The Livermore City Council on Monday declined to expel John Stein from the city’s planning commission, opting instead to send him to diversity training and deliver a formal warning over remarks last month some found to be racist and classist.
While deliberating Eden Housing’s downtown 130-unit affordable housing proposal April 20, Stein said he did not want the area to become a “ghetto.” He also said he didn’t want Livermore to become the Tri-Valley’s “go-to” city for low-income housing and expressed concern over vehicles associated with service jobs taking up too much area parking.
After debating a course of action last week, the council on Monday voted 4-1 to keep Stein on the commission, with council member Bob Carling dissenting.
After at least a dozen members of the community spoke on either side of the issue — some accusing the City Council of adhering to so-called “cancel culture” while others favored Stein’s removal. At one point, council member Brittni Kiick intervened, asking speakers not to threaten council members while repeating Mayor Bob Woerner’s assertion that the worthiness of Eden Housing’s proposal was not the issue.
Kiick later proposed sending Stein — a member of the Planning Commission since 2019 and, previously a city councilman for 15 years — to a League of California Cities inclusion training within a week.
After some confusion among council members over the language of the motion, they formally moved to ask Stein whether he would accept the conditions, which included Stein meeting with city human services staff who work with the city’s affordable housing developments. He will also receive a formal written warning from the council.
Stein accepted the council’s conditions. He apologized during the meeting, saying he believed in welcoming people of all income levels in Livermore.
“Livermore is a melting pot, and I hope that I have helped make it that,” Stein said. “Those are beliefs I’ve held since I’ve come to Livermore 50 years ago. And over the past few years I’ve realized there’s an urgent need for affordable housing and the only way it can be provided is through subsidized housing.”
Carling said no one debates Stein’s long commitment to the community, but his apology fell short. He said he chose to focus on the words Stein used to describe homeless people and those living in affordable housing.
“His comments taken in full are insensitive, inexcusable, and inconsistent with our values,” Carling said, before making an unsuccessful motion to dismiss Stein.
The council will consider the Eden Housing project on May 24. The development would be located on 2.5 acres at the corner of South L Street and Railroad Avenue.