That said, exactly what will or won't come out of this is unknown. There was certainly movement toward better design, and things like "wide sidewalks" stand a chance. While Council did not completely support some of the EPC/ZA recommendations, MVCSP's hard work definitely paid off!
For those of you who weren't there, had to leave early, or for some reason were puzzled by the whole thing (that was a joke--this is the closest I've ever seen a Council meeting come to deteriorating into straight farce), here's how the process situation looked to me from the middle of Council Chambers:
1. First and foremost, NOTHING having to do with San Antonio Center was voted on last night, after the developer (Merlone Geier) self-destructed and almost no one on Council felt that there was any clarity on what they would be voting on.
2. My impression was that the entire agenda item was continued to date uncertain. Others' impressions may differ, but everyone agrees that next week, May 3, doesn't seem like a possible date given the amount of work to be done before this project is ready for public view again. (Two other agenda items were continued to May 3, given the appallingly late hour.) In the interim, Staff was ultimately directed to try to pick up the scattered pieces of the developer's application, taking into account Council's comments.
3. Environmental Impact Report (EIR) (the first item proposed to be voted on, for the entire 56 acres in the Precise Plan): There was a last-minute objection from an attorney for the Carpenters Union, who did not accept the response he'd gotten from City Staff. His list of continuing objections included insufficient mitigations for greenhouse gas emissions, for example. I have no idea what the legal status of this situation is but I doubt we've heard the last of it.
4. Precise Plan: As per above, there were greater and lesser objections to the several EPC additions, which objections I think it is fair to say were largely based on their implications for this developer's proposal for 1/3 of the site.
With no resolution at this point, the PP for the 56 acres is still in limbo.
Clearly Staff will need to find a way to deal with this situation too.
5. ZA Conditions of Approval: You can look at these as pages 118-148 of the online Staff Report for the item. As always, they incorporate conditions determined by the EIR analysis (required mitigations); by various City codes; by comments from the DRC (Design Review Committee--architectural review of the project by outside consulting architects); and by the Zoning Administrator's findings based largely on the Environmental Planning Commission's recommendations. Some of them are high-level and some are low-level, like submission of color samples. This is a complicated project and there were a lot of items. It's impossible to determine from the document when MGP got these (I thought it was supposed to be 10 days after the ZA Hearing, which would be April 17), but apparently a marked-up sheaf of questions and objections was distributed to Council a very short time before the meeting last night, definitely after the official information packet for the item was delivered to them on Friday (?). It appears that it was just this original packet, minus the later unanticipated feedback from the developer, that Council spent a lot of time trying to understand over the weekend. When they (but, it emerged, not all the relevant staff members) received this last-minute temper-tantrum on paper, they said that these were things that should have been worked out with Staff ahead of time, and they had no way of dealing with them from the dais.
6. Three MGP representatives gave an extremely long presentation, mainly a glowing description of the project and (third segment) a run-through (completely inconsistent with standard procedure) of the above-mentioned list.
The last thing mentioned: Rite-Aid is gone, and MGP has moved that building closer to ECR ("This was always the way we wanted to do it.") One less thing to discuss, except that it wasn't up against the sidewalk, just closer.
7. At some point, the developer, seeing that he'd created an impasse, decided to offer to withdraw the objections he'd just spent at least 20 minutes talking about and just ask Council to pass his proposal, with Staff's recommendations intact, then and there. He wanted to work out any problems later by talking to Staff. Council still declined to vote on anything, and finally the Mayor said the item would be continued.
8. Somewhere in there there was public input: MVCSP's presentation, regarding desired changes to the design, with a request for continuation of the project approval process until these could be considered; from Safeway managers and employees, who asked that the project be approved because this would guarantee that the 65,000-square-foot Safeway would be there for everyone to enjoy; from several residents who supported various things the developer was proposing; from VTA, supporting wide sidewalks and transit passes, and several residents supporting bike/ped-friendliness; from one (very good) affordable housing advocate, plus a field rep from the Carpenters Union who said that the Emperor has no clothes, something like this: "The reason the developer wants you to approve his project right now has nothing to do with a need to know that the color samples are OK, which is the reason he gave you. The real reason is that there are affordable housing requirements for rental housing development coming down the pike and he wants to avoid them."
9. A number of Councilmembers supported the inclusion of BMR units on-site in this project, and at this point knew that there is a legally and economically feasible way to get this result. The developer had (earlier) volunteered 3% BMR units, which is about 10. The standard in our currently-unenforceable BMR ordinance is 10%, not 3%, which would get a little farther toward meeting the obvious demand, starting with the needs of San Antonio Center lower-wage workers. (Some communities specify appreciably more than 10%.) Council briefly discussed ways and means, including a Development Agreement; this matter is also pending.