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MINUTES OF THE
GENERAL PLAN UPDATE 2030 WORKSHOP
May 19, 2009

A meeting of the Planning Commission of the City of San Ramon was called to order by Chair Patrino at 7:00 p.m., Tuesday, May 19, 2009 in the Council Chambers 2222 Camino Ramon, San Ramon.

1. CALL TO ORDER /ROLL CALL: Comms; Kerger, Viers, Sachs, Chair Patrino, Vice Chair O’Loane
(7:05 p.m.)

Staff:  Phil Wong, Planning Director; Debbie Chamberlain, Planning Manager; Alicia Poon; Deputy City Attorney; Lauren Barr, Senior Planner; Shinei Tsukamoto, Associate Planner; Brian Bornstein, Senior Engineer; Lieutenant Gresham, Luisa Willnecker; Recording Secretary

Audience:     15

2. PURPOSE OF MEETING/OVERVIEW

Planning Manager Debbie Chamberlain gave a brief overview of the General Plan 2030. Ms. Chamberlain stated State law requires each California City and county to prepare a General Plan to ensure that the plan is current and the vision of the plan can still be accomplished.  In November 1999, the City of San Ramon voters passed Measure “G” which established the need for a new General Plan. In March 2002, the General Plan was approved by the voters. Ms. Chamberlain added that the update is necessitated by a policy in the Land Use Element that requires voter review of the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) in the year 2010. Staff is undertaking this opportunity to update the entire General Plan including background information to keep the plan current and consolidate all the amendment that have been approved to date. Ms. Chamberlain also added that there are three policy questions for consideration by the Planning Commission.

Ms. Chamberlain stated in order to streamline the General Plan amendment process staff is proposing that Measure G be amended to eliminate the need for the three public hearings before the Planning Commission and City Council. Ms. Chamberlain further stated that staff is proposing to modify the Urban Growth Boundary to include Norris Canyon Estates, a fully developed residential neighborhood. The second area being proposed for change is the Laborer’s Camp property. 

Ms. Chamberlain added that staff is recommending that Ordinance 197 be placed before the voters in its current form with a review in 2015. Comm. Kerger commented that the Urban Growth Boundary needs to be extended to include Norris Canyon Estates.

Chair Patrino commented that the proposed changes being made to the Urban Growth Boundary is to accommodate the existing housing that will be annexed to the City.

Planning Director Phil Wong added that the main purpose to expand the Urban Growth Boundary is to recognize development that exists.

Comm. Sachs asked for clarification in terms of police protection if the Norris Canyon Estates residents are serviced by County Sheriff or San Ramon Police.  Ms. Chamberlain replied that the sheriff’s office would be the main responder since they are outside the City’s Urban Growth Boundary, but San Ramon Police would probably respond.

Vice Chair O’Loane asked for clarification on the proposed reduction in the number of public hearings. Ms. Chamberlain replied that the intent is not to have smaller amendments go through the three mandatory hearings of each body but to streamline the process. If a large commercial or residential development requires a General Plan amendment the Planning Commission can hold as many meeting as deem necessary.

Phil Wong commented that current practice does not distinguish small general plan amendments from large ones. Mr. Wong added that the concern from the business community is to streamline the process. Mr. Wong further added that this is not precluding this body or any elected body from holding more meetings as necessary.

Comm. Viers asked Ms. Chamberlain if other cities have a three meeting rule. Ms. Chamberlain replied that she is unaware of any.

Comm. Sachs asked Ms. Chamberlain if the General Plan 2030 would be going before voters. Ms. Chamberlain replied that the only item that will be put before the voters is the extension of Ordinance 197, the expansion of the Urban Growth Boundary and the modification to Measure G to eliminate the mandatory three public hearings. Comm. Sachs further asked if the General Plan would have to go before any State authority for review.  Ms. Chamberlain replied that the Safety Element requires State review.

Chair Patrino asked for public comment.

Jim Gibbon- San Ramon stated that he was not supportive of eliminating the three public hearings. Mr. Gibbon further stated that the noticing radius needs to be extended.  Mr. Gibbon added that the Urban Growth Boundary would only bring in more housing. Mr. Gibbon asked if the extension of Ordinance 197 would remain as is or are changes being proposed.

Jan Desmarais – San Ramon stated that more of an outreach on the General Plan update needs to be made to encourage citizen participation.

Paul Desmarais- San Ramon stated that any minor or major changes to the General Plan need to be made public.

Mr. Bluestein- San Ramon stated that he encourages the mandatory three public hearings as required by Measure G be retained for the benefit of the residents.

3. DISCUSSION OF GENERAL PLAN UPDATE 2030

            A. Land Use Element

Senior Planner Lauren Barr gave a brief PowerPoint presentation on the Land Use Element. Mr. Barr stated that the changes to the Land Use Element are to facilitate an orderly land use development program that emphasizes the needs of the community and balances land use, housing economics, transportation, and environmental preservation and quality of life goals.

Comm. Sachs asked Mr. Barr if the North Camino Ramon plan would promote sustainable communities instead of smart growth. Mr. Barr replied that the sustainable communities’ concept that is being promoted in SB 375 has not yet been developed at State level. There is some concern we could be potentially inconsistent with SB 375 if we incorporate those polices at this time.

Comm. Viers commented that he is pleased to see that suggestions to implement the North Camino Ramon Specific Plan to complement the City Center Mixed Use.  Comm. Viers further commented that he is also pleased with the changes to the Land Use Element.

Vice Chair O’Loane asked for clarification concerning the cemetery. Mr. Barr replied that the types of areas and size that could accommodate a cemetery do not currently exist outside the Tassajara Valley and the Eastside Specific Plan area. If a plan were to be developed, it would be a logical place for one to be considered. A proposal is currently pending before the county. 

Chair Patrino stated that the General Plan changes should be become more streamlined to make the plan more reasonable and achievable.

Comm. Viers stated that he had spoken to staff for clarification and added that he felt it was important that the citizens understand that the changes made will become effective after the 2010 vote by the citizens.

Comm. Viers further stated that it took eighteen months for the General Plan Review Commission to develop the General Plan. Comm. Viers added that additional workshops, public hearings, would be held for public participation.  

Ms. Chamberlain clarified that the items going before the voters is the modification to the Urban Growth Boundary, elimination of the three mandatory meetings as required by Measure G, and Ordinance 197, not the General Plan. Ms. Chamberlain added that City Council would make the final decision on the plan by spring of 2010.

Chair Patrino asked for public comment.

Jim Gibbon – San Ramon stated that he feels the citizens are not involved enough. Mr. Gibbon added that the proposed modifications to the Urban Growth Boundary would violate Ordinance 197. Mr. Gibbon expressed his concern about building heights.

Paul Desmarais- San Ramon stated that the General Plan is the constitution for the development of the City. Mr. Desmarais further stated that no changes be made in sections that require voter approval. Mr. Desmarais asked why changes are being proposed to allow modification to the Urban Growth Boundary of 30 acres or less by the City 0Council. Mr. Desmarais further added that the language in the General Plan needs to be clear and understandable. 

Jan Desmarais – San Ramon stated that the public was not involved in tonight’s meeting and feels more of an outreach should be made.

   B. Traffic and Circulation Element        

Senior Planner Lauren Barr gave a brief PowerPoint presentation stating that the purpose of the Traffic and Circulation Element is to provide guidance and specific actions to ensure the continued efficient operations of San Ramon’s circulation. Mr. Barr also added that a new Guiding Policy is being proposed that the City work with local transit providers to increase and expand weekend transit service.

The City will also explore opportunities for the location or relocation of a transit center to North Camino Ramon Specific Plan Area to better balance the public transit needs for the city.

Comm. Kerger asked for clarification on the different types of bike routes. Ms. Chamberlain replied a Class One is Iron Horse Trail. Class Two shares with the road and Class Three is a separated path. Comm. Kerger added that the City needs to look into having more bike lanes in residential areas.

Chair Patrino stated in chapter five section 5.5-I-12 he would like the words “implement and maintain,” added to this section.

Jim Gibbon – San Ramon stated that he agrees with the Traffic and Circulation Element. He would like added to the General Plan to recommend a City car share program. Mr. Gibbon also stated to encourage Bishop Ranch to build bike lanes.

Paul Desmarais – San Ramon asked if the Level of Service would degrade beyond the Level of Service “D” by removing the term “noon” from the peak periods of the day. Vice Chair O’Loane replied, with the change, the Level of Service would be better at noon.

 Ms. Chamberlain replied that this section states during those two peak times we cannot exceed the maximum Level of Service “D.  Ms. Chamberlain further added that a.m. peak time is from 7:00 a.m. until 9:00 a.m. and p.m. peak time is from 4:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

C. Safety Element

Associate Planner Shinei Tsukamoto gave a brief PowerPoint presentation that the purpose of the Safety Element is to protect people who live and work in the City and the properties within the City from geologic and soil hazards, hazardous material flooding, and fires. Mr. Tsukamoto stated that minor changes would be implemented. The implementation of two new polices is to work with the Fire District to minimize potential dangerous conditions from storage, dispense, usage and handling of hazardous materials. Section 9.4-1-6 is to maintain comprehensive and collaborative public education and community outreach programs that target identified risks.

Chair Patrino stated to encourage the Fire District to maintain comprehensive and collaborative education and work with them when feasible.

Chair Patrino stated in section 9.5-I.2 the word “and” be removed.

Chair Patrino asked for public comment.

Jim Gibbon – San Ramon stated that the General Plan document reads, “Draft for Voter Approval” and that he does feel that the public will have the opportunity to vote.

Ms. Chamberlain commented that attached to the packets is the current General Plan and that the narrative changes have not been brought to the Planning Commission. Mr. Gibbons asked for clarification on the three items going before the public for a vote and why the rest of the document is not subject to voter approval. Ms. Chamberlain replied that this update to the General Plan is subject to the Measure G requirements for three public hearings by the Planning Commission and City Council.

4.  QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Provided in order of agenda items.

5.   WRAP-UP/NEXT STEPS
Ms. Chamberlain asked for direction from the Planning Commission.

Chair Patrino stated that he would like to propose that the Measure G mandatory three public hearings remain.  Comm. Kerger asked Chair Patrino if his recommendation is to maintain the mandatory three public hearings. Chair Patrino replied yes.

Ms. Chamberlain asked if the Planning Commission would want the Urban Growth Boundary to return in 2015 for voter review. The Planning Commissioners replied yes and to keep the word “voter”.  Ms. Chamberlain asked for clarification that the two items going for voter review would be Ordinance 197 in its current form and the modifications to the Urban Growth Boundary. The Planning Commission replied yes.  

Chair Patrino asked what the next steps are. Ms. Chamberlain replied that at the June 2 workshop the Planning Commission would hear Parks and Recreation, Public Facilities and Open Space Element.       

6.   ADJOURNMEN
There being no further discussion, Chair Patrino adjourned the meeting at  10:07 p.m.  

Respectively Submitted, Luisa Willnecker

 

 

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