Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Bookmark and Share
File #: 2014-751   
Type: Regular Agenda Item
Body: Planning Board
On agenda: 7/28/2014
Title: Design Review and Development Plan Amendment for a 32-Unit Affordable Housing Development. Applicant: Resources for Community Development (RCD) and City of Alameda Housing Authority. A development plan amendment and design review application to construct 32 affordable, multiple-family, rental residential units, internal drive aisle, parking and landscaping on a .94 acre site within the MX Zoning District located on the northeast corner of Stargell Avenue and Bette Street and commonly known as the "Alameda Landing Affordable Residential Project."
Attachments: 1. Exhibit 1- Alameda Landing Affordable Residential Project Development Plans, 2. Exhibit 2-Letter from RCD regarding bike ratios at similar projects, 3. Exhibit 3-Draft Planning Board Amended Development Plan Resolution, 4. Exhibit 4-Draft Planning Board Design Review Resolution
Design Review and Development Plan Amendment for a 32-Unit Affordable Housing Development.  Applicant: Resources for Community Development (RCD) and City of Alameda Housing Authority.  A development plan amendment and design review application to construct 32 affordable, multiple-family, rental residential units, internal drive aisle, parking and landscaping on a .94 acre site within the MX Zoning District located on the northeast corner of Stargell Avenue and Bette Street and commonly known as the "Alameda Landing Affordable Residential Project."      
      To:            Honorable President and
                  Members of the Planning Board
            From:   Andrew Thomas
                        City Planner
      Date:      July 28, 2014
Re:      Design Review and Development Plan Amendment for a 32-Unit Affordable Housing Development.  Applicant: Resources for Community Development (RCD) and City of Alameda Housing Authority.  A development plan amendment and design review application to construct 32 affordable, multiple-family, rental residential units, internal drive aisle, parking and landscaping on a .94 acre site within the MX Zoning District located on the northeast corner of Stargell Avenue and Bette Street and commonly known as the "Alameda Landing Affordable Residential Project."                                                                                    
The applicants, Resources for Community Development (RCD) and the City of Alameda Housing Authority, are requesting design review approval for the architectural design of the project and a minor amendment to the 2012 Development Plan to increase the number of units in the Alameda Landing residential sub-area from 275 to 284 to accommodate nine more affordable units at Alameda Landing.
Located on a .94 parcel of land on Stargell Avenue between Shinsei Gardens Apartments and the TRI Pointe multifamily buildings on 5th Street, the project will provide 32 housing units for very-low and low-income households within walking distance to future parks, retail services, and transportation services.   The City's Housing Authority will own the land and lease the land to a limited partnership entity.  As the project's developer and owner, the limited partnership will consist of RCD and the Housing Authority as general partners, and a tax credit investor.  RCD, in cooperation with the Housing Authority and John Stewart Company, a private property management company, will manage the 32 apartment units. John Stewart Company also manages the nearby 52-unit Breakers at Bayport Apartments, the adjacent Shinsei Gardens project, and Park Alameda (2428 Central Avenue).  
The proposal is consistent with the approved Bayport/Alameda Landing Master Plan that envisions a residential neighborhood with up to 300 housing units at Alameda Landing.  However, minor amendments to the December 10, 2012 Planning Board- approved Development Plan for the Alameda Landing residential subarea and this site are required to allow for the additional nine affordable units and to develop parking on an adjacent parcel of land.  The amendments are described in more detail below.
Design Review: The proposed project provides a total of 32 affordable housing units, including 25 very low-income units, six low-income units, and one manager's unit.  All the units will be rental apartments, with a mix of single-story flats and two-story townhomes.  Four of the units are single-story, ground floor, accessible units and nine additional units are adaptable for households with disabilities.   The project includes five one-bedroom units, 16 two-bedroom units and 11 three-bedroom units ranging in size from approximately 585 to 1,165 square feet in size. The distribution of unit size and type is shown on the cover sheet of the plans (Exhibit 1).  
Site amenities will include on-site vehicle and bicycle parking, landscaped common open space, a play area, and a single story, 1,434 square foot community building with management offices, laundry facilities and a common room.  The community building and outdoor courtyard will provide a focal point and gathering area for the project.   Fifty parking spaces for the 32 units are provided on the site and on a second parcel west of the development site.  
The 32 units will be located in five separate buildings. The buildings enclose an outdoor courtyard that will provide landscaped, common open space, a children's play area, dining tables and a barbeque grill.  An internal drive aisle will provide auto and bicycle/pedestrian access from Bette Street, north of Stargell Avenue. An on-site pedestrian path will extend pedestrian access from the planned sidewalk and multi-use trail along Bette Street into the site.
Along its southern edge, the project will face onto a sidewalk and broad landscaped area on Stargell Avenue that will connect to the proposed multi-use trail running along the western edge of the site. This location maximizes the project's competitiveness to receive Tax Credit Financing, a major source of affordable housing funding in the State. This location, in close proximity to Ruby Bridges Elementary School, transit routes on Stargell Avenue, parks and open spaces and commercial services will score full points on site amenities. The project must receive 100 percent of possible points to be considered for an award of Tax Credit funds. Other financing sources will include funding from Catellus Alameda Development, LLC, and Tri Pointe (in-lieu payment), the Housing Authority and the County and City HOME program.  
The western edge of the project is defined by a multi-use trail for pedestrians and bicycles and a new street that connects Mitchell Avenue to Stargell Avenue.  The new street (Bette Street) and the multi-use trail define the western edge of the project.  The northern edge of the site is defined by a landscaped paseo that will separate the project from the approved single-family homes to the north.  The project's two northern buildings (Buildings 1 and 2a) are designed with their front doors facing the paseo and the front doors of the Tri Pointe single-family homes to create a public open space between the market rate and affordable units.  The half acre "town square" neighborhood park is located, one block to the north of the site.  
The eastern edge of the project is separated by a service alley for a row of attached homes along the western frontage of Fifth Street facing the future retail center, currently under construction. The alley provides access to the tuck-under garages for the Tri Pointe town homes and the parking spaces on the backside of Buildings 2A and 2B.  
Landscape and Open Space Design: (see sheet L.1.-3)The courtyard and pedestrian paths are focal points of the project. The landscaping in these spaces will be drought-resistant and designed to provide residents with usable open spaces that are screened from neighbors. Native and Mediterranean species of trees, shrubs, and grasses will be used throughout the project. Site landscaping will be designed using Bay Friendly landscaping for durability and low water use.
The courtyard is located immediately adjacent to the community building and is designed with a variety of spaces to promote use and interaction of residents. These uses include an artificial turf common area and play area that will be protected by low fencing, as well as a barbeque area with dining tables. As such, the courtyard will serve as an extension of the community building and provide an outdoor room for project activities.
The street frontages along Bette Street and Stargell Avenue will be landscaped with large canopy shade trees with an understory of shrubs and groundcover that will screen the project from public rights-of-way. Roof water and parking area storm water will be handled on-site, and will be directed into planting areas with bio-filtration soils and then piped into the storm drain system.  Trees and groundcover plantings will be appropriate for areas handling urban runoff.
The proposed site plan, building architecture and landscaping continue the high quality design of the adjacent Shinsei Gardens, Alameda Landing and Bayport projects.  The project is targeting compliance with LEED Gold guidelines.
Automobile and Bicycle Parking Design: The site plan (see sheet A1.0) provides 35 standard size, on-site parking spaces for the tenants, staff and guests of the 32 rental units. An additional 15 compact spaces are provided on the lot west of Bette Street for a total of 50 spaces. Staff and guest parking spaces will be designated with signage.
Housing Authority staff conducted a parking analysis of similar affordable housing projects in Alameda. Overall, other comparable Housing Authority projects provide a range between .36 and .68 spaces per bedroom. The proposed project provides 50 spaces for 70 bedrooms, yielding an average of .67 spaces per bedroom. This is significantly more than the .55 spaces per bedroom in the Breakers at Bayport Apartments and is similar to the .69 spaces provided at the adjacent Shinsei Gardens project.  The proposed .67 spaces per bedroom are within the range provided by other affordable housing projects in Alameda. Housing Authority projects typically provide about 1.5 spaces per unit overall. The proposed project would provide 1.56 spaces per unit and would be comparable to the 1.54 spaces per unit provided at the adjacent Shinsei Gardens project.
While tenants will not be assigned specific spaces and all the spaces will be shared, tenants will be required to register their vehicles in order to park on-site.  All tenants will be notified of this restriction prior to signing a lease and signs will be posted throughout the project notifying other drivers of this restriction.  "Unbundling" the parking costs from the unit rents, as required in the Alameda Point zoning and proposed for the Del Monte project, is not possible in this case due to a requirement of funding providers for affordable housing projects.  
Each unit will be assigned one parking space near the unit, located on-ite.  The 15 spaces located on the parcel west of Bette Street will be used as visitor/overflow parking during the lease up period (approximately three months).  After the buildings are fully leased, management will provide information on available spaces to be assigned by lottery to interested residents.  Once all spaces are assigned, a waitlist will be created by ascending lottery number to be maintained by the property manager.
The site plan proposes 25 long-term bicycle lockers and seven short-term bike racks. The 25 lockers are located within Building 2B and the racks are located in the front of the community building on Bette Street. The City standard for long-term bicycle parking is .5 bike spaces per bedroom. At this ratio, the project would require 38 long-term spaces. The adjacent Shinsei Gardens project provides 30 racks in two rooms to serve 39 units with a similar population of low- and very-low income residents. Staff and RCD recently monitored bike capacity at Shinsei Gardens, Park Alameda and the Breakers at Bayport and found that a reduced bike parking ratio is appropriate for those similar uses. The bike locker rooms at those projects, while not full, are utilized. The attached letter from RCD explains the results of its survey (see Exhibit 2). If the Shinsei Gardens bike ratio is applied to this project, it would require 25 long-term bike lockers compared with the 38 lockers required by City standards for market rate projects. Staff believes that the proposed number of bike lockers and racks is appropriate for this size and type of project.   
Architectural Design:  The project architects have chosen a challenging approach to the architectural design of this Housing Authority-sponsored project. Instead of taking a more typical design approach of replicating, or copying, an historic architectural style that might be common in Alameda, the architects have undertaken a more difficult design challenge: to design a complex of buildings that complements Alameda's historic architecture in scale and quality, but displays a contemporary, modern design.  It is staff's view that the City of Alameda should be encouraging new architectural styles - in appropriate locations - that will complement and expand the City's already excellent examples of historic architectural styles.  Alameda's historic residential neighborhoods provide excellent examples of late 19th century and early 20th century architecture.  The Naval Air Station, and a number of buildings within the Park Street and Webster Street commercial areas, exhibit excellent examples of midcentury (1940's) architectural design.   In another 20 years, Alameda should also be able to point out some excellent examples of early 21st century architectural design.   If done well, this project could be one of those examples.
The contemporary architectural design for the project is organized around the following design principles and objectives:
·      Each of the seven buildings includes a similar combination of contemporary architectural forms, features, and materials, which works to unify the complex architecturally and, hopefully, the future community of residents.
·      Each elevation of each building is designed to provide a visually pleasing composition of materials and elements, which will be enjoyed by those viewing the buildings from the public streets, alleys, paseos, and internal courtyards.
·      The scale, massing, and the palette of materials used for the buildings is designed to be compatible with the adjacent more "traditional" architectural styles of the Tri Pointe homes to the east and north and the more "modern" design of the Shinsei Gardens project next door to the west (see sheet A.3.0).  The buildings are three stories and are a similar height to the Tri Pointe homes.  The buildings include a combination of gabled roofs and flat roofs, similar to the Tri Pointe multifamily buildings and the Shinsei project, but this project utilizes more contemporary and unique roof design details.  All three projects utilize sunshade and canopy elements at a pedestrian scale. All three projects utilize vertical and horizontal changes in plane and materials to reduce the apparent mass of the building from the public rights-of-way and create a visually interesting streetscape. All three projects place dwelling unit entry doors onto either a public paseo, private walkway or the courtyard.
·      Although this project uses materials in a more modern and "clean" architectural style, all three projects use similar materials: metal roofing, cement plaster siding, fiber cement siding, and stained wood siding.   Similar to the other two projects, windows are thermally broken aluminum casements with dark bronze anodized finish.
Development Plan Amendment:  The Planning Board approved the Development Plan for this site when it approved the Development Plan for the entire Alameda Landing residential development on December 12, 2012.  This project, and the affordable units proposed, are part of the Alameda Landing residential development as it meets Tri Pointe's very low and low-income portions of its inclusionary housing obligation. The current proposal differs from the December 12, 2012 Development Plan approval as follows:
a.    Number of Units.   The 2012 Development Plan anticipated 275 housing units.  Of the 275 units, 14 units were planned for very low-income households, nine units were planned for low-income households, and 16 were planned for moderate-income units.  The 14 very low-, and nine low-income units were planned for this site.   
The current proposal includes 25 very low-, and, six low-income, and one manager's unit, for a total of 32 units, which increases the total number of units in the Alameda Landing residential area from 275 units to 284 units.  The increase is still within the Alameda Landing Master Plan and Development Agreement limit of 300 units for the project.  
The proposed increase is also consistent with the original Density Bonus Application for this site approved in 2012.  The application included a base project of 227 units, with 14 very low-, nine low-, and 16 moderate-income units.   The 14 very low-income units triggered a 22.5% density bonus for a total of 275 units.   Increasing the number of very low-income units to 25, results in a density bonus of 35%, for a total project of 306 units. Therefore, under State and local Affordable Housing Density Bonus laws, the proposal to increase the total number of units to 284 is well within the projects eligibility for up to 306 total units or the Master Plan limit of 300 units.
b. Parking Plan.  The proposed use of the small 0.22 acre parcel on the west side of Bette Street for parking is not consistent with the 2012 Development Plan approved by the Planning Board.  The site was shown as open space in the 2012 Plan.   The proposed modification would use this land for parking.  Staff is in support of the change for the following reasons:
1. In 2012, the small parcel was remnant piece of land with no obvious use, so staff and the applicant decided to add it as a small piece of open space squeezed between Bette Street, the Pump Station Building, and Shinsei Gardens.  
2. The small parcel's location does not lend the property to being a successful public open space.  The Alameda Landing project has a number of much better parks and open spaces.  Overall the Alameda Landing project exceeds the park per population ratio established by the General Plan, even without this 0.22 acre parcel.  
3. Use of the parcel for parking allows the project to increase the number of affordable housing units for the City, which is an important citywide benefit and a recognized need, without creating potential parking impacts on adjacent residents.
4. The introduction of a single parking curb cut for a 15-car parking lot across the Class I Trail between Stargell Avenue and Mitchell Avenue will not create a hazard or inconvenience for users of the trail.     
On December 5, 2006, the City Council certified the Final Environmental Impact Report for the Alameda Landing Mixed Use Development Project (a Supplement to the 2000 Catellus Mixed Use Development Project EIR) in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) (State Clearinghouse #2006012091). The City approved three Addenda to the 2006 SEIR in 2007, 2008 and 2012, that found that this project will not result in any new or substantially more severe environmental impacts than identified in the SEIR.
Property owners and residents within 300 feet of the project's boundaries were notified of the public hearing and given the opportunity to review and comment on the proposal.  No comments have been received as of July 21, 2014.  
Approve the draft resolutions (Exhibit 3 and 4) approving the Development Plan and Design Review.
Respectfully submitted,
Andrew Thomas
City Planner
1.      Alameda Landing Affordable Residential Project Development Plans
2.      Letter from RCD regarding bike ratios at similar projects
3.      Draft Planning Board Amended Development Plan Resolution
4.      Draft Planning Board Design Review Resolution