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MINUTES OF THE
PLANNING COMMISSION REGULAR MEETING

March 1 , 2011

A regular meeting of the Planning Commission for the City of San Ramon was called to order by Chair Sachs at 7:00 p.m., Tuesday, February 15, 2011 in the Council Chambers 2222 Camino Ramon, San Ramon.

ROLL CALL

Present:          Comms. Benedetti, Viers, Wallis, Vice Chair Kerger, Chair Sachs

Absent:           None

Staff:              Phil Wong, Planning Director; Debbie Chamberlain; Division Manager; Lauren Barr, Senior Planner; Shinei Tsukamoto, Associate Planner; Cindy Yee, Associate Planner; Alicia Poon, Deputy City Attorney; Debbie Hince, Recording Secretary

Audience:     23

1.        CALL TO ORDER             

2.        ROLL CALL

3.        PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE    

4.        PUBLIC COMMENTS OR WRITTEN COMMUNICATION

5.        ADDITIONS AND REVISIONS
-None-

6.        CONSENT CALENDAR

6.1       Minutes from the Transportation Advisory Committee Interviews, January 18, 2011. Approved as written.

6.2       Minutes from the January 18, 2011 regular meeting.  Approved as written.

6.3       Minutes from the City Council & Planning Commission Joint Meeting, February 1, 2011. Approved as written.

6.4       Minutes from the February 15, 2011 meeting. Approved as written.

6.5       Resolution No. 02-11 – Planning Commission Approval of LUP 11-500-001 & VAR 11-320-001 for expansion of San Ramon Sports. Approved as presented.

7.         CONTINUED ITEMS AFTER CLOSING OF PUBLIC HEARING
-None-

8.         CONTINUED ITEMS – OPEN PUBLIC HEARING
-None-                           

9.         PUBLIC HEARING – NEW ITEMS

9.1       Planning the City’s Future – The General Plan 2030 (Update to the General Plan 2020) (GPA 09-400-001) and Proposed Climate Action Plan.  Staff Report by: Debbie Chamberlain, Division Manager, Planning Services.

Debbie Chamberlain, Division Manager, gave an overview of the proposed changes to the General Plan 2020 including the distinction between ABAG’s growth projections and the General Plan 2020.  There was additional discussion regarding the growth potential in the NCRSP area, the ridgeline correction for the Laborer’s property, the change in the language for the Habitat Protection Plan, the cemetery policies in the Eastside Specific Plan, and how the General Plan could be approved. 

Ms. Chamberlain stated that in regards to the Habitat Protection Plan it might be inappropriate to assume that all projects would require a Habitat Protection Plan, and that the California Environmental Quality Act and General Plan Policies contain provisions for Habitat and Biological assessment. 

Regarding the Cemetery Policy in the General Plan 2020, it is stated that any cemetery would require an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance to allow cemeteries as a public/semi-public use subject to approval of a Use Permit in areas designated as Open Space.  The potential cemetery site identified in the Tassajara Valley is currently pending with Contra Costa County. 

Ms. Chamberlain stated that with the loss of Measure W last fall, Measure P that approved General Plan 2020 remains applicable for processing and approving General Plan 2030.  As presently proposed, the General Plan Update does not expand the Urban Growth Boundary. 

Ms. Chamberlain further explained that the Government Code provides that a City may amend its General Plan no more than four times a year but it does not limit the number of amendments that may be encompassed within each General Plan Amendment approved.

A policy in the General Plan 2030 proposes increasing the limit to 30 acres for minor Urban Growth Boundary adjustments that may be approved by the City Council on a 4/5 vote, to be consistent with the County’s Measure L Urban Limit Line established in 2006.

Due to the MTC revised Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) estimates, the new data set required that the City re-run the model and will require some minor updates to the CAP.  For this reason, it is recommended that the Climate Action Plan be continued to the March 15, 2011 meeting. 

Commissioner Wallis asked if staff had replied to the CalTrans letter.

Ms. Chamberlain stated that the issues raised in the letter received from CalTrans regarding the addendum to the Final EIR were addressed in the Response to Comments document certified by the Council in July 2009.  

Chair Sachs asked for clarification regarding the UGB and any expansion would require 4/5 vote of the Planning Commission and City Council.

Ms. Chamberlain stated that was correct.

Chair Sachs opened the Public Hearing.

Carlos Soria, Toyota Motor Sales USA, stated that Toyota currently is not ready to make a formal application at this time but asked that the Planning Commission include wording in the General Plan Amendment that would not preclude Toyota from expansion in the future.

Bill Newman, Tassajara Valley Resident, stated that he would like the City to drop the language allowing cemeteries in the Tassajara Valley (Eastside Specific Plan).  Mr. Newman suggested that this designation apply to all City lands designated as Open Space.

Ms. Chamberlain stated that lands on the west side of San Ramon are under private ownership and carry residential designations.  The Laborer’s property, Geldermann property and the northern Bollinger Canyon/Las Trampas area is outside the City jurisdiction and that no lands within the City limits with an Open Space designation could accommodate a cemetery.

Chair Sachs stated that Tassajara Valley is not within the City limits and the City has no jurisdiction over County land.  The Eastside Specific Plan language is still part of the General Plan 2030 and it is only contingency language if the Tassajara Valley were ever annexed into the City.

Brian Mathews, San Ramon Resident, stated that he was concerned about the removal of language pertaining to the reduction of the UGB in Tassajara Valley only from the General Plan 2030 and not the Westside.  Mr. Mathews asked that the Resolution be amended to reflect the removal of the additional acres and parcels that are not within the City limits on the west side.

Commissioner Wallis asked Mr. Mathews if he understood that his land is outside of the Urban Growth Boundary and if the General Plan is approved as amended that his land would still be outside the UGB.

Mr. Mathews stated that was correct.

Ms. Chamberlain stated that the Resolution before the Commission does not include expansion of the UGB.

Chair Sachs stated that the language was very clear but asked the Deputy City Attorney for clarification.

Alicia Poon, Deputy City Attorney, stated that the intent of the language is sufficient and meant to be general.

Kevin L’Hommedieu, San Ramon business owner, stated his concern over the lack of schools, traffic congestion, and housing.  Mr. L’Hommedieu also stated the housing numbers are too high and would like the numbers in the General Plan 2030 reviewed and lowered.

Commissioner Benedetti stated that the difference between the General Plan 2020 and General Plan 2030 is 60 additional housing units.

Vice Chair Kerger stated that when the Dougherty Valley was planned through the County, there were adequate schools. However, the school district could not account for the number of families living under one roof and that is the reason the schools are currently overcrowded. 

Chair Sachs stated that school population does not stay static and that the students move in an out of the schools over the years.  Chair Sachs also stated that the housing stock would have a transitory population.

Commissioner Wallis stated that the Housing Element identifies and anticipates where housing will be through opportunity sites within the City.  Commissioner Wallis also stated that the Dougherty Road expansion and the HOV lanes at Norris Canyon Road would alleviate a significant amount of traffic.

Phil O’Loane, San Ramon resident, stated that the voters defeated Measure W by 72%.  Mr. O’Loane stated that the City needs to slow down, as there is no rush to move forward with rezoning of the NCRSP area.  The Crow Canyon Specific Plan and City Center projects have already been approved and construction has not commenced.  Mr. O’Loane further stated that the General Plan Update does not have to be completed for another 18 months.  

Commissioner Wallis asked Mr. O’Loane if he was speaking specifically about the North Camino Ramon Specific Plan.

Mr. O’Loane stated yes and that it is not needed right now.

Commissioner Wallis stated that the existing General Plan calls for 96,000 population at build-out and the General Plan 2030 is 92,000; that is a drop of 4,000 residents.

Vice Chair Kerger asked Mr. O’Loane if he was speaking about the zoning change in the NCRSP area.

Mr. O’Loane stated yes and it does not need to be changed before it goes through the Specific Plan process.

Commissioner Benedetti stated that the General Plan 2030 provision for the NCRSP is only an opportunity for the City to prepare a Specific Plan but it does not actually adopt a Specific Plan at the current time.

Mr. O’Loane stated that the area does not need to be re-zoned to Mixed-Use at this time.

Commissioner Benedetti stated that the City is trying to balance other mandates from the State in regards to greenhouse gas reductions and SB 375.

Chair Sachs stated that the population number is a projection only.  There is no guarantee that the population numbers will be that high in 2030.  There is a need for senior and workforce housing. 

Mr. O’Loane stated that the Faria project would provide 25% affordable housing and that that the City needs to reconsider the population projections.

Jim Blickenstaff, San Ramon resident, stated that there is still an evaluation going on by the Mt. Diablo Sierra Club legal staff on the compatibility of the latest iteration of the General Plan 2020 Update, and there should be an opinion within the next few days.  Mr. Blickenstaff further stated that there is no rush for a zoning change for the NCRSP area. 

Chair Sachs asked Mr. Blickenstaff if the legal challenge would be coming from Mt. Diablo Sierra Club.

Mr. Blickenstaff stated yes, if they felt it was justified.  However, there was no definitive decision at this time.

Commissioner Wallis asked Mr. Blickenstaff if his concerns were based on expanding from 25 acres to 30 acres on the UGB without voter approval; the ridgeline amendment on the Laborer’s property; and Land Use Amendment for the NCRSP.

Mr. Blickenstaff stated that was correct and that the zoning change in the NCRSP is not compatible with the General Plan 2020.

Chair Sachs asked Mr. Blickenstaff what the harm was in planning the NCRSP as this is a long-range plan and a Specific Plan still needs to be developed.

Mr. Blickenstaff stated that the City is making zoning changes prematurely.

Commissioner Kerger stated that the Mixed-Use designation is generic and less restrictive than other zoning designations within the City.

Mr. Blickenstaff stated that he was not against the Mixed-Use designation only the significant residential component to it. 

Jim Gibbon, San Ramon resident, stated his concerns with the General Plan 2020 Update are the Laborer’s Property minor ridgeline adjustment and the removal of all reference to Ordinance 197.  Mr. Gibbon also stated that the change from 25 acres to 30 acres allowed with a General Plan Amendment should go to the voters for approval.  The Specific Plan for the North Camino Ramon area changes the zoning to Mixed-Use, which was voted down by the voters with Measure W.

Chair Sachs asked Mr. Gibbon if the zoning change was removed what would he think of the language in General Plan 2030 that would allow for the creation of a Camino Ramon Specific Plan.

Mr. Gibbon stated that the General Plan 2020 does not allow this zoning change unless you go through a Specific Plan process. 

Ms. Chamberlain stated that the City is not changing the zoning but changing the underlying General Plan designation to allow for the preparation of a Specific Plan for the North Camino Ramon area in the future.

Commissioner Benedetti stated that Ordinance 197 did sunset on December 31, 2010 and all the provisions of the Ordinance 197 were inoperative in the General Plan 2020 so they needed to be removed.

Mr. Gibbon stated that the provisions did not need to be removed from General Plan 2030.

Commissioner Wallis asked Mr. Gibbon his opinion about the provision in the General Plan that allows for extension of the UGB of not more than 25 acres upon a vote of the Planning Commission and City Council.  Commissioner Wallis asked Mr. Gibbon if he would prefer the City keep it at 25 acres or increase it to 30 acres.

Mr. Gibbon stated that he would not answer the question as to whether he wants it or not.

Chair Sachs closed the public hearing.

Chair Sachs asked staff for clarification of the zoning of Mixed-Use, what it does, why is it being used and how is it beneficial to the residents and businesses of San Ramon, both now and in the future. 

Mr. Wong stated that benefit is not because of the land use designation that is suggested in the General Plan but it is the subsequent action that follows with the Specific Plan.  The Specific Plan creates the standards, guidelines and creates the specific land use for a specific area within that project area.

Vice Chair Kerger stated that the Mixed-Use designation is general and more flexible.

Mr. Wong stated that the City has already received a designation from ABAG of a Potential Priority Development Area (PDA) for the North Camino Ramon area.  Mr. Wong further stated that Greenbelt Alliance supports these PDAs.

Chair Sachs asked if any commissioners wanted to comment on the North Camino Ramon Specific Plan as part of the General Plan Amendment.

Commission Viers stated that he had no additional comments.

Vice Chair Kerger stated that she was in favor of the NCRSP.

Commissioner Wallis stated in 2005 the City developed an Economic Development Strategic Plan with a discussion as to what would be the best way to develop business in San Ramon.  This included ways to expand the economic base, specifically in retail.  The studies showed that the population alone would support a million square feet of retail development.  Commissioner Wallis stated that there is a significant amount of retail leakage due to the lack of retail within the City.   The core central area within the City that could support more retail is in the North Camino Ramon area.   The NCRSP is a long term, market-driven process and will not occur overnight.  The first step to achieving this is through a General Plan Amendment on the land use designation.

Commissioner Benedetti asked for clarification that the Mixed-Use designation would not prohibit Toyota from proposing a General Plan Amendment in the future if they wanted to expand.

Ms. Chamberlain stated that was correct.

Chair Sachs stated that Crow Canyon Commons has a high turnover of small business because of lack of foot traffic and the down economy.  The City needs more retail in the NCRSP area.  There is a demand in San Ramon for affordable housing, senior housing, and workforce housing.  The NCRSP envisions approximately 1,500 housing units and would represent five percent of the workforce of Bishop Ranch and would reduce Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT).  Chair Sachs further stated that the NCRSP would create a long-range plan for the City to meet the future needs of the San Ramon residents.  The NCRSP would provide the unmet commercial and retail needs of the City.  The NCRSP would not displace any existing business but would respond to future property redevelopment opportunities.  The NCRSP allows property owners to determine if they want to make changes or to redevelop their property. 

Chair Sachs asked staff for clarification of the Laborer’s Property including the ridgeline and resource protection.

Ms. Chamberlain stated no UGB adjustment is being proposed for development of the Laborer’s Property.  The purpose of the correction is to rectify a mapping error from the General Plan 2020 that incorrectly designated the ridgeline west of the Laborer’s Property and outside the UGB, as the ridgeline that may be altered with development of the property to accurately reflect the guidance of the GPRC.

Commissioner Benedetti asked for further clarification on the ridgeline within the park on the Laborer’s property.

Ms. Chamberlain explained that the GPRC intended for the park to be outside of the Urban Growth Boundary and that the ridgeline running through the park would not be graded.

Commissioner Viers commented that the GPRC surveyed the property in 2001 and that there was absolutely no doubt that the ridgeline within the UGB was the correct one to be graded for development of the property.  Commissioner Viers further stated that the map included in the General Plan 2020 was a simple error and needs to be corrected with the General Plan 2030 Update.

Chair Sachs stated that in the General Plan 2030 the Open Space Policy is being renamed Resource Management because of the expiration of the Ordinance 197.   The General Plan 2030 continues Open Space Conservation and Protection by restricting development adjacent to ridgelines on steep slopes and creek corridors.

Commissioner Benedetti asked for clarification regarding the 25-acre versus 30-acre minor extension of the UGB.

Ms. Chamberlain stated the Errata attached to the Resolution includes language that the UGB reducing minor amendments to 25 acres.  Ms. Chamberlain stated that it was the discretion of the Planning Commission to recommend either keeping it as written in the General Plan 2020 of up to 25-acres or increasing to 30-acres to be consistent with the County Urban Limit Line Measure L.

Vice Chair Kerger stated that the City should keep extension acreage to 25-acres.

Commissioner Wallis stated that the City should keep it at 25-acres.

Commissioner Benedetti stated that the City should keep it at 25-acres, as it is more restrictive.

Commissioner Viers also stated that the City should keep it at 25-acres.

Chair Sachs stated that he also would like the City to keep it at 25-acres.

Ms. Chamberlain stated that the 25-acres will be kept as currently written.

Chair Sachs asked the Commissioners for closing statements on the General Plan 2030 Update.

Commissioner Viers stated that he had no further comment.

Commissioner Benedetti stated with Measure W the voters ratified the population numbers of the General Plan 2020 of 96,000.  General Plan 2030 reduces the population by 4,000 over a 10-year planning cycle.  Housing numbers are only being increased by 60-units over the same 10-year extension.  Commissioner Benedetti further stated that it is prudent of the City to move forward with the General Plan 2030 Update, as it is a long-range planning document.  The ridgeline adjustment at the Laborer’s property was a mapping error and needs to be corrected in the General Plan 2030.

Commissioner Wallis stated that the City’s Housing Element was certified by the State in 2009. The State mandates housing opportunity sites in the North Camino Ramon area for 1,500 housing units.  The General Plan 2030 provides for workforce housing and transit opportunities mandated by SB 375. 

Vice Chair Kerger stated that her concern was keeping the business community vital in San Ramon and that the General Plan 2030 Update is an enhancement to the business community. 

Chair Sachs stated that the population projections allow cities to make reasonable assumptions in planning and level of service standards.  The General Plan 2030 is an improvement and allows the City to plan for the future including affordable housing, retail and business opportunities, and sustain the quality of life that has drawn so many residents to San Ramon.

It was moved by Vice Chair Kerger and seconded by Commissioner Benedetti to adopt Resolution 03-11 recommending approval of the General Plan 2020 Update to the City Council.

            AYES:      Vice Chair Kerger, Comms. Benedetti, Viers, Wallis, Chair Sachs

            NOES:     None

            ABSTAIN: None  

            ABSENT:  None

It was moved by Commissioner Benedetti and seconded by Vice Chair Kerger to continue the Climate Action Plan to the March 15, 2011 meeting as an Open Public Hearing.

            AYES:     Commissioner Benedetti, Vice Chair Kerger, Comms. Viers, Wallis, Chair Sachs

            NOES:    None

            ABSTAIN: None  

            ABSENT:  None

9.2       St. James Place Mixed-Use Development (DP 09-300-002, MJ 09-900-001, AR 09-200-041 and IS 09-250-004) Staff Report by: Cindy M. Yee, Associate Planner.

Cindy Yee, Associate Planner, provided a PowerPoint presentation on the proposed project. The General Plan designation of the property is Mixed-Use as per the General Plan 2020 as well as the zoning of the property as Mixed-Use.  An Initial Study and Mitigated Negative Declaration are currently underway for the project and will be circulated for the required 20-day public review prior to the next Public Hearing for this application.  Ms. Yee further stated that the applicant has been working with Contra Costa County and East Bay Regional Park District to enhance the entrance to the Iron Horse Trail adjacent to the proposed project.  Ten percent (10%) of the units will be affordable to moderate income households for a 20-year term and a 15% in-lieu fee paid to the City to meet the 25% affordable housing commitment.

Commissioner Benedetti asked Ms. Yee if the comments made by the Architectural Review Board had been worked into the new plans and if the handicapped parking requirements for the project were being met.

Ms. Yee stated that the plans have incorporated ARB’s comments and that the verification of adequate handicapped parking would be required at building permit issuance.

Chair Sachs asked Ms. Yee what the moderate-income level was currently.

Brooke Harris, Housing Manager, stated that the moderate-income level is approximately $110,000 for a family of four.

Dan Boatwright, Castle Companies, stated that St. James Place fits perfectly in with the proposed NCRSP area Mixed-Use project and that the Mixed-Use designation is very flexible and desirous from a developer’s perspective.  Mr. Boatwright further stated that the project is adjacent to the Iron Horse Trail, close to shopping, dining and transit.

Commissioner Kerger stated that the project is an asset to the community and the NCRSP area.  The change in architecture is an improvement from the last time the project was before the Commission and that the live/work units are a great addition to the project and will be a buffer between the commercial area adjacent to the project and the condominiums.  Commissioner Kerger asked the applicant why there were no elevators for a 3-story complex and if solar panels could be placed on the roofs of the buildings.

Mr. Boatwright stated that elevators are cost prohibitive.  The solar panels have not been discussed previously but it could be something they could look into.

Commissioner Benedetti asked if a recreation room could be added to the project giving the residents a place to gather for parties, etc., and if there would be a BBQ for the residents to use.

Mr. Boatwright stated that they have included recreation rooms in past projects but they were rarely used, and there would be a BBQ available and the outdoor shade structure has been enlarged.

Commissioner Wallis stated that the live/work units were a great addition to the project and asked if they had an idea of what type of businesses would purchase these units.  This project would be the first Mixed-Use project in the NCRSP and shows what can be done with that zoning designation.  The enlarged play area is a nice addition to the project for the residents.

Mr. Boatwright stated that the live/work units would be great for people who are self-employed.  There will be two separate play structures, one for younger children and one for older children as requested by the Architectural Review Board.

Commissioner Viers stated that the circulation is much better with the new design of the project, the reduction of units and the addition of affordable housing, and the additional 30 parking spaces interspersed throughout the project.  Commissioner Viers stated that the proposed enhancements to the entrance of the Iron Horse Trail were a bonus to the project and the community.

Chair Sachs stated that the addition of live/work units and providing workforce housing was a great asset to the project.

Paul Baldacci, Castle Companies, stated that the workforce housing was important to the project.

Chair Sachs asked Mr. Boatwright to explain the Affordable-by-Design and what the price point for the units would be.

Mr. Boatwright stated that the Affordable-by-Design is a function of the size of the units. They are efficient units with a square footage range from 945 to 1,063 that helps keep the unit price down.  The price point currently is in the mid $200,000 to the low $300,000 range.

Chair Sachs asked Mr. Boatwright about the driveway on the east side of the project and the potential for a shared-parking agreement. 

Ms. Yee stated that the west entrance would be a right turn out only from the project and the eastern driveway would allow for left out and right out from the project.  The shared parking agreement with the property owners to the north would actually be a Condition of Approval as the parking for the live/work is partially provided by the commercial buildings to the north.

Chair Sachs asked if the left turnout onto Norris Canyon Road was a concern with staff and the applicant.

Mr. Boatwright stated that there are two lanes in each direction and a refuse lane in the center and there had not been any problems so far with a left turn.

Chair Sachs stated that there will be green building requirements for the project and asked if there was a possibility of adding conduits for the individual units for the solar panels.

Mr. Baldacci stated that they could not commit to adding the conduits at this time but they would look into the possibility.

Mr. Boatwright stated that they would have an answer for them by the next meeting.

Chair Sachs opened the public hearing.

Jim Gibbon, San Ramon resident, stated that he was in favor of the project and suggested that the project meet the Cal Green requirements for residential units, add additional handicapped parking throughout the project, add centralized trash collection sites, and solar would be a tremendous asset to the project.

Chair Sachs closed the public hearing.

Ms. Chamberlain stated that the public hearing needed to remain open for the next meeting.  The environmental document still needs to be circulated and suggested an April 5, 2011 continuance.

Commissioner Benedetti asked staff if the recommendations of the Housing Advisory Committee provided are still valid for the project, and asked for further clarification on the 20-year terms for sale and rental on the affordable units.

Ms. Yee stated that the recommendations are still valid.  Part of the Resolution will include a Condition of Approval that requires an affordable housing agreement be entered into.  Part of the agreement will detail the 20-year deed restrictions on the affordable units and if the units were resold, they would have to be resold to a moderate-income level household.

The Planning Commission continued the item to the April 5, 2011 meeting as an Open Public Hearing. 

10. NON-PUBLIC HEARING ACTION ITEMS
-None-

11.  STUDY SESSION/COMMISSIONER LIAISON REPORT AND INTEREST ITEMS/STAFF REPORTS.
-None-

12.         ADJOURNMENT

There being no further discussion, Chair Sachs adjourned the meeting at 10:48 p.m.

Respectively Submitted,
Debbie Hince

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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