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File #: 2018-6140 (20 minutes)   
Type: Regular Agenda Item
Body: City Council
On agenda: 11/27/2018
Title: Introduction of Ordinance Amending the Alameda Municipal Code by Amending Section 30-5.15 of Chapter XXX (Zoning Ordinance) to Adopt New Bird-Safe Building Standards and Update Outdoor Lighting Regulations Consistent with Dark Skies Standards. [The proposed amendment is categorically exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) pursuant to CEQA Guidelines Sections 15061(b)(3), 15305, 15307, and 15183.] (Planning, Building and Transportation 481001)
Attachments: 1. Exhibit 1 - June 25, 2018 Planning Board Reports, 2. Exhibit 2 - September 24, 2018 Planning Reports, 3. Correspondence - Updated 11-27, 4. Ordinance, 5. Submittal

Title

 

Introduction of Ordinance Amending the Alameda Municipal Code by Amending Section 30-5.15 of Chapter XXX  (Zoning Ordinance) to Adopt New Bird-Safe Building Standards and Update Outdoor Lighting Regulations Consistent with Dark Skies Standards. [The proposed amendment is categorically exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) pursuant to CEQA Guidelines Sections 15061(b)(3), 15305, 15307, and 15183.] (Planning, Building and Transportation 481001)

 

Body

 

To: Honorable Mayor and Members of the City Council

 

From: David L. Rudat, Interim City Manager

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

In 2017, the City Council approved two referrals directing staff to draft ordinances to adopt new bird-safe building standards and update the City’s outdoor lighting regulations to meet dark skies standards.  Staff prepared a draft ordinance that amends Chapter 30 of the Alameda Municipal Code (Zoning Regulations) to address both referrals.  The proposed bird-safe building standards require treatment that would only apply to new large buildings with large areas of glass.  The proposed outdoor lighting regulations strengthen existing requirements sourced from the California Building Standards Code, public safety guidelines, and international dark skies standards.    

 

BACKGROUND

 

The San Francisco Bay Area is a major destination along the Pacific Flyway, a major migratory path for birds from Canada to Mexico.  Over 200 species of birds migrate through the Bay Area each spring and fall, and Alameda’s island setting within the San Francisco Bay effectively makes the entire city potential bird habitat.  According to the Golden Gate Audubon Society, over 365 million birds are killed in North America each year as a result of collisions with built structures.  Birds tend to collide with glass when the glass is either too reflective or too transparent, because birds cannot recognize the glass as a solid object. 

 

Every jurisdiction in the state of California that is a potential bird habitat must address bird strikes as part of performing environmental review for projects subject to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  Alameda’s environmental impact reports for major development contain mitigation measures that minimize bird strikes.  In recent years, a number of Bay Area cities, including San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Richmond, and Sunnyvale, have adopted ordinances that prescribe specific bird-safe treatment used on buildings with large glass surfaces.

 

Bird strikes often happen during the day, but birds can also be attracted to outdoor light sources and collide with windows as they approach the light source at night. Staff prepared a draft ordinance that addresses the synergies between bird safe standards and outdoor lighting.  Cities that have adopted bird-safe standards have also adopted companion outdoor lighting regulations because the environmental benefits of minimizing light pollution also benefit migrating birds.

 

The Planning Board held an initial workshop on the draft regulations on June 25, 2018 and recommended the City Council approve the draft ordinance amendments at its September 24, 2018 public hearing. 

 

DISCUSSION

 

Bird-Safe Building Standards: The recommended draft ordinance encompasses the best practices from other cities and those recommended by the Golden Gate Audubon Society as customized to meet the needs of Alameda.  The proposed Bird-Safe Building Standards would be added to AMC Section 30-5.16 in the Performance Standards section of the Zoning Ordinance.

 

The Planning Board’s recommended Bird-Safe Buildings Standards include the following:

 

                     Requires bird-safe treatment on:

o                     New buildings taller than 35 feet where a wall consists of 50% or more in glass,

o                     Replacement glass 12 square feet or more on buildings subject to this ordinance, and

o                     Standalone glass panels that are 24 square feet in size and larger.

                     Prescribes a menu of bird-safe building treatments including blinds and curtains, opaque glass, window muntins (grid patterns), screens, netting, or special glass features such as fritting or ultra-violet patterns.

                     Allows applicants to choose an alternate compliance method recommended by a qualified biologist.

                     Exempts rehabilitation of existing homes, historic structures and business storefronts.

 

Outdoor Lighting Regulations (“Dark Skies Ordinance”): Currently, the Zoning Ordinance requires all outdoor lighting on private property be diffused and/or concealed to prevent light spillage onto adjacent properties (AMC Section 30-5.16.f).  In addition, the City’s standard conditions of approval for new construction also require light fixtures be directed downward.  While these requirements are effective in preventing light spillage onto neighboring properties, the existing Zoning Ordinance does not provide specific, objective and measurable standards, such as metrics for maximum light intensity and color temperature in LED lighting.  Such metrics are necessary for the regulations to be effective in achieving desired “dark skies” goals to minimize light pollution. 

 

The proposed Outdoor Lighting Regulations would be added to AMC Section 30-5.16 in the Performance Standards section of the Zoning Ordinance.  The proposed new outdoor lighting standards would replace the current lighting provision in the Performance Standards section of the Zoning Ordinance (Section 30-5.16.f).  The ordinance applies to all new development, whether public or private, but the requirements would not apply to City street lights and City park lighting.  Public street lights and public park lightning will be covered under new “smart street lighting design guidelines” being developed by the Public Works Department.

 

The proposed ordinance is based on the best practices of cities with dark skies lighting ordinances and customized to Alameda’s physical environment.  The Planning Board’s recommended outdoor lighting regulations include the following:

 

                     Requires new or replacement outdoor lighting to be fully shielded and directed downward.

                     Establishes a one (1) foot-candle limit for maximum light trespass at the property line.  This standard is based on input from the Alameda Police Department and the Building Official considering public safety and building safety requirements.

                     Establishes a maximum correlated color temperature limit of 2,700 to 3,000 Kelvins (warm yellowish color) for LED lighting based on Dark Skies standards.

                     Prescribes standards and requirements, such as automatic timers, for certain up lighting used in landscaping, security lights, and building accent lighting.

                     Exempts Alameda’s historic decorative lights and light sources required for public safety or mandated by other codes and regulations.

 

The proposed outdoor lighting regulations incorporate input from the Police, Recreation and Parks, and Public Works departments as well as Alameda Municipal Power and the City’s Building Official in arriving at new and measurable lighting requirements.  Standards related to outdoor sports lighting were also vetted through community users including the Alameda Unified School District, College of Alameda, and the Alameda Babe Ruth League.

 

FINANCIAL IMPACT

 

The adoption of this ordinance has no direct financial impact to the City, including the City’s General Fund.  Implementation of the ordinance will be performed by City staff supported by permit fee revenue as part of the Planning and Building Fund (Fund 209).

 

MUNICIPAL CODE/POLICY DOCUMENT CROSS REFERENCE

 

The proposed ordinance amends the Performance Standards section of the Zoning Ordinance (AMC Section 30-5.16), which ensures that uses of land and buildings in Alameda are provided protection against any adverse conditions that might be created as a result of such uses.  The proposed Bird Safe Building Standards are consistent with the General Plan Open Space and Conservation Element, which recognizes Alameda’s surrounding water environment for bird habitat and promotes measures to protect local wildlife.  The proposed text amendment for outdoor lighting regulations are also consistent with policies of the General Plan to protect public health, safety, and welfare of the community by setting maximum standards for outdoor lighting to prevent excessive up-light, glare and light pollution.

 

ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW

 

The proposed amendments are categorically exempt from the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) pursuant to CEQA Guidelines Section 15307, Actions by Regulatory Agencies for Protection of Natural Resources, which exempts actions taken to assure the maintenance, restoration, or enhancement of a natural resources including wildlife preservation activities.  Moreover, each as a separate and independent basis, this proposal is exempt from CEQA pursuant to CEQA Guidelines Sections 15305, Minor Alterations to Land Use Limitations, 15183 (projects consistent with General Plan and Zoning) and 15061(b)(3) (general rule, where there is certainty the proposal has no significant effect on the environment). 

 

RECOMMENDATION

 

Introduce a Planning Board Recommended Ordinance adopting New Bird Safe Building Standards and Updated Outdoor Lighting Regulations Consistent with Dark Skies Standards in Chapter 30 of the Alameda Municipal Code (Zoning Ordinance).

 

Respectfully submitted,

Andrew Thomas, Planning, Building and Transportation Director

 

By,

Allen Tai, Planning Services Manager

Financial Impact section reviewed,

Elena Adair, Finance Director

 

Exhibits:

1.                     June 25, 2018 Report

2.                     September 24, 2018 Report