encourage the preservation, maintenance and adaptive reuse of existing historic buildings in the Redevelopment Area [ ] in order to prevent demolition and disrepair” — but what has been done to advance progress through this policy toward (un-”prioritized”) State Theatre?
Also related, General Plan Policy 6.B.5 offers that: “The City shall seek the assistance of the Redevelopment Agency [to help] provide below-market rate financing to private property owners for the rehabilitation and restoration of historically significant structures,” which certainly applies to opportunities for State Theatre renovation / expansion.
DSP Policy CD-3 states that, “To reinforce a strong community identity for the Downtown, the City shall develop enhanced entrances (gateways) on both ends of Downtown Main Street.” Further DSP specification relates that: “An expansion of this facility [State Theatre] could establish an [irreplaceable] anchor at this [western gateway] end of the Downtown.”
DSP Policy CCE-7 indicates that, “The City shall actively pursue the establishment of a new or expanded theater/cinema in the Downtown Main Street corridor[,]” and Policy CCE-3 resolves that, “The City shall create an entertainment district [with theaters, etc., and] complementary uses.”
“Prioritization” of Petrovich’s “Cinema Square” Project by the 2003 DSP plainly contradicts / displaces / interrupts / prejudices fair accomplishment of these conscientiously adopted (General Plan / DSP) principles and guidelines of community development — totally absent analysis, evaluation or explanation.
Abandoned by relocated, redevelopment agency interest in promoting a path toward its certain demise, State Theatre is left out in planning limbo.
A salient and adverse dynamic of the 2003 DSP is its staging of not only a pseudo-competition between these two theater development opportunities — but also of an underlying — and unjustified — premise that the relevant “entertainment district” (noted above) may be only a small portion of the downtown area, two or three blocks perhaps roughly centered around Woodland Opera House and Petrovich’s “Cinema Square” Project.
Petrovich’s “Cinema Square” Project supplies the adverse gravity for this inessential distortion of downtown planning, which also involves demolition of an historical building in the heart of downtown: Electric Garage.
The quite pertinent existence of Electric Garage is not even disclosed, let alone discussed in the 2003 DSP.
However, it is clumsily maligned in seeming service to the 2003 DSP’s slanted “prioritization” for Petrovich’s proposed project.
____ Fraudulent Omission Of Electric Garage From DSP ____
“Moving east from Third Street,” reads the 2003 DSP (p.6-3), “there is a noticeable change in the pedestrian experience and look of the district. The auto dealership and some vacant lots create gaps in the streetscape that are not attractive to pedestrians, thereby creating a block to pedestrians moving to the east.
“[I]ndustrial design” of buildings in this (planning) district are specifically noted among its allegedly surmountable impediments.
A photograph contraposing Electric Garage (never mentioned by name or history) against the Odd Fellows Building is captioned: “The industrial design of the auto dealership is a noticeable change from the historic Downtown.”
Of course, Electric Garage with its “industrial design” has been an architectural fixture at that location for about a century, making it a validly historical building. The “historic Downtown” inherently included this historically “industrial design,” as the building that served to initially introduce automobiles to Yolo County in general.
Why weren’t these very relevant details accurately portrayed within the 2003 DSP?
Perhaps, because emphasizing such historical matters, related to an old building — directly in the path of the DSP’s new — “prioritization” — in favor of its demolishment — wasn’t viewed as particularly convenient.
The 2003 DSP thus fraudulently omits / ignores proper identification of Electric Garage.
By the way, anecdotes convey that some communities have renovated such “industrial design” types of buildings within successful redevelopment programs, converting them into spacious and versatile artist studio / gallery spaces that create abundant pedestrian traffic.
____ What About A Competition Of Blight? ____
Since the 2003 DSP predicates various, inter-related competitions (between theater opportunities, potential entertainment districts), why not a competition for the worst correctible blight on the Downtown Main Street corridor?
If the DSP Land Use and Development section is any guide, the area around State Theatre clearly wins, with the issues of:
“No sense of entry into Downtown area;
“Lack of continuity with Downtown’s core to the east;
“Lack of identity;
“Theater (State Theater) is isolated from the Downtown core, effectively precluding a pedestrian connection; etc.
Downtown’s western (gateway) approach, centered around Walnut Street, is utterly, astonishingly depressive, deeply embossed with vacant lots surrounding vacant buildings, including the derelict hulk of a once proud cornerstone of Woodland’s downtown-wide, “entertainment district.”
Woodland does not need a tidy and neatly condensed “entertainment district,” but rather an inclusive, robust and full-throated one.
Let’s bring the historic State Theatre back to life as the initial “anchor “for the western “gateway” for what should eventually become an — “entertainment district” — that happily stretches out for a full half-dozen blocks along Main Street.
That’s the — original vision — of the DSP — now at dire threat of being extinguished by this time and resource squandering campaign of undermining that has occurred within its 2003 version — to suit the puny pleasure of Paul Petrovich.