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File #: 2015-2130   
Type: Regular Agenda Item
Body: City Council
On agenda: 10/7/2015
Title: Recommendation to Adopt an Advisory Motion Regarding the General Plan and Zoning Designations for the Property Located at 200 Packet Landing Road (Site of the Existing Harbor Bay Club). (Community Development 481001)
Attachments: 1. Exhibit 1 - Harbor Bay Isle Associates Submittal in Support of the Change to Permit Residential, 2. Exhibit 2 - Neighborhood Letter in Support of Maintaining the General Plan and Zoning Designations, 3. Staff Presentation, 4. HBN Presentation, 5. New Harbor Bay Club Compressed.mp4

Title

 

Recommendation to Adopt an Advisory Motion Regarding the General Plan and Zoning Designations for the Property Located at 200 Packet Landing Road (Site of the Existing Harbor Bay Club). (Community Development 481001)

Body

 

To: Honorable Mayor and Members of the City Council

From: Elizabeth D. Warmerdam, Interim City Manager

Re: Advisory Motion Regarding the General Plan and Zoning Designations for the property located at 200 Packet Landing Road (Site of the Existing Harbor Bay Club)

BACKGROUND

On August 28, 2013, Harbor Bay Isle Associates ("HBIA" or “applicant”) submitted a request for Final Development Plan and Design Review approval to build a health club facility on North Loop Road in the Harbor Bay Business Park and a request to amend the General Plan and Zoning Ordinance to permit 80 new single family homes on the existing club site at 200 Packet Landing Road.

On October 28, 2013, the Planning Board held a scoping session to review the scope of the proposed environmental impact report (EIR) evaluating the two requests.

On March 10, 2014, the applicant withdrew the General Plan and zoning amendment applications for the Packet Landing site.  Since March 10, 2014, the City has been working on a draft EIR to analyze the remaining piece of the application (a new health club facility on North Loop Road) with a variety of alternative uses that might occur on the Packet Landing site. Because the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires that the City evaluate all of the potential changes to the environment that might occur as the result of the proposal to build a new club at North Loop Road, the EIR must evaluate the potential new uses that might occur at Packet Landing Road if the club moves to North Loop Road (e.g. hotel, residential, etc.).

The proposals for the two sites have generated significant public debate and controversy in the Harbor Bay community.  In an effort to provide guidance for the processing of any future applications for the Packet Landing site, the City Council scheduled a special meeting to provide an advisory evaluation on the adequacy of the General Plan and Zoning designations for the property at 200 Packet Landing Road.

DISCUSSION

The potential relocation of the existing health club and the redevelopment of the Packet Landing site with up to 80 new single family homes has generated a significant amount of public interest, concern and public correspondence.  Since August 2013, the City Council, Planning Board and staff have received hundreds of emails and cards expressing either opposition to residential rezoning and relocation of the club or support for the new expanded club at North Loop Road. The public debate has been quite divisive within the Harbor Bay community and has continued in the local newspapers and letters to the editor over the last two years.  In summary, the public comments received to date indicate that:

                     Health Club and Recreational Facilities: There is strong community support for expanded and improved health club and recreational facilities within the Harbor Bay community. 

                     Housing: There is very little support within the Harbor Bay community for new housing.  Most cite traffic as their primary concern and reason for opposing rezoning the Packet Landing site to accommodate new residential development.

                     City Council Discretion:  There seems to be a great deal of misunderstanding about the scope of the City Council's regulatory authority.  Many seem to believe that the health club is a "right" that they acquired when they bought their homes in Harbor Bay, and that the City Council must stop any effort to close or move the club.  The Harbor Bay Health Club is a private business that may move or close without consultation with, or approval by, the City Council.  The City Council’s control is limited to the General Plan and Zoning Ordinance, and the design of those buildings that are proposed consistent with the underlying zoning and general plan designations.  Pursuant to State and local law, the City Council cannot change the General Plan or zoning designation for any property in Harbor Bay unless the City Council can find that the amendments are in the best interests of the public, support the general welfare of the community as a whole, and are consistent with the other policies within the General Plan. 

The purpose of the October 7, 2015 public hearing is to:

                     Provide an opportunity for the public to express their thoughts on the potential public benefits and potential impacts to the general welfare of changing the General Plan and Zoning designations for the Packet Landing site.

                     Provide an opportunity for the City Council to provide an advisory evaluation of the adequacy and appropriateness of the current General Plan and zoning designations for the Packet Landing site.  

To inform the public hearing and facilitate the City Council's review and evaluation of the existing Packet Landing General Plan and zoning designations, this report includes an analysis and exhibits for two alternative City Council actions: 

Option #1: The City Council could find that the general welfare of the community would be best served by considering a change to the General Plan and zoning designations to permit residential use of the property in the event that such an application is submitted.  The Council cannot change the General Plan and Zoning designations tonight, but the Council can direct staff to return with these amendments for future consideration.  (Exhibit 1 includes a submittal provided by HBIA in support of the proposed change)

Or

Option #2: The City Council could find that the general welfare of the community would be best served by maintaining the current General Plan and zoning designations to prohibit residential use of the property.  (Exhibit 2 includes a submittal by the Harbor Bay Neighbors group in support of maintaining the current designations)  

Analysis for Changing the Designations to Permit Residential Use (Option #1)

a)                     Regional Housing Crises:  The City and the region are facing a housing crisis. Changing the general plan and zoning to permit residential development on the site will enable additional housing opportunities to address the regional and local housing crisis.

b)                     Facilitating Expanded Commercial Recreational Facilities:  The Harbor Bay community is in need of improved and expanded commercial recreational facilities, including swimming facilities and other commercial exercise and sports facilities.  Changing the designation could help the property owner (HBIA) finance construction of a new Harbor Bay Health Club in the Business Park, which will provide improved recreational and fitness facilities for club members. 

c)                     Supporting a Local Commercial Recreational Business:  The Harbor Bay Health Club is a local company that serves the Alameda community.  Changing the designations can be viewed as supporting the expansion of a local business similar to other efforts in the Harbor Bay Business Park.  

d)                     Residential Use is a Good Neighbor:  If the Health Club moves or closes, the new use of the land should be a compatible neighbor to the existing neighborhood.  Single family homes are compatible with existing residential neighborhoods.  Other uses that might be permitted on the site under the Commercial Recreational General Plan designation and C-2 zoning could be less compatible and more disruptive to the adjacent neighborhood.

e)                     No Significant Change in Traffic:  Eighty (80) single family homes will not generate significantly more traffic than the existing Harbor Bay Health Club at the Packet Landing site.  The number of morning automobile trips generated by the Health Club at its existing location on Packet Landing road is approximately 77 trips in the AM peak period and 154 in the PM peak period. (Source: Steve Abrams, Transportation Engineer. On-site counts in May 2014.).  The number of morning automobile trips generated by 80 single family homes on Packet Landing Road will be approximately 60 in the am peak period and 80 in the PM peak period. (Source: and Institute of Transportation Engineers, Trip Generation, 9th Edition, Washington D.C. (2012)

Analysis for Maintaining the Commercial Recreational Designation (Option #2)

a)                     Certainty for the Community:  The General Plan protects the general welfare of the community by providing certainty for the community. Property owners, residents, and business owners invest in Harbor Bay on the assumption that their investments will be protected by maintenance of General Plan land use designations and restrictions.  Maintaining the General Plan and zoning designations provides stability and certainty for existing residents and businesses that have invested in Harbor Bay.

b)                     Preserving Commercial Recreational Lands:  The Harbor Bay community has expressed its need for expanded and improved commercial recreational uses.  Maintaining land designated for commercial recreational uses will help to ensure that the public benefits of commercial recreational land uses are preserved for the community in the future.  Even if and existing commercial recreational business closes or moves, preserving the commercial recreational land use designation preserves these lands so that other similar businesses have the opportunity to move to Harbor Bay to provide these important public services and benefits.  

c)                     The General Plan and Zoning Ordinance do not need to be Amended to Support Commercial and Recreational Facilities and Services:  The current General Plan designations do not pose a constraint on the community's ability to permit additional or expanded health clubs, swim centers, or recreational facilities.  Recreational facilities, health clubs, swimming centers and other similar uses are permitted under the Commercial Recreational and the Business Park land use designations.

d)                     The General Plan and Zoning do not need to be Amended to Accommodate the City's Regional Housing Needs:  The General Plan Housing Element (2015-2023) demonstrates that the City of Alameda has enough residentially zoned land to meet the City of Alameda regional housing needs as determined by the State of California.  As described in recent reports on the City of Alameda's housing supply, the City's most pressing housing need is the need for affordable housing.  Rezoning the Packet Landing site for housing will not produce any affordable housing because per the 1989 Development Agreement and a subsequent settlement agreement with HBAI, the City’s 2003 Inclusionary Housing Ordinance will not apply to any residential redevelopment of the property.  

e)                     Preserving Waterfront Commercial Recreational Lands:  The General Plan includes policies establishing the importance of preserving access to waterfront commercial recreational lands.  Changing the General Plan and Zoning designations from Commercial Recreation to Low Density Residential would remove nine acres of waterfront commercial recreational designated lands from the neighborhood and the Harbor Bay community. 

Conclusion: 

Amending the General Plan is a policy decision that requires that the community and the City Council balance and value different, and sometimes competing, public interests.  In this case, staff recommends that the City Council move to affirm the current General Plan and Zoning designations for the property.  The staff recommendation is based upon the following: 

                     The City of Alameda General Plan and Zoning Ordinance provides enough land for residential use to meet the City’s regional housing needs through 2023.  In 2023, the City Council may need to re-evaluate its residential land supply as part of the next State-mandated Housing Element update.  At this time, no rezoning for housing is needed.

                     The Alameda community as a whole has an expressed need for recreational services and facilities.  To ensure that the City maintains lands designated for these purposes, staff recommends that the City Council maintain the Commercial Recreational designated lands to address the commercial recreational needs of current and future generations of Alameda residents.

FINANCIAL IMPACT

Affirming the General Plan and zoning designations for a specific property will not have any financial impact on the General Fund.   

MUNICIPAL CODE/POLICY DOCUMENT CROSS REFERENCE

Affirming the General Plan and zoning designations for the property at 200 Packet Landing Road is consistent with the existing General Plan, Zoning Ordinance, 1989 Development Agreement and the relevant development plans for the site.

ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW

An advisory motion regarding the General Plan and zoning at the existing Harbor Bay Club is not a project under CEQA pursuant to CEQA Guidelines section 15378. 

RECOMMENDATION

Move to approve an advisory motion to affirm the existing Commercial Recreational General Plan and commercial zoning designations for the property at 200 Packet Landing Road.  

Respectfully submitted,

Debbie Potter, Community Development Director

By,

Andrew Thomas, Assistant Community Development Director

Financial Impact Section reviewed,

Elena Adair, Finance Director

Exhibits:

1.                     HBIA Submittal in Support of the Change to Permit Residential 

2.                     Neighborhood Letter in Support of Maintaining the General Plan and Zoning Designations