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File #: 2013-166   
Type: New Business
Body: Recreation and Park Commission
On agenda: 10/10/2013
Title: Presentation on Alameda Point Planning Documents by Jennifer Ott, Chief Operating Officer, Alameda Point
Attachments: 1. Exh 1_Phase 1_AP_ Conveyance Map, 2. Exh 2_AP_Planning_Guide_Final.1, 3. Exh 3_Proposed Amendment to Zoning Ordinance.1, 4. Exh 4_Draft Map of AP_Zoning_Subdistricts, 5. Exh 5_Map of TC and Waterfron Precise Plan Boundaries.1, 6. Exh 6_Draft Conceptual Framework.1, 7. Exhibit 7_ DRAFT_Master Infrastructure Plan_AP.1, 8. Exhibit 7.1_ DRAFT_Master Infrastructure Plan_AP (2)
Title
 
Presentation on Alameda Point Planning Documents by Jennifer Ott, Chief Operating Officer, Alameda Point
Body
 
To:      Honorable Chair and Members of the Recreation and Park Commission      
            
From:      Jennifer Ott, Chief Operating Officer - Alameda Point       
            
Date:      October 10, 2013      
            
Re:      Provide Comments on Alameda Point Planning Documents      
 
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
 
This staff report provides a detailed description of the proposed planning document for Alameda Point. The staff report and meeting this evening is designed to achieve two objectives:
 
1.      Inform the Recreation and Park Commission on a number of efforts that the Planning Board has already commenced, such as the Zoning Ordinance Amendment, Master Infrastructure Plan, Town Center and Waterfront Precise Plan, and Environmental Impact Report; and
2.      Highlight a list of key discussion topics that staff believes should be addressed this evening regarding recreation and park planning for Alameda Point provided at the end of the staff report.
 
BACKGROUND
 
Alameda Point is approximately 878 acres of uplands and 1,229 acres of submerged lands (total of 2,107 acres) of the former Naval Air Station Alameda (NAS Alameda) located west of Main Street at the northwestern end of Alameda. The United States Navy (Navy) transferred approximately 1,379 acres of the Alameda Point property to the City of Alameda on June 4, 2013, which included 509 acres of land and 870 acres of submerged property (Exhibit 1).
 
Now that the City owns significant portions of Alameda Point, the City is focused on facilitating near-term construction at Alameda Point, which has the potential of generating thousands of jobs, millions of dollars in tax revenue and over a thousand housing units. The civilian reuse of Alameda Point will result in important economic, environmental, social and health benefits to the City and region. In the interest of commencing near-term development at Alameda Point, the City is preparing for City Council consideration, in early 2014, a comprehensive zoning ordinance amendment (Zoning Amendment) and associated General Plan Amendments, a Master Infrastructure Plan (MIP), a Town Center and Waterfront Precise Plan (Town Center Plan), an environmental impact report (EIR) for Alameda Point (collectively, Planning Approvals).    The Planning Approvals will be consistent with the 1996 NAS Alameda Community Reuse Plan (Reuse Plan) in compliance with the City's no-cost conveyance agreement with the Navy.
 
The Planning Approvals are designed to accommodate a mix of land uses, including approximately 5.5 million square feet of employment uses in existing and newly constructed buildings, 1,425 residential units, including 267 existing single family and multifamily housing units, and over 250 acres of parks and open space.  The new housing units will be distributed within existing vacant and newly constructed multi-family and single-family buildings.  The 200 existing supportive housing units at Alameda Point are planned for reconstruction on-site, and approximately 25 percent of the newly constructed residential units will be made available for lower income households.  While it is anticipated that Alameda Point will be developed in phases over the next 20 to 30 years, the pace of redevelopment will depend on economic conditions, completion of the Navy's remaining environmental remediation activities, property conveyance, and other factors.
 
On July 13, 2013, the City Council endorsed a conceptual Planning Guide (Guide [Exhibit 2]) that presents the planning principles and vision for Alameda Point and will help guide the process of preparing and evaluating the Planning Approvals.   The Guide integrates a broader vision statement with an explanation and depiction of the master planning approach and concepts for Alameda Point and detailed descriptions of each of the major sub-areas.  The vision statement, master planning concepts, and sub-area descriptions were based substantially on the 17 years of previous planning documents and efforts, including the 1996 Reuse Plan, 2003 General Plan Amendment, 2006 Preliminary Development Concept, 2008 Calthorpe Plan, and 2010 Going Forward Community Workshops.  The street and open space networks and sub-area delineations and character remained generally consistent throughout these community planning processes. The community and boards and commissions are encouraged to review the Planning Approvals in relation to the vision and master planning approach contained in the Guide.
 
During the months of September and October 2013, City staff is engaging in an extensive community outreach process to receive feedback on the Planning Approvals from a number of the boards and commissions, community groups and stakeholders, and the general public.  The primary forum for review and approval of the Planning Approvals has been and will continue to be the Planning Board.  This evening is an important opportunity for the Recreation and Park Commission to provide their feedback on the Planning Approvals.  As a result, this staff report provides a discussion of each of the Planning Approvals to ensure that the Recreation and Park Commission is up-to-date on their current status.
 
DISCUSSION
 
The following provides an overview of each of the draft Planning Approvals and an outline of some of the key recreation and park considerations:
 
A. Zoning Ordinance and General Plan Amendments
 
1.       Zoning Ordinance Amendment
 
Currently, Alameda Point is zoned M-2/G (General Industry/Government Overlay) to reflect the Navy's prior industrial uses at Alameda Point. Reuse and development of Alameda Point as a mixed-use, transit-oriented community requires that the City amend the zoning for the property in a manner that implements the Reuse Plan and General Plan.  
 
The Zoning Amendment will establish the development standards and options for various sub-districts within Alameda Point. The draft Zoning Amendment proposes seven sub-districts, each designed to address the variety of new uses and improvements envisioned for Alameda Point (Exhibit 3). A map of the Alameda Point zoning sub-districts is provided (Exhibit 4).  Although each sub-district permits or conditionally permits a variety of uses, each sub-district also emphasizes predominant land uses to address different needs and/or development constraints, such as the need for a retail center or major transit corridor, or the presence of Pubic Trust lands or the NAS Alameda Historic District.
 
The proposed Zoning Amendment provides a foundation for more detailed planning efforts for certain sub-districts. For example, the "Town Center" and the "Main Street Neighborhood" sub-districts require additional, detailed development standards. Staff believes that these areas in particular should be guided by detailed form-based design and development standards (e.g., master plans or precise plans) with more detailed  standards and requirements to ensure that that the ultimate development of these areas reflects the transit-oriented, pedestrian-friendly, environmentally sustainable, mixed-use vision described in the Guide, Reuse Plan and General Plan.
 
In contrast, other sub-districts and/or activities may not require such detailed or prescriptive standards. In particular, the proposed site-wide zoning should be sufficiently clear about the types of permitted and conditionally permitted uses that are appropriate, and the development standards that are required for the "Enterprise,"  "Adaptive Reuse," and "Open Space" sub-districts. With the Zoning Amendment in place and a careful project-by-project site plan, and architectural review by the Planning Board, the City can begin to actively market and promote employment opportunities at Alameda Point.
 
In sum, the draft Zoning Amendment (Article 30-4.23) achieves the following objectives:
 
•      Creates an Alameda Point Zoning District.
•      Establishes a number of sub-districts within the Alameda Point District, each with its own regulations and standards.
•      Establishes a table of permitted building types for each sub-district.
•      Establishes form-based standards for each sub-district.
•      Establishes a table of permitted and conditionally permitted uses for each sub- district.
•      Requires preparation of a master plan, specific plan or precise plan for the Town Center area (currently underway - see below) and the Main Street Neighborhood area.
 
2.       General Plan Amendments
 
As with all comprehensive planning efforts and zoning ordinance amendments, the City often finds amendments to the General Plan are necessary to maintain consistency between the Zoning Ordinance and the General Plan.  In general, staff anticipates that two General Plan amendments will be necessary: (1) increase the employment projections for Alameda Point from 2.3 million square feet to 5.5 million square feet, and (2) reduce the number of units from 1,928 to 1,425.    
 
B. Town Center and Waterfront Precise Plan
 
The Reuse Plan, the City's General Plan, and the Guide envision a town center at the heart of Alameda Point with a range of uses, including recreational and visitor-serving uses, retail/commercial space, and multi-family residential housing, within close proximity to transit and within a convenient walk to the waterfront. Maritime commercial uses would be located primarily within the public trust lands.
 
The purpose of the Town Center Plan is to adopt form-based, transit supportive standards and regulations for the arrangement of public and private streets, public open space and parks, infrastructure, and associated private development consistent with the City's goals and expectations for a transit-oriented, waterfront, visitor serving mixed-use community. The Town Center Plan will also address the phasing of development within the Town Center and Waterfront Area, and must allow for interim uses, changes of uses in existing buildings, and integration of near-term projects with long-term goals.
The City was awarded a grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to prepare a precise plan for the 125-acre Town Center and Waterfront Area within Alameda Point (Exhibit 5).  The City retained Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM), an urban design consultant, to help prepare the Town Center Plan.
SOM has prepared a draft Conceptual Framework Options document for the Town Center Plan (Exhibit 6), which outlines:
 
•      A network of public streets and open space, building footprints, and conceptual massing;
 
•      An overall vision of the predominant land uses, and "look and feel" of the built environment for smaller sub-areas within the study boundaries;
 
•      A presentation on key planning issues, such as the design of the core of the Town Center; building height and massing throughout the study area; the particular massing of the building form in front of the historic Seaplane Hangars; and an introduction of the concept of signature buildings; and
 
•      Initial phasing strategies.
 
Based on feedback from the Planning Board, other boards and commissions and the community, SOM is preparing a draft Town Center Plan for further public review.
 
C. Master Infrastructure Plan
 
The draft MIP presents a plan for new backbone infrastructure systems at Alameda Point, including new streets, transit improvements, flood and sea-level rise protection, shoreline stabilization, geotechnical mitigations, and wet and dry utilities (Exhibit 7). The draft MIP also consolidates information from the City's other plans on parks and open space.  
 
The replacement of aging infrastructure with new infrastructure systems is one of the single most important requirements for supporting new development at Alameda Point.  The MIP will guide infrastructure development at Alameda Point over the next 20 to 30 years and is intended to be flexible and responsive to different disposition and development scenarios.  
 
The majority of the existing infrastructure within Alameda Point was installed by the Navy over 70 years ago, and is beyond its service life. The active existing utility systems include wastewater, stormwater, potable water, electrical, natural gas and telecommunications. Many of the existing utility pipelines and associated facilities are located outside of the existing streets, within future development areas. The existing infrastructure is currently operable and services the tenants at Alameda Point. However, it is deteriorated and generally unreliable. Additionally, the existing infrastructure does not meet current codes or standards.
 
The draft MIP establishes the requirements and standards for the infrastructure to support the redevelopment and reuse of Alameda Point and describes the required replacement and/or rehabilitation of existing utility systems, streets and open spaces at Alameda Point. The draft MIP includes information regarding the stormwater, wastewater, potable water, recycled water, electrical, natural gas and telecommunication utility systems. Additionally, the draft MIP describes a "complete streets" internal transportation network to support a variety of modes of transportation and transit improvements, which is under careful review by the Planning Board.  The draft MIP also outlines the required corrective geotechnical and flood protection improvements for Alameda Point. Corrective geotechnical measures are necessary to provide seismic stability of the Alameda Point's shorelines and underlying soils. Flood protection improvements including site grading, perimeter improvements and establishing future adaptive measures are necessary to protect the site from the current 100-year tidal event and provide long-term protection for sea-level rise due to climate change.  There are, however, areas of Alameda Point that the draft MIP proposes should not be protected and be allowed to inundate, including the major open space area in the Northwest Territories.
 
For purposes of infrastructure planning, the MIP defines Alameda Point as two main areas: Development Areas and Reuse Areas. The infrastructure needs and requirements for each of these areas are unique, and as a result, the MIP describes the planned backbone infrastructure specific to each of the areas (see Figure 3 in the draft MIP).
 
The Development Areas are those areas within Alameda Point that are anticipated to consist of primarily new construction. Most of the existing structures, streets and utilities within these areas would be demolished. New infrastructure would be installed to support the proposed uses within the Development Areas. It is anticipated that development within the Development Areas would occur in cohesive areas and would be implemented in orderly phases.
 
The Reuse Areas include areas that overlap with the NAS Alameda Historic District, and include buildings and streetscapes that are intended to be generally preserved and adaptively reused. The preservation of many of the historic buildings, landscapes and streetscapes require specific infrastructure considerations and requirements. It is anticipated that development within Reuse Areas would be incremental and determined by market demand for existing buildings and highest priority maintenance and repair needs.
 
D. Environmental Impact Report
 
In June 2012, the City Council directed staff to prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) required for action on future planning approvals for development at Alameda Point, including the Planning Approvals.  The Notice of Preparation of an EIR for the Alameda Point project was issued on January 10, 2013, and two public hearings were held before the Planning Board in January and February, to provide an opportunity for the public to submit comments on the scope of the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR).
 
The DEIR was released for public review in early September, and informs the community and City decision-makers about the potential environmental impacts of the reuse and development of Alameda Point consistent with the proposed Planning Approvals.  City staff and its EIR consultant, Environmental Science Associates (ESA), prepared a comprehensive evaluation of the potential environmental impacts of all aspects of the project and project alternatives. Specifically, the DEIR addresses:
 
1.      Transportation/Traffic
2.      Aesthetics
3.      Air Quality
4.      Biological Resources
5.      Cultural Resources
6.      Geology, Soils, and Seismicity
7.      Greenhouse Gas Emissions
8.      Hazardous Materials
9.      Hydrology and Water Quality
10.      Land Use Planning
11.      Recreation
12.      Noise
13.      Population, Employment, and Housing
14.      Public Services
15.      Utilities and Service Systems
16.      Alternatives to the Project, including a No-Project Alternative
 
The Planning Board held a public hearing on September 9, and the Planning Board and City Council held a joint public hearing on September 25, to provide an opportunity for comments on the DEIR.  In addition, there is a 45-day review period when written comments may be submitted on the DEIR, which ends on October 21, 2013. Staff will then prepare a Final EIR that the City Council must certify before it takes any final action on the Planning Approvals. The DEIR is on the City's website at: http://alamedaca.gov/alameda-point/drafteir.
 
Recreation and Park Considerations
 
City staff recommends that the discussion this evening focus on the Recreation and Park Commission providing feedback on the following key recreation and park planning concepts contained within the Planning Approvals:
 
•      SOM's draft Open Space Concept for the Town Center Plan includes a proposed approach to each edge of the Seaplane Lagoon (Page 57, Exhibit 6).
 
•      The SOM draft Landscaping Plan for the Seaplane Lagoon (Page 62, Exhibit 6) introduces new and more detailed ideas for the waterfront spaces around the Seaplane Lagoon, including a "de-pave" park along the western edge and adaptive floating wetlands in the Seaplane Lagoon.  
 
•      SOM is also proposing "Phase 0" improvements (Page 100, Exhibit 6) that include temporary outdoor soccer fields along the northern edge of the Seaplane Lagoon that help activate the "town center" area on an interim basis until new development and permanent improvements are constructed.
 
•      The draft MIP discusses allowing the northern shoreline of the more passive open space planned on the existing runways and possibly the western edge of the Seaplane Lagoon be allowed to inundate as sea levels rise over time (Pages 22-23 of Exhibit 7).
 
RECOMMENDATION
 
Provide Comments on Alameda Point Planning Documents.
 
Respectfully submitted,
Jennifer Ott, Chief Operating Officer - Alameda Point
 
Exhibits:
 
1.      Map of Phase 1 Conveyance of Alameda Point
2.      Alameda Point Conceptual Planning Guide
3.      Draft Zoning Ordinance Amendment for Alameda Point
4.      Draft Map of Alameda Point Zoning Sub-Districts
5.      Map of Town Center and Waterfront Precise Plan Boundaries
6.      Draft Conceptual Framework Options for Town Center and Waterfront Precise Plan
7.      Draft Master Infrastructure Plan for Alameda Point