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MINUTES OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
ADVISORY COMMITTEE WORKSHOP
        JULY 21, 2009

A workshop of the Planning Commission and Economic Development Advisory Committee of the City of San Ramon was called to order by Chair Patrino at 7:00 p.m., Tuesday, July 21, 2009 in the Council Chambers 2222 Camino Ramon, San Ramon.

1. Call to Order/Roll Call:  Comms: Kerger, Sachs, Viers, O’Loane (Absent) Chair Patrino; Jason Gong, Economic Development Advisory Committee; Jon Mills, Economic Development Advisory Committee; John Dickenson, Economic Development Advisory Committee; Devon Powers, Economic Development Advisory Committee; Chad Johnson;  Economic Development Advisory Committee; Geoff Johnson, Economic  Development Advisory Committee; Greg Lonnie, Economic  Development Advisory Committee; Laure Dennen, Vice Chair Economic Development Advisory Committee; Eric Wills, Chair Economic  Development Advisory  Committee

Staff: Herb Moniz, City Manager; Phil Wong, Planning Director; Debbie Chamberlain, Planning Manager; Lauren Barr, Senior Planner; Alicia Poon, Deputy City Attorney; Marc Fontes, Economic Development Director; Joe Tanner, Economic Development Administrative Analyst; Lieutenant Gresham, Luisa Willnecker; Recording Secretary

Audience:    28

Purpose of Meeting/Overview

Senior Planner Lauren Barr gave a PowerPoint presentation and stated that the goal of tonight’s meeting was to receive input on the proposed plan.  Mr. Barr stated that the North Camino Ramon Planning Area is 295 acres including roadways and is located between the Crow Canyon Specific Plan and the City Center. Mr. Barr further stated that the City is considering the North Camino Ramon Specific Plan a  long range plan and that the North Camino Ramon Specific Plan has been designated a Potential Priority Development Area by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) to meet the goals of the Economic Development Strategic Plan, improve and expand upon San Ramon’s retail services, cultivate a diverse and balanced economy, and maintain and enhance San Ramon’s high quality of life.

Mr. Barr further stated that the North Camino Ramon Specific Plan project would consist of a mixed use district that would combine retail, service retail, and workforce housing in proximity to new and existing jobs.  Since November of 2008, planning staff has met with the Planning Commission and Economic Development Advisory Committee, reviewed early concepts of the planning area, and received support from both boards to proceed forward.  Mr. Barr further stated that in late 2008, preliminary traffic and economic feasibility studies were completed. On March 10, 2009, the City Council approved the North Camino Ramon Specific Plan contract.

    North Camino Ramon Specific Plan

Larry Cannon– Cannon Design Group continued with the PowerPoint presentation and stated that the intent at the end of the first phase is to design three alternative development concepts. During Phase II, the proposed Specific Plan concepts will be refined and evaluated to determine their potential traffic impacts, market feasibility and urban design opportunities.  The revised alternatives will be presented at a workshop later this year to receive comment and to select a preferred alternative.  Mr. Cannon further added over the past few months City staff and the consultant team have met with various property owners to discuss the proposed North Camino Ramon Specific Plan and the long term goals for their property.

Tim Kelly – Keyser Marstein Associates, Inc.  provided a market overview of the City’s retail, residential and office uses.  He discussed the existing office space and current employment numbers and noted that Bishop Ranch has as much office space as Walnut Creek and San Jose. Mr. Kelly noted that San Ramon’s demographics are positive with strong households and successful retailers. Mr. Kelly further noted that there is demand for up to one million square feet of retail. Opportunities for large floor plate retailers are available in San Ramon if sites could be made available. Mr. Kelly added that there is an increase in popularity for housing close to jobs and that higher density housing can be accommodated, subject to the market conditions. 

Mr. Cannon continued with the PowerPoint presentation and noted that the North Camino Ramon Specific Plan needs to be compatible with the overall community and surrounding businesses and cannot compete with the City Center.  Mr. Cannon further stated that having freeway access, exposure, and the planned High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane at Norris Canyon Road is also a draw to the area and will encourage others to shop in San Ramon. Mr. Cannon added  that the North Camino Ramon Specific Plan is proposed as a mixed use plan with the ability for property owners to develop at increased densities due to the current low Floor Area Ratio. Mr. Cannon also added that three preliminary Concept Plans were being presented tonight. Concept Plan One is a retail and residential intensification, Concept Plan Two is a mixed use village with increased residential emphasis and Concept Plan Three is a mixed use transit village.  Mr. Cannon questioned that given the current market and economic situation should development restrictions  with such thing as a  minimum Floor Area Ratio, and or lot size be required.   

Chair Patrino asked for comments from the Economic Development Advisory Committee.

Geoff Johnson – Economic Development Advisory Committee stated that a mix of small scale retail uses would work best in the area.  Mr. Johnson noted that the plan should allow for adequate parking for people coming into San Ramon.

John Dickenson- Economic Development Advisory Committee stated that he prefers Concept Plan One because of the ability to accommodate the large floor plate retail.  Mr. Dickenson added that he supports the concept of linking the North Camino Ramon Plan to the City Center with a combination of multifamily housing and townhomes. Mr. Dickenson further asked if the light rail corridor from Dougherty Valley would link to the Iron Horse Trail.   Planning Director Phil Wong replied that the light rail corridor in Dougherty Valley is not proposed to connect to the Iron Horse Trail. Any connection would come down Bollinger Canyon Road.

Chad Johnson – Economic Development Advisory Committee stated that adequate parking needs to be considered. Mr. Johnson further added that the plan should include a sustainability component and a mix of uses.

Eric Wallis – Chair Economic Development Advisory Committee stated that he prefers Concept Plan One with the large floor plate retail.  Mr. Wallis commented that as the North Camino Ramon Specific Plan moves forward we need to take into consideration what mix uses will attract others to shop and live in San Ramon.

Chair Patrino asked for comments from the Planning Commission.

Comm. Kerger stated that she prefers Concept Plan One because of the road connections which makes it accessible for pedestrians. Comm. Kerger further stated that she does not care for Concept Plan Two or Three because there appears to be more restrictions from a land use standpoint. Comm. Kerger added that Concept Plan One gives more diversity with land use selections and an opportunity to be more creative in some of the areas. Comm. Kerger also expressed her concerns that it would be a disservice designating Norris Canyon Road as the “grand boulevard” because it would take way from the City Center. Mr. Cannon noted that Norris Canyon Road has many potential uses and it would be designed as a pedestrian friendly boulevard with retail and housing, connections to City Center, and form based zoning for flexibility.

Chair Patrino stated that he prefers Concept Plan One and feels that the North Camino Ramon Specific Plan needs to complement the Crow Canyon Specific Plan and the City Center.  Chair Patrino added that the concept of mixed use gives us the most flexibility to make each planning area unique.

Chair Patrino further added that Concept Plan One would have to provide connections to shopping centers, include a transit center, pedestrian crossing and sufficient parking. Chair Patrino expressed his concern about having enough residential to serve the City Center, Crow Canyon Specific Plan, and the North Camino Ramon Specific Plan.

Comm. Viers also expressed his concern about the existing businesses and how the plan could develop if they wish to remain. Mr. Cannon replied that phasing will be a challenge and that there are going to be properties that will not change for a long time. Comm. Viers added that he prefers Concept Plan One and would like to see an overlay and more flexibility. Comm. Viers expressed that he would like to continue to see public parks in San Ramon and supports large floor plate retail.  Comm. Viers asked which plan would generate the greatest tax base revenue per square foot. Mr. Cannon replied that an economic feasibility study will be conducted.

Comm. Sachs stated that he prefers Concept Plan One and would also like to see more flexibility in the plan. Comm. Sachs further stated that he would like to see Bollinger Canyon Road and Crow Canyon Road remain as the main arterials of the project and not Norris Canyon Road.  Comm. Sachs added that he would like to see more utilization of the Iron Horse Trail and the connectivity to the City Center. Comm. Sachs asked that incentives for lot assemblage be explored and consider the City owned land as a catalyst site. Comm. Sachs further added that the planning process should demonstrate that we are complying with Sustainable Communities Strategies (SCS), which might help the City get funding for infrastructure improvements.

Chair Patrino opened the public hearing.

Jim Gibbon – San Ramon- stated that the plan would take 50 years to complete.  Mr. Gibbon added that the North Camino Ramon Specific Plan is a prime area for redevelopment.  Mr. Gibbon further added that in order for the North Camino Ramon Specific Plan to be successful and viable 2,000-3,000 high density housing units would need to be considered.

Carlos Soria – Toyota Motor Sales, USA – stated that he is in favor of the project and that Toyota Motor Sales USA would like to see a plan that can evolve and recognize existing uses.

Discussion and Answers
Public comment was received following the staff presentation.            

Wrap up and Next Steps    
Senior Planner Lauren Barr stated that the consultants will gather the information, generate alternatives, and return to the Planning Commission in December.

Adjournment
There being no further discussion, Chair Patrino adjourned the meeting at 8:30 p.m.  

Respectively Submitted, Luisa Willnecker


 

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