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File #: 2021-1431   
Type: Regular Agenda Item
Body: City Council
On agenda: 11/30/2021
Title: Public Hearing to Consider Adoption of Resolution Certifying the Final Environmental Impact Report, and Adopting Findings and a Statement of Overriding Considerations, Mitigation Measures and a Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Plan for the General Plan Amendment to Update the Alameda General Plan; and Adoption of Resolution Adopting Alameda General Plan 2040. (Planning 20962700) [Continued from November 16, 2021]
Attachments: 1. Resolution - General Plan EIR, 2. Resolution - General Plan, 3. Presentation, 4. Correspondence - Updated 11/17

Title

 

Public Hearing to Consider Adoption of Resolution Certifying the Final Environmental Impact Report, and Adopting Findings and a Statement of Overriding Considerations, Mitigation Measures and a Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Plan for the General Plan Amendment to Update the Alameda General Plan; and

Adoption of Resolution Adopting Alameda General Plan 2040. (Planning 20962700) [Continued from November 16, 2021]

 

Body

To: Honorable Mayor and Members of the City Council

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

In 2018, the City Council authorized the Planning Board and staff to begin work on a comprehensive update of the City of Alameda’s (City) General Plan.  After three years of work with staff and the community and over 15 public meetings, public forums and public hearings, the Planning Board is recommending the first comprehensive update of the General Plan in 30 years.

 

On September 13, 2021, the Planning Board held a public hearing on the General Plan update and the Alameda General Plan Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) and adopted a resolution recommending that the City Council certify the FEIR.

 

On October 25, 2021, the Planning Board held a public hearing on the General Plan update and adopted a resolution recommending that the City Council adopt the updated General Plan 2040.  

 

At this time, staff is recommending that the City Council hold a public hearing and approve resolutions adopting the FEIR and Alameda General Plan 2040.  General Plan 2040 and the FEIR are available at www.alameda2040.org <http://www.alameda2040.org>, and are incorporated by reference as though fully set forth herein.  

 

BACKGROUND

 

State law requires the City to maintain a General Plan that is an integrated, internally consistent and compatible statement of policies for the adopting agency. (Gov. Code, § 65300.5.)  To be an effective, internally consistent set of policies to guide decision-making, a General Plan must be up to date and address current planning issues and challenges facing the community.  The last comprehensive update of the General Plan occurred 30 years ago.  The first sentence of the 1991 Alameda General Plan states:  “The General Plan establishes the City of Alameda’s development policies for the period 1990-2010.”  Neither the 1991 Land Use Element nor the 1991 Conservation Element include any policies related to climate change or sea level rise.  The 1991 Land Use Element does not address the housing crisis or the needs of the unhoused, but it does prohibit multifamily housing in conflict with 2014 Housing Element policies, which allows multifamily housing to comply with state law.   

A General Plan serves as a blueprint for future development and is a “living document” that the community and the Planning Board can regularly evaluate and adjust.   State law allows the City to amend each mandatory element of its General Plan up to four (4) times each year, except as provided in Government Code section 65358(c)-(d).  When significant new issues arise with the General Plan, the Planning Board may hold a public hearing and recommend that the City Council amend the General Plan to address those issues.  State law also requires that the Planning Board conduct an annual review of the General Plan.  (Gov. Code, § 65400.)  The annual review provides an opportunity to identify issues and amendments necessary to keep the General Plan up to date, internally consistent, and effective. 

The General Plan update comprehensively updates all elements of the General Plan except for the Housing Element, which is currently underway and must be completed by the end of 2022. 

DISCUSSION

 

General Plan 2040 is the product of an extensive and inclusive community process to craft policies, goals, and proposed actions necessary to address major issues facing the community over the next 20 years. The result of the work is a comprehensive, internally consistent, and forward-thinking blueprint for meeting the community’s long-term vision for the future. 

 

The General Plan update could not have been completed without the extended commitment and leadership of the Planning Board over the past three years to ensure that the draft General Plan is inclusive and addresses difficult issues facing the community.  Under the Planning Board’s guidance, the community tackled a wide variety of difficult and sometimes sensitive issues in the preparation of the General Plan.   Over 1,700 individual residents, over 25 organizations, and five different City boards and commissions provided written comments and suggestions that informed General Plan 2040.

 

The major milestones in the community planning process include:

Spring 2020 - Planning Board workshops to discuss land use designations and land use policy issues. 

Summer 2020 - City publishes the first draft of the General Plan update for public review.

Fall/Winter 2020 - Monthly Planning Board public forums to gather input on the draft Plan.

Spring 2021 - City publishes second draft General Plan (March 2021 version), which incorporated comments and requested revisions from the Planning Board, the public, and other boards, community groups, and commissions. 

April 26, 2021 - Planning Board holds public hearing to consider the scope of the EIR.

May 6, 2021 - City publishes Draft EIR evaluating the potential environmental impacts of the draft General Plan. 

May 10, 2021 - Planning Board holds a joint public hearing with the Transportation Commission to review the draft General Plan. 

June 14, 2021 - Planning Board holds joint public hearing with the Historical Advisory Board to review the draft General Plan.  

July 12, 2021 - Planning Board holds public meeting to review the list of recommended amendments to the March 2021 draft General Plan.  

September 1, 2021 - City publishes the Final EIR response to comments received on the adequacy of the Draft EIR, as required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

September 13, 2021 - Planning Board holds public hearing on the General Plan update and the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) and adopts a resolution recommending that the City Council certify the FEIR. 

October 25, 2021 - Planning Board completes its deliberations and adopts a resolution recommending that the City Council adopt the General Plan update.

ALTERNATIVES

 

The City Council may:

 

                     Certify the FEIR and approve the General Plan update as recommended by the Planning Board and staff.

                     Certify the FEIR and approve the General Plan update with specific modifications deemed necessary by the City Council, although staff would request additional time to analyze any suggested amendments to ensure consistency throughout the General Plan and with other adopted policy documents, and that no California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) issues would be created.

                     Remand the General Plan update to the Planning Board for additional consideration of specific policy issues deemed necessary by the City Council.

 

FINANCIAL IMPACT

 

There is no financial impact from adopting a General Plan update. 

 

MUNICIPAL CODE/POLICY DOCUMENT CROSS REFERENCE

 

State law requires the City to maintain a General Plan that is an integrated, internally consistent and compatible statement of policies for the adopting agency. (Gov. Code, § 65300.5.)

 

 

 

ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW

 

Adoption of a comprehensive General Plan update is an action that is subject to CEQA.  The City prepared a Final EIR (FEIR) disclosing all of the potentially significant environmental impacts associated with Alameda General Plan 2040.  The purposes of the FEIR are to provide decision makers, public agencies and the public with detailed information about potentially significant effects that the Alameda General Plan 2040 will have on the environment, describe and analyze any significant environmental effects of the General Plan update, list ways in which the significant effects of the General Plan update might be minimized, and identify project alternatives that might reduce the environmental impacts.

 

The City followed the noticing and public disclosure processes required by CEQA to ensure that the public was informed of the preparation of the analysis and able to review and comment on the adequacy of the analysis.  The result of these efforts is the Draft EIR released in May 2021 and the FEIR released in September. 

 

The FEIR provides a written response to each of the comments received on the adequacy of the environmental analysis and describes any changes recommended to the Draft EIR in response to those comments.  Some of the letters, which are all included in the Final EIR, also address policy issues in the General Plan.  In some cases, staff did provide a brief response to the policy concerns, even though responses to policy concerns are not required by CEQA in a FEIR. 

 

As required by CEQA, the recommended mitigations identified in the Draft EIR should be adopted as part of the project.  In this case, the recommended mitigation measures were reformatted as General Plan policies to be adopted as part of General Plan 2040.        

 

CLIMATE IMPACT

 

General Plan 2040 incorporates all of the City’s Climate Action and Resiliency Plan policy objectives into the General Plan. The General Plan update includes an extensive framework of policies and actions to address greenhouse gas emission reduction and the actions necessary to prepare for and mitigate the impacts of sea level rise, rising groundwater, and the other impacts of climate change on the community.   

 

RECOMMENDATION

 

That the City Council hold a public hearing and adopt:

 

1.                     Resolution certifying the Final EIR, adopting findings, and adopting the Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program; and 

2.                     Resolution adopting General Plan 2040 as amended by the Addendum List.   

 

 

 

CITY MANAGER RECOMMENDATION

 

The City Manager concurs with the Planning Board in its recommendation to certify the Final EIR, adopting findings, and adopting the Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program; and a Resolution adopting General Plan 2040 as amended.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Andrew Thomas, Planning, Building and Transportation Department Director

 

Financial Impact section reviewed,

Annie To, Finance Director

 

 

cc:                     Eric Levitt, City Manager