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File #: 2013-323   
Type: Regular Agenda Item
Body: Planning Board
On agenda: 11/13/2013
Title: Public Hearing to Review and Comment on the Draft Alameda Point Zoning Ordinance Amendment
Attachments: 1. Exhibit 1, 2. Exhibit 2, 3. Exhibit 3
Title
 
Public Hearing to Review and Comment on the Draft Alameda Point Zoning Ordinance Amendment
 
Body
 
CITY OF ALAMEDA
      Memorandum
 
      To:            Honorable President and
                  Members of the Planning Board
 
      From:            Andrew Thomas
                  City Planner
 
      Date:            November 13, 2013
 
Re:            Public Hearing to Review and Comment on the Draft Alameda Point Zoning Ordinance Amendment                                                                        
BACKGROUND
 
In June of 2013, the United States Navy (Navy) conveyed 510 acres of land at the former Naval Air Station Alameda (NAS Alameda) for redevelopment and reuse consistent with the City of Alameda General Plan and 1996 NAS Alameda Community Reuse Plan ("Reuse Plan").  The total area at NAS Alameda to be conveyed to the City for reuse and development is 878 acres, commonly referred to as Alameda Point.
 
Reuse and redevelopment of Alameda Point in a manner that implements the City of Alameda General Plan and Reuse Plan require that the City amend the zoning for the property.  Currently Alameda Point is zoned M-2/G (General Industry/Government Overlay) to reflect the Navy's prior industrial uses.  The existing zoning is not in conformance with the City of Alameda General Plan or with the community's vision for the land as articulated in the Reuse Plan and the 2013 Conceptual Planning Guide for Alameda Point.
 
In 2012, the City Council gave direction to pursue a phased approach to the zoning and development planning for Alameda Point. The first phase includes a rezoning of the entire base to reflect the basic arrangement of sub-areas, land uses, and improvements envisioned in the General Plan.
 
The base-wide zoning amendment provides a basis for City decision-making regarding private and public reinvestment in Alameda Point and a foundation for later, more detailed, and more expensive planning efforts, for key sub-districts. For example, the "Waterfront Town Center" and "Main Street Neighborhood" sub-areas will require additional, detailed development standards.  The master plan for the Waterfront Town Center sub-area (Town Center Plan) is currently funded and work is underway.  Work on a Main Street Neighborhood Master Plan has not commenced.   
 
On April 12, 2012, the Planning Board held its first public meeting to review the initial draft of the Alameda Point Zoning Ordinance amendment.   Subsequent Planning Board public hearings occurred on the draft Zoning Ordinance in May and September of 2012.  In 2013, the Planning Board held a number of public hearings on the draft Zoning Ordinance and/or the "Planning Guide", which informed the preparation of the draft zoning.  Those meetings occurred in January, April, July, September and October of 2013.    
 
Throughout this period, the preparation of the draft ordinance benefited from input and assistance from a Planning Board subcommittee comprised of Members Tang,  Koster, and  Knox White, input and comments from the Historic Advisory Board at two public hearings, oral and written comments from the public and input and suggestions from many other interested parties and individuals.  
 
DISCUSSION
 
The draft Zoning Ordinance Amendment for Alameda Point is attached to this staff report (Exhibit 1 and 2) and is designed to:
 
·      Serve as the base-wide re- zoning for Alameda Point authorized by the City Council in 2012, and
 
·      Bring the zoning at Alameda Point into conformance with the General Plan.  
 
Zoning for Unique Sub-Districts and Desired Character  
 
The General Plan envisions a series of districts and neighborhoods at Alameda Point each with a unique mix of uses, purposes, public improvements, and community facilities.    The Zoning Ordinance Amendment (Exhibit 2) is designed to support and facilitate the creation of a variety of unique and special sub-districts each with its own unique character.  The Zoning Ordinance Amendment proposes nine individual sub-districts at Alameda Point (Exhibit 1).  Since the last meeting of the Planning Board, staff and the subcommittee made a number of improvements and refinements to the arrangement and number of sub-districts:
 
·      The Adaptive Reuse sub-district was expanded to include the block where the O'Club is located.
 
·      The Waterfront Town Center sub-district was expanded to the west to ensure that this sensitive wildlife area is included within the Town Center Plan.  (This change was originally suggested by public speakers at the last Planning Board public meeting).
 
·      The Maritime sub-district was deleted.
 
·      The Enterprise sub-district was expanded to include the Tidelands Areas that are currently occupied by the MARAD fleet and other maritime industrial uses that were previous included in the Maritime sub-district.
 
·      The Enterprise sub-district was divided into four smaller sub-districts (Enterprise-1, Enterprise-2, Enterprise-3, and Enterprise-4). The division into four smaller sub-districts allows the Zoning Ordinance Amendment to more clearly articulate and specify different requirements and uses that might be appropriate in these four different areas.  
 
o      Enterprise-1 (E-1) provides a broad range of uses and maximum flexibility to accommodate and support a variety of employment uses, including heavier manufacturing and industrial uses.  For these reasons, residential and other sensitive uses are not allowed in E-1.   
 
o      Enterprise-2 (E-2) is slightly less permissive in terms of use.  Development in this area must be compatible with the adjacent Waterfront Town Center area and serve as a transition between the Waterfront Town Center uses to the north and the heavier industrial uses to the south in E-1.  Residential uses are not allowed in this sub-district.
 
o      Enterprise-3 (E-3) is a strip of land approximately 200 feet wide that fronts onto the low density residential homes on the east side of Main Street.  E-3 is designed to provide a comfortable transition between the existing Main Street residents and Enterprise sub-districts E-1 and E-2.  Residential uses facing Main Street are conditionally permitted in E-3.
 
o      Enterprise-4 (E-4) delineates those lands within the Enterprise District that have special restrictions related to the Tidelands Trust.  These lands are reserved for maritime uses.  Residential and other non-maritime uses are not permitted in this sub-district.  
 
Zoning for the NAS Alameda Historic District
 
At all of the past Planning Board public hearings and at two Historic Advisory Board meetings at which the Alameda Point Zoning Ordinance Amendment was discussed, representatives from the historic preservation community have stressed the importance of carefully considering the heights and placement of new buildings within the NAS Alameda Historic District (Historic District).   In response to these concerns, the draft Zoning Ordinance Amendment includes the following revisions:
 
·      Section D Site Planning and Building Design Requirements was revised to specify that the setbacks for a new building within the Adaptive Reuse sub-district must be consistent with the setbacks of the adjacent Historic District contributing buildings to preserve the character-defining features of the Historic District.
 
·      Section E Building Height Requirements has been revised to specify that any new building shall be no taller than the adjacent Historic District contributors to ensure that new buildings do not "overshadow" the Historic District contributor buildings.
 
·      The list of uses permitted in the Adaptive Reuse sub-district was revised to increase the types of uses that would be permitted by right.  The intent of these changes is to maximize the potential for the reuse and rehabilitation of the historic buildings in the Historic District.  
 
Zoning to Reduce Automobile Use
 
Reducing traffic congestion from redevelopment and reuse of Alameda Point and reducing the use of the automobile are major objectives of the General Plan and Reuse Plan.  The Zoning Ordinance Amendment addresses this issue in three important ways:
 
·      The Site Planning and Building Design Requirements establish a number of form-based standards to ensure that buildings are placed on the property in a manner that facilitates pedestrian, bicycle, and transit modes of travel and "de-emphasizes" the automobile.  (The General Plan requires development strategies that "de-emphasize" the automobile to reduce traffic congestion).
 
·      The Off-street Parking Requirements (Exhibit 3) establish maximum parking requirements for all new development and requirements for the "un-bundling" of a portion of the off-site parking (no minimum parking ratio required) to ensure the supply of parking at Alameda Point is adequate to serve the various uses, but that an over-supply of parking does not become a disincentive to transit, bicycle, or pedestrian modes of travel or prevent the City of Alameda from achieving its trip reduction goals for Alameda Point.
 
·      All new projects must comply with the Alameda Point Transportation Demand Management plan and the Alameda Point EIR Mitigation Monitoring Program, and that must participate in the Alameda Point Parking District for shared public parking.   
 
Zoning for the Protection of Endangered Species
 
The federal property on the runways west of Alameda Point provides important habitat for the endangered California Least Tern.  Over the course of the last 17 years, the City has worked extensively with United States Department of Fish and Wildlife (USFWS), the Navy, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and other interested parties to ensure that the redevelopment of Alameda Point does not harm this endangered species.   The draft zoning requires that:
 
·      Each new construction project, alteration to existing building, and new use are reviewed for compliance with the conditions set forth in the Declaration of Restrictions for the Former Naval Air Station consistent with the Biological Opinion issued by the USFWS.
 
·      That all proposed lighting is reviewed to ensure that it is in conformance with the Declaration of Restrictions and the lighting mitigation measures contained in the Memorandum of Agreement between the VA and City.
·      That no feral cat or other predator feeding stations are created or maintained at Alameda Point.
 
·      That no fireworks be permitted during the period from April 1 through August 15.
 
Conclusions:   
 
In summary, staff believes that the draft Zoning Ordinance Amendment will:  
 
·      Bring the City of Alameda Zoning Ordinance into conformance with the City of Alameda General Plan policies for Alameda Point;
·      Facilitate the redevelopment and reuse of Alameda Point as envisioned in the Reuse Plan and the General Plan;
·      Support and protect the wildlife habitat at Alameda Point; and
 
·      Protect and enhance the Historic District;
 
·      Support creation of a transit-oriented, pedestrian friendly assortment of unique sub-districts and neighborhoods; and    
 
·      Effectively guide future City Council, Planning Board, and staff decision-making as the City attracts and guides private investment in new infrastructure and development and the rehabilitation and improvement of existing structures and open spaces at Alameda Point.
 
Next Steps and Issues for Discussion:
 
At the November 13, 2013 meeting, staff will present the organization of the draft ordinance and the arrangement and location of the various sub-districts. The presentation will also focus on two important issues that warrant additional Planning Board consideration and discussion at this time:
 
·      The E-3 sub-district   This sub-district along Main Street is designed to be a transitional district between the employment uses and the Main Street neighborhood.  The subcommittee is considering a requirement that the uses facing Main Street be restricted to residential uses only.  Staff believes that residential uses should be conditionally permitted, but that a variety of other uses, such as small offices, service commercial uses, or institutional uses could also be allowed in this area and designed and operated in a manner that also provides an excellent transition between the larger Enterprise sub-district and the Main Street neighbors.  
 
·      Parking Regulations.  As described above, the staff, our consultants, and the subcommittee are creating site specific parking regulations for Alameda Point.  The parking regulations are critical to the success of the Transportation Demand Management Program and the City's ability to minimize traffic impacts from Alameda Point development, but they also must support and facilitate re-investment and redevelopment of Alameda Point.  There is a careful balance that must be achieved to successfully accomplish both of these objectives.  Too much parking and the TDM program will not be successful.  Too little parking and private investment may be discouraged or choose other locations in Alameda or the Bay Area where parking is less restricted.  
 
 
ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW
 
The review and discussion of the draft Alameda Point Zoning Ordinance Amendment is exempt from review under the California Environmental Quality Act.  Prior to final recommendation of the draft Zoning Ordinance Amendment by the Planning Board to the City Council, staff will present the Final Environmental Impact Report evaluating the potential environmental impacts of the proposed redevelopment of Alameda Point consistent with the proposed Zoning Ordinance Amendment.   
 
RECOMMENDATION
 
Review and comment on the draft Zoning Ordinance Amendment for Alameda Point.
 
Respectfully submitted,
 
 
 
Andrew Thomas
City Planner
 
Exhibits:
 
1.      Map of Proposed Zoning Sub-Districts at Alameda Point
2.      Zoning Ordinance Amendment for Alameda Point
3.      Draft Parking Regulations for Alameda Point