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Right Here in River City!

Biter's civic spirit is revived by Milpitas' perfect growth plan

By Allie Gottlieb

BITER GOT A CALL recently that made us feel all tingly inside. It came from a neighbor in the little town of Milpitas, America. The woman, whose name will be Milpitas Millie for the purposes of this article, called to rave about what's happening there: It's new, it's amazing, it's the Milpitas Midtown Specific Plan. Whee!

Biter is often asked why we don't cover the positive more. "Why so glum, chum?" And so on. All right, all right, enough already, we agree: long faces are for horses. But until the emergence of Milpitas' award-winning smart-growth plan, which "provides a vision to transform 942 acres of underutilized industrial land located in the heart of the City into a vibrant, mixed-use, transit-oriented community," we didn't have anything nice to say.

Things have changed. Milpitas' growth plan marks the first time in the history of neighborhood plans that everyone agrees. This genius among smart-growth plans adds 4,700 new housing units, including lots that are affordable, encourages high-density, transit-oriented living quarters "punctuated" by parks and trails and is just utterly pedestrian-friendly.

But you don't have to rely on our word. Instead, trust the American Planning Association--California Chapter. Last month, it chose Milpitas' plan for first place in the small-jurisdiction comprehensive-plans category of the Oscars-like competition for neighborhood plans. Milpitas creamed runner-up, the Comprehensive Amendments to the City of Fairfield General Plan. But even Fairfield residents completely understand.

"The Milpitas Midtown Specific Plan rules," Fairfield spokesperson Fake E. Name tells Biter. "Way better than ours. Wish we'd thought of it."

The city of Milpitas is collectively overjoyed and has already jumped at the chance to sink more than half a million dollars of tax money into the planning and design phase of this baby.

Barely able to repress giggles, a June 3 press release squeals, "The City is expediting key public improvements and has hired a team of consultants, Nolte Associates and Freedman Tung and Bottomley to develop a design for a pedestrian-oriented streetscape along 15,000 linear feet of Main Street and several side streets in a mixed-use district of Midtown." [Please note: Biter did not invent the name Nolte Associates and Freedman Tung and Bottomley.]

Meanwhile, city officials expect to build more than 1,000 new housing units by the end of next year. They want 20 percent to be affordable. That leaves 80 percent to soak the wealthy, and everyone's happy.

"One of the obstacles the City has faced is how to obtain the funds to implement all of the Plan's recommendations, and expanding the City's existing redevelopment area to include Midtown will help overcome this obstacle," says the collective city.

Now that all roadblocks (unwanted evictions, view obstructions, construction noise, etc.) have been avoided and all critics of redesigning Pollyannaville, er, Milpitas, have been determined not to exist, city officials are onto the next project. That project? Remapping the rest of the country so that Milpitas is in the center, which would set a much more positive tone thereby creating a more perfect union.

As Biter's new friend Millie says, "Everything's A.O.K. in Milpitas!"

Send a letter to the editor about this story to letters@metronews.com.

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From the June 26-July 2, 2003 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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