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April 5, 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, April 5, 2011 in the Council Chambers 2222 Camino Ramon, San Ramon.


Present:  Commissioners Benedetti, Wallis, Vice Chair Kerger, Chair Sachs

Absent:   Commissioner Viers           

Staff:       Phil Wong, Planning Director; Debbie Chamberlain, Division Manager; Cindy Yee, Associate Planner; Alicia Poon, Deputy City Attorney; Luisa Amerigo, Recording Secretary

Audience:     8

1. CALL TO ORDER                    




5. ADDITIONS AND REVISIONS -None-           

6.1 Minutes from March 15, 2011 regular meeting. Approved as written.


8.1 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 Yee, Associate Planner

Cindy Yee, Associate Planner, provided a summary of the project. The General Plan and Zoning designation of the property is Mixed-Use. Ms. Yee stated that the Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration has been prepared for the project and circulated for a 20-day public review period from March 16 to April 4, 2011. No comments had been received on the Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration before the public hearing. Ms. Yee further stated that the applicant is requesting approval to develop a 116-unit multi-family condominium complex and nine live/work units.

Dan Boatwright, Castle Companies, stated at the last meeting it was asked if Castle Companies, would be willing to add conduits to the individual units for solar panels. Mr. Boatwright added that they have reviewed the project and they would be willing to add conduits.

Chair Sachs asked whether the permit fees could be waived and would the fee be charged on each unit or buildings.

Ms. Chamberlain replied that the waving of fees is not a common practice and building permits are pulled individually.

Chair Sachs opened the public comment.

Jim Gibbon, San Ramon resident, stated that he was in favor of the project. Mr. Gibbon further stated that no Environmental Impact Report (EIR) was prepared on the project.  A Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) had been prepared which did not analyze Electromagnetic fields (EMF) or soil conditions studies.  Mr. Gibbon stated that the site needs to be cleaned from hazardous materials. Mr. Gibbon further expressed his concerns that the site is located next to a high voltage power lines. Mr. Gibbon added that all units are located on the second floor of the buildings and are not ADA  (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant. Mr. Gibbon also added that the project is only offering 10% of the units as affordable  and  this does not meet the General Plan Update Housing Element, which calls for 40% Affordable Housing.

Commissioner Wallis asked Mr. Gibbon if he knew of any soils studies done for the site. Mr. Gibbon replied yes, he had spoken to a soils engineer and any underground gas tanks on the site could have contaminated the soil. Commissioner Wallis further asked Mr. Gibbon if he knew of any Electromagnetic Field studies done to test for radiation at ground level.  Mr. Gibbon replied yes the State Health Department had done studies in 2003, but not at this site.

Commissioner Wallis asked for clarification about the 15% in-lieu fees.

Ms. Chamberlain replied that the 25% commitment is met through a combination of construction of units and fees. The project will build 10% of the units as affordable  and the balance of 15% will be paid by in-lieu fees.

Chair Sachs added that part of the agreement was that the in-lieu fees would go to provide affordable housing in the City.  

Ms. Chamberlain replied that any in-lieu fees collected go to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and not to the General Fund.

Commissioner Benedetti asked Mr. Gibbon if he knew the voltage of the power lines. Mr. Gibbon replied no. Commissioner Benedetti further asked if the power lines run the entire length of the Iron Horse Trail. Mr. Gibbon stated no, the power lines run from the Pacific Gas and Electric Plant (PG&E) up to Crow Canyon Road. Commissioner Benedetti commented that Mr. Gibbon has a concern about the EMF’s from the power lines but the power line would have been required to be built with appropriate setbacks.

Vice Chair Kerger stated that any hazardous material has been removed from the site.

Mr. Boatwright stated that there was a Phase I and Phase II Environmental Assessment completed and Phase II involved soil sampling. Mr. Boatwright added that storage tanks were removed prior to the purchase of the property. Mr. Boatwright further added that the County Environmental Health Department and the California Regional Water Control Board deemed the site clean.

Commissioner Benedetti asked Mr. Boatwright if completion of Phase I and Phase II Environmental Assessment was required prior to the purchase of the property. Mr. Boatwright replied yes. Commissioner Benedetti further asked if all hazardous material has been removed from the site. Mr. Boatwright replied yes.

Chair Sachs asked staff for clarification regarding the PG&E power lines and if any correspondence was received. Ms. Yee replied project referrals were sent to PG&E as well as the County Health Department no comments were received.

Ms. Yee added that there is a 32 ft. building setback easement from this power line and the project has been designed to meet this requirement.

Chair Sachs asked for clarification on ADA units. Mr. Boatwright replied that under State and Federal Law Carriage House units are exempt.

Chair Sachs commented that Castle Companies has worked with staff and met with Brooke Harris, Housing Program Manager for the City of San Ramon to meet affordable housing requirements. Mr. Boatwright replied that it was required by the City that Castle Companies enter into an affordable housing agreement.

Ms. Chamberlain added that the Conditions of Approval requires the developer to provide certain accessibility features, such as grab bars, at the buyer request.      

Commissioner Benedetti commented she understands and appreciates the requirements of affordable housing.  She stated she would rather have 12 units verses zero towards meeting our goals. 

Commissioner Kerger stated that she was pleased with the project and that it will be an asset to the working community.

Mr. Boatwright added that one of the Conditions of Approval required the water well on site to be abandoned. Castle Companies would like to use the well for landscape irrigation.

Ms. Chamberlain stated that it was a County Environmental Health Department requirement to abandon the water well.  Mr. Boatwright will need to work with the Environmental Health Department to establish the well to appropriate standards.  The Conditions of Approval could be amended to allow the use of the well if approval is received by the Environmental Health Department.

Ms. Chamberlain asked Ms. Yee if the Conditions of Approval included installation of the conduit for solar panels.  Ms. Yee replied it was not included but recommended that it be prior to building permit issuance.                             

It was moved by Chair Kerger  and seconded by Commissioner  Benedetti  that the Planning Commission, having considered Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration and  findings accordingly, approves Resolution No. 05-11 adopting Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration (IS 09-250-004) and the recommended mitigation measures for the proposed project.

It was moved by Chair Kerger and seconded by Commissioner Wallis that the Planning Commission, having considered Initial Study/Negative Declaration and the proposed development plan applications and project findings accordingly, adopts Resolution No. 06-11 approving the Development Plan DP 09-300-002, Major Subdivision MJ 09-900-001, and Architectural Review AR 09-200-041 for the proposed mixed use development subject to the recommended conditions of approval.

AYES:  Vice Chair Kerger, Commissioners Benedetti, Wallis, and Chair Sachs

NOES:  None


ABSENT:  Commissioner Viers


10. NON-PUBLIC HEARING ACTION ITEMS -None-              

11.1 Appointment to Committee for Preservation of the Harlan House              

Vice Chair Kerger was appointed to the Committee to Preserve the Harlan House.             

There being no further discussion, Chair Sachs adjourned the meeting at 7:55 p.m.            

Respectively Submitted,
Luisa Amerigo  








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