Livermore commissioner says he'll resign if asked over 'ghetto' comments

A Livermore planning commissioner has issued an apology after he spoke out against a proposal to build an affordable housing project in the downtown neighborhood. 

Commissioner John Stein said at a proposal meeting, "I really don't want to see downtown become a ghetto of affordable housing." Just two minutes later, he doubled down on his position saying, "I'm concerned that we not create a ghetto."

He tried to drive his point home further by saying he didn't want Livermore to become the region's "go-to" place for low-income housing and questioned whether neighboring cities were doing their part. 

Stein said he didn't mean to offend anyone with his comments, but City council members said the term "ghetto" is derogatory and was directed at marginalized communities. 

"I find it offensive at a minimum," said councilman Bob Carling. "Demeaning to the people we are trying to serve. All income levels in this community."

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In a telephone interview with KTVU on Wednesday, Stein apologized for his comments. 

"I have found out it was hurtful to a lot of people. And I did not intend that. I have apologized to the people who have contacted me," he said. 

Livermore Vice Mayor Trish Munro said, "I find the words offensive, but more than the words I find the attitudes behind them offensive."

The five-member city council is expected to decide next Monday whether to remove Stein from the planning commission. 

Carling, who wanted Steins removed immediately, said, "He does not deserve to continue in his role as planning commissioner."

Before assuming that position, Stein served on the city council for 16 years. 

"If the council feels my statements were irredeemable and not just a single-point error, they can either remove me or ask for my resignation." When quested whether he would resign if asked by the city council, he said, "Yes."

Munro said Stein's comments point to a deeper problem. "Whatever happens with him as an individual if we don't talk about these larger issues we have not done our job as a society.

Ultimately, the council voted to approve the low-income development with Stein casting the only "no" vote, which he said was due to parking concerns.