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File #: 2017-3941 (45 minutes)   
Type: Regular Agenda Item
Body: City Council
On agenda: 3/21/2017
Title: Public Hearing to Consider Introduction of Ordinance Adopting the Alameda Point Main Street Neighborhood Specific Plan. (Base Reuse 819099)
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. Exhibit 4- Addendum, 5. Exhibit 4a - Attachment 1 to Addendum, 6. Exhibit 4b - Attachment 2 to Addendum, 7. Exhibit 5 - Wildan Financial Analysis, 8. Presentation, 9. Ordinance, 10. Correspondence



Public Hearing to Consider Introduction of Ordinance Adopting the Alameda Point Main Street Neighborhood Specific Plan. (Base Reuse 819099)


To: Honorable Mayor and Members of the City Council

From: Jill Keimach, City Manager

Re: Public Hearing to Consider Introduction of Ordinance Adopting the Alameda Point Main Street Neighborhood Specific Plan


Over the course of the last 18 months, City of Alameda staff, the firm 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;

                     November 16, 2016 - Transportation Commission review and comment;

                     January 23, 2017 - Planning Board unanimous approval of the Draft MSN Plan; and

                     February 2, 2017 - Historical Advisory Board 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.  Once 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.  The City Council has sole discretion over the disposition and development of the property in the Main Street Neighborhood.

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 City Council, Planning Board, Recreation and Park Commission and Transportation Commission. Numerous public comments were received from these board and commission meetings. A summary of responses to key Council and board and commission comments 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.

In early January, staff released a revised draft Main Street Neighborhood Specific Plan and on January 23, 2017, the Planning Board held a final public hearing and unanimously recommended that the City Council adopt the Draft MSN Plan with minor revisions.  Those revisions are summarized in an Addendum (Exhibit 4). 


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 and Town Center Plan 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 and includes responses to some of the City Council’s comments.  A complete summary of responses to key Council and board and commission comments is included in Exhibit 2.

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 and design review process. 

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. 

The MSN Plan has been updated to encourage planting of native species of trees and flowering shrubs known to attract monarch butterflies and preserve existing sites based on comments in a letter from the Xerces Society that is concerned about their protection and possible classification as endangered.  In addition, the Alameda Point EIR has mitigation measures that require the protection of any active autumnal/overwintering roost sites used by the monarch butterflies. 

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.

In response to City Council comments, the MSN plan also includes non-motorized paths 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 Plan also now shows truck routes to ensure trucks can be accommodated within the proposed street widths.

III.                     Form-Based Regulations and Response to Planning Board and City Council 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 and City Council comments include changes related to affordable and workforce housing regulations (discussed further below), neighborhood design, and historic preservation.

                     Diversity in Design and Neighborhood Character 

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;

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

-                     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; 

-                     Inclusion of assisted living as a conditional use;

-                     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; and

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

§                     Naval Air Station Alameda Historic District Infill Guidelines

The MSN Plan is designed to ensure that new infill development and building placements are consistent with the character-defining features of the portion of the Naval Air Station Alameda Historic District (Historic District) that overlap with the Main Street Neighborhood and the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation, specifically in regards to siting, historic materials, features, scale, massing, proportion, and landscaping.  Based on comments from the Planning Board and City Council, the MSN guidelines now make clear that the Historic Infill Guidelines are limited 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.

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 their existing communities into 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 and the exact number of units;

-                     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 (DDA) 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 (Administration and Enforcement).

V.                      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 for the Plan to address more explicitly affordability and the inclusion of middle-income or “workforce housing” and to encourage its development. The revised Plan includes a definition of workforce housing and standards that require all new developments to include a range of housing types to address the needs of both “affordable” housing and “workforce” housing.

The term “workforce housing” has in the past referred to housing that is affordable to professionals in careers such as teachers, nurses, and others 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 a limited supply of housing for middle income families and housing costs that are in excess of the standard 30% of income required by most mortgage companies. 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.

“Affordable” Housing

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)

“Workforce” Housing

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.   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 and size to justify and explain how at least 10% of the units have been designed to be affordable to the target household income levels. 

To provide some flexibility, the Planning Board may waive or reduce the 10% requirement or impose a different development requirement for projects with certain characteristics, such as:

-                     Providing the required deed-restricted housing units or submission of a Density Bonus Waiver;

-                     Undue hardship caused by geotechnical or topographical constraints, historic preservation requirements or other site size or legal constraints;

-                     Conflicts with State of Federal regulations;

-                     Providing 100% of units to lower income households; and

-                     Other financial feasibility constraints.

Analysis of the Feasibility of Workforce Housing

The charts below respond to the City Council and Planning Board questions about the size and cost of housing that a household in the “affordable” and “workforce” income range could afford. Availability of homes in the size and price range for the “affordable” range of incomes is not available in the Bay area, including Alameda.  Additionally, persons in the affordable income range would generally not be able to meet underwriting guidelines for the purchase of a home.  Subsidized and deed restricted rental housing is what is typically provided for this demographic.

Based on the Area Median Income (AMI) for Alameda County for a family of four and standard underwriting guidelines, current interest rates and housing costs, the chart below shows that households within the “workforce” income range would be able to afford a home in the $500,000 to $750,000 price range.

Using the same analysis, the chart below shows that households within the workforce income range would be able to afford a home that ranges in size from 1,000 to 1,600 square feet given the current housing costs of $470 per square feet.

The City Council also asked staff to provide a feasibility analysis of different types and quantities of units for the first phase of market rate development South of Midway that may be able to pay for infrastructure costs in the Main Street Neighborhood and provide housing affordable to workforce income levels.  The City’s financial consultant, Willdan Financial Services (Willdan), has analyzed a number of illustrative scenarios with different mixes of housing types and amounts to determine the feasibility of supporting an estimated $53 million in required backbone infrastructure costs. As summarized below, there are likely to be scenarios that could provide housing affordable to workforce households and cover the full cost of infrastructure.  A more detailed description of the analysis and the assumptions is provided in Exhibit 5.


Scenario 1: All Townhomes, No Workforce Housing

Scenario 2: 10% Workforce Units and Limited Single-Family

Scenario 3: 10% Workforce Units and No Single-Family

Scenario 4: All Remaining Units, No Single Family, and 45% Workforce Units

Single Family





Town Home















Low/Very-Low Units1










Total Units less Collaborating Partner Units





Total Residual Value3





Infrastructure Cost





Net Residual Value per Unit
















1. Low/Very Low Units provided by the Collaborating Partners Project.  The Collaborating Partners’ currently assumes 267 total units, including 200 existing and 67 new units, of which a certain number of the new units would be allocated to this project.  The exact # of units provided will be negotiated in the DDA process with the Collaborating Partners determined by the City Council.

2. Includes all remaining AP units within the 1,425-unit General Plan cap after assumed Collaborating Partners 267 units, Site A’s 800 units, and 67 existing market rate units

3. Total residual value is the sales price multiplied by the number of units minus the total development and sales costs

In the previous discussion of the phasing principles and implementation in the MSN Plan presented to City Council on September 20, 2016, it was estimated in a preliminary illustrative analysis that approximately 208 market rate townhome units and 25 moderate income units could provide sufficient value to cover the cost of the required $53 million in backbone infrastructure for the entire South of Midway area, including for the Collaborating Partners’ new supportive housing campus. These numbers served as the basis for the analysis summarized above, as is presented in Scenario 1.  Scenarios 2 and 4 demonstrate that there are likely to be ways to provide workforce housing and cover the full cost of backbone infrastructure by either providing a limited number of single-family homes or allocating all of the remaining housing units at Alameda Point.  As demonstrated by Scenario 3, it is not feasible to provide the 77 workforce housing units assumed in Scenario 2 without the higher value single family homes or additional housing units. 

While using all of the remaining units available under the General Plan housing cap, Scenario 4 offers the potential to provide more workforce housing. It is also important to consider other development opportunities north of West Midway that may need housing units or the possibility of mixed-use commercial opportunities south of W. Midway as a part of a market rate residential development and should be vetted in future RFQ and disposition and development discussions.

Ultimately, the feasibility of a South of Midway development project will depend on the market conditions, including both the demand and cost environment at the time the project is being implemented.  The exact number of units allocated to the South of Midway area for development, including the number of workforce units, will be determined as part of the City Council’s future disposition and development process and RFQ from developers.  In addition, as described above, the exact number of units needed by the Collaborating Partners will be determined in a separate DDA process.  The Draft MSN Plan only provides the regulatory planning framework for making these future policy decisions. 

Next Steps

Staff recommends approving the Draft MSN Plan with the revisions described in the Addendum and with any other revisions requested by the City Council this evening.   If approved, a final copy of the MSN Plan with all of the revisions incorporated will be released to the community within the month.  Upon approval of the MSN Plan, staff will: (1) continue to work with the Collaborating Partners to prepare an Implementation Term Sheet, Development Plan and DDA, and (2) commence preparation of an outline for a RFQ from developers for the South of Midway area for City Council review.


The adoption of the Main Street Neighborhood Specific Plan will not impact the General Fund or Base Reuse Fund budgets.


The Main Street Neighborhood Plan implements the Alameda Point Zoning Ordinance (Section 30-4.24 of the Alameda Municipal Code), which requires a Master Plan be prepared for the Main Street Neighborhood Sub-district pursuant to Section 30-4.24 (B)(2) of the Alameda Municipal Code.


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.


Hold public hearing to introduce Ordinance adopting the Alameda Point Main Street Neighborhood Specific Plan

Respectfully submitted,

Jennifer Ott, Base Reuse Director


Michelle Giles, Redevelopment Project Manager


Financial Impact section reviewed,

Elena Adair, Finance Director


1.                     Draft Main Street Neighborhood Specific Plan

2.                     Staff Response to Comments

3.                     Internet Survey, Survey Results and Comments

4.                     Addendum

5.                     Willdan Financial Analysis