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File #: 2017-3807   
Type: Regular Agenda Item
Body: Planning Board
On agenda: 1/23/2017
Title: Recommend City Council Approval of the Main Street Neighborhood Specific Plan at Alameda Point. The Planning Board will hold a public hearing and make a recommendation to the City Council on the specific plan for the area generally located around Main Street, Pan Am Way, and West Tower Avenue
Attachments: 1. Exhibit 1 - Draft Main Street Neighborhood Specific Plan, 2. Exhibit 2 - Staff Response to Comments, 3. Exhibit 3 - Internet Survey, Survey Results and Comments, 4. Item 7-D Public Comment, 5. Main Street Presentation



Recommend City Council Approval of the Main Street Neighborhood Specific Plan at Alameda Point.  The Planning Board will hold a public hearing and make a recommendation to the City Council on the specific plan for the area generally located around Main Street, Pan Am Way, and West Tower Avenue





To:                     Honorable President and Members of the Planning Board

From:                      Michelle Giles, Redevelopment Project Manager

Date:                     January 23, 2017

Re:                     Recommend City Council Approval of the Main Street Neighborhood Specific Plan at Alameda Point. 


Over the course of the last 18 months, City of Alameda staff, Urban Planning Partners (UPP) and their team of consultants, with partial funding from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), have been working on the Main Street Neighborhood Specific Plan (MSN Plan) for Alameda Point.  Alameda Point is a designated Priority Development Area (PDA) in the Bay Area’s sustainable communities strategy (Plan Bay Area) which makes Alameda Point eligible for regional funds to plan and implement transit-oriented land use plans.

The draft MSN Plan (Exhibit 1) is a specific plan for development of the Main Street Neighborhood, which covers approximately 108 acres, comprising the community south of the Main Street Ferry terminal and north of the Town Center and waterfront land surrounding the historic Seaplane Lagoon.   An approved Specific Plan is required before new development can occur in the Main Street Neighborhood Sub-district per the Alameda Point Zoning Ordinance (Alameda Municipal Code 30-4.24), which was approved by City Council on February 4, 2014 (MSN Plan Figure 0-1). 

The MSN Plan is informed by:

                     The 1996 Naval Air Station Alameda Community Reuse Plan;

                     The approved 2014 Alameda Point Master Infrastructure Plan (MIP), Zoning Amendment, and the General Plan Amendment;

                     The 2013 Alameda Point Conceptual Planning Guide;

                     Stakeholder meetings with the Collaborating Partners (Alameda Point Collaborative (APC), Building Futures with Women and Children, and Operation Dignity), Alameda Architectural Preservation Society (AAPS), Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA), Alameda Point Partners (APP), Bike Walk Alameda, and existing residents of market rate housing in the MSN area;

                     May 9, 2016 - Planning Board Workshop on park and street network alternatives and key development regulations;

                     September 20, 2016 - City Council Meeting for direction on phasing development;

                     October 24, 2016 - Planning Board review and comment on Draft MSN Plan;

                     November 1, 2016 - City Council review and comment on Draft MSN Plan;

                     November 10, 2016 - Recreation and Park Commission review and comment; and

                     November 16, 2016 - Transportation Commission review and comment.

The MSN Plan is designed to ensure that future development projects in the area are consistent with the community’s vision in terms of building and street placement and design, building height, massing and scale, and building use.  After the MSN Plan is approved, the Planning Board, and City Council upon appeal, will retain discretion over proposed development site plans, individual building designs, conditionally permitted uses, public improvement plans for streets, pedestrian areas, parking areas, parks and open spaces and other site-specific issues. 

On September 30, 2016, staff released a draft MSN Plan for public review and discussion.  As described above, this kicked off an extensive community review process with the Planning Board, City Council, Recreation and Park Commission and Transportation Commission. Numerous public comments were received from these board and commission meetings. A summary of responses to key Planning Board comments are captured below.  Staff responses to the comments from all of the meetings are included in Exhibit 2.

Staff also used an on-line survey sponsored by Peak Democracy to gather additional public comment on land uses, building heights, and parks and open space. The link to the survey was emailed to over 1,000 people on Alameda Point’s interested parties list with 186 respondents. The survey, survey results and a summary of comments are included as Exhibit 3.


The MSN Plan fulfills the General Plan policy objectives for a transit-oriented mixed-use, mixed income neighborhood with diverse housing options, parks and open spaces, neighborhood serving businesses and transitional commercial uses. The MSN Plan implements the vision through a variety of regulations, standards, and guidelines for both public improvements and private investment.  The four major characteristics of the MSN Plan are:

I.                     Parks and Central Gardens:    The MSN Plan establishes the Central Gardens as the center of the MSN Plan area, connecting a network of small parks and serving as the main gathering spaces for the different areas within the Plan area and reinforcing an agricultural identity already in existence. 


II.                     Multi-Modal Network: The MSN Plan builds upon and continues the extensive planning work of the MIP to develop a balanced and comprehensive multi-modal transportation network for people walking, cycling, taking transit, and driving in the neighborhood.


III.                     Form Based Regulations:  The MSN Plan provides specific regulations, standards, and design guidelines to shape the form of the public and private physical environment and the use of the land to create a transit-friendly, mixed-use neighborhood that is inclusive of a range of incomes and housing types, including “workforce housing”.


IV.                     Collaborating Partners and Phasing of Development: The MSN Plan provides phasing principles as guidance for future development of the area and recommendations for a phased development that will prioritize the consolidation and replacement of the Collaborating Partners housing.

The following provides a summary of each of the main components of the MSN Plan.

I.                     Parks and Central Gardens

The MSN Plan establishes the Central Gardens as the center point of the MSN Plan area.  It serves as the main gathering, community park and event space and connects all of the open spaces through bikeways, multi-use trials, and pedestrian paths.  The MSN Plan envisions the Central Garden as an active space with a variety of areas for informal play, active programming and a community garden element.  The precise type and placement of park elements will be defined as part of a future development plan process.  Examples of those elements include:

-Informal open grass areas for multiple uses;

-Amenities, such as bathrooms, playgrounds, tot lots, informal play fields, picnic areas, community play space

- Community, educational garden

- Multi-use trails

- Community event space for markets, food trucks, festivals, educational events


Tree-lined streets will connect the Central Gardens with the other two parks in the neighborhood, Pan Am Gardens and West Essex Park.  Pan Am Gardens will have active park spaces, informal grass areas for multi-use and amenities, as well as additional urban agricultural spaces.  The existing copse of trees in the center of the park will be retained. West Essex Park is a smaller open space area that can accommodate smaller community events and play spaces, such as tot lots, picnic areas, and benches. 


II.                     Multi-Modal Network

The MSN Plan creates a multi-modal street network that models best practices for safe movement through the neighborhood, with protected one- and two-way cycle tracks, bike lanes, multi-use trails, and non-motorized pedestrian/bikeways with direct connections to the Main Street Ferry Terminal and areas outside of the neighborhood.  A shared street concept around three sides of the Central Gardens creates a plaza-like area inviting a continuous flow from the sidewalk to the park. The plan proposes 8-foot on-street parking in all areas, except the historic beehive streets, as a way to separate vehicles and pedestrians and to slow traffic.  To further calm traffic and reduce speeds on the shared street along the Central Gardens, the drive lane of the street can be jogged, or chicaned as a way of orienting drivers to a more pedestrian use. 

To enhance the pedestrian experience, the MSN Plan recommends providing sidewalk widths (minimum of five feet) which allow two people to comfortably walk together and to more comfortably pass one another.  To reduce pedestrian crossing distances, intersection corners are bulbed out into parking lanes and shoulders to allow a more comfortable and larger area for pedestrians to stand while waiting to cross.  Mid-block crossing are provided for direct and convenient access for pedestrians and bicyclists to comfortably cross the east-west streets and to connect the two northernmost pedestrian/bikeway routes that provide access from the Plan Area to Main Street and from Main Street trails and two-way cycle track to the Oakland Estuary waterfront, Alameda Main Street Ferry Terminal and other destinations. 

The MSN Plan includes bus transit lanes that are 11 feet wide (or 10 feet with a one-foot buffer) when adjacent to parking lanes and 10.5 feet wide elsewhere for safety purposes.  All bus stops will have seating and bike facilities adjacent to them to ensure convenient transitions to transit.


III.                     Form-Based Regulations and Response to Planning Board Comments


The MSN Plan’s form-based regulations are designed to shape the form of the public and private physical environment and the use of land to create a mixed-use, mixed-income neighborhood that is pedestrian, bicycle and transit friendly and supported by parks and open spaces, neighborhood-serving retail and commercial and light industrial uses and diverse housing types that are affordable to a range of incomes.  Major revisions to the Plan in response to Planning Board comments include changes related to affordable and workforce housing regulations, neighborhood design, universal design, and historic preservation are described below.  Changes in response to the other Board and Commission comments are described in Exhibit 2.


                     Diversity in Design and Neighborhood Character 

The MSN Plan is designed to create a lively human-scaled, socially interactive, safe and vibrant neighborhood. The Planning Board requested improved guidelines to ensure diversity and variety within new neighborhoods.  The revised MSN Plan includes the following specific requirements and standards to create diverse and interesting neighborhoods: :

-                     Requiring a blend of building types, at least two on each block;

-                     Requiring a variety of  lot sizes and shapes to ensure  a variety of building sizes and configurations;

-                     Allowing internal streets and alleys within the grid to curve or turn to add interest; 

-                     Encouraging all ground-floor residential units facing a public street or public open space to provide an individual front entry to those spaces; 

-                     Permitting a variety of  building heights from two stories in the Historic District up to four stories to create the desired scale, intensity of use and sense of place within the MSN; 

-                     Encouraging all mixed-use buildings fronting the Central Gardens to provide ground floor retail and commercial spaces to promote interaction with the park uses and to activate the area surrounding the park; 

-                     Requiring buildings fronting the streets that surround the square to be serviced from alleys to limit driveways and curb cuts;

-                     Requiring all  new building or renovation projects in the plan area to comply with the City’s  Universal Design Ordinance, when adopted; and

-                     Prohibiting a single architectural design firm from designing more than 25 adjacent structures


§                     NAS Alameda Historic District Infill Guidelines


The MSN Plan is designed to ensure that new infill development and building placement is consistent with the character-defining features of the Historic District and the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation, specifically in regards to siting, historic materials, features, scale, massing, proportion and landscaping.  The Planning Board wanted to see improvements to the Historic District infill guidelines related to sustainability and implementation.  Staff has removed references to lawn and added the use of drought tolerant ground-covers and clarified how development may or may not be implemented in the portions of the plan area that fall within the Historic District.

Examples of some of the other guidelines included in the revised Plan include:

-                     Limiting new development within the Historic District’s residential area to the replacement of the five existing non-historic buildings within the beehive portion of the Historic District and replacement of a small number of NCO Quarters at the east end of Corpus Christie Road. The guidelines do not facilitate new construction in and around the historic structures, except for where there is a missing element in the historic fabric.

- Matching the predominant front and side yard setbacks that exist within the historic neighborhood

-     Maintaining the open lawn and park-like character of the beehive neighborhood with more sustainable options in lieu of lawn

-     Compatibility with architectural influences that are already found in the neighborhood

-     New buildings within the Historic District should be no more than two stories

-     Traditional patterns of window and door opening should remain important influences

-      Maintain existing mature landscaping


§                     Increased Affordability and Workforce Housing

The MSN Plan is designed to provide housing for the full range of household incomes.  The Planning Board and the City Council expressed the desire to include more specific language that would encourage middle-income and workforce type housing in the Plan.  The revised Plan includes standards that require all new developments to include a range of housing types to address the needs of both “affordable” housing and “workforce” housing. Members of both the Planning Board and City Council were interested in seeing more discussion of affordability and how it could be achieved in the MSN Plan, specifically with more workforce housing.

The General Plan also supports “workforce-type housing”.  The term “workforce housing” typically refers to housing that is affordable to professionals in careers such as teachers, nurses, fireman and police, with incomes that have not kept up with the skyrocketing housing prices, but are above that which is required to qualify for deed restricted “affordable housing”.  Below is a range of housing affordability definitions in the Alameda Municipal Code (AMC):

-                     Very Low Income Affordable Housing is defined by the AMC Inclusionary Housing Ordinance as housing that is deed restricted to households with an income of less than 60% of the area wide median income.

-                     Low Income Affordable Housing is defined by the AMC Inclusionary Housing Ordinance housing that is deed restricted to households with an income of between 60% and 80% of area wide median income.

-                     Moderate income affordable housing is defined by the AMC as housing that is deed restricted to households with an income between 80% and 120% of area wide median income.


The AMC does not include a definition of “workforce housing”, but the Housing Land Trust Fund of San Francisco Bay defines “workforce housing” as: “Affordable housing for households with earned income that is above the income limits for deed restricted or subsidized housing, yet insufficient to secure quality housing in reasonable proximity to the workplace”


The housing crisis in the Bay Area has resulted in limited supply of housing for middle income families and housing costs that are in excess of the standard 30% of income underwriting requirements most mortgage companies adhere to. This workforce demographic sits in the middle of the income spectrum where affordable rental and ownership housing options are in limited supply, of questionable quality and/or offer limited space for a family.

To address the needs of households earning 120% AMI or less, the MSN Plan re-states the affordable housing requirements consistent with the Renewed Hope Settlement Agreement which requires that all new developments in Alameda Point provide 25% affordable deed restricted housing according to the following income categories:

o                     At least 6% for very low income (50% AMI)

o                     At least 10% for low income (80% AMI)

o                     At least 9% for moderate income (120% AMI)

To provide opportunities for households with a household income above that required to qualify for deed restricted affordable housing, the MSN plan requires at least ten percent (10%) of the units be designed to be affordable to households with a household income between 120% and 180% of area wide median income, to the satisfaction of the Planning Board.  A deed restriction may not be required to meet the definition of workforce housing.  To achieve this requirement the development application shall include information about current and projected home sales prices or rental rates and the proposed unit design to justify and explain how at least 10% of the units have been designed to be affordable to the target household income levels. 


The Planning Board may consider granting a waiver or reduction to the 10% workforce requirement if the Planning Board is able to make one or more of the following findings:


i.                     The requested waiver is necessary to facilitate the development of a residential project with the required amount of deed restricted affordable housing units or qualifies for a waiver request submitted pursuant to Section 30-17 Density Bonus Ordinance.

ii.                     The requested waiver is necessary to avoid an undue hardship caused by geotechnical and topographical conditions on the site; historic preservation requirements for the site: infrastructure improvement requirements imposed by the City for the site; the size of the site; and/or other site constraints; and/or legal constraints; and that no equivalent facilitation is available.

iii.                     The requested waiver is necessary to avoid a conflict with State or Federal regulations.


In response to questions raised by both the Planning Board and the City Council about workforce housing, staff had the City’s financial consultant prepare a graph (shown below) that shows the range of housing prices that would be affordable to very-low-income to workforce households. 


The workforce income range (Workforce I/Workforce II) is $112,000 to $168,000 for a family of four. Such a household would be able to afford a $500,000 to $750,000 home based on standard underwriting guidelines. 

Using the same analysis, the below graph illustrates market-rate homes can be affordable to the workforce range of incomes through the size of the unit. Using the same underwriting guidelines, a 4-person household with workforce incomes between $112,200 and $168,300 would be able to afford a 1,000 to 1,600 square foot home.


The above analysis demonstrates that a range of housing types and sizes can help meet the price points affordable to households that fall within the workforce housing range. 


IV.                     Consolidation and Replacement of Supportive Housing Community

One of the MSN Plan’s primary purposes is to provide the framework for the public and private realms of the MSN to enable the existing Collaborating Partners to consolidate and construct a new supportive housing community that will meet the needs of its residents now and into the future.  The approval of the MSN Plan with the Collaborating Partner’s preferred location included, will be the first step in a series of public processes to meet that goal. 

The MSN Plan recommends a process and implementation strategy for infrastructure financing, disposition and development of the Collaborating Partner’s supportive housing community and other market rate development.  The strategy would need City Council review, input and approval at multiple steps before moving forward.  The steps would include:

-                     Negotiating a Disposition and Development Agreement with the Collaborating Partners for the development of the preferred location;

-                     Conducting a feasibility analysis to determine the number of market rate housing units, consistent with the planning documents for Alameda Point, necessary to support the cost of infrastructure of the  south of West Midway Avenue area, including the Collaborating Partner’s preferred site;

-                     Issuing an RFQ for developers to construct the required market rate housing and infrastructure; and

-                     Negotiating a Disposition and Development Agreement with the market rate developer

The Planning Board would review and approve the site-specific development plans and design review applications as described in Chapter 8 of the MSN Plan.

Conclusion and Next Steps

At this time, staff believes that the MSN Plan will meet the Alameda community’s need for a specific plan for the Main Street Neighborhood.   Staff is requesting that the Planning Board review the draft Plan and make a recommendation to the City Council, who as the City’s legislative body, has the authority to approve the plan.  The Planning Board’s recommendation may also be accompanied by a list of recommended changes or amendments to the Plan, which staff will transmit to the City Council with the Planning Board’s recommendation.  In addition to the Planning Board’s recommendation, staff will be transmitting the Historical Advisory Board’s recommendation on the Plan. The Historical Advisory Board will make its recommendation on February 9, 2017. 

If either the Planning Board or the Historical Advisory Board believes that significant changes are needed, staff will bring those changes back to the Planning Board for further review before scheduling the Plan for City Council review.



On February 4, 2014, the City Council adopted the Alameda Point EIR, which evaluated the potential environmental impacts of the Alameda Point Zoning Ordinance and development in the MSN Plan area.  The EIR analysis helped shape the MSN Plan to minimize potential environmental impacts and support a sustainable development. All development within the MSN Plan area is required to comply with the mitigation measures adopted by the City Council for Alameda Point.





Public notice has been provided through newspaper advertisements, notices to property owners within 300 feet of Alameda Point and all tenants at Alameda Point.  The Alameda Point email blasts reach over 1,000 addresses. 




Hold a public hearing and approve by motion a recommendation that the City of Alameda City Council approve the Alameda Point Main Street Neighborhood Specific Plan.

Respectfully submitted,


Jennifer Ott, Base Reuse Director



Michelle Giles,

Redevelopment Project Manager



1.                     Draft Main Street Neighborhood Specific Plan

2.                     Staff Response to Comments

3.                     Internet Survey, Survey Results and Comments