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July 19, 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, July 19 2011 in the Council Chambers 2222 Camino Ramon, San Ramon.


Present:          Commissioners, Viers, Vice Chair Kerger, Chair Sachs

Absent:           Commissioners Benedetti, Commissioner Wallis

Staff:  Phil Wong, Planning Director; Debbie Chamberlain, Division Manager; Lauren Barr, Senior Planner; Alicia Poon, Deputy City Attorney; Luisa Amerigo, Recording Secretary

Audience:    45

 1.        CALL TO ORDER                    

 2.        ROLL CALL


3.1 Nomination of Officers: Nomination of 2011-12 Planning Commission Chair and Vice Chair. It was moved by Chair Sachs and seconded by Commissioner Viers to nominate Vice Chair Kerger as Chair. It was moved by Chair Kerger and seconded by Commissioner Sachs to nominate Commissioner Viers as Vice Chair. The motion passed unanimously.

3.2 Recognition of Outgoing Chair Presented by Chair Kerger – continued to next regularly scheduled meeting.            


 5.ADDITIONS AND REVISIONS -None-           

6. CONSENT CALENDAR 6.1 Minutes from the June 7, 2011 meeting.  Approved as written.            


8.1 Proposed Revisions to the Climate Action Plan. Staff Report  By: Lauren Barr, Senior Planner

Lauren Barr, Senior Planner gave a brief summary and stated that the California Global Warming Solutions ACT of 2006 Assembly Bill (AB 32) and the adoption of Senate Bill 375 (SB 375) have resulted in additional requirements for local governments to address Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reduction as part of local policy decisions.

Mr. Barr added that the General Plan policies require the City to prepare and adopt a Climate Action Plan (CAP) as an implementation strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The initial CAP document was developed concurrently with the General Plan 2030 and General Plan Environmental Impact Report (EIR).  That CAP was originally adopted July 19, 2010 at the same time the EIR was certified.

Subsequent modifications to the CAP were required to address the post Measure W General Plan 2030 modifications to ensure consistency between the documents.

In March 2011, the City also began a dialog with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) to ensure the CAP meets the requirements of a “Qualified GHG Reduction Strategy.”

On July 6, 2011, the City received a letter from the BAAQMD indicating that the revisions to the CAP, and updated GHG inventories have addressed their prior comments, and that the CAP meets the requirements of a “Qualified GHG Reduction Strategy” as defined by the District’s CEQA guidelines.

Commissioner Sachs asked Mr. Barr how the CAP will be monitored in the future and what are the opportunities for review.

Mr. Barr replied that there are provisions built into the CAP for ongoing monitoring which will be a part of our General Plan Annual Report. The CAP also has a timeline for compliance with certain measure within the document. As we move forward and if we find that we are not meeting target reduction we will revisit the reduction strategies in the CAP.

Chair Kerger asked if amendments were made to the CAP would it be considered a General Plan Amendment. Mr. Barr replied that the General Plan has a policy that calls for the creation of the CAP and as a companion document, it is the implementation of the General Plan Policies.

Chair Kerger asked if any changes were to be made would the changes need to go the vote of the public. Mr. Barr replied no.

Debbie Chamberlain, Planning Services Division Manger stated that as we start reviewing projects the CAP will provide guidance for project review to ensure that we are meeting our GHG reduction targets. Ms. Chamberlain added that the CAP would be implemented on not only City projects but also private projects, as they move forward. 

Chair Kerger opened the public hearing.

There being no speakers cards Chair Kerger closed the public hearing.

Vice Chair Viers commented that the development of the CAP began a few years ago and numerous public hearings were held.  Vice Chair Viers added that after AB 32 and SB 375 were passed the City was proactive in developing strategies to reduce GHG emissions.  Vice Chair Viers read into the record, the letter which was received from BAAQMD stating that the District supports the CAP and looks forward to working with the City as it moves forward implementing the CAP.

Chair Kerger concurred with Vice Chair Viers that the City has been working on this process for a few years and complimented the Planning staff.

It was moved by Commissioner Sachs and seconded by Vice Chair Viers  to adopt Resolution Number 04-11 a Resolution of the Planning Commission of the City of San Ramon recommending City Council adoption of the Climate Action Plan prepared for the City of San Ramon and General Plan 2030 update.             

AYES:  Commissioner Sachs, Vice Chair Viers, Chair Kerger 

NOES: None


ABSENT:Commissioners Benedetti, Commissioner Wallis                                                       


10.   NON-PUBLIC HEARING ACTION ITEMS - None-                           


11.1 San Ramon Valley Islamic Center Expansion.  Staff Report by: Lauren Barr, Senior Planner

Lauren Barr, Senior Planner gave a PowerPoint presentation and stated that the intent of the study session is to review and discuss the proposed expansion of the San Ramon Valley Islamic Center. The applicant is requesting a Land Use Permit to expand a meeting facility, public or private use, to allow an increase from maximum 325-person occupancy to 541-person occupancy for prayer services on Friday afternoons from 1:30 pm to 2:15 pm within an existing approximate 8,602. sq. ft. tenant space with a maximum seating area of 3,860 sq. ft.

Commissioner Sachs stated that the site is zoned for a meeting facility and in this case, the structure is used for a religious facility. Is there a compatibility issue with office complex as a whole and would there be different requirements if it were a stand alone religious facility.

Mr. Barr replied that the term meeting facility is intended to include all types of religious facilities and whether it is a religious facility or a social club they have very similar impacts and we treat them equally.

Commissioner Sachs asked for clarification on the percentage of office parking spaces, which are being utilized. Mr. Barr replied that the 98% occupancy is assumed based on the Zoning Ordinance requirement, which has no basis in relation to the number of actual cars on the ground. The parking occupancy number is based on the zoning code requirements in relation to the uses that currently exist in the center as well as the proposed expansion.

Commissioner Sachs asked if that number represents the impact of that service being conducted at that time if a use permit was granted. Mr. Barr replied that the numbers do not reflect specific timing it is based on the overall use. It does not suggest a peak period it is just the land use which is applied. The other counts which were provided as part of a traffic study are actually physical counts of cars on the ground. On Friday afternoons the center is less occupied and the parking lot has a 51% vacancy rate and with the expansion they would be at 64%. Commissioner Sachs asked if we could condition ingress and egress. Mr. Barr replied no.                                                               

Vice Chair Viers asked Mr. Barr if the parking study addressed the vacant spaces in the center.  Mr. Barr replied yes. Vice Chair Viers further asked if there was a Management Company or Homeowners Association.  Mr. Barr replied that there is an Association, which manages the common area and parking lot.

Chair Kerger asked if notifications were sent out to the surrounding neighborhood. Mr. Barr replied that a Public Hearing Notice would be mailed prior to the meeting. Chair Kerger added that tonight’s study session is for the applicant to understand what the Planning Commission’s concerns are and for the Planning Commission to obtain as much information as possible from the applicant.

Debbie Chamberlain, Division Manager stated that it was asked of the applicant to meet with tenants of the office complex in March. The applicant has been meeting with the individual tenants and sharing their expansion plans.

Commissioner Sachs asked for clarification on the option of installing a No-Left turn sign when attendees are leaving the Mosque. Mr. Barr replied to reduce the amount of delay, considerations could include the installation of a No-Left Turn sign.

Faraz Sattar, Treasurer of the San Ramon Valley Islamic Center – stated that the Islamic Center has been in operation at the current location since 1992, and started with 30 families and has grown to 450 families. They are present this evening to request a Land Use Permit  to expand their meeting facility to 541 person occupancy for their prayer services on Friday afternoons. Mr. Sattar also stated that Islamic practices require a call to prayer midday on Fridays. Traditionally, prayer times take place between 12:00 pm and 2:00 pm. They are proposing to hold prayer services at the same time year-round from 1:30 pm to 2:15 pm.     

Mr. Sattar added that with regard to the parking requirements, it appears that there is adequate parking throughout the office complex to accommodate their prayer service on Fridays. The parking and traffic studies have shown that much of the parking lot is under-utilized by the existing tenants within the Commons Office Park, particularly on the western side. Mr. Sattar also added that they are aware of the concern the City has with vehicle queuing related to increased traffic for the Friday afternoon services.

Mr. Sattar further added that they have spoken to their members on many occasions about carpool programs. They require the attendees to complete a carpooling survey and have notified attendees by email and by social media before holidays to encourage carpooling.  They have also provided preferential parking in front of the Islamic Center for carpools of three or more people. Mr. Sattar further added that they have recommended to City staff that they can provide a shuttle service to and from off-site locations such as Bishop Ranch or Danville. Mr. Sattar stated that they are opened to ideas from the Planning Commission and that they have provided a parking handout explaining where to park for all services and placed information on the SRVIC website.

Chair Kerger asked Mr. Sattar if a majority of the members exit after services to Camino Ramon and do not use the back entrance of the office park. Mr. Sattar replied yes some use the back entrance but a small minority also make the left hand turn onto Camino Ramon. 

Abid Farooq applicant – stated that he concurs with Mr. Sattar and they have encouraged their members to use the back entrance to enter and exit the office complex. Furthermore they have asked their members not to make a left-hand turn onto Camino Ramon.  

Commissioner Sachs asked Mr. Farooq for clarification on the Friday services and if services would expand into other days. Mr. Farooq replied that Friday services are mandatory and they would not expand into other days.

Chair Kerger opened the public hearing.

Bill Clarkson, San Ramon resident – stated that this is a wonderful opportunity for the City to continue its reputation to welcome diverse communities. Mr. Clarkson further stated that when he was a member of the School Board a number of their campuses had significant traffic problems and the City did an incredible job over a period of years to help mitigate the problems we had at our campuses.

Mr. Clarkson added that he has a great deal of confidence in the City staff. Staff has been given a challenge to find away to rise to the occasion and find a way to mitigate this situation.  Mr. Clarkson further added that there are two institutions in our City that we value our schools and our houses of worship.

Mr. Clarkson also added that the Planning Commission is a credit to our City and reinforces our reputation as being a destination City.

Chair Kerger closed the public hearing.  

Mr. Sattar stated that August is the holy month of Ramadan. Renovations to the center will be completed within a week and services will resume at the center at that time. We are requesting a conditional approval for 5 Fridays in August for Ramadan.

Chair Kerger asked clarification from staff.          

Ms. Chamberlain replied that tonight’s meeting is a study session no entitlement is being granted, considered, or denied. Ms. Chamberlain added that there is a process, which is a Temporary Use Permit, which is used to authorize special events which can be conditioned. If the Planning Commission feels comfortable with the comments discussed tonight, the month of August could be a trial period.

Chair Kerger stated that this would be a good opportunity for a trial period and for the Planning Commission to see how the carpooling is working and how the ingress and egress is being facilitated.

Commissioner Sachs asked how the Temporary Use Permit would be issued. Ms. Chamberlain replied that Temporary Permits are issued for specific  dates and if the Planning Commission wishes to do a trial basis it could be conditioned for those Fridays during August. The conditions could include how the members would enter and exit the office complex, and also monitor the left turn queuing to see if there is any reduction from carpooling.

Chair Kerger asked staff what is the normal process when a Temporary Permit is issued.  Ms. Chamberlain replied that a Study Session is not a normal part of the process. Staff had some concerns and wanted to bring this to the Planning Commission. Use Permit is approved by the Planning Commission prior to being operational. The Zoning Administrator does have latitude to allow a Temporary Use Permit in certain cases that are appropriate by the code. Temporary Use Permits can be for short term events and can be conditioned  so there are no impacts.

Chair Kerger asked if the normal process goes before the Planning Commission.

Phil Wong, Planning/Community Development Director stated that the Temporary Use Permit is issued by the planning staff. Under normal circumstances assuming that the proponents of this application have some sense that the Planning Commission has no problem moving this forward, they will complete the Land Use Permit process. As part of this process, we will do a normal notification process for a Public Hearing and come before the Planning Commission again with conditions of approval.

Commissioner Sachs asked as part of the Temporary Use Permit would there be a placement of a No-Left turn sign on Camino Ramon. Ms. Chamberlain replied that a No-Left turn sign cannot be placed. As part of the Temporary Use Permit, we can encourage the members not to make a left-hand turn onto Camino Ramon.        

Vice Chair Viers stated that the Engineering Services Department has identified the left-hand turn as a safety issue and is the City at any kind of liability. 

Alicia Poon, Deputy City Attorney stated that there can be a possibility that people can sue the City due to safety issues that the City may have caused.

Mr. Wong added that the Engineering Services Division can add conditions prior to the Temporary Use Permit being issued.

Vice Chair Viers suggested that the members travel on Crow Canyon Road and use the back entrance to enter and exit the office complex.

Commissioner Sachs asked if Special Event signage can be placed. Ms. Chamberlain replied that Planning staff can speak with the Engineering Services Division and can consider this when conditioning the Temporary Use Permit.

Chair Kerger stated the members need to educate themselves where to enter and exit the office complex to reduce queuing. 

Mayor Wilson added that he cannot address the subject because it may come before him and added that the Police Department has vacated their building and additional parking is now available.   

There being no further discussion, Chair Kerger adjourned the meeting at 9:00 p.m.

Respectively Submitted,

Luisa Amerigo  


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